Podcast Transcript. Mosen At Large Episode 148, Apple’s California Streaming event from a blindness perspective

 

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[music]

Jonathan Mosen: I’m Jonathan Mosen. This is Mosen At Large. The show that’s got the blind community talking. It’s an Apple special today. They’ve just concluded their California streaming event. Our expert panel goes through what Apple told us about today and what it all means from a blindness perspective.

Female Speaker: [singing] Mosen At Large podcast.

Jonathan: Apple has announced new products today and the iPad, Apple Watch, and iPhone categories. We’ll start by introducing our guests who are going to dissect Apple’s California streaming announcement. Here in the studio with me is the artist formerly known as Heidi Mosen. Welcome to you, Heidi Taylor.

Heidi Taylor: Hello.

Jonathan As we go around the virtual room, I’m going to ask you to identify the Apple technology that was upgraded today that you are rocking at the moment. What are you rocking in terms of Apple technology?

Heidi Oh, I currently have an iPhone 12 Pro and an Apple Watch Series 6.

Jonathan Very good. Now, on the other side of the world, we have award-winning prolific author, Judy Dixon. Welcome, Judy, what are you rocking in terms of Apple technology that was talked about today?

Judy Dixon: Thank you, Jonathan. I have an iPhone 12 Pro and an Apple Watch Series 6.

Jonathan All right. In Canada, Sunny Canada, where they’re having an exciting election as we speak, we’ve got Mike Feir joining us, author of the iOS Magnum Opus really from an accessibility perspective. Personal Power was the name of it, right? iOS Personal Power.

Mike Feir: Yes, that’s right.

Jonathan Well, welcome. What are you rocking in terms of Apple technology at the moment?

Mike: I currently have an iPhone XR and an Apple Watch SE.

Jonathan Did you give your XR a name because I know that your wife calls

Mike: No.

Jonathan -hers Lord XRson.

Mike: Yes, she does. I haven’t done that with mine. I haven’t thought of a pseudonym old moniker for mine, [crosstalk] but it will impress me enough to do that. [laughs]

Jonathan While we’re with you, we’ll stick with you and just do the quick whip around your overall impressions before we drill down.

Mike: Well, the event was really nicely done. I really think they’ve got the polish down with the transitions and everything that’s in the description. I would not want to be the person who tries to say all that in the timeframes they have. That’s tough, but they really manage that well. I have no problem with the pacing of everything. They’ve come to a high state of polish with these presentations, I think.

Jonathan All right. Judy, your overall impression as we are recording this right after the event, what’s the impression you are left with?

Judy: The description was great. [laughs]

Jonathan: Does anyone want to comment on what they were describing?

Judy: I am underwhelmed, doesn’t begin to cover it.

Jonathan: Right, okay. Heidi?

Heidi: I’d rather I stayed in bed.

Jonathan: You came over and we bought you food, so that’s all right.

Heidi: Yes, I did get food out of it.

Jonathan: There seems to be a bit– Mike’s been carefully on the fence, but I have to say this was the worst Apple events I have witnessed, and I have been watching them for a long time, in the sense that the whole thing was absolutely and totally incremental. There’s nothing there that I don’t think any reasonable non-fan boy observer could point to and say, “This is innovation at work here.” It’s really quite incremental. I do feel some relief in the sense that my wallet is being spared this year. They started off by talking about Apple TV+.

We’re going to go through the keynote as we usually do in the order that things happened. The good thing about Apple TV+, especially on the day that we actually did get an exciting announcement from someone, and that was Sonos, they have announced a new Sonos Beam that supports Dolby Atmos now. The really good thing about Apple TV+ from a blindness perspective is that Apple is really good about making sure that if you need audio description, you still can have Dolby Atmos. We have big Apple TV+ fans in this house because we can enjoy Dolby Atmos and get audio descriptions.

I’m looking forward to series 2 of the morning show and also as a Sci-Fi fan, really hanging out for the foundation series and what they do with Isaac Asimov. Let’s go back to you, Judy, what do you think of Apple TV+, you guys fans over there?

Judy: We are very much so, and for a lot of the same reasons and it’s very high-quality productions, it’s good stuff.

Jonathan: You’re watching Ted Lasso, you watching that one?

Judy: I haven’t started it yet. I keep meaning to.

Jonathan: It’s quite funny. How about you, Mike? How do you feel about Apple TV+?

Mike: I’m eagerly anticipating– Yes, the foundation and that invasion series that is coming up as well. I still have to really dive into the second season of For All Mankind. I keep saying I’ll do it and I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. That’s definitely in my near future, hopefully. Really, appreciate that just the stupendous quality of these things, really the description is great, and the sound work is even through AirPods. I have 2nd gen AirPods, even through that, it’s just, wow. Really. really well done. Big fan of– I saw the 9/11 documentary that was just released, and that was really well done. Very much.

Jonathan: Yes, it was.

Mike: As much as one can enjoy something about a tragedy, I enjoyed that.

Jonathan: Yes.

Judy: Yes, it was. It was good.

Jonathan: The final episode of For All Mankind, season two, was one of the most gripping, thrilling, brilliant pieces of TV I have watched in a very long time. I was literally on the edge of my seat, my heart was raising. I got the watch notification telling me, “What’s the matter with you?” It was wonderful. Gosh, I can’t recommend it for all mankind enough. It was brilliant. You watched it too, right, Heidi?

Heidi: Yes, I did. It’s very, very good.

Jonathan: Oh, man. It was such a thriller. You wonder whether they’re going to annihilate the cast at one point, but no, it was just wonderful. I love that series. That’s good. Now, [chuckles] should we talk about technology? First of all, it was iPads and this was a little bit of a surprise.

Judy: Actually, Jonathan, they did talk about something when they talked about Fitness+, that could be interesting. This Fitness+–

Jonathan: Yes, we’re not there yet. They talked about that in the Apple Watch section.

Judy: Oh, it came in watch. Sorry. I thought it came with Apple TV. Okay.

Jonathan: Hold that thought and let’s talk about the iPad now. People are a bit confused about what is available on the iPad range. Essentially, you have what they just call iPad. If I’m counting correctly, and please someone correct me, if I’m not. I believe this is the 9th generation of the product that they call iPad.

Judy: That’s correct?

Jonathan: Yes, this is just the basic one. No, not just the basic. It is the entry-level one. Heidi, this too has touch and a home button, is that correct?

Heidi: Yes, it does. It looks exactly the same form factor as the last one.

Judy: USB-C?

Heidi: No.

Jonathan: Lightning on this one.

Heidi: Yes, lightning on this one.

Judy: Lightening on this one?

Jonathan: Yes. If you want USB-C, you either have to go with the Mini, which we’ll talk about soon, or the iPad Pro. Now, the iPad–

Heidi: Or iPad Air.

Jonathan: Oh, that’s right. I forgot they have the Air as well. No wonder people get confused.

Judy: Yes, it’s confusing.

Jonathan: Yes. You’ve got the iPad and then the iPad Air, and then the iPad Pro is the top of the line. Now, the iPad Air, what biometric authentication does it have?

Heidi: Touch ID and lock button.

Jonathan: Right.

Mike: That had it in the lock button. Yes, same was the Mini.

Jonathan: If you want Face ID, you go to the iPad Pro and lots of fast features. What were they telling us? Just the A13 Bionic in this 9th-generation iPad. You’re a couple of generations behind if you go with this. Obviously, that’s a $399 entry point in US currency for this. I guess you get that. 12-megapixel wide camera on the front. If you want to do your video conferencing, which is a big thing during the pandemic with an iPad, the center stage feature is now available in iPad and that’s a significant upgrade. Have you had a play with Center Stage Heidi or had a look at how that works.

