Rivet and Other Cool Children Apps

I'm always looking for new, child friendly apps for the iPad / iPhone or even maybe Amazon's newly updated Amazon Kindle Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet specifically when it comes to reading or math. Granted, I'm pretty sure that my children do not spend more than 20 minutes on any device per week when I'm home as I have a strict no screen time during the week and only VERY limited time on the weekend. Anyways, that's a whole different batttle these days as the Wall Street Journal points out.

Out today is Google's new Rivet app from their incubator team Area 120 called Rivet on Apple App Store or Google Play. It's a speech processing app that has over 200 books availble for children to read and learn. I played with it yesterday with my son for just over 3 minutes and it was awesome. I've also done the Apple Coding App for children called Swift Playground on the iPad but of course, Google has their own app as well, by the same group called Grasshopper. I encourage you to check them all out. Pretty intuitive and interactive stuff!

Late 2018 MacBook Pro Vega Benchmarks

The benchmarks that we have all been waiting for (at least me) have finally been popping up and Macrumors.

The machine, which includes a 2.6GHz Core i7 Intel processor, a Radeon Pro Vega 20 graphics card, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD, earned an OpenCL score of 72799. Additional benchmarks found on Geekbench with a similar machine using an upgraded Core i9 processor demonstrated OpenCL scores of 75817, 76017, and 80002.

In a separate benchmark uploaded to Geekbench, the new high-end MacBook Pro with Core i9 processor also earned a Metal score of 73953.

Comparatively, machines with similar specs and Radeon Pro 560X graphics cards on Geekbench earned maximum OpenCL scores of right around 65000 and Metal scores of approximately 57000, suggesting much higher graphics performance with the new Radeon Pro Vega 20 card.

So in Metal, we are seeing a 25% in performance in Metal and around 20% boost in OpenCL. These numbers are far from the 60% that was touted on Apple's website, but then again, maybe we haven't seen a true software tweak / update that utilizes the full potential of these new dedicated graphics cards or maybe throttling is once again part of the issue. Looking to pull the trigger in January so stay tuned!

My Favorite iPhone X Accessories

If you have to ask, I love my Supcase Unicorn Beetle and have been using one on my iPhone 7 Plus for the past year. It's so great, that my wife and a few other friends are also using this amazing case. For those wanting a more "trusted" name that has become synonymous in mobile protection, check out the minimalist Otterbox Commuter. It's slim enough to allow for Qi Wireless Charging as well as skinny to fit in your jeans pants pocket. This is a wonderful alternative and I had a hard time choosing myself.

Now for those looking for a wireless charging solution, Seneo is putting out products quicker than Apple can ship the iPhone X! For a few dollars more, you can get the one that comes with a wall adapter to plug in but unfortunately, Apple did not enable the faster charger solution so anyone that has at least 2V adapter will be just fine. I prefer the Seneo since it keep the phone upright but yes it is prone to falling off with little children around. So, for the lay flat solution, Anker is the way to go.

These are my first purchases for the phone, but if you want to enhance your photography skills, I'll about the Moment Case and Wide Lens v2. Hopefully those are shipping soon!

The iPhone X Reviews and My Thoughts

iPhone X envy is in full effect! I literally forgot to preorder the device last Thursday/Friday at midnight and truth be told, I reminded myself and the wife at 11:30pm but got caught up watching Grey's Anatomy with her. She loves the show and I indulge only with her. Next thing you know, it's 12:30am, I check twitter and the iOS Apple Store and it's listed at 4-6 weeks. I gave up that night but maybe, just maybe, you might find me in line this upcoming Friday.

Onto the reviews (if I get a unit, I will post a review just for you):

Matthew Panzarino for Techcrunch was lucky enough to be one of the few who got a test unit for a week and took his iPhone X to Disneyland.

It works so quickly and seamlessly that after a while, you forget it’s unlocking the device — you just raise and swipe. Every once in a while you’ll catch the Face ID animation as it unlocks. Most of the time, though, it just goes. This, coupled with the new “all swipe” interface, makes using the phone and apps feel smooth and interconnected.

