Britrock Blog

Just another Brit in New York City

Archive for December, 2017

Observations Using iOS 11 for More Than a Month

Posted by Britrock on December 11, 2017

My iPhone 6 was splashed by an ocean wave in October 2015. Yeah, I fully admit, there’s a story that involves getting too close to the water’s edge but its not important. The phone still worked. Sort of. Despite drying the phone thoroughly with rice, the phone has spent 18 months glitching, overheating and switching itself off. The latter usually when I was trying to display my boarding pass at the airport. Weighing up the options, including switching to Android, thinking about when the iPhone 6 & 7 be obsolete/barely useable and how much better is the camera/processor….I eventually gave in and chose the iPhone 8+. Not an X.
With the AppleCare built into the price of the payment plan, it actually made sense, to me at least. If I think about it, the iPhone 8+ cost more than my first car. The iPhone X cost about the same as my second car. That thought alone was another reminder of how different life is today and what we can no longer “live without” compared to those halcyon relatively simple days. In fact the camera in the new iPhones would also be better than most of the cameras on the market for consumers back then.
Ultimately the camera was also the driving factor for me with this purchase, a phone that didn’t glitch, that had a functioning light, didn’t overheat, turnoff randomly and a working silent button also figured.
In the first few weeks, I’ve toyed with the camera and noticed the better clarity and contrast in colors (not in a horrible way) on iPhone 8+ to the iPhone 6 and marginally the iPhone 7 loaner without a contract, I’ve been using for 360 images. Improved stabilization means few blurry images, but generally I rest the phone on a static object as a makeshift tripod before making pics anyway. The faster processor appears to help with reducing the quantity of speckling/grain and making the image slightly sharper. Improvements in noise reduction may also be the result of better image stabilization, really need to find out more. One additional feature the plus models carry is the 2x optical zoom, great for impromptu portraits. Having a wide and small zoom is really handy, will definitely mean better options for street and landscape shooting. Very tempted to shoot a few headshots with proper lights and the phone to see what happens. HDR has been turned on automatically, it’s better than it was but this can be turned off in camera settings if you don’t want everything to look more natural.
Portrait mode has its quirks, the AI clips parts of the images, but overall its a nice gimmick for consumers. Have included a quick unprocessed ‘ straight out of iphone’ pic of the wife. First thing I noticed was the strange haircut it gave the subject. You’ll likely notice I used the iPhone flash for fill light, hence the tiny catch light and blown highlight on forehead. The sky ever so slightly turning pink, was automatically enhanced by the software to appear very pink indeed or there’s a new coating on the lense. In a dslr this effect would have been achieved by leaving the shutter open to expose for the background, perhaps this also explains the tonal range of the background color. Skin tones looked closer to natural when compared to my older phones, but that might just be the lovely wife’s skin care regime.
iOS 11 has several new updates, including a new image file format called HEIF (high efficiency image format). Apple adopting this format means we’ll begin to see better quality natural looking HDR images, but also potential for better quality photo ‘tools’ on mobile devices further down the road.  Wasn’t aware of this feature until I’d photographed my expense receipts and uploaded them to Google drive only to suddenly find them unopenable. A pleasant surprise, although I’m not sure the accounting department noticed tonal range difference in my 10 bit expense receipts, vs the old 8bit format. For those that don’t like it, formats can also be changed in camera settings.
Screenshots is another rather handy feature, that when taken on the iOS 11 device, automatically post to a small window that can be opened, annotated and saved. Posting to Google Drive made sense but unfortunately I wasn’t then able to open the marked up images in photoshop.
On the interoperability side of things, it’s nice that Apple have created a “Files” app that enables the opening of files from Dropbox, Google Drive etc., but still irritating that mature companies will not allow shortcuts to use the most popular apps of perceived competitors. Google Maps, Google’s Snapseed among them. ‘Open with’ on the MacBook works well, would be a nice touch to include on the iPhone, a device more people would use. Perhaps its the petty world we live in but that level of juvenility makes me want to avoid the monoliths.
Perhaps it’s just me but the Touch ID fingerprint recognition feels faster. On my iPhone 6, I need to place a full fat finger on the scanner before it would take a half second to acknowledge and then another half second to open the phone. Feels instantaneous on iPhone 8+. Picking up the iPhone 8+ also lights up the face of the phone. The splash resistance of this new device, certainly adds a degree of calm when a glass of wine is accidentally spilled next to these iPhones.
On the irritating side of things, the quick access menu that used to allow you to turn on airplane mode now includes limited function Bluetooth and WiFi buttons. Unfortunately they don’t turn off WiFi and Bluetooth, they simply disconnect from the current network or device. As a result, the phone spends battery life seeking a new connection in the background. Took me a few days to work that out, as did the ‘slow calculator’ issue. My work means I spend a fair amount of time quickly needing to accurately make calculations. When using the native iphone calculator, I began to notice what I thought was my inability to accurately press the + or – button but this has now been recognized as a bug.
Audio wise music and voices appear to sound a little less hollow when played on speakerphone. Aside from my issues with how awful iTunes has become for cataloging music, the experience has improved lately. Features that I’d relied on for years were removed, such as my nerdy obsession for providing a numeric 1 to 5 rating for all 35,000 tracks stored on iTunes. When making playlists I could easily sort music by how much I liked individual tracks. Or Genius, that gathered songs of similar beats per minute etc.  Now we’re forced to use the over the air subscription service iTunes Radio… not a great option when I spend most of my time listening to music on planes.
Ultimately I’m happy with the phone upgrade, even if the cost is a little steeper than I needed or wanted to pay for a new device. The upgrade to having a good quality consumer level camera, that is embedded in a device I have on my person almost always, has been a boon to experimenting with photography. Smartphone cameras are still a distance from replacing an entry level DSLR, but the gap is continually reducing with each phone release. Iphone 8+ might finally mean I’m shooting “iPhone photographs” as opposed to “crappy iPhone pics.”

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