What They Didn’t Tell You About the New iPhone SE
It’s the most pretentious longer-than-an-hour advertisement on the planet. It doesn’t matter what it’s technical name is…it’s just the most recent “Apple Event” (okay, technically, it’s the “Let Us Loop You In” Spring 2016 event). Every time one of these events happen, for the following week tech news becomes pretty much useless, even if important news that affect millions of devices is revealed on the same day (there was a serious Android exploit revealed today that I will cover tomorrow here at the Dark Android Project). And even I find a need to discuss what Apple brings to the fore at these events.
So the world stops when these events happen. And most tech news sites go all gaga over Apple, even if nothing genuinely innovative comes out. I don’t know if Apple pays these sites to talk nice and pretend that the history and releases of other tech companies never existed…but interestingly, this time it seems that didn’t happen.
The iPhone SE
Let’s start off talking about the big reveal at this most recent event: the iPhone SE. What is the iPhone SE? It’s a 4-inch version of the iPhone 6s. Literally. It has all the same innards, just put into a 4-inch model that comes in gold, silver, rose gold, or space grey (black). There’s no need to get into the specs (it’s all powered by an A9, that’s enough to say), because much of tech journalism is saying exactly what I would tell you: This goddamned thing is just a rebranded iPhone 5s. Other than a miniscule upgrade of specs from the 5s, the iPhone SE is an iPhone 5s through and through. And everybody realises it, thankfully. I would have been pissed as shit if no one else noticed that Apple is selling to you a phone that is a minimal upgrade–starting at $399 for the 16GB model (insulting), and $499 64GB model (Apple always finds a way to get you to pay an extra $100)–for double the price of what many are already calling the last great iPhone, that being the 5s.
It’s insulting, really. It’s just rebranding straight-up. I’m reminded of a line from the (amazing) film TRON: Legacy:
Alan Bradley: Excuse me?
Richard Mackey: Yes… Alan?
Alan Bradley: Given the prices we charge to students and schools, what sort of improvements have been made in Flynn… I mean, um, ENCOM OS-12.
Richard Mackey: This year we put a “12” on the box.
[Board laughs. Bradley looks at Mackey coldly]
That’s, in a hardware-sense, exactly what these fucks at Apple did. They put a “SE” on the box…or 5s, in this case (seriously, the improvements over the 5s are minimal).
Not to say that the world doesn’t want a 4-inch phone, or even a smaller iPhone. It does. On this very blog I’ve predicted in the past that eventually the cell phone market would go back to its trajectory of creating smaller and smaller phones that it was on before 2007. And as I’ve said on my tech podcast, Sovryn Tech, I think that eventually smartwatches will replace our smartphones entirely. And I look forward to that (as I say, I think a smartwatch is pointless and redundant if it just connects to a phone like Apple Watch does, but if it operates on its own with its own SIM card, no phone required…awesome, let’s do it). Frankly, I’d love it if someone pulled off the trick that was done with the old iPod Nano where you could turn it into a watch, but in this case you just put the iPhone 5s…I’m sorry…iPhone SE, and put it on a wrist gauntlet. Oh wait…I guess someone has done that…
Which then it comes down to what is the battery life on the iPhone SE? I couldn’t get a clear answer on that, but if it was as good as the iPhone 6s Plus (which it likely isn’t), it might actually work as a “wrist gauntlet wearable” (and really, I think wrist gauntlets should be a thing again). Yeah, there’d be a slight problem with the iOS interface not being meant to be operated from your wrist, and unfortunately Apple doesn’t allow for custom launchers (unlike Android)…but it’d be worth a try, if the battery life were up to the task, of course.
Anyway, bottom line, the iPhone SE if a fine 4-inch phone, and it is genuinely powerful…but it is a blatant dirty sales trick. This is just a rebranded 5s. But if you do grab on, well, you can go all “Dark iOS” if you like.
As for the other things that were discussed at the Spring 2016 Apple Event, there was the announcement (and immediate release) of iOS 9.3. This version of iOS has a couple of interesting features. One is what’s called “Night Shift”, which is a direct ripoff of the same feature put into Android N that allows for the screen to go red and dim to help save your eyes and–potentially–help you get a better night’s sleep (though for some the science behind this is up in the air). And desktops have been able to this for years with software called F.lux, which ironically has also been available on iOS for years (and only recently available on Android). It’s a nice addition, but again, iOS has already had good solutions for this for a while.
The other handy feature in iOS 9.3 is that you can now password protect and encrypt your notes in the Notes app. That’s definitely a nice touch, and is probably in response to the recent Apple vs. FBI case. Meaning that even if Apple decided to help the FBI unlock a phone, your notes (in marketing lingo) would still be encrypted.
And while we’re on the subject of the Apple vs. FBI case, Apple CEO Tim Cook did bring that matter up and reinforced Apple’s position that they are refusing to work with the FBI. They were nice words, but as laid out on Sovryn Tech, they are pretty hollow. Apple has never had any problem or lack of willingness to hand over iCloud data, and Apple also can’t be dumb enough to not know that their iOS devices are bolstering our Surveillance Society with cameras, microphones (the iPhone SE has “always-on Siri”, by the way…ALWAYS ON means ALWAYS LISTENING), and other metadata constantly tracking and reporting your activities, maliciously or not. It’s ridiculous for any company to claim they care about their privacy while ignoring the fact that the block of sensors in your pocket…err…smartphone, is keeping track of you endlessly.
Your words fall like shit from ass, Tim Cook.
Smaller iPad Pro
But hey, they also announced a new iPad Pro that has a 9.7″ screen instead of the massive (and some say unwieldy) 12.9″ screen from the first iPad Pro. This new iPad Pro is called…the “iPad Pro”. Yup, no name change. No “iPad Pro Mini”…just iPad Pro. So while this is a marketing blunder, in my opinion, and it other than the smaller screen and a slightly better camera there isn’t much difference between the two, an interesting new feature came along with this new iPad Pro: the ability to connect with an ethernet cable. While this is only possible thanks to the Lightning connector on iOS devices which can convert to ethernet, I hope with USB-C becoming commonplace on the Android end of things–and with Apple admitting there’s a market for this by them including it in their tablet line–that this feature will also come to Android. I would love to connect an Android device to solid ethernet.
It’s funny, really. So many of the technologies that Apple and Alphabet/Google has been promising and trying to herd consumers into using, like the Cloud and wireless connections, both companies are now totally backpedalling on. Google has been updating their apps with more and more offline functionality over the past year and a half, and now Apple–who in particular has removed ethernet ports from even their laptops–is now letting the world know that a good solid wired connection isn’t dead yet…and in fact is downright necessary. So much for the Cloud and wireless making offline storage and wired connections obsolete. Dumbfucks.
Anyway, they dropped the price on the Apple Watch (because it isn’t selling very well, I’d guess), and made some announcements about it, but I don’t see it as a viable platform until it operates on its own without the need to connect it to a smartphone (and the gaming possibilities are already there, which is step one to viability of any technology, in my opinion). And there was some other “Hail Apple!” news, but I covered the highlights here, even though there wasn’t anything really exciting to say.
Tomorrow, it’s back to the Android news.