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Apple Used to Be an Inventor. Now It’s Mainly a Landlord (bloomberg.com)
298 points by rayvy 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 372 comments

May be people are disappointed with innovation in iPhones compared to previous years' or for the last few years, but every time I use my AirPods, I can't but feel good about the innovation it took to make it as easy to use and comfortable.

* If I open the case near my phone, it automatically pairs and shoes battery levels.

* They sound decent for earbuds (not in-ear plugs which I hate)

* Lasts reasonable amount of time on its battery and quickly charges while in case.

I could not get this experience ever before and honestly, even after I have had it for a year. I don't know of a better competition to it.

But, letting the Mac lineup vanquish with old internals for years and gouging prices on soldered SSDs and memory - no excuse, that's just shitty.

The AirPods are my favorite purchase I’ve made in the last several years and definitely the best new technology product I’ve seen in a long time. I use mine for hours every day and have for the last year and a half. Before I got my AirPods I had used and returned multiple other wireless earbuds and none of them hold a candle to the AirPods. And somehow the AirPods are half the price of any of those others. I’ve kept an eye on the industry and all the new things coming out and I still haven’t seen anything that has the size, battery life, functionality, range, and audio quality as AirPods at any price point. Even if you use them entirely with android/windows and don’t get any of the benefits of apple’s fancy pairing, the size, quality, and battery life are still light years ahead of any of the competition. (by quality I mean the audio doesn’t cut out except for on very rare occasions, and I can hear everything clearly whether I’m using the pair or just one. I’m not an audiophile so I’m not going to judge on that metric, but they sound great to me for music, audiobooks, podcasts, and phone calls)

Which other true wireless earbuds have you tried? I bought some Jabra Elite Active 65t's and I've been very happy with them. I don't have the Airpods so I can't do a direct comparison, but from what I've read, the 65t has a bit less battery life in the case, but also has an actual noise isolating design. They're about the same size as the Airpods (and they don't have the stem, so depending on how you count they might be smaller), still have a 5 hour listen time without charging from the case, and seem to have a higher audio quality. I've heard similar things about the Samsung IconX as well. I would consider at least these two products as in the same class as the airpods: similar functionality at a similar price ($130-170). But I'm really interested in your perspective as someone who's used both the Airpods and other wireless earbuds.

I've tried airpods, $40 enacfires, and 5+ other models for market research.

As an Android user, airpods didn't offer that much functionality, was $160+, looked like qtips sticking out of my ear, and the sound wasn't that great either.

I think the $40 enacfires might have had a better bass than the airpods. I've gotten intimate with these products down to Bluetooth compatibility and chipsets. In my opinion, it's a lot of hype at a high price point when it costs nowhere close. I'm mind blown by the marketing genius. At the same time, I will never go back to wired, wireless is amazing. Companies sure are milking this new technology though and it's just getting started.

The Airpods cost a lot because: a) Apple but also, b) because if they sold them for $55 they would never be able to keep up with the demand. Airpods do look like qtips, but now that they've become such a common site, my eyes have gotten used to them. I'm waiting for them to make matte black ones!

What about shure SE215 + shure BT-1 combo (bluetooth adapter)? A good starter at a low price for an audiophile. The BT-1 actually talks to you to say its battery level on startup

AirPods have terrible fit.

> I still haven’t seen anything that has the size, battery life, functionality, range, and audio quality as AirPods at any price point

Walmart has wired earbuds for under $5, which are quite small (they fit in your ears), have perpetual battery life (because they have no battery!), the same functionality (they play sound, in your ears), great range and great audio quality.

And you won't have to replace them in two years. Isn't that great?

Before getting the AirPods I agreed with you, Bluetooth headphones were much more hassle than they were worth. But the AirPods do really eliminate all of the inconveniences I had with Bluetooth headphones. As for whether they are worth the cost difference over wired headphones, I suppose that’s a personal preference, but I love the freedom, and since I walk many miles every day listening to audiobooks not having a cord to get caught on things or needing to be routed through clothing is a benefit for me. Also when I’m walking with my girlfriend we can each wear one AirPod and listen to something together without needing to stand within a couple feet of each other and have the awkwardness of a physical tether via a wired headphone splitter. I realize your comment is more snarky than practical, but it might be worth getting one from an Apple store and then returning it within their return policy just to have a chance to play with it and see how far the technology has evolved, it’s much more improved than you might expect.

And even if the airpods aren’t worth the investment for you personally, the fact that Apple is innovating here will hopefully push other manufacturers to innovate and maybe someday all Bluetooth headphones will be as painless, even ones that are significantly cheaper.

As an analogy, I hated the iPhone in its first few years on the market. I was perfectly happy with my windows mobile smartphone with its QVGA resistive stylus-based touchscreen, enormous thick physical keyboard. I thought everyone that paid $800 for a sexy but functionally limited iPhone was a sheep. But Apple forced the smartphone industry to play by a different rulebook, and now I’m pretty excited with the levels of innovation that happens across all manufacturers.

I used to think the same about laptops, until I got my Macbook Pro in 2013. I wanted an SSD laptop, there weren't too many options at the time (at least not in my city), one of the options was the Macbook Pro and the difference in price was minimal compared to other SSD Windows machines, so I gave Apple a chance and... it totally changed my perspective as a customer, now I look for other things than just "specs", now I like to think I see the whole picture, why do I want to get a "better" CPU or more RAM for the money if all the other aspects of the laptop will be compromised (cheap materials, the computer needing maintenance to prevent slowdown over time). I'm writing this on that same machine, and it still works like the first day and it hasn't shown any signs that it won't keep working like this in a while, this is the first time I can say that about a computer.

I'm sorry but to anyone who's actually tried and lived with AirPods, there's no going back and there's no comparison to anything on the market at any price (even at a higher price).

It's so drastically better than anything on the market, that I'll immediately buy a new pair if I lose my current ones. I wouldn't even think twice about the price.

There is no other headphones on the market where I can play 1:1 basketball for hours, have the headphones never fall out, and I don't even notice I have them on the entire time. They're a part of me. I literally forget that I have them in my ears, and they easily switch between all of the devices in my life in a way no other headphones do. It's a signficant quality of life improvement for me.

The airpods I used a couple times fell out when I was running.

That's fair - I have a coworker whose ears are shaped weirdly and he cannot use AirPods at all (or even the previous wired EarPods, for that matter)

It's a one-size-fits-all design and if it's a little off you're kinda out of luck. They fit me perfectly though which is one of the things that blew my mind initially. I didn't realize how many of previous fit issues were a result of having a cord that tugs when you make any movements.

I don't know if Apple changed the shape for AirPods (they look very similar to the EarPods) but the AirPods stay in my ears so much better, it's night and day. I've been attributing it to the weight/tug of the cable.

They have terrible fit for my ears.

I'd never understood the appeal of wireless headphones, and I guess I kind of do now that I have AirPods. Mine fit fine and stay in while running, but that's the only use I've found for them. Anywhere else and I'd much rather use my 15 year old Sennheiser earbuds because I have so many problems with the AirPods:

* like pretty much all Apple earbuds, they don't seal to my ear so they're totally useless in loud places like airplanes (my #1 use case for headphones)

* audio frequently drops out, especially when outside (and there's nothing for the bluetooth signal to reflect off of)

* terrible mic quality for phone calls

* unreliable pairing to my Surface Pro

* one more thing for me to forget to charge

Some of this is anecdata and maybe I just have lemon AirPods, but my experience has been very far from "there's no going back and there's no comparison". I'd sell them without reservation if I didn't feel weird in general about selling earbuds.

You should take them into the Apple store.

A couple of those points are not my experience at all. My audio never drops out unless I'm far out of range or in a weird weather environment and my mic quality is excellent (in fact, I take calls regularly).

They're over a year old, so probably not worth the trouble. Just dug the AirPods out of the junk drawer and they seem to be working better than I recall. Recently got a new iPhone, so perhaps some of my problems were the old phone's fault instead of the AirPods. I don't have any other bluetooth devices so there wouldn't have been anything else to tip me off.

I know you're being sarcastic but the range on my AirPods is greater than 30ft, down the hall and two rooms over.

Come on. Wireless is a hugely important feature. The PC market is dominated by laptops. Because they are wireless. The phone market is dominated by cell phones. Because they are wireless.

Wired earplugs on a phone are a usability nightmare as soon as you stand up. No thanks.

Huh? Are you 8 feet tall?

Nightmare is overstating the case, but it is convenient not to have to manage a tether running from the phone to your head if you're doing anything active.

It's also convenient not to have to manage bluetooth pairing, though I usually find that to be less of a problem with most headphones and more of a problem with various car audio systems and some speakers.

So, Airpods solve those problems.

IMO none of this justifies removing the headphone jack and therefore the option of spending only $5-$20 on your headphones, and the particular solution package airpods embody won't justify their price for me: I've never liked Apple's earbuds, more of an over-the-ear fan anyway, $20-$40 over the ear bluetooth headsets work fine for me, if I'm spending $100+ on headphones they're going to be focused on audio quality in a way Apple will never prioritize over industrial design aesthetics and ecosystem.

But, Airpods still solve those problems, and people who love the particular package have a right to enjoy it.

I’m assuming you’ve never had your earbuds ripped out by a doorknob or random piece of furniture? Lucky you.

where as just standing up may be a bit exaggerated(though forgetting and it unplugging and possibly breakage from a forcible unplug) wired headphone are a nightmare they are always in the way and even if you line them through your clothes they have issues.

