Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes an exclusive look at the leaked iPhone 8 designs, Apple’s gamble over replacing Touch ID, the importance of the iPhone 7S, how to find the best MacBook deals, the problematic bugs in iOS 10.3.3, changes in iOS 11’s latest beta, App Store blocking ad blockers, and Apple publishes research papers on machine learning.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
Exclusive Look At The iPhone 8
Thanks to the leaking of CAD files of the new iPhone 8, along with what we already know about the new handset, it’s possible to refine our expectations of Apple’s flagship smartphone for 2018. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly has been working with Nodus to create a new set of rendered images:
…users can expect Apple to release an iPhone 8 which almost completely eliminates the chunky bezels of previous iPhones. An elongated and enlarged 5.8-inch display will feature a cutout at the top for the front facing camera and sensors and it should mean notifications switch to a new ‘Function Area’ in iOS 11.
…In addition to this Apple will indeed replace the horizontally aligned dual rear camera of the iPhone 7 Plus with a vertically aligned shooter on the iPhone 8. This switch is to support Apple’s big drive into Augmented Reality where horizontally aligned cameras are more effective and the phone is expected to be held in a landscape orientation.
Replacing Touch ID On The Home Button
One intriguing decision that Apple will have to make for the iPhone 8 is biometric recognition. With the physical home button being promoted sideways to a virtual button on the screen, the existing Touch ID sensor is no longer going to work. What options does Tim Cook have, and why are there issues with each of the three major choices?
I’m tempted to put money on Apple sticking with the under-glass fingerprint reader. It’s a natural next step after the moveable home button was replaced with a pressure sensitive ‘area’ on last year’s iPhone 7, it fits with user expectations, and it’s something the opposition does not have. The reports of lower yields on the part also ties in with the late arrival of the iPhone 8. Rather than a trickle of handsets and lots of individuals disappointed that ‘they did not get one’, everyone has to wait, the iPhone 8’s arrival will be another media event and it can go from ‘zero’ to ‘old everywhere’.
Why Does Apple Want You To Buy The iPhone 7S Instead Of The iPhone 8?
What is the role of the iPhone 7S and the iPhone 7S? I’ve been thinking about this, and the answer might lie in the expected success of the ‘new’ iPhone each year. If Apple wants to use more advanced technology and break the mould then its flagship smartphone needs to be more expensive, more exclusive, and harder to obtain. If that’s the case for the iPhone 8, then the iPhone 7S will be needed to retain market share and pick up the slack.
Apple is not a company known for making dramatic changes to its product line. Rather than an iteration of the regular iPhone line, the iPhone 8 should be seen as a brand new category of iPhone. The iPhone 7S and 7S Plus are the conservative ‘next steps’, with the iPhone 8 representing a new way of thinking (an almost ‘Pro’ way of thinking).
That way is not about maximizing volume or delivering an updated package at the same price point for everyone who wants one. The iPhone 8 will be about luxury, about high price, about fashion statements and new technology. Think of the iPhone 8 should be seen as a luxury sports car, rather than a muscle car for the masses.
Finding The Best MacBook Deal From Apple
With the launch of the Touch Bar enabled MacBook Pro machines, Apple has upped the baseline price of the MacBook portfolio. That does not mean there are no bargains to be found, even from Apple. The quiet attraction of the Apple Store’s refurbished section continues to be illustrated, this week by Antonio Villas-Boas, starting with features and savings:
I wanted to upgrade from my old 15-inch 2012 MacBook Pro, but I didn’t necessarily need the latest 2017 model that comes with a hefty $2,400 price tag. From my knowledge of computer parts, I knew the processor in the 2016 model would easily serve my needs for several years, and I was looking to buy the 2016 model instead of the 2017 one for a lower price tag. But Apple doesn’t sell it online or in its physical locations.
I ended up buying a refurbished 15-inch 2016 MacBook Pro with the sixth-generation Intel Core i7 2.6 GHz processor for $1,950. That’s $450 I saved from buying the equivalent $2,400 2017 model with a seventh-generation Core i7 processor.
Disappointing Final iOS Update For The iPhone 5
Apple has released the sixth notable update to iOS 10. Version 10.3.3. updates the security and fixes a number of bugs, but it still has some bugs that are unlikely to be addressed. This is potentially the last public update to iOS 10. These bugs leave those who won’t be able to update to iOS 11 (such as iPhone 5 users) in an awkward spot, as Gordon Kelly discovers:
Bugs are to be expected in all software, every update brings its share of fixes and faults. But iOS 10.3.3 is widely expected to be the final release of iOS 10 before iOS 11 debuts soon alongside a radically redesigned iPhone 8.
…This means that for the millions of iPhone and iPad owners who won’t be eligible for iOS 11, they are likely to be left with these problems for good. Furthermore there are some isolated reports iOS 10.3.3 has introduced new bugs in Game Centre, Apple Music, Mail and app updates.
In short: the final release before any new generation of iOS needs to be as close to perfect as possible because it is always the last update millions of devices will receive.
iOS 11 Beta Fixes Annoying iPad Pro Omission
Flicking apps up and away from the task switcher has a long tradition in iOS but the latest version of the operating system threatened to remove that feature on the iPad Pro, much to David Phelan’s dismay. He and countless others can rest easy again, Apple has listened to the feedback and the flick is back:
The new software saw the departure of the way you could quit open apps on the iPad. Where previously you flicked them off screen to get rid of them, a gesture particularly satisfying when the app was misbehaving, you now had to hold your finger on the screen and then press the little X that appeared. If you’re an iPhone user, the flick still did the trick.
Well, the good news, great news if you’re me, is that Apple has fixed it in the latest, second version of the public beta of iOS 11.
No More New Ad Block Apps For Apps
Apple has tightened the rules for ad blockers in the App Store by enforcing its rule that third-party apps cannot interfere with other third-party apps. That means popular ad block apps such as Adblock and Weblock that address in-app advertising will no longer be allowed to update their offerings. Rather than be happy they haven’t been pulled, perhaps its worth worrying that there’s no way for users to control ads outside of the Safari web browser? Chance Miller reports:
With this policy shift apparently now in place, the only type of adblock apps that are now officially allowed on the App Store are ones that use the Safari Content Blocker. This is a more basic implementation of adblocking that only blocks ads in Safari, as opposed to VPN-based clients that block ads across all applications.
Apple has opened up an online space to publish papers on its Machine Learning endeavours. The first major work looks at the use of Machine Learning to improve the realism of the synthetic images used to train the code. Curiously, the examples used involve facial recognition… as if Apple is working on a key system that will use this technology:
An alternative to labelling huge amounts of data is to use synthetic images from a simulator. This is cheap as there is no labeling cost, but the synthetic images may not be realistic enough, resulting in poor generalization on real test images. To help close this performance gap, we’ve developed a method for refining synthetic images to make them look more realistic. We show that training models on these refined images leads to significant improvements in accuracy on various machine learning tasks.
Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.
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