iOS 8 – The Lull Before the Storm

I’ve been using iOS 8 as a beta user since it came out. Initially, very infrequently on test devices, but more recently on my main iPhone 5s and iPad mini.

I’ve been very happy with the beta and it’s been very stable with only the odd application crashing, but it’s been more stable than the iOS 7 betas ever were.

But I’m still not using it to it’s full potential, and when you first download it tomorrow, it’s possible you might feel a little disappointed.

Yes, some of the tweaks to the built in apps are nice – Mail swipe gestures, Mobile Safari on the iPad, the iOS 8 camera app, the new one handed UI for sending messages and lots more.

But the true game changing nature of iOS 8 won’t be immediately apparent, at least not just with the public release of iOS 8.

The real deal will be with the release of updated apps from the talented pool of iOS developers.

The majority of the work of the developer community has been hidden from view in all but a handful of cases. We’ve seen the 1Password preview, the TextExpander preview, the Transmit preview and now a faster way to save with Pocket 5.6 preview.

But these are just the tip of the iceberg.

Tomorrow, the flood gates will open and we’ll see a torrent of updated apps with new functionality built on the updated core infrastructure of iOS 8, then we’ll see just how game  changing iOS 8 will be.

Of course, that’s not the end of the story.

On Friday, we’ll get the updated iPhones with bigger screens, increased storage and faster performance.

We may even see new updated iPads with, as of yet, unannounced functionality by the end of the year.

In October, we’ll also see the launch of OSX Yosemite, and that will introduce another wave of functionality with closer integration between Desktop and Mobile than has ever been seen before.

I can not wait to see what the app developers have done with iOS 8.

Back in the UK

Following the short postscript on my previous blog post, I’m back in the UK after a short dash to Italy and back.

The world really is getting smaller, but the cultural differences and difficulties in communication are as still as evident as always, especially when off the beaten path.

My sister in law was taken seriously ill whilst on holiday and I went over to offer some support to my brother who had travelled over the week before. Alone in a non-english speaking country with just his iPhone as a lifeline, he needed some assistance, even if was just a familiar face to help out.

Whilst on his own, and trying to communicate with Doctors, Nurses and basically everybody else, his iPhone has been invaluable. Real time Google Translate, Word Lens, Maps, iMessage, eMail and many other apps have all played a part in helping him through a difficult time in impossible situations.

The positive impact of the iPhone in this horrendous situation can not be understated.

They are both now en-route back to the UK, even though they have to endure a 22 hour ambulance journey across Europe. It’s going to be an even longer journey for them both to hopefully full recovery, but at least they’ll have family on hand to help out in any way possible.

My thanks to the Doctors and Nurses in Nocera Inferiore, Salerno for looking after Ian and Jan, as well as the kindness shown by many of the local people during this difficult time.

The Aftermath

It’s taken me a day to get over the disaster that was the live stream from the Apple event.

Absolutely inexcusable, especially as the event was hyped so much by Apple.

I was so miffed by the whole debacle, I think it has jaundiced my view of the overall event – hence the delay in posting some thoughts. But I think I’m nearly over it so here we go…

So the iPhone was nailed by the rumours following the leaks of the form factors – except no Sapphire! Always good to see the incremental improvements across the board – yay for 802.11ac. Double the transistors in the A8 and significant performance improvements across the board.

Both versions look absolutely gorgeous, and I think the larger screens are well overdue.

As did many people today, I undertook the mockup test and have no qualms about the larger screen. The mockup fitted just fine in my jeans front pocket.

I’ll be opting for the 128GB iPhone 6 Plus in Space Grey.

The larger size really doesn’t freak me out, unlike some people, and the benefits of the optical image stabilisation as well as the increase in battery life swayed it for me. I would rather they added a few millimetres to the thickness to add additional hours to the battery, but on such a large device, the thinness is probably needed.

Pay will be a world changer – no question.

As for the Watch…

It didn’t grab me!

I think the issue was I wasn’t expecting a watch, I’d thought Apple would have introduced an “off the wall” wearable concept.

24 hours later, I’m starting to get it.

It’s definitely positioned as a fashion item and is exceptionally photogenic.

Despite its apparent “chunkiness”, it seems to sit OK on the wrist, and doesn’t look as thick from several angles. Reports from the event seem to suggest it’s light and comfortable to wear (especially the sports edition).

They are definitely positioning it as a luxury item, and so well they might if it’s to partner with the iPhone.

Some of the applications shown did appear slightly “gimmicky” and of dubious necessity.

Great emphasis was made of the “Digital Crown” yet most of the live demo used gestures on screen.

But I think I get it now, and they’ve got another three months to refine the software, as well as give developers time to create additional 3rd party apps.

It might well be the first Apple product that I’ve never immediately lusted after – but I have a feeling its a slow burner.

Will I buy an Watch?

Ask me again in three months…

but probably!

PS The blog might need to go quiet over the next few days. I’ve been called away to foreign shores due to an illness in the family. Should be back to normal next week, or I may find the odd time to get online in the meantime.

Twas The Night Before Christmas…

The Apple event tonight is pretty much unprecedented in both the amount of external hype being generated, as well as the hype being generated by Apple itself. To mention a few examples…

  • Apple have a countdown clock and have redirected Apple.com to the clock.
  • They’ve built a huge white structure at the event of which we have no clue.
  • They’ve pre-announced Home Automation functionality with HomeKit, Health integration with HealthKit, close integration between iOS and OSX with proximity awareness and Handoff, as well as all sorts of extensibility we could only have dreamed of 12 months ago.
  • They’ve cracked secure and reliable biometric identification with TouchID and proven it works on millions of devices.
  • There are rumours a plenty that NFC and Payments via your mobile device has been cracked and is about to be rolled out.
  • Mainstream news outlets are describing the event as an “historic announcement”.