Maybe using a laptop on a couch, or trying to move after standing up.

I think their biggest innovation is making devices where everything just works. Look no further than any two year old who has been exposed to an iPad to see that their interfaces are super-intuitive. Plus, unlike most manufactures, they control all the hardware plus the software, so they can make sure that the entire experience is seamless.

I do agree with this. When I was younger I would happily blow a whole weekend getting my window manager set just so or figuring out how to load load songs onto my Diamond Rio from RedHat. Now I’m middle aged and I’m willing to pay all sorts of $$ to have it just work in a sensible way. And work it does — nothing in android or windows land even comes close. It’s surprising how many comments I see here that are completely oblivious to this and insist on trashing apple for being “not free”. The market has spoken. Almost no one cares.

Interesting: I used to use what you use now, and I gave it up when I realized I was spending too much time re-training, learning the latest UI fads, and not getting any real work done. No consistency, no backwards-compatibility, just the upgrade treadmill. Now that I'm an adult, it isn't worth chasing that anymore, and I'm on Linux now.

Window Maker hasn't changed in a very long time.

I have both android and ios devices. Android is far superior for file management. Ios is a joke in that regard. Folders weren't broken but somehow ios managed to break them. Now if I want to save a random file on my ipad I have to choose a directory related to some unrelated app!? Why can't I just create a directory like I do on every other device I own?

why are you trying to “manage files”? More control comes at the expense of ease of use (generally) it seems like, if you can’t give up one you won’t get the other

Because I need to reference files quickly on the go and can't risk not being able to access them due to poor/no internet connectivity. I also want to be able to save files that ios doesn't provide a way to save (eg download YouTube) and have now found a third party app that lets me do that. Should be a core part of ios. ITunes is shit.

100% agreed. People are complaining online about how the new Mac Mini is priced, but they're not just selling a computer. It's a whole ecosystem of things of mostly reliable stuff that works well with each other. They can put a price premium for the quality of their software ecosystem, which keeps getting better.

Being able to use your phone as a camera to take a photo directly into a document in Pages on your computer is a pretty cool trick.

Having your airpods pairing sync between your devices and easily jump to the device you're using is really well done (from what I hear, I don't have them myself).

A phone getting more than two years of software updates may not be flashy, but I'm more interested in that than anything else that phone manufacturers are doing.

100% agreed. People are complaining online about how the new Mac Mini is priced, but they're not just selling a computer. It's a whole ecosystem of things of mostly reliable stuff that works well with each other.

The old Mac Mini started at $499 with a slow processor even when it was new, a slow hard drive and 4GB of RAM. That was a configuration that no one should have bought. The cheapest previous Mac Mini that anyone should have bought was $699.

A lot of people buy the Mac Mini because it is the cheapest way to do iPhone development.

You really don’t want to run XCode with 4GB of RAM

All of that stuff is great, and does not explain why the Mac Mini, an entry-level Apple computer, is somehow proportionally worth $300 more than it used to be.

Well, it's going from a laptop based dual core CPU, to a desktop based quadcore CPU. Not a great reason to increase the price dramatically, but it is a big difference in terms of performance.

The other thing I think people are failing to realize, is who is the Mac Mini for? It used to be for Windows switchers who wanted to plug in a small box to their existing mouse/keyboard/monitor situation. It was an introduction to the world of OS X. Nowadays, who uses the Mac Mini? Developers who need to compile in Xcode, and probably some creatives. The device serves a much different purpose nowadays, since most of your casual Apple users can get away with an iPad or a MB/MBA.

Personally, the new Mac Mini really appeals to me, regardless of price. I've been using a 2012 era mac mini machine, and the current bottle neck is the CPU. If I can spend $700 today, and have a capable macOS device for another 6-7 years, with some RAM upgrades, I think that's well worth it.

I use one from 2006 or so. Was planning to get a 'new' 2012 one sometime soon. :-) Now, not sure which to get! I just like them. (You sure picked me - its my first Mac, am a programmer/'creative')

It's worth more because people are voluntarily paying more. If it wasn't worth $300 more, then people would by paying less for the alternative, but there isn't one. The amount of hours I've wasted on Windows and lost productivity makes me not even think about price when buying something from Apple.

Yeah, I've had Windows 10 uninstall my GPU drivers and replace them with 6-month old ones that don't work. I know they're supporting a bizarre variety of different hardware, but regardless of the reasons the software reliability isn't there.

Granted there's some tradeoff with repairs, if your Mac dies you probably can't go on Newegg, get a replacement part, and have it fixed yourself in 2 days. But that tradeoff has worked out well for me so far.

The $499 Mac Mini came with 4GB of RAM, a 5400 rpm hard drive and had a 1.4Ghz CPU.

A usable Mac Mini was at least $699.

Bought a couple of the old base level minis for a DTP shop back then (more RAM / IO bound than CPU). They allowed for installing 16GB of cheap commodity RAM and 2x 2.5” drives which netted you a decent 1.5 TB Fusion Drive. Good days. Today, with improved vendor lock-in for essential components, you’re looking at 2k+ for an equivalent spec. No thanks :)

The RAM is user upgradeable, and an external SSD drive connected to TB3 is not going to exactly be slow.

If you are so inclined you can use an eGPU something you couldn’t do on any previous Mac Mini.

That was 4 years ago, so that was probably as reasonable an amount of memory as 8 GB is today. And the Macbook Airs start at a 1.6 GHz dual core, so Apple isn't above using slower processors in new products. It'll work fine for some people.

The SSD is non-negotiable today though, I'll give you that one.

4Gb is good for a media server and not much else.

Between memory compression and very fast SSDs, I bet you could do it. Especially if you aren’t running a bunch of Chrome/Electron stuff like developers tend to.

Of course a lot of the target market for Macs like that would be better served by iPads now.

The 4GB Macs in question were using slow 5400 rpm hard drives.

But, until two months ago, I was using a circa 2009 Core 2 Duo 2.66Ghz laptop with 4GB of RAM with an external USB drive running Windows 10 as a Plex Server. It could do one or two streams depending on the bit rate. It could not do a 4K stream.

They control all the hardware plus the software, yet the results are way more unimpressive than what I'd expect from that. I have bought an iPhone to port my game engine to iOS and setting it up was an unpleasant experience full of little annoying (although harmless) little glitches. Even LineageOS felt better that that, I honestly expected it the other way around - as I'm a Maemo user that got both Android and iOS phones only for development purposes, I tried them both at approximately the same time and could directly compare.

This is so true. People keep comparing the specs with competitors but they're missing the point.

Apple's strength, be it when they are doing it well or not, has always been UX.

Man, I wish I had what you have, because it doesn't "just work". Hook us up with some of that.

there is very little seamless about the newest apple products, especially their software interfaces. i still have no idea what is happening with icloud or their files application or their gesture language. it is all very confusing. and just works? i actually don't own a single apple product that didn't have a major hardware failure within the first few years.

back when it was mac os x versus windows xp, sure, apple was well ahead of everyone else. that isn't true anymore, but people still claim it.

> I think their biggest innovation is making devices where everything just works.

Unless you're holding it wrong.

Or trying to use it in some way contrary to corporate policy.

Or trying to fix it.

In the last two cases, you realize the rest of that aphorism: It Just Works For Apple.

I love the fact that I can keep them in my ear and just go on my Macbook and select the output from the volume icon. I’m always amazed by that.

You know the truly damning thing is that we’re all surprised by this feature working. This is exactly the sort of thing that should be completely painless.

I bought the cheapest possible Bluetooth dongle (says "Griffin" on it, whoever they are) and paired it to my Android phone.

One day I wondered what happens if it can see two paired devices - does it forget one? Is there some unusably awful UX? Does it brick them altogether?

So I paired the Linux laptop. The dongle (which says "Connected" when I turn it on normally near the phone) now says "Second. Device. Connected" when it can also see the laptop. It appeared as one of the output options in the laptop's audio settings. If you play music on the phone, or receive a call, the music on the laptop stops, and you can take the call (or listen to music) instead.

Essentially, with the cheapest available product it appears to be as you say "completely painless". What exactly are Airpods / Apple doing here that makes it worth the extra? Maybe the voice telling you what's going on is nicer?

It's been so long since I've used anything other than my AirPods I'd forgotten this isn't the usual experience.

Yeah, that's the most annoying thing about my Sony bluetooth headphones. They really don't like to switch between my phone and my Mac.

Bluetooth in general is so shitty about this. How iOS/Apple gets it right and no one else does is beyond me.

Tight OS integration is their advantage. Airpods can do things in ways other manufacturers cannot. The OS has special case Airpod code. How would another manufacturer replicate this? I don't think they could without Apple's ecosystem. Try Airpods on Windows. They aren't as simple to setup.

While the pairing process with non-Apple devices is the slightly more cumbersome standard Bluetooth pairing process, they still switch between multiple devices much more easily than other wireless headphones I own. I just tell windows to connect to my AirPods and they connect. I tell my android phone to connect my AirPods and it connects to those instead. Often with other wireless headphones I have to fiddle with the pairing mode on the headphones to get it to allow me to connect it to a different device, even if it’s already been paired in the past. My $350 Bose wireless headphones (2018 model) can only remember pairing with two devices before it needs to be re-paired. So using it with my phone, iPad, and computer is a bit of a pain. There must be other headphone manufacturers that get this right, but the AirPods are my first experience with not being frustrated by Bluetooth headphones, and the first time I’ve found wireless headphones to be less hassle than wired headphones.

