Learning about Ultra Wideband

While watching yesterday’s Apple Keynote event, one of the iPhone slides showing some of the enhancements in the new iPhone 11 made mention of “Apple-designed U1” chip. This chip wasn’t mentioned during the keynote – it was only mentioned on that slide.

Turns out that Brian Roemmele was tweeting about this during the event and then went on to post an article on Quora titled “What is the new Apple U1 chip, and why is it important?

His article points out that there’s some text on Apple’s website saying more: “Ultra Wideband technology comes to iPhone” – which describes the U1 chip as enabling spatial awareness in the new iPhone 11 models – “Think GPS at the scale of your living room”. The first practical usage for the feature is for AirDrop sharing of files with someone nearby – “just point your iPhone at theirs and they’ll be first on the list.” Apple goes on: “It’s like adding another sense to iPhone, and it’s going to lead to amazing new capabilities.”

Roemmele describes more about this new ultra wideband technology, some of the intellectual property behind it – including several interesting Apple patents – and calls it a “personal radar system.” He goes on to speculate about how this technology could be used, implications for developers, etc. It’s quite an article he’s written!

This ultra wideband is fascinating stuff – I look forward to learning more about this technology and the applications coming that will take more advantage of it!

Update (9/12/19): Wired has an article titled The Biggest iPhone News Is a Tiny New Chip Inside It with more information about ultra wideband including a link to the original FCC order discussing it.

Today’s Apple Event with the new iPhone 11 Pro

I took about two hours this morning to watch Apple’s keynote event – each September Apple holds one of these primarily to announce the new family of iPhones. They did that today – along with some other interesting things. Below are my notes.

Tim Cook – Good morning! Apple is all about empowering people to do incredible things. Big morning today! Big announcements! So much that he skipped the usual business updates.

Arcade – First game subscription service. Exclusive new games. Over 100. Subscription-based. Arcade tab in the App Store icon. New games every month. Game demonstrations from Konami, Capcom, and Annapurna Interactive. Arcade will be available Sep 19th. Cost $4.99/month for family subscription. 1 month free trial. 

Apple TV+ – Bringing the best original stories from the best creative minds. “Stories to believe in, stories with purpose.” Examples: For All Mankind. Dickinson. The Morning Show. Three trailers released earlier this summer have >100 MM views. Apple TV+ first shows on Nov 1 in the Apple TV app. $4.99/month for family subscription. Starting today – 1 year of Apple TV+ included with new purchase of iPhone, Mac, etc.

iPad – transforming how we learn, work, play. New replacement for the 9.7 inch iPad – new 7th generation iPad. New larger 10.2 inch Retina display. A10 Fusion chip. Smart connector and Smart Keyboard, Apple Pencil (first generation) support. 100% recycled aluminum enclosure. $329 starting price. $299 for education. Order today, shipping September 30. 

Apple Watch -Three new health studies coming: Apple Hearing Study, Women’s Health Study, Heart & Movement Study. Use new Apple Research App to enroll in studies – available later this year in US. New Apple Watch Series 5 with always on display. High/low brightness. Built-in compass and updated Maps app. New Compass app shows lat/lon/elevation. International emergency calling in every cellular model. New case finishes – 100% recycled aluminum. Stainless in new colors. Titanium in two finishes. Ceramic – brilliant white. New Nike models. New Hermes models. GPS models start at $399. $499 for cellular. Order starting today. Available Sep 20. Series 3 remains in the line. $199 price for GPS model. 

iPhone 11 – Anodized aluminum/glass on front and back. 6 new colors. 6.1” display. Sound virtualizer with Dolby Atmos. Camera – dual camera system – new 26 mm wide camera. 13 mm ultra wide camera with 120 degree field of view. Updated image pipeline. Semantic rendering. Smart HDR. Portrait mode. Photos of pets. New lighting effect – high key mono. Night mode – automatically turns on. Adaptive bracketing. QuickTake – just hold shutter button to take video. New 12 MP front camera. Added slo mo to front camera. Slofies. New A13 Bionic chip – fastest CPU ever in smartphone. GPU – fastest GPU in a smartphone. Battery life – 1 hour more than iPhone Xr. Faster FaceID. Wifi 6. $699 starting price. 