Heidi: I haven’t had a chance to play with it but I’ve seen demos of it and it seems pretty good. Essentially, you can walk around and the camera will follow you. You’re not like way on the edge of a frame or whatever.

Jonathan: Some real iPad devotees that I’ve talked to though have criticized the iPad as a conferencing tool because of where the camera is placed. Is that a valid criticism, do you think?

Heidi: Yes, well, especially if you’re doing stuff with people who are not on phones which is most of the time, so normally tablets or computers, most of those screens are typically in landscape mode, but the camera on an iPad is at the top when it’s in portrait mode. If you have your iPad and landscape mode, it’s suddenly off to one side and so it’s like halfway down, it’s off to one side. You can never actually look at the camera properly and see the screen at the same time.

You’re either looking at the screen, but looking rude in the video, because you’re not looking at anyone or you’re looking at the camera and looking nice in the video, but you can’t see what anyone else is doing.

Jonathan: If you want the cellular version, it looks like the only cellular that you get with this particular device is LTE, In other words, 4G. If you want 5G, you’re going to have to go with another product. Is that correct? That’s what they seem to be saying that it’s the gigabyte LTE, but they made no mention of 5G in the context of this.

Heidi: Yes, that’s right.

Jonathan: Okay. Very good. That starts at $399.

Heidi: $329.

Jonathan: $329, okay, good. I just saved $70 right there and that’s just for the basic Wi-Fi without cellular and what’s the– it’s 64 GB, is it?

Heidi: Yes.

Jonathan: They go up from there depending on whether you want cellular, whether you want more storage. Any thoughts from you, Mike or Judy, on this 9th-generation iPad?

Mike: I expected a bigger chip jump. I thought they’d go to the A14 chip. I was disappointed there. My mom just got an 8th-gen iPad and it has the A12X chip. I really was expecting a bigger jump because of that. It’s there like you certainly get a boost, but it’s not. If you have an 8th-gen iPad, there’s no big reason to upgrade. There’s nothing that I heard in that presentation.

Jonathan: I think that’s a fair call. Any thoughts from you, Judy?

Judy: Yes, that’s why I agree with that, that’s right.

Jonathan: I must say iPad Mini sounds quite intriguing. They’ve really done a lot to iPad Mini. They’ve got this new design, and all sorts of new colors, did we take a note of all the different colors. I find it hard to remember what color my house is, let alone memorize. I just don’t care. Do we know about the color options of the iPad Mini, Heidi?

Heidi: There’s a purple-y one.

Jonathan: Like Barny, this is your Barny iPad?

Heidi: No, this is a soft purple.

Jonathan: Oh, right.

Heidi: Like, I don’t know, it’s pale purple.

Jonathan: Deep purple, lovely old song.

Heidi: No, not deep purple, but it’s a pale purple.

Jonathan: Oh, all right. Oh, I’m going to give up on this. I know nothing about this.

Judy: Lavender?

Heidi: Yes, lavender, that’s what we’re looking for.

Jonathan: That’s pretty impressive, Judy. Okay, all right.

Judy: I like color.

Heidi: There’s a pink one, which is a very pale pink, a blush pink. They’re calling it starlight, but it’s pretty much silver with a hint of gold, and then space gray.

Jonathan: Now, they’ve got an 8.3-inch screen. They’ve achieved that not by making the Mini any less Mini, but by giving it more screen, shrinking the bezels. This is similar to what Apple has done-

Judy: No more home button?

Jonathan: -with the other. Yes, no more home button. You got a lot of room right there, so you will swipe up from the bottom of the screen using those gestures. There is Touch ID, this does not have Face ID. What they have done in the absence of the home button is put the Touch ID on what they call the topbutton. That’s the one that powers it on. You hold of a server, similar to what you see in an iPhone these days.

Heidi: Yes, so it’s the same-

Judy: [crosstalk] They could have done that.

Heidi: -as an iPad Air.

Judy: They could have done that for the iPhone.

Mike: Yes.

Judy: That would be nice.

Mike: They do have an A15 chip in those iPad Minis, which I think would be a massive. I can’t remember what the old– Well, actually, the last generation Mini, I think it was the A14 possibly. Again, we got a one-generation chip bump.

Jonathan: They’re saying it’s 40% faster than the previous iPad Mini. The big surprise for me, and it’s a very pleasant surprise, is that they are doing USB-C on the iPad Mini. Now, that is great in my opinion. Anyone disagree?

Judy: That is great. Oh, that’s terrific.

Mike: That’ll make a lot of people happy.

Jonathan: You’d be able to plug a lot of peripherals into this. Now, for those who are still into the clubhouse phase, based on other iPad experiences, you’d be able to take a USB-C microphone or even an audio interface that’s capable of USB-C and plug it into an iPad Mini and use it really easily with that. USB-C is a very significant thing and I thought fleetingly, maybe they’re really going to surprise us. Maybe they’ve hidden something from the tech journalist and the supply chain people. Maybe we’re going to get USB-C on the iPhone 13. That would’ve had me shelling out for one.

Judy: Oh, me too. [chuckles]

Jonathan: Sadly not. There’s going to be flack whenever they do it, but they just have to get on with it, bite the bullet and give us USB-C on the iPhone. It’s such a pain having to– and the thing is if you’re not careful, you really being quick, you’re throwing something into a bag. The USB-C and Lightning ports do feel quite similar. The cables feel quite similar and sometimes you can pack a USB-C thing when you want a lightning thing in vice versa. I’ve been there.

Judy: You’re right. I have done it. Yes, definitely.

Jonathan: 5G, so that’s really cool. 5G is on the iPad Mini, it sounds like a very attractive device. They updated the back camera, they’ve got some new flash technology, you can record in 4k. Again, if you want to do video conferencing, you’ve got the ultra-wide camera on the front. Now, the 12 megapixel with the Center Stage. The only time I can recall where they made any reference to audio whatsoever, they did describe a new speaker system. When Apple pays attention to speakers, they really hit it out of the park, in my experience. They get the audio right.

I just wish they paid attention to it more often because we’ve got a pandemic of bad audio, out there right now. During this whole pandemic, you hear people coming on the TV and they sound like they’re talking from their bathtub or something. I wish they would just turn their attention to a bit more audio things. What else have we got? Oh, it supports the 2nd generation Apple Pencil and it starts at a base price of $499. Any more comments on the iPad Mini?

Judy: No

Jonathan: Well, I was curious about this video, Heidi. I think it was the last video in the iPad Mini bit that they showed and there are all these people whipping out their iPad Minis in the most extraordinary places. I do thank apple for the audio description so that I can pillory them about it. The idea that somebody’s going to be walking down an escalator, carrying an iPad Mini in their hands, and playing a game. Where’s the dividing line between when somebody might have say a Pro Max-sized phone if they want to do that and carry an iPad Mini? I mean, to be fair, it’s hugely differential in terms of prices in it. You can have an iPad Mini for much less than it costs you to buy a Pro Max, I supposed. Maybe that’s the thing.

Judy: I agree.

Jonathan: Maybe iPad Mini is the new iPod. That was an extraordinary video, but I quite like this. The iPad Mini was my first iPad, actually. I’d like to find out though, whether the faster processors they’ve got, I think it’s the original iPad Pro. If I have my made-for iPhone hearing aids connected to my iPhone, and I’ve got all the options set up, so it’s supposed to seamlessly switch between devices, it will not switch. I can switch my screen off on my iPhone and wait 30 seconds, 60 seconds. It doesn’t matter how long I wait and then switch the iPad on.