I'll second this. Using the same Bluetooth headphones with three computers and a phone would be a nightmare with any other brand, but with the Airpods you just connect and it... works. No mucking around with pairing and for any Apple device you don't even need to open the Bluetooth menu.

>The OS has special case Airpod code. How would another manufacturer replicate this? I don't think they could without Apple's ecosystem.

They could if Apple would license out the W1 chip, or even sell dongles with W1 functionality that convert the 3.5mm jacks in headphones into bluetooth (like one of these: https://www.amazon.com/Bluetooth-Receiver-TaoTronics-Hands-F...).

Of course they never will, but a man can dream.

Other manufacturers could work within the Bluetooth SIG to fix those problems for everyone, if they wanted to. They just don't care enough to make that investment.

well, they get it right just for their systems. could sony try to make their stuff work 'the same' on multiple different windows installs? possibly, but it's a lot of work, and they can't guarantee the same bluetooth radio chips or versions, etc.

Yes. For years I haven't been able to use my Bluetooth headphones with my Android phone :(

Device switching (particular between both Apple and non-Apple devices) is the primary reason I cannot switch to wireless, and cannot buy a phone without a headphone jack.

Moving AirPod pairing from iOS -> Mac works well, but going the other way is always a struggle for me. I nearly always have to go into my iOS device's Bluetooth settings to reconnect. It's tolerable, but an annoyance.

Not that in control center, you can tap and hold or force touch the music widget, then tap the “output” button at top right, then tap on your AirPods to quickly switch them to iOS device if they’re not currently paired.

Yeah, and in theory you can do so in-call as well. I've found both methods to be unreliable.

I’ll be honest about the call option. That doesn’t work for me 99% of the time.

nice, i always wondered why you couldnt do this with a force press on the bluetooth icon

now i know

What I do is put them back in the case real quick and open it near my iPhone. That seems to do the trick though it’s arguably not much better than going into Settings.

I've tried this many times, but it doesn't ever seem to actually work. If my Mac is nearby, it immediately steals the pairing back, even if they're not the most recently selected audio device on the Mac.

Selecting a new audio source from the swipe up menu seems to work pretty consistently for me.

I find it works better if I disconnect them from Mac first.

Part of the problem with the Mac is that Intel has been slow to make progress. Particularly when it comes to faster low-power chips, Moore's Law has been failing us for some time now.

How long till Apple start putting their A-series chips in Macs?

The new iPad Pro already benchmarks as high as some of their recent laptops (Yes, I know the thermals are different, etc but bear with me here)

My bet is that over the years iPad Pro will expand to do more and more of the jobs that people traditionally use MacBooks (or laptops in general) to do. We'll eventually see a world where most people have iPads, not laptops - thereby relying on A-series chips, not Intel, to get their work done. iPad sales are already encroaching Mac sales, and Apple already acknowledges that for most people, the iPad is enough to be their primary computer or soon will be (you can see this in their communications and commercials).

I know it might be difficult for a somewhat technical (and maybe a little bit older) community like HN to imagine, but this is one of my strong beliefs with regards to Apple's product lineup. I truly think the iPad Pro is the dark horse that no one will see coming (especially given that Apple themselves hadn't really focused on iPad deeply for the first couple years of its existence).

I still don't think the iPad is enough even for most consumers. The competition for the iPad pro is the surface, which has more I/O that people would actually use (see that nice USB-A port and headphone jack?) but importantly comes with a full featured OS that everyone has been using for decades. I could see people moving to a surface type device over a laptop because it has a full featured OS, but iOS is just too limiting. Look at how ridiculous the 1 foot iPad looks with two fingers worth of space between every icon; its just too rigid of an OS to support all the different workflows people might have in their jobs.

I think people have used iOS long enough to see that it's pretty limited as far as file management goes. The great multitasking of the iPad is still limited to split screening just two apps, a big step down in productivity from even classic MacOS of the 90s.

I think Surface is part of the future too. I think Surface and iPad will dominate traditional laptop sales in the next decade.

They each represent 2 different opinionated views of productivity/creative-focused computing (just like the 2 different opinions of Android vs iOS in mobile computing). I think you're right that today the Surface does far better in the IO department and IO is a dealbreaker for a lot of people. But again, the world isn't standing still, and Apple just released an iPad Pro with USB-C....that's definitely signaling something.

We don't have to make this a conversation about Apple. I think the whole industry is moving in that direction.

Interestingly, I don't have the same belief in ChromeOS. I don't think it'll ever be truly competitive with the Surface or iPad lineup partly because Microsoft still has a stranglehold on the desktop/laptop market. It'll be easy and tempting to move to a Surface device that can do so much more than ChromeOS without changing your existing workflow from Windows.

Android? Well, Android tablets have languished for a very long time - it's basically a dead market walking. The problem isn't so much the hardware languishing as much as it's the software ecosystem that languishes as a result. Even if the Android ecosystem catches up hardware-wise, it'll be a while before the app ecosystem gets kickstarted again.

I think the Surface turned out to be a better product.

I used to think phones and tablets would be defined by lower performance but extremely energy efficient. And any learning from these low power designs would leak to desktops and laptops, but with more power to play with, they would be faster.

But now we’ve got these very powerful iPads and iPhones, but they exist in a limited ecosystem.

The Surface may not have the fancy A12 SoC but the entire line up seems to have intel cpus and run Windows. And their product lineup seems to be a single platform with increasing capabilities. Tablet, better tablet, laptop, better laptop. But you can run all the same stuff.

I’d love Mac OS in an iPad right now that can use the same binaries.

"Tablets are on the way to replace laptops" has been a claim ever since the very first iPad was released. The numbers don't show that, however. Laptops are still selling strong, and tablets haven't taken over.

I really don't think so.

Whether or not the iPad pro has good hardwear is irrelevant.

What matters is that it is missing and extremely important feature, which is a mouse and keyboard.

I don't care how powerful a keyboard is if I can't use a physical keyboard and mouse for it.

Power can't beat UX, and boy is the keyboard good UX when you compare it to tablets or phones.

This sounds like the kind of argument people made when the iPhone had a software keyboard and every other smartphone had a physical tactile keyboard.

What I think you're missing is that the world will evolve in ways to accommodate a mouse-light interface or evolve to include it if it becomes obvious that it's mission-critical (it's not at all obvious today, despite legacy thinking). Neither version of the future precludes the iPad at all. Just look at the new gestural interface on the new iPhone X/XR/XS devices. It makes navigating the OS effortless and super fast in ways that it simply wasn't before. Before it, people were saying that it's too slow to navigate on a mobile device. How many other innovations like that are coming down the line? We don't know.

I say this as someone who's used an iPad Pro along with the Keyboard Cover for quite some time. No, you won't be able to type on it for hours and hours. But you'll be able to type on it for an hour or so consistently. That's a BIG deal, and changes A LOT. It's only going to get better from here. There are a lot of apps that support countless keyboard shortcuts, including Google's whole G Suite, Office 365, Lightroom, and the upcoming full version of Photoshop in 2019.

If you asked me 3 years ago if I thought the iPad would replace Laptops, I'd tell you probably not. Apple had done little to differentiate it from the iPhone lineup in terms of iOS or even hardware features. But with the iPad Pro specifically, I think things have taken a real turn and Apple is signaling that they're ready to focus on taking it from a media consumption device to a more productive, mission-critical device.

120hz refresh rate, full digitizer, Apple Pencil, the new integrated keyboard cases, a new focus on pro apps, and a ton of improvements to the actual UI/UX to make multitasking and app-switching easier....etc etc. These were all the things that were missing for a long time. But Apple is finally doing all the things needed to move iPad in a direction where people will choose it over laptops at an increasing rate.

The kicker is this: Apple announced recently during WWDC that iOS apps will work on MacOS. Many of their new stock apps in MacOS Mojave are just ported iOS apps. They are truly and confidently doubling down on iOS and iPad.

That's my personal prediction and belief anyway.

Phones never replaced laptops though. Phone are useful, and yet will never ever replaced the desktop, solely because of screen size. You can't magic a full screen monitor on your phone.

Yes, iPads could be useful for some circumstances, but power was never the limiting factor.

Take an iPad from 5 years ago, and you have something that works just as well for all iPad usecases.

My point is that I don't think anyone could imagine sitting 8 hours a day, typing away at an iPad.

For office work, a mouse and keyboard is essential.

How can you possible spend hours typing away at something that doesn't have a keyboard? And the vast majority of office usecases involve lots and lots of typing and mouse usage.

An iPad being useful is not the same thing as replacing office work.

I think it's coming very soon, perhaps in the next generation of Macbook Pros. The writing was on the wall when Apple released the new iPad Pros: https://bgr.com/2018/11/01/new-ipad-pros-speed-will-be-a-nig...

I know these are synthetic benchmarks, but it's incredible to see the A12X outperform the iMac 27" Retina... These chips have the potential to blow the doors off of Intel's Core i7/i9 while having 2x the battery life.

> How long till Apple start putting their A-series chips in Macs?

What most people call a Mac? I'm betting 2020.

If you expand your thought a bit, you could say they already have the A-series chips in a Mac with the new iPad Pros. It looks like before long Adobes creative suite will be on the iPad Pro. It has a keyboard, can hook up to external monitors, etc... And, while it still would not work for most people on HN, it is getting very close to a full computer replacement for many.

Did you know 'Moore's Law' is a nice idea, and not actually regulated by anything?