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore

All very exciting and I hope Apple can deliver.

I trust they will.

However, the most exciting concrete thing I’ve seen in the past 24 hours is the availability of Transmit on iOS 8.

Frederico Viticci over at Macstories.net has had access to a pre-release version of Transmit for iOS 8. Transmit is my go to FTP transfer application on the Mac and is developed by Panic, one of the most respected software development houses.

Transmit for iOS 8 is a full-featured adaptation for the iPhone and iPad.

Inside the app, users will be able to create favorite servers (for FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, and S3 connections like in Transmit for Mac), tweak advanced settings, upload local files to configured servers with drag & drop, and secure the app with Touch ID.

This isn’t a cut down or compromised iOS application, it’s not a mere shadow of its Mac counterpart…

The core aspect of Transmit for iOS 8 will be its share extension, which will enable users to upload files using a custom Transmit interface from any app. Once enabled in the system share sheet, Transmit will appear as a sharing option for images, documents, voice memos, and any other file that can be shared; with a single tap on the share sheet’s icon, Transmit’s UI will come up (requiring Touch ID authentication if enabled) with the app’s full feature set to navigate across folders, connect to servers, and see connection history. Considering the old limitations of iOS for inter-app communication and file management, using the Transmit extension feels like a major breakthrough and exactly the kind of experience that the app was meant to be on an iPhone and iPad.

This is exactly the sort of functionality we need to enable the iPad to move to the next level. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, the iPad has been constrained not by hardware limitations, but by iOS.

With the release of iOS 8 and the new ability to create fully featured desktop class apps as demonstrated by Panic, I think we’re about to see the iPad move to the next level and usher in the next phase of the Post PC era.

And that’s before we even see what might be unleashed by the integration of the new wearable range of devices.

Exciting times.

In Limbo

Yes, I know it’s the day before the big event, but I’m not going to prattle on about that.

Neither am I going add any further fuel to the rumour mill fire, which should be hitting it’s peak in the next 36 hours. I’ll do my best to try not to view any leak videos or read any late breaking leak articles – difficult I know but, I’d like to try and keep some element of potential surprise for tomorrows event.

No, this post is all about being in limbo.

ApertureWhen the news of Aperture being discontinued was announced, I was fairly blasé. I used Aperture, but mainly as an application to catalogue my iPhone photos.

As I think I said on several podcasts, although I had a fairly decent point and shoot, I’d long given up on that and mainly (exclusively?) used my iPhone for photos – for my level of interest, the iPhone was good enough.

I felt sorry for the pro and semi-pro photographers who had invested in Aperture, but my take was that they should wait and see what the new Photos app for Mac and iOS was like, and then, if it was OK, stick with that or migrate to LightRoom.

All was hunky-dory as I was happy to wait until the new Photos App appeared and migrate my Aperture libraries to the new app.

Voila Capture 2014 09 08 09 12 33 amThen something changed.

I got a new camera.

Completely unplanned and unexpectedly, I dropped a wad of cash for a new mirror-less micro 4/3rds camera – The Panasonic GH4.

The main reason was due to the fact that the camera takes 4K video and records it to an SSD card internally.

Oh yes, it does take photos as well, but that was secondary.

I’ve been fascinated with 4K and its potential adoption, and thought the Panasonic GH4 would be a good entry level point for me to get some 4K experience.

Apple has already started to embrace 4K with the Mac Pro and Final Cut X.

There are many 4K TVs available and we’re also starting to see 4K monitors become more affordable – until Apple launches its 4K monitor of course.

So my interest was piqued, and the camera duly acquired.

After playing with the video aspects of the camera, I thought I’d check out the photo side of things.

I now get it!

For many years I’d looked at people lugging round their huge DSLR cameras with large and heavy lenses, and wondered why?

Now I understand.

After an initial learning curve (and more expense getting some additional lenses), I’m finding photography to be fascinating and great fun.

Mind you, I’m not lumbered with a large and heavy camera, the Panasonic GH4 is small and portable, one of the advantages of the micro 4/3rd s format, and it’s a joy to use.

You can find a small sample some recent photos here.

15171804392 b99433514e k

It’s still early days, but I’m starting to find my feet and delighting in reading up about many of the technical aspects of my specific camera, lenses and photography in general.

The problem is my workflow, hence why I’m in limbo.

Do I continue with Aperture and migrate to Photos when it appears?

Do I make the jump to Lightroom now?

It’s only now I appreciate the pain that the demise of Aperture is causing for serious Aperture users.

I’ve had a quick look at LightRoom and there are some major differences between that and Aperture.

So do I go through the learning curve now, or bide my time?

In all honesty, I think it may be worth the wait to see what Apple come up with in the new version of Photos. If they’ve taken the time to rewrite a Photo workflow from scratch, one that includes seamless support across iOS, OSX and iCloud, it’s probably worth hanging on for.

But I really do now fully appreciate the full impact of losing Aperture for people who have been using it seriously for the past couple of years.

Hopefully it won’t be too long before we are out of limbo.

Oh and by the way, recording video in 4K is amazing, but we’ll leave that for another blog post!