It still comes over its speakers, even though they’re all paired. I don’t know whether upgrading would fix that problem or not. It’s a bit of a hard one to try and restore. Let’s see, next was Apple Watch. When you start cycling. Apple’s going to prompt you to start a workout if you haven’t. The fact that they had to go into that detail about such a little thing like that shows you the slim pickings we are dealing with today. Fall detection is added to cycling as well. Then we’ve got the Apple Watch Series 7. A 20% more screen area they say, and it’s 70% brighter.

For those with low vision, this could be a really significant thing to consider. The considerably better brightness and buttons are slightly larger as well. If you have large fingers and you find it difficult because the screen is very small. Maybe it will be a little easier as well and there is a full keyboard on the phone as well. You always look at these events and say, “Who is apple assassinating today in the third-party developer world?” Clearly, ‎FlickType has inspired this. Obviously, the battle between Apple and ‎FlickType is now somewhat legendary, but this is where this is coming from.

New watch faces as well, better dust resistance and no change to the battery life, interestingly, but it charges a lot faster, about a third faster. You can go from, 0% to 80% in 45 minutes, which is terrific. That’s a really good improvement. Do you want to describe this new watch to us, Heidi?

Heidi: Sure, imagine you’re Series 6.

[laughter]

Jonathan: I thought it was supposed to have like rounded corners and–

Heidi: Well, maybe but it looks a lot like a Series 6. They’ve made the borders around the screen smaller, but still like physical footprint of it, it’s the same, it’s still curved edges. A lot of people predicting flat edges, but still is curved edges. Really, it’s not that different.

Mike: All the difference would then be in the software in terms of how they perhaps put things on the display.

Heidi: They have probably put a physically larger display in there because they’ve been able to squeeze it in, and so it has less border around it, but it takes up exactly the same footprint.

Jonathan: What bears this out is that the bands for your watch Series 6 or earlier, or certainly Series 6, are compatible with the Series 7. That really illustrates what you’re saying is true, there’s no difference.

Heidi: On my Series 6, I’m currently using my band from my Series 0.

Jonathan: They’re compatible all the way back from the beginning?

Heidi: Yes.

Jonathan: What are your thoughts on the Series 7, Judy, is it enough to tempt you?

Judy: It actually isn’t. watchOS 8 has some interesting things. This new iPhone phone, it’s kind of the way the Apple TV works when you get into an edit box and then your phone pops up a notification, you use the keyboard on the phone to type onto your Apple TV, it’s same with the watch now. If you’re responding to a text message and you’ve go into an edit box, you get a notification on your phone that you can use its keyboard to type onto your watch. It’s quite convenient. There’s another feature and I can’t, at the moment, remember what it’s called, but I can check in just a second.

It’s called something like hand gestures. You can turn this feature on that lets you activate it with what they call a double clinch. Basically, you take your fingers and just close them quickly and hard into your palm, and then you can use a pinch or a double pinch to do things and you can use a pinch to flick right, double pinch to flick left. I have no idea what this is for. Maybe people who have one hand or people who don’t have good use of their other hand. It’s a voiceover feature because it’s in the voiceover settings.

Jonathan: Yes, that’s me at the moment actually because I fell backwards down the stairs and one of my hands is significantly immobilized. I have come to appreciate some accessibility features that I never used to worry about. That’s interesting. I also wonder about the Braille support. I haven’t been able to play with this for a while since I switched to a Mantis, which I think last I checked was not supported on the Apple Watch. Is that viable, the Braille support?

Judy: It does. It works reasonably well. I don’t know why. I don’t use it very often. I do use Braille on my– it’s like Braille support on your Apple TV. I don’t use that very often either. Yet, I use Braille support on my phone all the time.

Jonathan: Now, one thing I really think there should be considerable castigation about is Apple was continuing to market Series 3. That is ridiculous. That is absolutely– I think that’s actually an unfair trade practice. Anybody who has tried to update a Series 3 Apple Watch of late whenever a new version of the software comes out, knows that that watch has not been fit for purpose, for quite some time now. For them to roll it over for another year is blatantly outrageous.

Mike: I have to agree. It was just such a pain to update that. That’s what prompted me to end up getting the SE. I just never had to deal with that again. I didn’t need a super top-of-the-line thing, but I at least wanted not to have to erase everything, basically start from absolute scratch to update every time a new OS came out for it. That was just so annoying.

Jonathan: And it’s flaky too. It’s so difficult– You can spend hours trying to update this thing. It’s really flaky. Now, but nothing to tempt you for the Series 7, Mike, you’re happy with the SE still?

Mike: Yes, I think I’ll be with the SE for a good couple or few years anyway, like this, unless they come up with something really whizzbang.

Jonathan: You said it’d be a good upgrade for people who’ve waited a few years, especially if you’ve got the Series 3. Gosh, it’s night and day if you were upgrading from Series 3 to Series 7, you will notice such an improvement. It will be worth your while you’ll be happy but I’m waiting for the next generation of health acquisition things like temperature sensors, and anything they can do with blood sugar and that kind of thing. That’d be wonderful.

Judy: I really didn’t get any of that. None of that this year.

Jonathan: No, it’s really very incremental. All right, Judy. Now, speak to me of Fitness+.

Judy: Well, I think it’s interesting. I’m interested in this Fitness+ group, although it does sound like it’s going to be an additional subscription, which is unfortunate. Your people are already paying for Fitness+, it didn’t sound like it was going to be additional, or were they speaking about– It’s not clear.

[crosstalk]

Heidi: It was like sharing software. When you’re in like a FaceTime call or whatever you can–

Jonathan: SharePlay.

Judy: If people can talk to each other at the same time.

Jonathan: Yes, you–

Judy: It might be good.

Jonathan: You will be able to do that. Well, based on my testing of SharePlay, which of course has now gone. Just bringing people up to speed with this. SharePlay is the technology that I think stole the show at WWDC. The idea is that you could watch Netflix or Apple TV+ or any supported app together if you’ve both subscribed and you open that, it’s gone.

Judy: We’re not going to get it. Well, later.

Mike: It’s a bit later.

Judy: It’s been delayed.

Jonathan: Yes. When it was working, I really enjoyed it. In fact, it works– I would listen to a group of people with Mushroom FM on a FaceTime call. It’s really cool. Yes, my understanding is it will work the same way. If you all have Apple Fitness+ subscriptions, then you can get the SharePlay, call and talk to one another when SharePlay eventually comes back.

Judy: It’ll probably be come back when Fitness+ group come along.

Jonathan: Well, it will have to, yes.

Judy: I think so.

Jonathan: We talked about how disappointing it was that they seem to drop the ball on accessibility with respect to many of the Fitness+ workouts. Is that still the case? I don’t have an active subscription.

Judy: That is still the case. I just finished another book for National Braille Press. This one is on fitness.

Jonathan: I told you, you were prolific.