And, more importantly, it enables a whole new set of use cases and behaviors that feel organic, natural and just plain cool.

This is one thing that I am most excited about. When I had my iPhone 5 for two years skipping TouchID in the iPhone 5S, I was envious because typing in a passcode every time sucked.

Nicole Nguyen from Buzzfeed also reiterated my thoughts:

For a normal human who isn’t aware of the 30,000 invisible dots being projected on their face or the 3D map of their head encrypted somewhere deep inside their phone, there’s nothing “futuristic” about these interactions. Using Face ID is what life without a passcode — life before we all became paranoid technofreaks — felt like.

We live in a post-passcode world and, in this world, your passcode is your face.

This everyone is the future and Apple is paving the way once again. Here's Lance Ulanoff from Mashable reiterating my point:

Apple’s iPhone X is the beginning of something new. Even if you don’t want an iPhone X, I encourage you to pay attention. Everything the iPhone X is serves as a roadmap for future iPhones.

A Small-Screen iPod, an Internet Communicator and a Phone

This comparison is apt: the Watch is effectively stealing usage from the iPhone. At first it took alerts, timekeeping, and basic messaging away. Now it’s taking basic phone calls and music and maybe maps.

It’s fitting therefore to remember how the iPhone was launched; as a tentpole troika: A wide-screen iPod, an Internet Communicator and a Phone. Today the new Watch is a small-screen iPod, an Internet Communicator and a Phone.

Succinct point. Have I bought in? Yes but only on the Apple Watch Series 2. 

iPhone 7 Plus' Camera Kills the Competition

Today the iPhone 7 Plus became way better at capturing the most important thing in our lives: the people we love. If you haven't already, be sure to download iOS 10.1 (Settings > General > Software Update) and give it a shot. You'll be capturing stunning portraits in no time.

Impressive and indeed, game-changing.

Apple iPhone 7 Benchmarks vs Android

This iPhone 7 Single Core Geekbench testings shows an amazing lead compared to rest. Even dating back to the previous model at one year old, the Apple's Single Core optimization beats the rest. But when it comes to Multi-Core, Samsung does indeed come very close.

Device                    Single Core           Multi-Core
iPhone 7 / 7 Plus         3285 / 3211           5285 / 5191
iPhone SE                    2409                 4051
iPhone 6s / 6s Plus       2375 / 2400           3991 / 4027
Samsung Galaxy S7            1806                 5228
Samsung Galaxy Note 7        1786                 5213
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge       1744                 5203
Huawei P9                    1729                 4735
OnePlus 3                    1698                 4015
LG G5                        1658                 3745
iPhone 6 / 6 Plus            1463 / 1471        2457 / 2470

One VERY interesting feat is the fact that today's iPhone 7 / 7 Plus beats out the MacBook Pro 15" (Late 2011) and even the Mac Pro (Late 2013) in single core benchmarks. Intel better be watching. As The Verge clearly put it,

Now, before you accuse me of being high on my own metaphorical supply, I’m not saying that Intel will be crippled or surpassed anytime soon. But I am arguing that the chip giant is under a substantial threat, the likes of which it hasn’t faced for a long time, maybe ever. A quick look at the Geekbench scores attained by the iPhone 7 quantifies a staggering achievement: the single-core performance of Apple’s latest generation of smartphone processors has basically caught up with Intel’s laptops CPUs. The A10 chip inside the iPhone 7 comfortably outpaces its predecessors and Android rivals, and even outdoes a wide catalog of relatively recent Mac computers (including the not-so-recent Mac Pro). The iPhone’s notoriously hard to benchmark against anything else and this is just one metric, but it’s illustrative of Apple’s accelerating momentum and mobile focus.Now, before you accuse me of being high on my own metaphorical supply, I’m not saying that Intel will be crippled or surpassed anytime soon. But I am arguing that the chip giant is under a substantial threat, the likes of which it hasn’t faced for a long time, maybe ever. A quick look at the Geekbench scores attained by the iPhone 7 quantifies a staggering achievement: the single-core performance of Apple’s latest generation of smartphone processors has basically caught up with Intel’s laptops CPUs. The A10 chip inside the iPhone 7 comfortably outpaces its predecessors and Android rivals, and even outdoes a wide catalog of relatively recent Mac computers (including the not-so-recent Mac Pro). The iPhone’s notoriously hard to benchmark against anything else and this is just one metric, but it’s illustrative of Apple’s accelerating momentum and mobile focus.