Yes, but it's an assumption on which many decisions across the industry on predicated, because it has held fairly consistent for a long time, until recently.

Moore's Law truly ending would cause a lot of upheaval. Is causing, but luckily a lot of the industry has shifted focus to mobile anyway, where advancements continue to accelerate for now.

There are lots of similar features which are just really nice from a UX perspective. The whole WiFi password sharing thing is basically perfect - and underlying a lot of these features are relatively complex technologies.

I agree it doesn’t excuse the lack of attention to Mac hardware though. That’s something I find absolutely baffling; I don’t understand the reason why they’re not periodically releasing newer Macs instead of letting whole chunks of the product line rot. I get that consumer devices are more profitable, but I struggle to think that they wouldn’t still make a handsome sum of money. The product lineup is still kind of spotty and weird. That said, it’s possible that the recent releases and upcoming Mac Pro will mark a bit of a change of pace on this front.

TBH Cook seems rather miserly. There seems to be a "Bare minimum with the odd cool extra thrown in to give us a USP and maximum margins" approach, and not so much of the "How OMG wow can we make everything we do?" of the Jobs days. (Hit and miss as it was - more hits than misses, IMO.)

It's a fine big pile of beans financially, but ambitions for the future UX and brand image - including support - seem to be shrinking rather than expanding.

All those terrible things would be fine if people stopped buying them. You vote for what you want with money and if people are willing to buy terrible things then they will continue making it.

People aren't buying terrible things, they're buying the best thing available to them.

Edit: Samsung/Microsoft/Google are free to come up with their own ecosystem and quality hardware devices that don't have the drawbacks that Apple's do. But for some reason they don't.

The idea that people think there is no better / equivalent alternative is an issue. Why people are willing to begrudgingly spend thousands on something without doing research doesn't make a lot of sense.

Because people want it? I don't understand why tech people can't understand the most obvious of actions. Apple is popular because people love their products.

Apple may not always have the specs or work best with non-Apple services, but Apple products are consistently high quality, integrate nicely into Apple's ecosystem, and are brand that shows its owners are a certain type of class. Signifying you're of a certain type of class or are "hip" seems to be what so many tech people get hung up upon yet its basic consumerism.

Certain types of people wear Nike clothes or wear Ralph Lauren, or drive a Tesla. Showing you're a HENRY (High Earner; Not Rich Yet) is apart of Apple's appeal.

So no, people know there are Apple alternatives but they don't care because Apple has an appeal that other tech companies have trouble emulating on top of constantly being high quality products. There's almost no Apple product that is "bottom of the barrel" in terms of quality.

Apple processors always blow away the competitors by miles and it takes them the competitors up to a year to catch up. They have amazing cameras, music quality, build, looks, display, security, etc. If they aren't the best, they are in the top 3. And that is all in 1 phone.

I do not personally prefer Apple cause it is not my cup of tea (and I need headphone jack) but they have been coming up with amazing phones year after year, and you can easily skip a year without it affecting your usage.

They cannot reinvent the wheel every time.

> They have amazing cameras

Apple don't make camera sensors, yet.

A camera isn't just a sensor, it's the complete package, and software plays a very big role in making any sensor take great photos.

I do research and my couple forays into Android, while less expensive, were not good experiences. Admittedly my last Android phone was a Nexus 5, so maybe I should look again?

The problem is after other poor experiences I will only get a Google phone. The Pixel 3 XL with 128gb is $999. A new iPhone Xs is 1249 for the 256gb. Is taking yet another chance on Android worth $250? How well will that Pixel 3 XL even be supported?

It just isn't as simple as no one does any research.

Exactly this.

I've made four attempts to consider an Android ecosystem and have owned the following:

Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Note 5, and Pixel 2XL.

The Nexus/Pixel phone hardware were fine, but I found that the software ecosystem was heavily lacking. I got the impression that to the majority of Android devs, UX was the last thing they cared about.

The Note 5 on the other hand was one of the most disrespectful, anti-consumer experiences I had ever encountered since ditching a dumbphone years ago. The carrier I used (Verizon) felt it was appropriate to plaster its own logo on the back of the phone and in a loading splash screen when powering on the phone, plus preload the phone with a bunch of useless apps that could not be uninstalled.

Every single time that I've purchased an Android device hoping that it was finally good enough, I've ended up carrying my iPhone as a secondary device within a week and either returning or throwing the Android device in the drawer within a month.

The negatives were mainly concerning their desktop / laptop designs and business model of said desktop / laptops.

Often there really is no better / equivalent alternative. If you have a specific need for a particular feature then there may be only a few devices with offer it at all. So as a consumer you have a choice between buying crap or nothing at all. There's no economic way to signal that you'd be willing to pay for something better.

What if people know they're not getting the fastest/biggest/best but pay a premium anyway? It might be a trope but "it just works" is a heck of a value proposition for most people.

But for some reason they don't.

Microsoft are adding headphones to the Surface range very soon, early reviews are very positive.

And then my laptop/tablet crashes with every update. Not to mention, they are priced similarly, yet they somehow sell less reliable devices. Contrary to that, I've been using my 2012 MacBook Pro non-retina and iPhone SE with public beta for over two years now, and they haven't crashed even once.

Windows just isn't cool, no matter how hard Microsoft tries to rebrand it. It'll never be cool until Microsoft does something to not make it ubiquitous.

Windows is what you use when you're a kid at a public school or have parents that don't have the money to buy a Mac. Macs and iPhones are trendy because not everyone owns them, they're really nice, and they're pricey.

Windows is like Wal-mart while Apple is Whole Foods.

Windows isn't cool because of BSODs, constant restarts and waiting for it to update, and Candy Crush advertisements in the start menu. And the hibernate/sleep function worked terribly (at least for the longest time, don't know if it's fixed now), compared to Apple's fold down the screen when you want to go and open it back up to what you were doing and it works all the time.

That too.

Microsoft allows venders with terrible design teams to sell their product and customers associate Windows with these product lines. Microsoft cannot control their brand.

Apple controls the entire stack so they're able to constantly deliver a quality experience.

If all Windows machines were like the Surface Book then this conversation would be different.

But Microsoft themselves is now the one putting candy crush ads on the start menu, and forcing everyone into a two-major-upgrades-per-year cycle that's causing so many headaches.

Lets also not forget the shell is so shit that they finally started shipping the linux subsystem.

Honestly I would have gone to primarily linux instead of mac years ago if osx hadn't been what it is (bsd/*nix).

40%+ of smart phones sold in the US are iPhones There is no exclusivity in owning an iPhone.

Tell that to people who deride their “green bubble friends”

edit: Apple isn't the best choice. (previously: I think it's increasingly obvious that for everyone except osx stans, it's not the best choice available)

and it hasn't been for a long time. Apple was at their peak imo with the MacBook pro a generation or two back. They took out the disk drive (everyone said that was radical, but hadn't used it in years) and worked with the single piece of aluminum. Nowadays, that's not just familiar, it's pedestrian. There's plenty of options in the PC world that have that. What has apple done since? Removed magsafe and usb a??? Made the worst laptop keyboard to be on a flagship in memory?

It used to be that Apple was the only place you could get great design, a phenomenal screen, and good battery life in the same package. But other manufacturers (especially Dell, Lenovo, and Microsoft) have seriously stepped up.

> I think it's increasingly obvious that for everyone except osx stans, it's not the best choice available, and it hasn't been for a long time

The problem with arguments like this is that they're self-reinforcing. If I try to refute it, you'll just peg me as an "osxistan" (is that a country?) and say I've proven you right.

thats a fair criticism, i'll consider rewording (stan is a reference to a superfan of eminems, from his song stan). alternatively, you could of course explain why you think apple laptops are the best choice still in 2018(if that's how you feel), its not as if i didn't have some reasoning in my comment that you are free to clash with.

I have a Macbook Pro with touch bar and a Dell XPS. Windows seems to have endless updates and little control over them. Drivers are a pain, bios updates seem to be really important. Blue screens. Unreliable Bluetooth. I've had dell support need to replace almost everything in that machine. And this is supposed to be one of the best Windows laptops.

After six months of struggle with the Dell, I got a MBP. I actually love the keyboard. The speakers are amazing. The trackpad is the industry best. Bluetooth works perfectly. The screen is gorgeous, the build quality is unmatched, and Mac OS is intuitive, clutter free, and stable.

Night and day difference between them.

I think windows updates are the worst part of windows, with apple, it seems to be fanfare to new features, with occasional bugs, but with windows, its not communicated to the user what's being fixed, or how long it will take until it begins. the experiance with the dell bluescreen on a new machine is unacceptable, full stop. at the same time, i'd be terrified of the possibility of the macbook pro keyboard bricking at any time. do you miss USB A?

> its not as if i didn't have some reasoning in my comment that you are free to clash with

I could have, but I didn't see much reason to because you didn't seem open to a discussion. You preemptively dismissed any argument by implying that anyone who disagrees with you is a "osx stan".

> alternatively, you could of course explain why you think apple laptops are the best choice still in 2018(if that's how you feel)

I do feel that Apple laptops are the best choice _for me_. I don't much care what laptop you use. I think everyone should pick the tools that work best for them. We don't have to be on the same platform to collaborate.

My main reason for choosing Apple laptops is macOS, but I also think the hardware is very good. Expensive, but very good.

It’s a pointless discussion. We’d be better off playing tic-tac-toe to decide who is “right”. What is “the best” isn’t a factual thing, it’s a preference.