Judy: Well, I coauthored with Bonnie O’Day and there is a chapter in this book on fitness with your iPhone. I took the opportunity to contact Apple about Fitness+ and its accessibility. We ended up having a fairly extensive exchange. Not that I learned anything. What I learned is they’re interested and they’re thinking about it. I did learn that, but we ended up having an extensive, just exchange about the challenges of audio describing fitness. It would be difficult. They’re talking constantly. If some having a separate track or a separate audio thing, that’s not Apple style. They’re not going to do that, where they put in audio description somehow with a separate overlay of some kind, but they’re not going to do that. I think they’re just thinking about what to do. My thought would be to have additional tutorials so that you would learn exactly how to do things so that you could follow along and do them. Part of the problem is how many of us actually know all these things they’re talking about, but it’s hard to say. They are definitely thinking about it and that’s all we know.

Jonathan: That’s the technique that BlindAlive used as well. As well as obviously having workouts designed for blind people from the ground up, you could also bring up this text file containing quite detailed descriptions of the workouts that you were about to do. I think that’s a great model. Because sometimes when you’re in the thick of it, there’s not time to explain it in great detail but if you can read it in advance, then you’re good to go, aren’t you?

Judy: They’re really doing a lot of things for sighted people to meet people’s various needs. They have different figures on screen, showing it from a different perspective, showing it in slow motion, showing all these different things so that sighted people can follow along. I think if they’re going to go to that much trouble for them, they should do it for us.

Jonathan: Fair enough too. Is this part of your Apple– you’re doing that Apple? What are they called Apple One subscription? It’s built-in?

Judy: Yes, I’m doing part of Apple One.

Jonathan: That’s interesting. I am interested, too, that they’re adding pilates, so we can do the pilates, and guided meditation. Here we go. We can add another series of apps to the ones that Apple are trying to assassinate today. I guess they’re going after the market for apps like Calm and Headspace and 10%– meditation apps are pretty robust category in the App Store. Now, if you’ve got an Apple One subscription, or you lock into Apple Fitness+, you’ll be able to do meditations as well. [crosstalk]

Mike: That should be usable by us. That would make the meditations and I guess the walk together workout.

Judy: The walks are certainly usable because it’s just somebody talking.

Jonathan: What’s the benefit of that? [crosstalk]

Judy: It’s like if you couldn’t find a short story that was exactly as long as your walk. They’re kind of 30-minute chats from interesting. They are interesting.

Jonathan: But you could have heard half a Mosen At Large podcast in that time.

Judy: You could have done that.

Mike: Absolutely.

Jonathan: See, they’re competing with me now. Where will it end I tell you!

Judy: A quarter of the Mosen explosion podcast.

[laughter]

Mike: It’s true.

Jonathan: I tell you what. I’m glad we’re not committed to a length of time for this one because I didn’t anticipate it would be terribly long. You’re a season skier, Judy, you interested in the snow season preparedness Fitness+ things that they’re adding there.

Judy: It’ll be interesting to see what that exactly includes but yes.

Jonathan: All right. That’s Apple Fitness+.

Heidi: They’re bringing it to more countries.

Jonathan: Oh, yes, with subtitles.

Heidi: That’s nice.

Jonathan: 15 more countries, but yes they are going to do the workouts in English and you have to be able to see the subtitles.

Heidi: Yes, I’ve got the list of countries.

Jonathan: Why not? Let’s do that.

Heidi: Then now bringing it to Austria, Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland, and UAE. Is that the United Arab Emirates?

Jonathan: Emirates, that’s right?

Heidi: That’s on top of Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, and the US.

Jonathan: Tremendous.

Judy: They made it in the first tier.

Heidi: Yes.

Jonathan: Well then, we shall move on to the final series of items and they are iPhone related, and this is the iPhone 13. Anybody superstitions? Anybody think they should have called it the 12S?

Judy: No.

Jonathan: It’s going to be nothing but trouble I tell you!

Judy: iOS 13, iPhone 13, so why not?

Jonathan: Look at what happened to it.

[laughter]

All these learners NASA scientists, they were very dismissive of the whole superstition thing. Look what happened to Apollo 13. I tell you, it won’t end well, maybe the bad luck will be that few people will buy one, but let’s have a look. Physically, Heidi, can we start there? If you picked up as a blind person an iPhone 13, you wouldn’t be able to distinguish it from an iPhone 12, right?

Heidi: Unless you looked at the camera bump on the back.

Jonathan: What’s different about that?

Heidi: Instead of the cameras being vertically fixed, so one on top of the other, they’re now in a diagonal orientation. There’s one camera in one corner, one camera in the other corner. And then the flash in one corner and I guess the microphone in the last corner.

Judy: This is the iPhone and the iPhone Mini?

Heidi: Yes.

Jonathan: Yes, that’s quite useful info if you’re an AT instructor, and maybe you’re assisting someone and you want to know what iPhone they have and maybe the person using it may not know. They may have been given an iPhone by someone that is a tactual way to identify that this was an iPhone 13 and not an iPhone 12.

Heidi: Yes, that’s the only tactile difference.

Jonathan: Good in telling that because we wouldn’t be able to tell the 20% shrinkage in the notch, would we?

Heidi: No, because it’s like smooth glass anyway.

Jonathan: No, that’s right. Pink, blue, midnight, starlight. They’re two different ones, aren’t they? Midnight.

Mike: Yes.

Jonathan: Pink, blue, [crosstalk] starlight, and product red. Those are the five colors. What else can we say? Bigger battery. That’s always nice, and we’ll come back to that. The Mini is available and the rumors are, and it seems that Apple rumors have become quite reliable in the last few years, that this is going to be the last year of the iPhone Mini because the sales have been so poor. If you’re one of those people who really likes a small phone, then I would recommend picking up.

Actually, if you’re due for an upgrade, pick up an iPhone 13 Mini, you get most of the latest technology that’s relevant to blind people with the exception perhaps of lighter, which we’ll come back to, and you get a nice fast phone. Sounds like the battery lifes better, what’s not to like. For low vision users the retina display could be helpful, A15 Bionic as we could expect. I could actually have pretty much written most of this in advance. Exactly, this is our best iPhone ever.

Then there’s a wide wider camera system, and as you’ve said, Heidi, it’s positioned differently. Now, this is interesting though, optical image stabilization comes to the iPhone 13. It should be easy to take good photos, but this was formerly a pro feature and it should also be easier to take photos in dark rooms, which is a factor for many of us who maybe we’re on our own or we live with another blind person and we just don’t remember to turn the lights on.

Then you use an app like Seeing AI, or EnVision, or Supersense, I’m trying to be equal opportunity here and you don’t get the results that you want. This could be a real benefit, particularly if you’re upgrading from a much older iPhone. You’ll see a significant improvement in the quality of using these apps, Aira as well presumably.

Heidi: Though on a note, they work in low light, but not in no light. If you’re in a really dark environment, it’s not going to help anything, but if you’ve got light coming in through the windows, but you haven’t turned the lights on, it’ll help in that situation.

Jonathan: Then the flash would kick in, right?

Heidi: I assumed so. I’m just explaining.

Jonathan: No, no, no, I appreciate it, that’s what we have you here for and to eat food.

Heidi: Exactly.

Jonathan: Cinematic mode is a new iPhone feature. It’s available in the complete range. I did wonder whether this might have some benefits to blind people taking video because of the way it tries to focus on an individual as they move around. Could this be a thing?

Heidi: Yes.

Judy: What does focus mean in that regard?

Heidi: When you’ve got a camera, essentially it has a focal lens, where the image is clearest, right?

Judy: Okay.

Heidi: In a scene, you’ve got like the background, the midground, the foreground, and you could be focused on any of it. As a person walks through the scene, so they were really far away and now they’re really close, their faces focused the whole time rather than starting blurry.

Judy: Got it.

Heidi: Clearing up, getting blurry again.