iPhone 11 Pro – first phone called Pro. Surgical grade stainless steel. Glass, matte textured back. New finishes – midnight green, space grey, silver, new gold. Display comes in two sizes 5.8 and 6.5 inches. Brighter, contrast ratio, etc. Spatial audio sound, Dolby Atmos. Super Retina XDR display. A13 Bionic chip. Battery life – 4 hours more than iPhone Xs. Max up to 5 hours longer. Fast charge 18W charger included. New Pro camera system with three cameras – 26mm/f1.8, 52mm/f2.0, 13mm/f2.4 cameras. Sneak peek coming this fall – using neural engine – Deep Fusion. 9 images shot – 4 images shot before the shutter button. Performs pixel by pixel optimization.  Video – 4K 60 bps XDR video. New Apple U1 chip. New line of cases including clear cases. Starting price at $999, Max at $1099. Preorder starting this Friday at 5 AM Pacific. Shipping on September 20. Keeping iPhone Xr and 8 also in the line. 

Apple Retail – Personalization – with Apple Watch Series 5 – can choose any case and pair with any watch band. Apple Watch Studio – in stores and online. Apple Trade In program for iPhones. On Sep 20, hosting reopening of Apple 5th Avenue Store in NYC. 

Tim Cook – exciting morning! Arcade, Apple TV+, new iPad 10.2 inch, new Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro. “Thanks to everyone at Apple for doing the best work of their lives.”


What to do? Being such a photography buff, the new iPhone 11 Pro camera system looks very exciting to me! It’s amazing to me how the smartphone cameras are evolving with new capabilities and overtaking the existing camera industry (see Om’s post). I expect I’ll be upgrading from my iPhone Xs Max to the new iPhone 11 Pro later this fall.

More: A video replay of the event is also available. Also, John Voorhees at MacStories has put together a useful post with the release dates for OS Updates, New iPhones, and Apple Watch.

Adding the Fujifilm X70 to my camera bag

[Update: Be sure to see this post talking about me doing two days of street photography in San Francisco with the Fujifilm X70.]

A couple of years ago I made the switch from Canon DSLR’s to Fujifilm’s X series cameras – initially to the Fujifilm X-E2, then an X100S (since sold), then an X-T1, then an X100T – and, just now adding the new Fujifilm X70 to my camera bag. I’ve come to appreciate Fuji’s approach to cameras – and love shooting with them. There’s something special for me about Fuji’s design esthetic that creates a delightful experience when I’m out on the streets shooting with one of their cameras.

So, what spot does the new X70 fill for me? It’s that camera that’s always with me – but a step above the iPhone that’s always in my pocket.

What’s going to be interesting over the next couple of years is how those two converge – or collide. My iPhone 6s has a beautiful sensor – and a delightful Camera app that let’s me create wonderful images. The X70 is just a cut above – a photographer’s delight with all of the manual controls plus the integration with my iOS devices. They’re converging – but still different enough to be separate experiences. I not going to carry my iPhone on a wrist strap while walking the streets – and I’m unlikely to pull out the X70 if I want to take a quick shot of friends, a beautiful meal or a street scene that just materializes.

In other words, we’re still learning – and I’m enjoying the process. Someone once said a smart man is known by his tools. Both of these tools are superb instruments – converging in ways I’m yet to understand.

A New Photography Workflow – Lightroom and Photos on the Mac

Generations - San Francisco - 2015

I’ve decided to head in the direction that others have been using for a while with iPhoto. After importing images into Lightroom – and processing/editing them there – they use iPhoto as the final repository for their images. In other words, everything that’s been worth processing has been edited in LR (and, perhaps, also in Photoshop) and is then exported to disk and imported into iPhoto – where there’s a series of folders for the portfolio, what has been uploaded, etc.

In my case, I’ve only been using iPhoto for the last couple of years for my photo books. I love the quality of the Apple photo books – and want to keep using them for that service. I’ve used Blurb for a couple of my photo books but I find Apple’s service is higher quality and I prefer it.