Unless we see some major innovations in battery or display technology, I don't even know what new territory we expect Apple to pioneer at right now in smartphones.

The tech press cares a whole lot about having a steady stream of new and shiny things. But I think most people want to live in a world where their relationship to technology involves just buying the best one you can afford at the time and use it until it either stops working or is no longer adequate to your needs. Then you repeat.

Banking on loyalty isn't a bad thing. It means people think your product is reliable and served them well the last time they made the purchase.

I don't expect Apple to pioneer anything in smartphones. I expect Apple to pioneer in health, home automation, anyone-can-play content distribution, robotics, non-ridiculous comfortable VR/AR, conversational AI, and customer support quality.

These are all open product frontiers, and the next+++(+) iPad Pro is going to become increasingly irrelevant unless Apple develops a strong lead in at least some of them.

You can see the movement being made in a few of these, but there's no evidence so far of any likely game changers in the pipeline - just slimmer and more minimal hardware, with a few OS tweaks.

It's soon 2019, I never used any wireless earbuds/plugs and I'm doing well.

The word you probably intended to use is languish instead of vanquish.

Is there any decent data on those AirPods? I am considering them against the OnePlus Bullet Wireless if I'm forced to go this way with a new phone. Overall I'm not a big fan of the completely separated earbud style Apple went with and I'm not using them with any other Apple hardware. The OnePlus design seems better, the price is much cheaper and the charging time is much less, but if the quality isn't there then maybe the Apple ones are the way to go.

I just wish they had decent objective quality numbers like I can find for even fairly cheap wired headphones via InnerFidelity. Anyone know if these are widely published for any of the wireless headphones?

Yes. Here it is :


They have most truly wireless earphones, but the OP Bullets aren't on there yet.

That's pretty disappointing, looks like they lose a lot of the lows compared to even the $20 Xiaomi Piston 3 (wired) ones I'm used to or the slightly more expensive VSonic VSD1 series.

This is my biggest worry with wireless - paying a lot more money for a lot less in the quality department. Thanks for the link though, seems like good data and I'll definitely check out some other options.

AirPods have no latency issues since the latency is taken into account when playing back video. It seems the video is belt back by the expected latency of the Bluetooth connection.

Thanks, that was the impression I got on my phone - it seemed to automatically compensate for the Bluetooth delay, maybe it's more of an issue when using it on a desktop which doesn't have that functionality.

I think you'd need to specify what kind of data you're looking for. Apple publishes the specs for dynamic range and whatnot but it sounds like you're looking for some kind of mythical "quality" number.

The battery life and charging is arguably the best thing, and they do sound great, but they also have a high pitched electronic frequency in them that I've gone through a replacement and still had. Pain in the ass.

I love 'em, and I want them to be better :)

I'll wait until the AirPods has noise-cancelling. I can't wait until Apple enters into the NC game!

They already are in it with Beats. [1] I imagine the engineering challenge of ANC with earpods is enormous. If they can shrink that down to AirPod size, that’d be one of the biggest technological marvels they’d accomplish.

1. https://store.apple.com/xc/product/MTQW2LL/A

I don't think this will ever happen.

They were designed to be used whilst people are walking around doing everyday things. That includes being near traffic where cancelling all of the noise can kill you.

Expect them to do noise cancelling in over ear form as part of Beats brand similar to 1000MX3 and QC35.

Yeah, I carry AirPods and good old Bose noise-cancelling in-ear earphones. The AirPods are convenient eg inside, but just too permeable to sound; when there is any noise around, I have to revert to the Boses.


Do you also react the same to people with any of the many, many wireless headphone brands out there, or do you reserve your wannabe-cool smugness only for Apple users?

Most wireless headphones don’t really call attention to themselves. AirPods are truly, terribly ugly, and do. Granted, taste is a subjective matter.

If I’d ever noticed someone wearing the ridiculous Google Pixel Buds, I’d probably do the same thing. Life’s too short to waste on poor technology — and Bluetooth headphones are a poor replacement for headphones (and keyboards, and mice). I’m reminded a bit of those ludicrous TV infomercials: ‘Aren’t you tired of the hassle of tying your own shoes? Try new Velcro TieMasters™, and never tie a shoe again!’

I hate it when corded headphones get caught in door handles and yank out of your ears, it's such an uncomfortable feeling. Also, i've never heard anyone admit to smirking before.

Anyone who wears "AirPods" is a massive cookie cutter. I lose respect for people the instant I see those things in their ears

Why? They're a good product.

What a silly article. How someone could look at Apple's chip developments (A, T, S, W, etc. series of processors) and think they aren't innovative is mind-boggling. Apple developing key silicon in their devices is a major security benefit for their users and I consider that an innovative model.

The Apple ecosystem itself is innovative and I don't think there's a single company that does it better.

They still lead in interfaces (biometrics...FaceID) and multi-touch gestures.

I don't use Siri, but I'm glad they are developing that technology in a way that doesn't flat-out violate the privacy of their users. I just hope all the criticism comparing Siri versus Google Assistant and Cortana don't push them to change that posture.

It feels like Apple hate is becoming a meme. You can certainly criticize the company... their product line is becoming confusing, but to say they "used" to be an innovator is ignorant.

> It feels like Apple hate is becoming a meme.

Hasn't it always been, though? This probably comes off as conspiracy-theoretic, but I feel like there's a real financial incentive to keep their stock prices as in-flux as possible to allow for proper buy-in/cash-out gains.

I can certainly believe that there are plenty of people that try to manipulate the stock price, but most Apple haters aren't playing the stock market.

By far the most common cause of Apple hate I see is what appears to be consumers who are essentially disgruntled that none of Apple's products are targeted at their own use case: eg. gamers who always decried the Mac Pro because they wanted a cheap traditional desktop, not a workstation; or people who wish Apple was competing in the $500 laptop market, or the 8+lbs mobile workstation or gaming laptop market. A large portion of complaints about Apple hardware being overpriced can be traced back to misunderstandings about what Apple's actually selling and how it differs from the Dell that somebody tries to compare it to. (Of course, there are plenty of things that Apple does over-charge for.)

Next most common are probably the people who despise the "walled garden". They're quite vocal in these parts of the web, but I doubt they outnumber the previous category of Apple detractors.

Or people who don't like having to deal with dongles.

After seeing Jim Cramer mention on camera the idea of putting out a false Apple rumor (example given in 2006 was "The iPhone is being delayed"), I'm less inclined to write off conspiracies in this regard. Don't know that it's a full-blown Conspiracy™, but the financial incentives are there for the right people.

The financial incentive is much more pedestrian: hot take clickbait for struggling news organizations.

And TouchId. And FaceID. And Apple Watch. And Airpods. And Apple Pencil. And TrueTone. And Swift. And the new file system.

Anybody who thinks Apple isn’t innovating is an ignorant jackass.

All of these things are true but none of those have even come close to the way they moved the needle with the phone/pad.

Of course let's count the number of years it took them to get there from the newton. You can't just shit out a new groundbreaking ecosystem/product every year like clockwork. If you try 99% of those will be huge misses.

Apple Watch is dominating the wearables space.

And the level of sophistication and complexity in the Series 4 version is really impressive e.g. ECG, Heart Rate Monitor, Siri, Apple Pay.

Exactly they cannot keep inventing the wheel.

> Apple Pencil

huh...not a joke

Not an artist, but apparently the pencil is way better than the pen and tablet solutions shipped by companies like Wacom. And apparently the new version could possibly be the smallest inductive charging system yet produced.

> And apparently the new version could possibly be the smallest inductive charging system yet produced.

I think that title is still held by Samsung's Note 9 stylus.

None of those are innovations, merely entering a market space that already existed. Sure, they've done that in the past with the phone...but they crafted it so well it put everyone to shame. Outside of the Apple Watch the others in your list haven't really pushed boundaries. Even the Apple Watch has a lot of gimmicks that no one uses and things like the Fitbit can easily mimicked at a much lower cost.


The face is not a particularly good biometric modality - its main use is identification without user cooperation.

Iris recognition wins in pretty much every category.

Putting conditions on the use of the hardware is distinctly harmful to consumers in a way that otherwise good design cannot ameliorate.

Conditions like "must log in to a Google account to use this" and "must agree that Google can harvest your private data for financial gain so we can pay off those executives" yes that is harmful.

I've yet to see a product that requires that. Let's compare Apple's devices against devices that actually exist instead of terrible devices that exist only in fantasy.

You can run as Guest on a Chromebook. No Google account required.

Oh, Guest mode, that makes everything OK then. lol

It certainly breaks your claim and shows that Apple is the worst offender.

Uhhhh... no.

No argument here :)

Which has nothing to do with innovation. You might not like it, but it’s a meaningless argument when you’re asking about whether Apple is innovative or not.

Also, good luck finding a phone that doesn’t do that.

I wasn't arguing against them being innovative, I was pointing out that they are definitely also a landlord.

> Also, good luck finding a phone that doesn’t do that.

Not a good defense of amoral behavior.


Two months ago, Apple announced an ECG sensor for your wrist. A year before that, they announced face detection for the purposes of identity with enough accuracy that it can be used for financial transactions. Also, AirPods are incredible. I'm not saying Apple has a monopoly on invention, but to say they 'used to be an inventor'? That's weird.

Personally, I find FaceID to be vastly inferior to TouchID for many of my regular use cases.

Perhaps the worst one is that you cannot easily unlock your phone while it lays on a conference room table to see the contents of a message. You need to picking it up and point it at your face. Likewise when using the phone while it is in a stand/holder.