Judy: There are actually devices that you can get that’ll physically follow a person around, and it actually knows where there’s a person and like a gimbal, will turn. I have one and I played with it when I did my photography book, as a benefit for blind people, and they’re actually very cool.

Jonathan: What’s the name of the new version of that photography book, Judy?

Judy: Oh, gosh. Well, I heard you wondering.

Jonathan: You’ve written so many, you can’t even remember the books you’ve written.

Judy: I don’t, but I heard someone asked about it. Thank you for telling them about the book. It was funny when you said, “I remember the old one, it was called get the picture.” I have no idea what this one’s called. I’m thinking to myself, “Yes, I don’t either.”

[laughter]

I will tell you before we’re done.

Jonathan: Yes, head on over to NBP.org to find it. 5G, they’re talking about more antennas, more carriers supported. What they didn’t go into the details of and by the time people hear this, those interested will have been able to check this out in the tech press because we jump on and record this right after the keynote. You might be able to tell us, Heidi, does this mean that they rolling out 5G mmWave technology in more countries? With the iPhone 12, it was only available in the United States.

Heidi: I don’t know about the technology, but there’s a lot of carriers on the screen. I took a picture of including Spark, which isn’t that a New Zealand-only one?

Jonathan: Yes.

Heidi: Well, Spark’s on there now.

Jonathan: Was it not on before?

Heidi: I don’t know if it was not on before, but it’s on there this year.

Jonathan: Was 2degrees on there? Because they’re about to roll out of 5G network, although I don’t think that has started yet. Maybe it’s not on the list at this point. Well, we’ll try and find out and talk about it on the weekend show about whether mmWave technology is more widely available. This is the very fast version of 5G and I think that is probably the case. Better battery life, what that’s telling us is that if you’ve got an iPhone 12 Mini and you upgraded to an iPhone 13 Mini, and I honestly wonder why you would but if you have money like that, then please contact me because–

Heidi: You’d like some?

Jonathan: Yes. You’ve got an hour and a half more battery life with the Mini and I think that is actually quite significant because one criticism that I heard of the Mini was the battery life’s not quite as bad as the SE 2 which people have really pillory the battery life of, but it’s still quite small and it’s just a matter of physics. It’s a smaller device, so there’s a smaller battery. An hour and a half is great, 2.5 hours longer than the 12 on a 13. This is not the Pro which we’re coming to. Now, they also–

Judy: Hang on, Jonathan, the title is Capturing and Sharing the World.

Jonathan: That’s right.

Judy: Really, isn’t it. [crosstalk]

Jonathan: Quite a grandiose title there.

Judy: Grandiose title. Taking photos and videos with an iPhone. It does spend a lot of time on videos.

Jonathan: Capturing and sharing the world.

Judy: Yes. That’s right.

Jonathan: Good. Now, they did also talk up briefly MagSafe. This won’t apply to you, Mike, because the XR didn’t support MagSafe. Heidi and Judy, are you using any MagSafe accessories? If so, what and how have you found them?

Judy: I have the MagSafe wallet that they talk about now, it’s going to have Find My. It’s like a built-in AirTag, it sounds like. That would be very nice. My wallet doesn’t do that. I’d like to know if it gets separated, but it doesn’t really want to separate. I’ve never had a problem with it coming off. It is solidly attached, and I do use it.

Jonathan: For those who are looking at perhaps coming to the 13, maybe it’s been a while since they upgraded, can you tell us a little bit about MagSafe? How precisely does it work, and why are people raving about it?

Judy: Imagine a super, super strong magnet. A magnet where you have to use some real force to detach it. It’s not just going anywhere. I have the MagSafe Charger the little hockey puck thing with the 20-watt electrical adapter. It charges it really, really, really fast.

Jonathan: What do you see as the advantage of using that versus just plugging in that little thing into the Lightening port?

Judy: Convenience, fast, you don’t have to think about it. I can take it with one hand, just set it over there on top of the little thing that goes [makes sound] and it attaches. [chuckles]

Jonathan: For those familiar, it’s like the Apple Watch in the way that it charges, but you just put it on the back of the phone.

Judy: About 50 times stronger.

Jonathan: I’ve got the battery, just in case I need a little bit of extra charge somewhere. I’m very mindful that New Zealand is a bit prone to earthquakes, especially Wellington where we are. I’m a bit paranoid about having extra charge. I have my 20,000 milliamp battery charged up, and I thought, “I’ll get this just in case I ever travel again.” I just need that. It’s quite cool. Have you had a play with the MagSafe, Heidi?

Heidi: I played with your battery, but I don’t have any accessories of my own [crosstalk]

Jonathan: Oh, your birthday’s coming up in another nine months.

Heidi: Christmas is sooner.

Jonathan: Goodness me. It never ends. It never ends. Go ahead, Mike.

Mike: I was just thinking I can certainly appreciate what this MagSafe– I use just a wireless charging pad, and you do have to fiddle, make sure you’ve got the phone exactly on the right area, so that it charges correctly. I do appreciate that thought of just having something snap on, and you know it’s in the right place. There’s no doubt about it, and it just works. The Lightning port is free for other accessories. I can see some advantage to that.

Judy: Another thing about MagSafe is third-party sellers sell these MagSafe little discs that have adhesive back. You can just put one wherever you want, and you could just sit your iPhone on the wall or wherever you might want to– Which is nice, being someone who is always misplacing my iPhone. The thing I do the most with my watch is ping my iPhone. It is my iPhone pinger.

Jonathan: [mimics ping sound]

Judy: [laughs] Yes. Being able to actually anchor my phone wherever I feel like and know it’s actually going to be there is very convenient.

Jonathan: What some people don’t know about that process is if you go into the control center of your watch, and you ping it from there, it only pings for about a couple of seconds. If you tell Siri on the watch to ping my iPhone, it continually pings it. That’s a very handy thing to know.

Judy: If you tell the Soup Drinker to find my iPhone, it’ll continuously ping it.

Jonathan: Yes. Are you using a third-party thing for that? How have you got that working?

Judy: No.

Jonathan: You must have it.

Judy: Just works. I didn’t do anything.

Jonathan: See, yes. It doesn’t work for me. It might be a country thing. Now, $699 is the base price.

For $699, you get-

Heidi: The mini.

Jonathan: -128 iPhone mini. Is that right?

Heidi: Yes.

Judy: I think so.

Jonathan: Then they have added a 512gb option for both the mini and the iPhone, so we haven’t got to Pro yet. They will go up from there. In the United States, it sounds like they have some pretty attractive deals if you want to trade in a qualifying iPhone. Check those out, and I’m sure there’ll be more information in the United States. If you can get a good deal on, say, your iPhone 12, then maybe it’s not so bad doing an upgrade if you really want to. In the Pro category now. I don’t think I wrote all these colors down. We’ve got gold, graphite, I think, blue. Any more?

Heidi: Silver.

Jonathan: Silver.

Mike: Silver. [crosstalk]

Heidi: Do they call it silver or starlight? I can’t remember.

Judy: They called it silver.

Mike: I remember it’s silver.

Judy: They call this silver. I remember that, too.

Heidi: They look the same to me.

Jonathan: Now, same question, if I have an iPhone 12 Pro or an iPhone 12 Pro Max in my hand, and I have an iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max in the other, could I tactually distinguish them in any way?

Heidi: Hold on. I’m looking at your phone.

Judy: They must do something, so you have to buy a new case.

Heidi: No, they look the same.