So, along comes the new Photos app in Yosemite 10.10.3. I was complaining about it to friends last week – because of how long it was taking to sync my iPhoto library to the new iCloud Photo Library (about 11,000 photos). It took another day or so and it was finished. What’s lovely now is that now that the sync has completed I have those photos on all of my devices.

After exploring Photos further and doing some additional research, I’m embarking on a new workflow for my images. I’ve imported the selects for my 2012-14 Portfolio books into Photos – they’re now syncing to my iCloud Photo Library. For the historical portfolio of my best images – they will be easily available on all of my devices.

Going forward, my edited images will come out of LR and go right into Photos – into a new folder/album structure in Photos for my best portfolio images. From there, I’ll manage the sharing to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, etc. instead of using the manual upload processes I’ve been using for those.

Seems like the best solution for me. Leaves Lightroom Mobile out of the picture – everything will simply be in the Photos apps on my Apple devices. We’ll try it for a week or two and see how it works.

The Best Camera – Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park

Untitled

This best camera is the one you have with you – as they say – and my iPhone is that camera for me. Here’s an image taken and completely processed on my iPhone 5. The courtyard area outside Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park is normally a busy spot – except when it’s wet and cold during the winter months as it was on this particular morning.

This image was shot as I was heading into breakfast one December morning – and then processed on the iPhone using Nik’s Snapseed and Painteresque. It’s really pretty impressive the kind of photography and post-processing that can now be done one these little sensor-loaded computers that we carry in our pockets.

I’ve got a domain that I haven’t had time to develop – theworldinmypocket.com over on Tumblr – where I want to develop this theme a bit further!

Free Tablets!

2012 12 04 12 55 30 Snapseed

One of my favorite podcasts is Critical Path with Horace Dediu. Horace’s also the guy behind Asymco.com, a great blog about asymmetric competition, Apple, mobile in general, and more. He uses data to drive his analysis into otherwise lightly explored areas. Always a great read and an insightful podcast! He’s got an Asymconf conference coming up in late January at IBM’s Almaden Research Center – I’d be there if I could but I’ll be heading to Havana, Cuba for a photography workshop the week of his conference.

On a recent show, Horace talked about the evolution of tablets and how different companies were pursuing their objectives in the tablet market. At the high end, with classically high profit margins, is Apple with its iPad family. At the other end is Amazon.com and Google who both appear to be willing to settle for much lower margins on their base hardware products.

This discussion made me wonder what the endgame in tablets might be. We’ve got these two examples – Apple at the high end with a tablet (and associated ecosystem) generating lovely margins. At the other end, we’ve got others who are opting to price their tablets close to cost – viewing them as razors and expecting to make their real revenues from how those tablets are used to purchase content.

And then this article showed up a few days back – about how the Financial Times was crossing the threshold – giving away a free Nexus 7 tablet to new US digital or print subscribers. This feels like a slippery slope…

Pushing this discussion to an extreme, might we some day see free tablets from others – provided to us by those who would love to enable us for commerce within their particular ecosystem – and who might benefit from the additional signals such a tablet might provide from our browsing/searching/shopping history? Those signals – spanning across our interests as we read, search, shop, etc. – are valuable, aren’t they?

I’ve been thinking we’re moving into a post-card world with the capabilities our smartphones bring. Might a free tablet strategy fit in sometime soon? Where will mine come from? From Amazon? From Apple? From Google? A card issuer? A card network like Visa or MasterCard or American Express – or PayPal – or someone else? Maybe from my mobile carrier?

What do you think?

Trading my iPad (3rd Generation) for an iPad mini

Since the launch of the iPad (3rd Generation) with that beautiful Retina display earlier this year, mine has been an almost constant companion. At breakfast each morning, it has been my go to machine – with Verizon LTE speeds and the beautiful display. Same for lunch if I’m alone. It’s gone of many airplane flights with me across the country – and has been a real workhorse – replacing my use of my 11-inch Macbook Air much of the time – except at the office where I plug the Air into a larger Cinema Display and use it with the Apple Bluetooth Keyboard and Magic Trackpad.