The one and only benefit I found is during the winter, it is easier to unlock the phone with gloves on.

Both of them are terrible for security.

Both of them are terrible for security.

Please stop propagating this falsehood, or at least accept that it comes with caveats. Biometric ID on Apple devices is likely to be a significant improvement for many users.

It _always_ depends on your threat model. Most people need protection from snooping family members, or people who find your phone if you lose it. For these use cases Face/Touch ID both work great. If you are trying to secure your data from the NSA, well you have probably already lost, but by all means, turn off Face ID.

> If you are trying to secure your data from the NSA, well you have probably already lost, but by all means, turn off Face ID.

If you're trying to secure your data from the NSA, carry a flip phone and turn it off and throw it in the freezer before you have any sensitive in-person conversations. Also have all of your sensitive in-person conversations right next to a loud white noise generator (i.e. on the seashore). And memorize all of your confidential information. And always carry a highly reliable suicide method in case you get captured and interrogated.

I'm not being funny here, these are literally the precautions that people take against state-level espionage.

"for many users"

I think the OP is signaling they were already aware of the threat model point before your comment.

How do you protect against family members who have enough pictures of you to create a 3D printed model of your head [1]?

[1]: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/hackers-trick-apple-iphone-x...

> How do you protect against family members who have enough pictures of you to create a 3D printed model of your head [1]?

With therapy.

Was that ever confirmed? The article you link raises doubts about it, and I could find no followup when searching, just contemporary press.

Here's a contemporary article doubting it: https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/11/hacke...

After 10 attempts it's going to wipe the phone.

Given how sensitive FaceID is I don't think this is a realistic bypass approach. Not that it was even confirmed anyway.

If they are that desperate, you’ve got bigger problems.

I find Face ID to be a vast improvement over Touch ID. It's much faster and less fiddly to unlock the phone than with the old Touch ID. I love that you can activate and unlock the phone just by looking at it. Apple Pay is much faster. And I like that it's smart enough to not dim the screen when you're looking at it, even if you haven't interacted with the device for a while.

My personal inconvenience is that I'm myopic so I tend to hold my phone too close to my face. The camera doesn't see me and have to tap the PIN every other time. TouchID doesn't depend on that and where my face is. My fingers are always near the phone.

However, I recognize this is an edge case.

I am also near sighted. I have to back the phone away from my face to get it to unlock when I am not wearing glasses/contacts. At least it will retry on a swipe-up.

I find that Face ID is only a mild win over Touch ID in situations where it's better, such as when you're taking the phone out of your pocket in one motion, or when the phone is propped upright and you get more details on a notification.

But in situations where it fails I find that it fails harder and repeatedly, which makes you want to choose a simple password (perhaps that's why Apple tucks away the alphanumeric option). When a phone is laying flat on a desk, you can lean your face over the phone. When your head is on a pillow, you can lift your head off the pillow. When the lighting conditions aren't good, you can just turn on the lights and position the phone at that "magic distance" until it unlocks. But if you don't it'll just fail again and again.

As a minor point, I'm surprised that you prefer to double press while looking at your phone, versus having a fingerprint reader on the back so you can unlock your phone in one gesture of hand toward the payment system.

"When the lighting conditions aren't good"

Huh? Face ID uses infrared. It doesn't need external light.

You're right about the pillow thing, but the way I see it, if you can't lift your head off a pillow you probably shouldn't be using your phone!

"I'm surprised that you prefer to double press while looking at your phone"

The double-press for Apple Pay? In many situations you don't actually have to do this. Just place the phone up against the store's reader, then look directly at the phone and Apple Pay will activate without further interaction.

On London Underground and Buses, though, that's awkward and might hold up the queue, so I do double-tap to activate Apple Pay in advance before getting to the reader. But that's certainly no more difficult than with Touch ID, when you had to double-tap the home button.

(Also, you don't have to double-press and look simultaneously. The double-press will activate Apple Pay, then a quick glance at the phone will unlock it for payment. You then have a minute or so to actually touch it on the card reader).

Ok, but whether or not you like it, it's certainly a new feature that is technically sophisticated.

Apple did not need to introduce FaceID... seems to me a non-inventing landlord would have just ridden TouchID as long as possible.

I have an old iPhone, so I can't compare the two. But what I will say is that I REGULARLY have trouble with TouchID. Hands not dry enough, or just failing to recognize fingerprint for other reasons. If FaceID does better than work, say, 2/3 of the time then I'll have a better experience than TouchID.

I have unusually greasy fingers, so TouchID never worked for me on iPhone. (It seems to work fine on my MacBook Pro, though, so maybe it got better). FaceID doesn't consistently recognize the particular smushed shape of my face first thing in the morning, but other than that, it's perfect.

Just a reminder, that under US law, the 5th amendment only applies to passwords (what you know), and not biometrics (what you are). If you choose to use FaceID, thumbprints etc, the government can force you to unlock your device.

Another reminder, you can temporarily disable Face/Touch ID by holding the volume up and power buttons for two seconds, something you could probably do while your phone is in your pocket without anyone noticing.

>something you could probably do while your phone is in your pocket without anyone noticing

that's easy to do if you're driving a car and you get pulled over, but what if a cop stops you on the street? reaching into your pocket is asking to get shot.

*Does not apply to the rest of developed countries.

I just tried this on a 6S plus and it doesn't work.

The one that does is to rapidly press the power button 5 times.

I think GP's instructions work only on Face ID devices.

Yes, but it is worth clarifying since GP explicitly said: "disable Face/Touch ID".

I thought the short cut was hitting the power button 5 times?

That will also do it on certain phones. It depends on the model.

>A year before that, they announced face detection for the purposes of identity with enough accuracy that it can be used for financial transactions.

considering a random scribble on a receipt or check is enough to authorize/authenticate a transaction, that bar is pretty low.

That’s not the bar anywhere outside the US. It’s a huge improvement in the US, but it’s still a big improvement everywhere else too.

> A year before that, they announced face detection for the purposes of identity

Somewhat like Windows Hello, that also existed, based on technology from the Xbox Kinect?

> Two months ago, Apple announced an ECG sensor for your wrist.

Okay, so this is cool. But, putting on my paramedic hat for a moment, there is _SO_ much disinformation about what this does and what it is capable of detecting, what the difference is between FDA _clearance_ and _approval_, etc.

It can detect A-fib. This is a common, but usually not life threatening medical condition. It's good to have it diagnosed, but even undiagnosed, many people live happy lives blisfully unaware of it. Another way you can potentially recognize A-fib? It's not quite as fancy as the Apple Watch, though: put your fingers on your radial pulse by your wrist. Feel yourself skipping every fourth beat? That _could_ be a problem (though there are other diagnoses).

The Apple Watch does not and _cannot_ (despite ill-informed articles by Cnet and others) take the place of a "12 lead" ECG (random detail, in the medical field, ECG usually refers to an echocardiogram, an ultrasound imaging, and EKG, for electrocardiogram, is most commonly used for what the Apple Watch and other devices are doing).

From Cnet[1]: "Traditional EKG machines have 12 leads with electrodes that are attached all over your body to measure the electrical signals. Apple compares what the Apple Watch Series 4 does to a single-lead EKG, which research shows is just as effective at measuring the heart's electrical signals as a 12-lead machine."

This is flat out and factually wrong. The linked research shows nothing of the sort, and tries to walk someone through using a single lead system multiple times (up to 10), to get the full results of a 12 lead (if you've ever wondered why a 12 lead EKG only requires 10 physical leads, think of them more as 'axes', measured multiple ways, i.e. from lead 1 to lead 4, lead 1 to 5, etc), and then being able to aggregate them manually. For one, this requires moving the end points of the leads multiple times, something you could not do with the Apple Watch (or, to be clear and fair, any other watch), unless you're planning on holding it in many different spots in sequence (which then has issues of being more a time lapse, than a snapshot).

What does that mean? It can't diagnose impending heart attacks, nor heart disease, valve problems, circulatory disorders, and it likely never will, especially with current hardware.

This is also why it's obtained FDA clearance, not approval. To use a metaphor, it's more like a fitness device on steroids, so to speak, with some minor overlap into general health. But not that much more.

[1]: https://www.cnet.com/how-to/apple-watch-ekg-what-is-ekg/

Having said that, an incidental 1 lead EKG on a wrist that can be brought up to your primary care and cardiologist at a later date is a game-changer. In clinical practice we will often use a Holter monitor (4 lead wearable EKG) to look for paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, but having a passive monitor such as this on for months at a time will help doctors have more information regarding tachycardias like atrial fibrillation. I disagree profoundly with the assessment that the Apple Watch is just a glorified fitbit. (Source: medical resident)

ECG on your wrist is a gimmick, not a true innovation. Extremely impressive from a technical standpoint, but not actually relevant to many consumers.

The criticism always comes back to how impactful the original iPhone and iPod were. Apple has failed to live up to that standard ever since, but to be honest it's an impossible standard to be held to.

It's embarrassing that this doesn't include a massive, bold-faced disclaimer above the headline.

Bloomberg is in the midst of a credibility-destroying fight with Apple over a sensational story that no other journalists can corroborate. Bloomberg has dug in, staking their reputation on Apple being wrong.

Seemingly in response Bloomberg... publishes a hand-wavy piece of cultural criticism about the meaning of Apple doing iterative design?

What is embarrassing is believing there's now a conspiracy against Apple because Bloomberg got a scoop and decided to follow through.