Jonathan: They’re physically– Yes. Obviously, if the camera array is arranged differently, you would have to buy a new case, wouldn’t you?

Heidi: Yes. Same camera array. [crosstalk]

Jonathan: You might not be able to distinguish them. [crosstalk]

Judy: Heidi, tell us about Sierra Blue.

Heidi: It’s like a soft baby blue sort of blue.

Judy: Is it light?

Heidi: Yes, a light blue.

Judy: Really?

Heidi: Like midday sky on a clear day.

Judy: That sounds nice.

Jonathan: Beautiful.

Heidi: [chuckles] Good.

Jonathan: I want to buy one now.

Heidi: Yes. I think the blue one last year was quite a dark blue. This one’s quite a light blue.

Judy: This is how you show everybody you have a new phone.

Heidi: Yes, you get the new color.

Jonathan: Yes, indeed. Oh, boy, consumerism. ProMotion comes to the iPhones. Anyone want to have a crack at ProMotion and what this means? No, no one?

Mike: I just took it to mean slow. It’s all about efficiently using the power– as you’re scrolling, as you’re swiping between apps, it manages the power used to do that as efficiently as possible, and keeps up with the motion of what you’re doing.

Jonathan: Yes. If you’re watching something or doing a game or something like that, then the frame rate will go up accordingly. Then if you are doing something much less taxing, then the frame rate will go way down, and therefore, save you battery life. That’s my very basic understanding.

Heidi: What they showed about was it can go from 10 hertz to 120 hertz. If you’re playing a game, it’ll be at the full 120 hertz. If you’re looking at a still image, it’s all the way down to 10 hertz.

Jonathan: Does that mean the display is dimmer at that point? Can you tell the difference when it’s down?

Heidi: It’s not a brightness thing, it’s just how frequently it updates what it’s showing you.

Mike: If you scroll down a book, it would scroll smoother visually than another display theoretically.

Judy: Like visual latency?

Heidi: Yes.

Jonathan: You might think of it like a Braille display and some Braille displays, they go [makes sound]. Actually, it’s a bit like the Orbit Reader. You scroll with the Orbit, and it goes [makes sound]. If you think of that, and then you get another Braille display, and you go to the next line, and it goes [makes sound] and all the cells are there, then that’s what you’ve got.

Heidi: Pretty much. That sounds about right.

[laughter]

Jonathan: You’re welcome. Significant improvement in low lighting conditions. Again, this is like standard fare, isn’t it? No disrespect to you, Mike. You’re anything but standard fare. Every year we get improvements in there.

Judy: That’s a good tagline for you. That’s great.

Heidi: More than your standard fare.

Judy: Not just your standard fare.

Jonathan: We’ve got to liven this up somehow.

[laughter]

Mike: More than fare.

Jonathan: Bloody hell. They haven’t given us a lot to say. If you are upgrading from a much older phone, really good news about the battery life. 90 minutes more on the iPhone 12 Pro. More than two and a half hours on the Max. That’s even compared with the 12 Pro Max.

Judy: That’s because iOS 15 is doing something very obnoxious with battery life. I never had any problem with battery life on my 12 Pro until I upgraded on iOS 15 about a month ago. Now, I regularly run out of battery in the early evening.

Jonathan: Yes. I’m glad to hear you say that. I’ve had a very similar issue and this does plague apple users who upgrade to the beta, or indeed, who wait, and then upgrade to a new version of iOS. Sometimes something just goes hopelessly wrong. What I did to diagnose my problem was I went into the battery app in settings. This is actually a useful conversation to have because iOS 15 is about to be released. Did they actually tell us when?

Judy: I was going to ask that. I never heard it.

Jonathan: I’m sure get there in–

Judy: Heidi, did they show it?

Heidi: They didn’t say when iOS 15 was coming out.

Jonathan: It’ll be before the–

Heidi: The iPhones are coming out on September 24.

Jonathan: It’ll be earlier that week. I’m sure we’ll get the exact date. It’s probably be Monday or Tuesday of that week. Anyway, you might experience this if you’re upgrading. What I did to solve my problem, and it was a dire problem. My battery life was atrocious. I went into the battery settings bit. If you scroll through all the data far enough, you find a heading that shows you activity by app. When I went in there, I found that for whatever reason, Google Maps was using a whopping 31% of my battery. I’ve been using Google Maps for yonks. I uninstalled Google Maps, and my battery life went way back to normal. Then a few days later, I brave the elements and re-installed it. I haven’t had the problem since.

There might be a rogue app somewhere that-

Judy: I’ll have a look.

Jonathan: -you can diagnose. Look, if you’re upgrading from, say, anything older than a 12, you’ll probably just notice a big speed improvement, a significant battery life increase. That’s wonderful for people who don’t have the wherewithal to upgrade every year, you’ll really notice a big, big change. Speaking of big, 1 terabyte.

Mike: Whoa.

Jonathan: Now, if you want to buy a Pro or a Pro Max, get a 1-terabyte iPhone. What’s interesting is that the pundits did get this wrong because they thought that the 128 was going to drop off the other end. That is not the case. Now, if you are going with an iPhone Pro or a Pro Max, you can have 128, 256, 512, or 1 terabyte.

Judy: I have a 256. I have 644 apps on my phone. I look to see how many megabytes were free, and it’s 162.

Heidi: Megabytes or gigabytes?

Judy: Gigabytes, sorry. I’m not even using half.

Jonathan: You will put all the Abba albums on the lossless, though, right? Including the new Abba album.

Judy: [laughs] I don’t store a lot of music and photos on my phone.

Mike: I store a lot of audio on my 256gb XR, and I do have it almost full. In fact, still, every once in a while, I have to really manage what I have on there to get back some space. I would welcome some increase in that. I don’t know that I need a full terabyte. There’s nothing else about those Pros that really entices me as a blind person. I’m sorry. I’m thinking, if anything, I might go to the 13 and get the full 512 gigabyte option for that. Really, appreciating the storage and the speed increase, the chip capabilities. Coming from a XR, I think the A15 might be a better resting place in terms of– This is their second kick at 5G. I should be good to go when Rogers brings that out, which it sounds like they’re getting ready to. The A15, you got the AI advanced, the neural nets, all that. That is getting actually more crucial for recognition apps and recognizing texts and things like that. I think we will benefit from that now as time goes on. A few things there, from a purely blindness perspective that would tempt me to a 13 but not the Pro. The battery life and storage just add enough to move me.

Jonathan: I think that’s really sound analysis. You will love the upgrade if you’re coming from the XR to the 13, you will absolutely love it, I’m sure. Everything will just feel so much slicker and smoother. The one thing I would like to explore, though, for those who are looking for some buying advice, do you not think that LiDAR is a good thing to have as a blind person going forward? If you’re the person that doesn’t buy the new iPhone every year, this is going to see you through for the next few years. If you look at what might happen with LiDAR, is that worth considering because LiDAR is not available on the non-Pro models yet again this year.

Judy: I think it really depends on what you do. I’ve really enjoyed LiDAR. The primary really, really, really cool use for it for a blind person is following a line of people, a queue and as the queue loose–

Jonathan: Yes. Thank you. [laughs] The queue.

Judy: The queues move, they do.

Jonathan: Yes, they do.