But, about two weeks ago, I bought a new iPad mini – and just never looked back. In fact, I’ve just sold that big iPad – after becoming very pleased with the even more versatile, small iPad mini form factor. I was even pleasantly surprised by the screen on the mini – a non-Retina version to be sure (as pointed out by many reviewers) but one which still looks great on the smaller mini screen. The feel of the iPad mini reminds me of the feel I had when I first got the 11-inch Air – compared to the 15-inch Macbook Pro that had been my everyday workhorse machine. Small is beautiful!

I noticed that Nick Bilton seems to feel the same way. In a post earlier today on the New York Times Bits blog, Bilton writes “If you’re still on the fence about whether you should buy the iPad Mini, I have a tip for you: you’re on the wrong fence.”

Yep, I agree! These iPad minis are going to start being seen everywhere.

Tracking Life with Day One

Three months ago I had major surgery to deal with an important health issue. A few days before my surgery, I happened to discover an app that sounded like it might be useful for me to use as a journal following my surgery. That app was Day One.

Day OneSince the day of my surgery three months ago, I’ve been using Day One to journal my thoughts every day, noting my progress (or, sometimes, maybe a lack of progress!). Day One is there for me every morning – and it’s been where I’ve captured how I’m feeling, what I’m learning, and more. I mostly write in the morning – but, sometimes, I write later in the day – adding to my morning thoughts based on the events of the day.

Day One has both iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Mac versions – and they fully synchronize – so you can write whenever and wherever you are – with the device that’s with you. Day One is one of the best examples I’ve seen of using “the cloud” to make things seamless. It just works.

I’ve never been up to a keeping a daily paper-based journal – but I’ve been enjoying how easy daily journaling is to do so with this app. It looks great – and its cross-platform features just help encourage journaling wherever I am. It’s my version of a Photo 365 project – writing sometime every day about how I feel…and more. A delight – especially now as I’m looking back on three months of my daily notes! And, with the latest update, I can add a photo to each journal entry – just makes me happy!

Thanks to the Day One team for making such a wonderful app! You guys “done good”!

An 11-Inch MacBook Air

A few months ago, I bought an 11-inch MacBook Air. I’ve been totally blown away by this computer – it’s far and away the best Mac I’ve ever had. Here’s my story…

Why this 11-inch MacBook Air? I decided I wanted a “killer” writing machine – something I could just use for writing. This little Mac was going to be it. And, it is!

I happened to swing by the Palo Alto Apple Store one day and it turned out they had the max config of the 11-inch Air in stock – amazingly – so I decided to just go for it. (I suspect Apple’s gotten very smart about stocking their top of line configs in their stores – just for folks like me!)

What’s the max config? Currently, it’s a 1.8GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7 with 4 GB RAM and 256 GB Flash storage (instead of a hard disk).

I bought it, brought it home, quickly configured it, installed some essential software and was quickly up and running – quite seamlessly. By the way, today, I mostly live in Chrome – using it for email, calendar, etc. Chrome screams on the Air. For that matter, Safari does too. Most things do – even PowerPoint!

I couldn’t be happier with this little Air. It’s an amazing machine – no spinning beach balls, super fast performance, and a delightfully tiny form factor – and a beautiful display. This is the future – these amazingly fast, Flash-based machines – a great way to “fly”!

But, then, there’s also the new iPad… 😉

Make It Great

In the car this morning, I listened to the 5by5 special podcast Thank You, Steve Jobs with its series of personal stories and tributes to the man. It’s a wonderful collection of reflections.

As I was listening, I was thinking back to the late 1980’s when, through some random combination of events, I ended up spending about a half hour with Steve Jobs one on one. The scene was a conference room at Steve’s then-new NeXT in Redwood City, down by the big salt pile off Seaport Boulevard. His purpose was to show me NeXTSTEP and how easy it was to develop applications in this new environment. I remember being blown away by the demo – just another one of his amazing performances. I never met him again.

Over the weekend, I came across a link to the Pixar home page and their tribute to Steve Jobs. It brought to mind perhaps the most recurring theme I’ve taken away from this man: Make it great. Or, with emphasis, make it insanely great.

A while back I wrote about “is this the best you can do?” Make it great ensures that it is. Great isn’t perfect – but it’s pretty darn close.