This is one POWERFUL A10 Fusion chip and Apple I'm sure is proud. Congrats on the optimizations!

iPhone 7 and Apple AirPods

Jet Black or Rose Gold iPhone 7 in 128GB and maybe some AirPods... pre-ordering begins tomorrow night / Friday morning at 12:01AM. What are you upgrading to? 

Completely redone camera now both with Optical Image Stabilization and a f-stop of 1.8 down from 2.2. That along is pretty remarkable. As they say, "the best camera is the one you have in your pocket." Although, this might be the first time where I'm not necessarily all about get the Plus size model. Thoughts? 

Does Your iPhone 6/6 Plus Exhibit 'Touch Disease'

Turns out, Jessa’s not alone. Lots of repair pros are experiencing the same influx of faulty iPhones—most with flickering gray bars and all with glitchy touch functionality. Rami Odeh, a repair tech from New Orleans, sees up to 100 iPhone 6 and 6 Pluses a month that don’t respond well to touch. About half of the repairs sent to Michael Huie—the specialist behind Microsoldering.com—show symptoms of the same problem.

Of course, there’s no way to tell exactly how many phones are afflicted with what we’re calling Touch Disease, but every repair tech we spoke to told us that the problem is incredibly common.

“This issue is widespread enough that I feel like almost every iPhone 6/6+ has a touch of it (no pun intended) and are like ticking bombs just waiting to act up,” says Jason Villmer, owner of STS Telecom—a board repair shop in Missouri. He sees phones like this several times a week.

It's just a matter of time, that Apple will address it as a full recall. This news comes just in time as my wife's iPhone 6 Plus is nearing the end of her Apple Care. Time to bring it in.

Keeping the Faith

What Apple has accomplished with Maps is an example of the kind of grind-it-out innovation that’s happening all the time at the company. You don’t hear a lot about it, perhaps because it doesn’t support the enthralling myth that innovation comes in blinding flashes that lead to hitherto unimaginable products. When critics ding Apple for its failure to introduce "breakthrough" devices and services, they are missing three key facts about technology: First, that breakthrough moments are unpredictable outcomes of ongoing, incremental innovation; second, that ongoing, behind-the-scenes innovation brings significant benefits, even if it fails to create singular disruptions; and, third, that new technologies only connect broadly when a mainstream audience is ready and has a compelling need. "The world thinks we delivered [a breakthrough] every year while Steve was here," says Cue. "Those products were developed over a long period of time."

Keep the faith. I know it's hard, but when it's ready, you'll know and once again, be in awe.

Federico's iPad Pro Review

From Frederico MacStories' iPad Pro Review:

This is less of a "just for media consumption" device than any iPad before it. The iPad Pro is, primarily, about getting work done on iOS. And with such a focus on productivity, the iPad Pro has made rethink what I expect from an iPad.

I've find myself manipulating my iPhone 6s Plus more and more as my main device and have been updating elijahnicolas.com more often than not using only iOS.

After reading Frederico's awesome review, I find myself intrigued about the future where I used an iPad Pro as my main device.

Those who will only compare the iPad Pro to a laptop will miss the big picture – this is a large tablet that can be used at a desk and that runs iOS. The richness of the iOS ecosystem is what sets the iPad Pro apart, and the reason why, ultimately, people like me will prefer it over a MacBook. It can be used at a desk, but it's also portable, and it runs iOS.

This is where I believe he has seen the light as compared to Walt Mossberg's "I'm disappointed in the iPad Pro because it's not a laptop replacement" review. I'm actually disappointed with his review as I expected a more thorough analysis but alas, he just skimmed the top in my opinion.

If you're going to read other reviews, check out Jon Gruber's Daring Fireball and Rene Ritchie's iPad Pro Preview along with Living With: Day One story on iMore. Macworld also posted a "First Few Hours" review which is worth a read.