Judy: [laughs] Lines move, queues move. Anyway, but I don’t travel very much anymore, so I don’t get to play with queue following nearly as much as I would have in a normal year. I’m really looking forward. I’m actually going to do two different trips in the next three weeks. I want to go to the airport following queues. [laughs]

Jonathan: We’ve got quite a different COVID management strategy in New Zealand from, say, the United States has had. We’ve been recently in a nationwide lockdown that is still extending to some parts of New Zealand. As a result, when you go, even for appointments with a doctor or something like that, you’re expected to be masked up and maintain your social distancing. What was interesting–

Judy: Oh, we still have to do that, too.

Jonathan: Yes. What was interesting was that last week I went in somewhere. Rather than take someone’s arm, which I actually would normally do, I was able to follow them at a distance thanks to LiDAR.

Judy: It’s very cool.

Jonathan: Yes. Just one person. It wasn’t difficult to know where they are. You might not need that if you don’t have a hearing impairment like I do. When you do, sometimes it can be hard to hear where someone’s moving to. You can try and keep a conversation going or whatever, but the LiDAR is a surprisingly cool accessibility tool and that basic functionality is actually built into the phone. You don’t even need a third-party app.

Judy: That’s right. I use Magnifier. It’s the best one at it.

Jonathan: What do you think, Mike, is that persuasive?

Mike: It’s a matter of cost versus, “Am I really going to use something like that?” That’s more than just to test it out. I honestly, at this point, I don’t know. With my hearing directional challenges and on top of my now hearing impairment, I don’t know whether I’ll be doing much traveling independently anytime soon to really put that to practical use. a Pro cost, something like $900 something at the starting level. I would want to add a couple hundred to get that up to at least 512 storage.

The cost difference between that and the iPhone, the regular 13, is pretty significant. I really don’t know. I haven’t heard enough ecstatic stuff about LiDAR to think it will pull me into the Pro sector. It’s a thought. I can see myself possibly regretting that decision later on if things really change radically. I don’t know.

Jonathan: It’s a tricky one. While I’ve got you all here, I don’t think we have talked since AirTags came out. I’m just wondering how AirTags are working out for those who have them.

Judy: I don’t have a hearing impairment and they are not loud enough in my opinion.

Jonathan: Then it’s not just the volume, it’s also the length of time that they make a noise as well. The combination of those two things.

Judy: The noise they make, it is not a penetrating noise. I’m very disappointed.

Jonathan: The precision finding’s pretty rocking, though. Don’t you think?

Judy: That is true. That is very cool.

Jonathan: That scenario where Tile perhaps has an advantage is the volume and duration.

Judy: I like the new features in iOS 15, where it will tell you if you leave something behind that has an AirTag, or it will tell you if you separate from your wallet.

Jonathan: We had a fun time with the AirTags, setting them up, Heidi. Heidi hid one, and it was my job to go on a scavenger hunt and find it.

Judy: I heard that podcast.

Mike: It was fun to listen to.

[laughter]

Judy: It was fun to listen to.

Jonathan: Did you get into AirTags, Mike, have you got a use for them?

Mike: Not really. I was thinking with my XR, I don’t think I have that ultra wide chip. That would defeat the whole precision finding thing. With hearing aids, I was a bit in a quandary of that, too. Like, “How loud would these things be?” I I’ve waited. Maybe if I upgrade my iPhone, I’ll probably end up getting an AirTag just to see how it goes. I can see myself sticking it in my pack or my wallet or something. It sounds like a good idea in theory. I don’t like having to buy an accessory just to be able to attach it to something. [chuckles] Surely, they could have solved that whole bunch–

Jonathan: It’s so Apple, isn’t it? Give us a dongle or an accessory.

Judy: Really, put a hole in it.

Jonathan: Yes. I have heard there are YouTube videos that show exactly where to drill if you’re brave enough to put a hole in without damaging the AirTag, but I’m not brave enough. All right. It sounds like an upgrade is in your immediate future, Mike, and I’m really excited for you about that.

Mike: Possibly, yes. Certainly, they’ve gotten me to the point where they really had me, to be honest, at the 12s where I started to think, “Maybe it’s coming closer to time.” It’s like the 13 with another advanced chip and everything. I’m starting to be in that category of, “Yes, I might want to.”

Jonathan: Good on you. You’ll love it. Coming from the XR, you will really see such an appreciable benefit. I’m pleased for you that you’re doing that. Judy, are you going to do anything this year?

Judy: If I don’t, it will be the first year in five or six or seven year– No, maybe ever.

Jonathan: The last one I skipped was the 5, and I’ve had every iPhone [crosstalk]

Judy: I haven’t skipped any since the 4. I think there was one year I didn’t buy it till November. If I don’t, then that will be a little difficult. I will. I’m sure I will.

[laughter]

Mike: Just for ritual’s sake. Wow. “My year will not be complete without an iPhone just because every year–”

Judy: No. It’s, “How can I write books without the iPhone if I can’t use the latest features and know what those features are?” I can’t quite imagine.

Jonathan: Sometimes you do see a little nugget that didn’t make the main keynote and you think, “Oh, gosh, this changes the game.” Maybe there’s some audio thing, or it’s hard to imagine as you say what that might be. At this stage, do you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to buy an Android device instead because I’ve got my budget for the iPhone. I think there’s a lot of interesting innovation going on. I’m not saying that Android for me personally could be my primary device. In saying that, I’m saying that it could be other people’s primary devices if their use case is different.

For me, because I have made-for-iPhone hearing aids, because I use Braille an awful lot, I actually get serious work done with my iPhone and my Braille display. Despite the strides that have been made, I don’t think Android is there with Braille. I am interested in dabbling in Android again because there’s improvement. TalkBack has got the multi-touch things sorted finally, and there’s a lot of innovative third-party stuff going on in Android. The tech geek enthusiast in me just wants to be able to play in that sandbox as well. The thing is, it’s like a quarter. I’ve identified that myself. [crosstalk]

Judy: Yes. You’ll have plenty left over.

Jonathan: Yes. [laughs] That’s what I’m going to do. I’ll use my first off year since the iPhone 5 to get an Android device and perhaps do a few demos in that space for this podcast.

Judy: What are you going to get?

Jonathan: At the moment, I’m looking at the Oppo A94. That costs about less than a quarter of the cost of buying a 512 iPhone 12 Pro Max. Yet it’s got very impressive specs. It’s got 5G. It has dual SIM. The thing about Android devices, though, when you start getting into this is the purchasing decisions are very complicated for a blind person I think. Because these guys, the Oppo people who have quite a good reputation, they run their own version of Android, which is modified. I do know that they have TalkBack, and I do know that the version they running is based on Android 11 and that they have a beta coming up based on Android 12.

They’ve got TalkBack. It’s all working. I should be okay. Nokia, there’s a blast from the past. They are now making Android devices. I was looking at that one. Some of the reviewers are saying that it’s running stock Android, which is what really attracted me to the Nokia devices. That even their top flagship model is quite sluggish. If they’re saying it’s sluggish before you put TalkBack on it, that makes me nervous. I could look at a Pixel. It was a bit more money than I wanted to spend, but now that I’m not buying an iPhone, I could. Then I know there’s a new Pixel coming out very soon.

Judy: They also have these low-budget Pixels. I have a Pixel 4a and because I wanted as plain vanilla Android device as possible to do testing and so forth. It’s fine. It’s not sluggish. It’s audio quality is okay. Certainly not as good as an iPhone, but it cost a third the price. For me, Android, an I’m told by people who know more about Android than I do that it’s because I’m so used to using an iPhone. The whole touch of it, the way you move things is so different. I find it difficult to get used to.

Jonathan: I suppose you can get used to anything if you immerse yourself in it. I think for people like you and me who are Braille users, it’s just not a viable transition.