Don't worry, Apple can survive some criticism.

Who said anything about a conspiracy? It's a basic premise of journalism—if your outlet is embroiled in a war with a certain subject, you need to disclose that so your readers can properly contextualize your recycled lightweight column.

I don't think there's a conspiracy. I don't know whether Bloomberg or Apple are right. I didn't comment on that. But I do think this article and the lack of a disclosure is a horrible look for Bloomberg.

Scoops are usually considered first reports of true stories.

Your interpretation of the comment you are replying to is far from generous and from what our standard should be.

hammock 3 months ago [flagged]

Thanks albedoa for always being there to point out how others misinterpret what different people are really saying.

Nobody knows who you are.

That's definitely a shame. It's filed under "Bloomberg Opinion" though (with a disclaimer at end about it being opinion of the article author).

P.S. it's even worse that the hypocrite fans don't callout when the paid-for praise happens without disclaimer. And that happens way more often.

I'm generally against the "opinion/news" distinction anyway, but the same disclosures should apply in the opinion section. For example, if a newspaper published an opinion piece arguing against a new health care law, shouldn't readers know that the writer is the head of an insurance company that would lose billions if the law were past?

I agree with you—if a company advertises with a given outlet and journalists write stories about that company, positive or negative, I'd like to know about it. Unlike in this case, there is the supposed "separation of church and state" that protects newsrooms from the advertising side of these businesses. But I'm skeptical that works perfectly in practice.

But this is something else entirely. There's no firewall between Bloomberg's editors and... Bloomberg's editors.

Do you know what really worries me about Apple now?

So, when SJ came back to Apple, he reorganized their (then at the time) computer lines into more streamlined ones. Something like (I might get some of the names wrong), into consumer/pro and portable/desktop

iBook/Powerbook, iMac/Powermac

Now look at their line now

What the F is an iPhone XR? Is the XS "better" than the X or not? Why are there 2 iPad Pros? Is an iPad 4 better than an iPad? Which one is which?

Not to mention the dongles, USB-C mess, etc

They've definitely failed at saying 'no' - no to selling last years model as a budget, no to selling 2 different sizes of the same phone, they've lost their mojo in saying "this is the best product available if you're looking for an everyday driver and don't need all the RAM in the world", or, "this is the best product available if you're running Final Cut Pro on the road"

To your point, you can actually buy 2 different Macbook Airs from their official shop, clicking through the glossy introduction of the one released last week, 5th generation i5 or 8th generation i5 with TouchID, slim bezel, USB C etc

Selling last year's model as a budget option was a Steve Jobs decision. It started with the iPhone 3G, which remained on sale in 2009 for a lower price, after the 3Gs was released.

Expanding SKUs was also a Jobs decision. He cut the computer line back to the quadrants in the late 90s as a way to triage the company. But later he oversaw the introduction of multiple new product lines, models, sizes, and color combinations.

Critics fretted about focus when he introduced the Cube, when he introduced the iPod, when he introduced the Macbook Air, when he introduced the iPad, when he introduced the Xserve, when he introduced the Hi-Fi. Some of them worked, some of them didn't. The ones that worked, really worked well though.

Steve Jobs was not perfect and what he set out is not doctrine. Apple can be successful without following what he has done in the past. Simply computing has moved on, people own computers for different reasons and the pro / consumer split is not as clear as it once was. Devices can be fashion accessories. Where / how does that fit into the Steve jobs pro / consumer split?

They didn’t stop selling the $999 non-retina “old” MBair because that is Apple’s single best-selling computer. They sell a fuckton of them every September.

Jobs era re-designed the boxes with chip generations, but there's always been sku complexity and naming consistency weirdness

iMac SE / iBook SE iMac Aluminum - Core2/i3/i5/i7 20, 21, 24, 27 iTools/.Mac/MobileMe/iCloud iPod Mini/Shuffle/Nano/Touch 3rd 4th 5th gen USB1/USB2/FireWire400/800/30-pin/ . . iPhone XS/XSMax/XR lightning/usb-c

Agreed. "Early 2014" is not a good model description

This drives me crazy with Mac products. Would it kill Apple to print the damn hardware revision on the case? It doesn't have to be big, just a tiny line of text in the back corner that tells you exactly what hardware you have.

My MBP says "Model A1502 EMC 2830" on the bottom. My iMac says Model A1207, EMC 2118. My old MBP is Model A1226, EMC 2136. These are short unique model identifiers and any web search will get you all the specs and spare parts you want.

Apple has stopped including strings like "2.4GHz Core 2 Duo/2GB/256MB VRAM/160GB 5400rpm", but then only half of that is accurate for the machine I just read that off of, because of upgrades. (And that label was only accessible by pulling out the battery.)

They do do this. There's a "Model A####"included in the tiny text on the back of iOS devices, and on the underside of laptops.

A few quick thoughts:

>What the F is an iPhone XR? Is the XS "better" than the X or not?

Somewhat agree about the XR, though I guess the idea is it's one less than an S, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and say their "S" naming scheme has been consistent since it was introduced after the iPhone 4.

> Why are there 2 iPad Pros?

Steve once said netbooks were dead, then released a laptop in exactly that form factor (11 in MBA). Clearly there was market demand for it, and I assume their must be demand for both sizes here as well.

> Is an iPad 4 better than an iPad?

Agree here, they've changed this particular convention a lot, but looks like we're settling on Pro and base.

> Not to mention the dongles, USB-C mess, etc

Very much agree here. I really, really hope dongle hell will be a short lived phenomenon and USB-C adoption in peripherals and the rest of the industry picks up. Apple has been right about big bets like this before, so hopefully here too, but right now, it is definitely a mess.

> Steve once said netbooks were dead, then released a laptop in exactly that form factor (11 in MBA). Clearly there was market demand for it, and I assume their must be demand for both sizes here as well.

Just a point of clarification on netbooks. Netbooks were a flop because they were bulky, slow, hard to type on, had terrible screens, and came with minuscule trackpads.

The air was none of those things, and was the progenitor of a new class of laptop that would be known as "Ultrabooks".

Another example was when Steve said 7-inch tablets were "too small" and you'd need to file-down your fingers to use them (not sure what you'd need to operate 3.5-inch iPhones then). He said this while Apple had the 8-inch iPad mini in development.

SJ was a salesman - he'd say untrue things to make his product look good, like trash-talking 5.5-inch phones(!) and saying "no-one wants 'Hummer' phones" while - you guessed it - Apple had larger phones in the pipeline, because the demand was there.

The iPad Mini has 4:3 screen ratio, so quite a bit larger and more useful screen than the 7" 16:9 Android tablets

Same with the netbooks, weren't those often 9" 16:9 with terrible Atom CPU and slow HD?

It's kind of shitty and deceptive to measure screen size by the diagonal. You could have literally a single row of pixels 15 inches wide; does that mean you have a 15 inch display?

How would you recommend we measure screen size? Length x Width I assume is the obvious one, but that’s harder to compare. I suppose you could argue comparing diagonals isn’t a good benchmark either, but it works well enough when screens tend to have similar aspect ratios, as they mostly do.

HxW would be easier to compare if anything. Today you have to look at the aspect ratio to even figure out what the diagonal really means (and the difference between, say, 2:3 and 16:9 is huge).

Square inches is also a single dimension.

Ooh, I really like that one! Measuring area makes a lot more sense.

Do you think Apple already had larger phones in the pipeline at the time of Steve Jobs’s death? I think the slightly larger iPhone 5 probably was, but not the iPhone 6 or 6+.

If Apple were to drop lightning and switch all their phones to USB-C, the rest of the industry would move to USB-C much more rapidly.

We may never be fully rid of USB-A since it's embedded everywhere into things like homes and cars, but it makes a lot of sense for USB-C to replace all the other permutations (B, mini, micro, lightning, etc) found on devices.

(A) problem with USB-C is that devices can selectively support different subsets of its functionality. So instead of having one port to rule them all, you have just as many different ports as before, except they all look the same and take some of the same cables.

True, there is some potential for confusion. But it would be totally cost-prohibitive for every device to support Thunderbolt 3 or for every cable to support 100W power delivery.

What is lacking, perhaps, is a standard way to visually identify these capabilities.

I used to think the whole “X sucks we’ll never make one” was a feint to catch competitors off balances but lately I’ve wondered if it wasn’t a goad. He says something, his engineers prove him wrong, he changes his mind.

An internal message of “I dare you to prove me wrong” could be demoralizing to some but cause others to rise to the occasion.

> Somewhat agree about the XR, though I guess the idea is it's one less than an S

I certainly don't find it obvious that XR means "less" than XS. I could just as easily see it meaning "greater", in the way that the 18th rank is greater" than the 19th rank (in this case the ranked things being letters). Until I actually learned the difference, I actually had thought that the XR was the more expensive one.

You don't have to choose between an iPhone 4400, 9600, 8600, 7300, 6500, 5500, or 7600 though. Or even know the difference between all of those models. That's what the desktop Mac product line looked like when SJ returned to Apple, and those were just desktop Macs; there were also three PowerBooks, a couple Performas (which were mostly rebadged Power Macs), a couple Workgroup Servers, and a bunch of clones that were mostly indistinguishable except some of them were slightly overclocked.

Apple painted themselves into a bit of a quagmire with the iPhone X branding. There's no way to make "iPhone XS" / "iPhone Excess" not sound stupid†.

Personally, I think they should have just called it the new iPhone X. And eventually we'd start differentiating by year (iPhone X 2017), as we have with the iPad and Mac line for quite some time.