Judy: The Braille support is horrible.

Jonathan: It’s atrocious.

Judy: It’s just awful.

Jonathan: Yet, the majority of people don’t use Braille, and I respect that, and I think the multi-touch additions and TalkBack are a huge leap forward. I don’t why it’s [crosstalk]

Judy: It’s getting more and more and more like iOS.

Jonathan: Interesting.

Judy: Gestures are getting more and more similar.

Jonathan: Yes. That’s what I believe I will do now.

Judy: There’s one feature on the foray that I absolutely love. It has a touch– What do you call the thing? The touch ID on the back. It’s on the back. You can actually map gestures to it. On the back of your phone, you can just flick across this touch ID thing, and map whatever you want to it. I love it. It’s great. It’s a little bit akin to the top back tap, but it doesn’t happen when you set your phone down.

Jonathan: I owned a Google Nexus 6 some time ago, and they had that there. I thought that’s a really cool thing.

Judy: It is very cool.

Jonathan: Now that I don’t have to do the up and right and down and left and do the hokey cokey anyway, I might get on better with Android. I’m hoping so because there’s some very interesting stuff going on there. When I see some of the Android keynotes, I see innovation there, really interesting thoughtful changes there that make me quite excited about what they’re doing.

Judy: I had thought about innovation in that. I think it’s been, the last year, with so many people working at home, so much innovation comes from people stimulating each other’s ideas. It’s hard to do in a Zoom meeting because you don’t have that incidental contact. I wonder if what we saw last year had been building up from the year before, and what we’re actually seeing is a pandemic vacuum.

Jonathan: I see what you’re saying. Actually, I have this discussion in my day job, where there are two schools of thought regarding the viability of continuing to work remotely. At the same time, I don’t think iOS 15 was a particular letdown. Do you? I think there are some really good features.

Judy: No, actually. So much, we’re looking at it through our own blindness lens.

Jonathan: Yes, that’s right.

Judy: iOS 15 has some nice features for us, which may be other people see it as just ho-hum more the same. We’re always filtering. Whatever other people might see is incremental or we might see as incremental, other people might see as innovative.

Jonathan: Yes, precisely. I’m pretty pleased with iOS 15.

Judy: Yes. So am I.

Jonathan: To be fair, if you’d have said to me, “What could they have put in the hardware that would have made you more–” I think USB-C.

Judy: USB-C, a touch ID in the button?

Jonathan: Yes.

Judy: I’ll be all over that.

Jonathan: We’re not going to get that on a second year, are we, though, to be fair. That’s not true because touch ID was actually introduced to the 5s, wasn’t it? Even in an S year, they introduced touch ID. They could have introduced under-screen biometric authentication in the 13. Siri was a 4s thing, and there were some hardware elements there. Anyway, maybe it’s just a very mature product category, and Apple knows it. That’s why they’re working on my self-driving car on the-

Heidi: Are they?

[laughter]

Jonathan: -on the Glasses.

Judy: They are.

Jonathan: Yes. All right. Mike, any final thoughts from you on what Apple had to say today? This year, are you still feeling as excited about Apple as ever?

Mike: I’m feeling I can rely on Apple. There’s nothing groundbreaking here from our perspective, especially when you think back to last year. They’re trying. The only thing that surprised me with this delay of such a groundbreaking thing, like the feature, the SharePlay. I do worry about things like that. Because this is them trying to catch up with Zoom and all the other avenues people have to conference and share experiences remotely. They touted this so heavily in their WWDC event. We’re looking here at a fourth wave, we’re in the midst of it basically, and lockdown is a possibility.

We could see this thing delayed again, so we don’t have it in the next lockdown potentially over the holiday season. That is a bit unnerving, in terms of this is something they should have and probably have really tried to nail, and for some reason, couldn’t. Hopefully, we’ll see that soon because that was, to me, a bit of a slip that I wasn’t expecting. I do like the iPad mini, those are some really nice upgrades to that. I would have expected more to the general iPad, especially given students are thinking years ahead. If they moved it up even to the 14, that might have given it a bit more longevity as a purchase, the 9th-Gen iPad. The Mini is a rock solid in terms of tech that would last you a long time.

They’ve done some good things. I’m pretty good with where things are. I didn’t need anything huge to change really. My XR has been perfectly good for the past while it’s just starting to get to the point where I’m interested in moving up. I don’t know if I want faster. I financially couldn’t handle anything faster than what I’m doing. Two years is fast for me, but I am glad they’re supporting these things for longer, so that people who can’t do what I’m contemplating doing can at least get the iOS upgrades for longer and not be completely left in the dust. I’m very glad they’re heading in that direction.

The environmental stuff, I’m very glad that they’re really thinking about that and bringing that into everything they’re thinking of doing. Apple as a company, yes, I’m still feeling very good about that. I’m almost glad they’re slowing down a little and iterating, thinking things through, polishing more before taking those big leaps.

Jonathan: I think that when people make purchases, particularly those with limited incomes and making the decision about purchasing a smartphone is a very big, consequential economic decision. It can be complex. Because on the face of it, as we’ve been talking about, you get some very low-cost Android devices. Is there any Android device on the market today that you bought in 2015 that can run the latest version of Android today? I don’t think so. Sometimes, you do have to think. “To what degree is this purchase future-proofing me,” to the extent that any technology can be future-proofed.

Judy: That’s a really good point.

Jonathan: I would just say that I think Apple’s in for a very turbulent year because the anti-trust people are circling. We will see legislation go through the United States Congress on this. Also, coming back to your comment, Judy, about working from home and whether that stifles collaboration or not, you’ve got a lot of people who’ve had time during the pandemic to move away from Cupertino, and they don’t want to go back there. There’s this battle going on within Apple, where Apple is trying to say, “By a particular date,” or that date keeps slipping back due to the pandemic. “We want you back in the office for at least three days a week.” The developers and other Apple workers are saying, “No, we don’t want to go.”

Microsoft’s letting people work from home. Google’s letting people work from home. Twitter. Why can’t you?” Apple’s got a real battle on their hands. They’ve also got some challenges there to do with acceptance of diversity, harassment in the workplace. All these things do filter through to the quality of product and the degree to which they might be innovative. There are some challenges with Tim Cook over the next year. Watch this space. Heidi, your final thoughts?

Heidi: I don’t really have any.

Jonathan: You sound totally-

Judy: I understand.

Jonathan: -underwhelmed.

Heidi: I really was. The iPad mini-

Judy: Doesn’t begin to cover.

Heidi: -is still pretty cool. I’m not in the iPad ecosystem. Everything else was just eh. There you go.

Jonathan: Just incremental.

Heidi: Yes.

Jonathan: Would you like to be in the iPad ecosystem? Because you’ve got an electrical engineering background, I presume that can be useful for that use case.

Heidi: It could be cool. It’d probably be better to know what I’m doing before I invest in expensive technology.

Jonathan: [laughs] You could see a place for that under certain circumstances?

Heidi: Oh, yes, I could see a place for an iPad, but it probably wouldn’t be a mini. It would probably be an Air or a Pro.

Jonathan: The big kahuna.

Heidi: Yes.

Jonathan: All right. Thank you, all three of you, for this. It’s actually gone on longer than I was expecting given the material we had to work with, but we can always talk the hind legs off a donkey. We’ll probably be back next time and appreciate your thoughts very much.

Judy: All right. Thank you.

Mike: It’s a pleasure.

Heidi: Goodbye.

[01:19:47] [END OF AUDIO]

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