†Then again, this is the company that released a product called "iPad" and managed to make us forget how stupid that sounds.

I like this part:

Apple is milking its essentially captive audience. I hesitate to call it “loyal” — these are, essentially, people who look with trepidation at the idea of moving years of photos and other data to a different system.

My wife gnashed her teeth when she got one of the new, wildly overpriced iPhones — but she just can’t imagine switching to Android.

I wonder if Apple have a demographics problem looming. The teeth-gnashing wife probably has had iPhones since the beginning and her reasons for not wanting to switch are understandable enough. She can also look after her phone and not need so many replacement devices.

But the kids who didn't get on the Apple bandwagon when iTunes was a groundbreaking exciting thing with an Apple ecosystem that made it all work wonderfully?

I suspect that the kids who expect parents to pay for everything might be burdened with commodity Android devices that cost a lot less than the deluxe Apple phones. Lose the phone too often and it becomes a distinctly mid to low end commodity Android device. If that happens then they get to be outside the Android ecosystem and grow up not needing Apple. Meanwhile, the parents just don't replace their phones often enough as what they have is good enough.

Apple can't produce a low-end device as this would cannibalise their premium sales so they are stuck in the realm of hardware and need to push this services model on their customer base.

As time goes on an a phone is just a commodity 'hand rectangle' with little class value. Having the latest and greatest doesn't make you one of the cool kids any more than having a fancy laptop makes you special. There are no queues outside the stores on launch day anymore and there is no returning to that.

A further problem that Apple have is the amount of markets affected by currencies that have gone south or are protected by tariffs. This affects their competitors too, slowing down the upgrade cycle. The UK is a significant market for Apple and after the Brexit vote the pound lost 20% of value making the latest and greatest iphone cost a pretty penny. Unless you are rich enough for these things to not matter then you do have to ask what you are getting for paying five times as much for a fancy iPhone rather than a similarly sized screen on an Android budget device, particularly when signal strength/battery is a huge part of what the product is.

Weird. I recently moved from Android to iOS, for privacy reasons as well as wanting a phone that would be supported with software updates for a long time.

I've really really enjoyed the switch. Admittedly, it helped that I got the iPhone SE which hadn't been discontinued yet; I might have been less happy with the newer X-series phones, particularly given the sticker price.

> I've really really enjoyed the switch.

How so?

I've been a mac user for many years but can't really justify the price of an iphone. I've been considering making the switch though, for better integration, privacy and smaller phone. Not sure it's worth it.

Basically just a more intuitive and polished overall user interface. There was definitely some learning time, but once I'd learned some of the common actions, I found it much simpler to work with. But it's probably something that is subjective, so I can't vouch that everyone will feel the same way (indeed, I have some friends who have switched from iOS to Android and found the latter more intuitive).

Of course, the price issue was a little different for me since I prefer not to replace devices often, so the longer software support actually means if I amortize the cost of the phone over the time that I use it, iPhones actually come out ahead of Android phones on price.

There's no rule that you need to buy the latest iPhone model with top specs.

A two-year-old iPhone still gets about 3 years of updates - more than most flagship Androids.

The thing that kills me isn't the photos/songs, those are trivial to transfer. It's finding suitable replacements for all of my apps.

Heck, I'm still on iOS 10 because I havn't found 64 bit versions of some of my most used apps.

The main Android dealbreaker for me is all the viruses, followed by OS fragmentation and finally the fact there is no privacy protection ( i.e. secure enclave )

Viruses: doesn't really apply if you just download non shady things from the play store

OS fragmentation: doesn't apply if you're not a developer, just pick a phone that will have a reasonable amount of updates over its lifetime

Privacy protection: really depends how you feel about Google on this one

Presence of a secure element: this one really depends on your threat profile

> Viruses: doesn't really apply if you just download non shady things from the play store

Easier said than done, especially when looking for more obscure apps. Also, it's not easy for non-technical folks to tell the difference...

> OS fragmentation: doesn't apply if you're not a developer, just pick a phone that will have a reasonable amount of updates over its lifetime

How long is "reasonable" relative to iOS? I recently moved from Android to iOS mainly because of this.

> Privacy protection: really depends how you feel about Google on this one

I'm not sure feelings are relevant here. The truth is simply the truth.

> Presence of a secure element: this one really depends on your threat profile

Agreed, but it's good to have the extra security guarantees.

> How long is "reasonable" relative to iOS? I recently moved from Android to iOS mainly because of this.

4 years, basically.

Nexus 6 was supported for all security updates from launch in November 2014 to this month (November 2018). In terms of feature updates, it got up to Android 7.1.1, and I am not aware of any major app that wouldn't run on that today. Not exactly great, but certainly not a new phone per year. I believe Apple's policy is 5 years, rather than 4, with a reported risk of iOS updates purposefully making the original hardware performance worse (e.g. battery life).

Strictly as a geeky side note, if you have the time to spend DIYing your primary mobile OS (which, admittedly, very few people would prefer doing), there are pretty cool third-party Android distros and other OSes that will keep a Nexus 4 (2012, 6 years old) alive and well. Possibly a Galaxy Nexus (2011, 7 years old) too, but I am less sure about that...

Edit: To clarify, what I am saying is that, for most users, iOS' long term support is better than Android's. But, for Google phones and the like, it is only slightly better, not day-and-night better.

> OS fragmentation: doesn't apply if you're not a developer, just pick a phone that will have a reasonable amount of updates over its lifetime

Can you make a recommendation here? I am an iPhone user who might be inclined to switch to Android, but I still haven't found a phone that would satisfy this criterion. To clarify: "reasonable" for me means ~5 years, as this is how long I expect to keep using the same phone.

iPhones already don't get full updates. They get progressively trimmed updates as time goes on. Stock android does a similar thing. If you get a Pixel, you get 2 years of OS updates (my Pixel from 2016 is running the latest Android), at least 3 years of security updates, and many software updates in the meantime (most of Android's functionality can be upgraded without an OS update).

FWIW, phones aren't designed to last 5 years. The batteries aren't, the screens aren't, the casing isn't, and the hardware generally doesn't (newer software = more demanding).

That said, if you do require to use the same device for five years, and need the latest software on it, than Apple is probably your only option.

> FWIW, phones aren't designed to last 5 years. The batteries aren't, the screens aren't, the casing isn't, and the hardware generally doesn't (newer software = more demanding).

FWIW I’m typing this on a 4 year old iPhone and I expect it to easily last another year. Battery was replaced once. Modern smart phones are complex, expensive, ressource intensive assemblies. Swapping them out every 2 years is crazy (... and yet common, sadly)

What generation of iPhone are you currently using?

I have and enjoy the Pixel 2 and plan on keeping it for at least another two years. The Pixel 3 (non-xl) would be an ideal phone if you are moving from iPhone and are looking for a long term, well-supported phone.

Some users buy a new phone every year; for those users I would agree that OS fragmentation is a trivial issue. But if you keep your phone longer, it becomes more important. Many OEMs don't keep their promises to push OTA upgrades in a timely way. Many more OEMs don't make any promises at all. A lack of updates can leave users vulnerable to widely-known attack vectors.

OS fragmentation: doesn't apply if you're not a developer, just pick a phone that will have a reasonable amount of updates over its lifetime

So which Android phone could I have bought in 2013 that would still be getting updates like the iPhone 5s?

> OS fragmentation: doesn't apply if you're not a developer, just pick a phone that will have a reasonable amount of updates over its lifetime

Define reasonable. In order to get Android updates for any amount of time, you mostly have to pick higher end phones. Well, If I am expected to pay laptop prices for a phone, I should be able to keep it for as long as I keep a laptop. Two years of updates isn't cutting it anymore.

With Google being forced to open up then platform, I expect the viruses and OS fragmentation to get worse as various manufacturers put out half baked software which they don't properly design with security in mind. While even Google has their problems but they do have a seriously strong security team.

There really aren't significant virus concerns on Android. This concern has been overblown.

I'm not sure what you mean by OS fragmentation. Different vendors offer their own branches so maybe you will find that you like one vs the other? Some people prefer Samsung's Android, others prefer the stock experience. Its really just a matter of personal preference for most people.

Privacy can definitely be a problem, though. It is getting a little bit better, but the pace of improvement is not great.

The main iOS dealbreaker for me is the lack of strong AI offering. Google's ecosystem is just so good on that front. Siri is not competitive with the google assistant.

I don't have update issues as I only buy Nexus/Pixel. I've yet to encounter a single piece of malware in the years I've been using android, so this seems like an overblown issue. Mind you, I don't download that many apps, just use some of the more mainstream ones.

I believe Google protects my privacy just fine, but I do admire the extra security that iOS has built into the OS. Wish android did better here.

I hear you. I decided this last summer to move out of "Apple Land" to Android. Didn't know much about it but I just didn't want the walled garden anymore. I have moved everything over. Got the Pixel because I wanted "stock" and "updates" and the camera. Haven't had any issues. Next step is moving my wife over as well. It's been a pretty good experience.

My first smart phone was an iPhone, because it was the cool thing to do and nicely integrated everything, but I wanted to dip into app programming and couldn't justify $99/year for experimentation, so when my iPhone died, I just swapped to Android. If it had been more open and at least let me easily program for my own phone at the time, I probably never would have switched.

Same for me -- I wouldn't mind developing for iPhones, but I have no intention to fully switch to the Apple ecosystem. It's a no go as long as I can't use my Linux desktop for this.


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