Podcast transcript, Mosen at Large episode 196, Apple’s Far Out event from a blindness perspective
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Jonathan Mosen: I’m Jonathan Mosen and Far Out, man, it’s Mosen At Large, the show that’s got the blind community talking. This episode is a special one, it’s all about Apple’s Far Out event in which there are new iPhones and other goodies to talk about, to make sense of it all from a blindness perspective, we’re joined by our panel.
Speakers: Mosen At Large Podcast.
Jonathan: Let me introduce our panel first of all, and we’ll go further as to closest, I think. All the way in the United States, we’re joined once again by Judy Dixon. Hi, Judy.
Judy Dixon: Hello, Jonathan. Good morning.
Jonathan: How’s that new guide dog working out for you?
Judy: She’s wonderful.
Judy: Absolutely terrific.
Jonathan: That’s what we like to hear. Now, someone who doesn’t have a guide dog is Heidi Taylor. Welcome, Heidi.
Heidi Taylor: Hello.
Jonathan: Welcome. Anthony Horvath is in Wellington as well. Welcome to you.
Anthony Horvath: Welcome, boy. Hello.
Jonathan: All right. Let’s have a look at the Apple event and start off in the order that they did things. We started off with the Apple Watch. I think what we can say about this, is that it’s really clear now what Apple wants from the watch. When they started with the watch, it was all over the place. There were news apps and all sorts of things. They don’t bother with that anymore. It’s very much about health and fitness, and that’s what the thing does.
Can I just go round the table and start with you, Judy? What did you think of the–? First of all, we’ll talk about the new Apple Watch Ultra separately, but what did you think of the Series 8 and the new features they have to offer?
Judy: I didn’t find a whole lot there that excited me very much. I have a Series 6, so I’ll probably be getting an 8, just because I don’t like being two years behind, but I didn’t find anything very exciting.
Jonathan: I’m on a Series 6 as well. I skipped the Series 7 last year and so I’m in the market and I thought, I don’t know. What really would I get from upgrading to the Series 8 from the Series 6? That’s interesting. All right. We’ll keep going round. Heidi, what did you think of the Series 8? What are you running at the moment?
Heidi: A 6.
Jonathan: Right. Oh, we’ve all got the 6. Anthony might have the 7. You’ve got the 7, Anthony?
Anthony: No, I’ve got the 6.
Jonathan: We’ve all got the 6.
Judy: Oh, we’ve all got the 6. [chuckles]
Jonathan: What did you think about it, Heidi?
Heidi: It really doesn’t look like that huge of a step up. Same form factor as the Series 7. I was slightly intrigued by the temperature tracking, but honestly just because it was like a new sensor and I don’t think it’s a make or break it for me.
Jonathan: Right. Okay. What about you, Anthony?
Anthony: Yes, I’m the same. I was a little intrigued about the whole car crash thing, but I’m not willing to test that out either.
Jonathan: I was sitting there thinking, I wonder what fun it must have been testing that feature. We’ll talk about some of these features specifically. Let’s talk about the temperature sensor first. I think one of the things that would encourage people to upgrade is when Apple adds new sensors to the watch. There is talk that they’re working on this long-term plan to track diabetes, obviously, for a number of our listeners, that would be huge. That would be very significant. It’s taken quite a few years of research and we don’t know how close they are to that blood pressure is another holy grail of this space.
What they do have is temperature but even then I found that interesting, how they were setting expectations around this. They are pitching this exclusively as a women’s health issue. The temperature checking would be used to help to determine ovulation. That was basically it. They didn’t talk about how it might be helpful with COVID or even just if you’re feeling unwell, check your temperature. There wasn’t any reference to that. I presume it doesn’t work for that. I’m intrigued about why and what the limitation is there.
Judy: I was too. I was expecting them to talk about COVID because that’s such a big deal with temperature tracking. They totally did not mention it. You’re right, I think it must not work for that.
Jonathan: Yes, they would have mentioned it if it was working for that. They’re clearly dampening expectations way down. I don’t know whether that’s something that they can address in software. Once you put the hardware in a device, they may be able to do other things with software, but clearly, it’s an important product category, but it’s also in a way a niche product category. It’s for younger women at this point. Cycle tracking is important, but that’s specifically what that sensor is going to be used for according to Apple Watch. Now, this is car crashes action, Anthony’s favorite feature.
Get me behind that wheel.
Jonathan: The way this works. I told you to stop driving that thing. [crosstalk]
Anthony: I never listened, dude.
Jonathan: This is if you have a severe car crash and you’re unable to make contact yourself, you might be quite badly injured, unfortunately. Then, the watch will contact emergency services, it will alert them to your location, basically exchange a wide range of data. This is a feature that everybody hopefully won’t have to use, but it’s great to have it if you do need it. Battery life, they’ve added a low power mode and that will disable your ways on display, which I do anyway.
Anthony: That’s going to be available on the earlier models as well so you don’t even have to upgrade for that.
Jonathan: Yes, that’s built into watchOS 9. That’s interesting and it works with Series 4 or later, which is the first watch they have on the market at the moment because they’re discontinuing support for the Series 3, which they should have done a long time ago, I think. That’s the low power mode. Cellular watches are going to support international roaming. Sad that they haven’t quite done this yet. I don’t think, but those carriers are winding down or rolling out. Did you see any data on the carriers at all, Heidi?
Heidi: They had a list. They got SmarTone, Swisscom, Telia, Magenta, something that looks like a number 3, Vodafone, something that looks like a wobbly M, TrueMove, O2, Softbank, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, China Mobile, CSL, Telenor, Celcom. Toto, Yousee, and OneCall.
Jonathan: Interesting that Vodafone is mentioned there. Vodafone New Zealand has not rolled out eSIM support yet. Vodafone New Zealand is dragging the chain there. One carrier that isn’t mentioned it in the New Zealand context is two degrees and they now have rolled out eSIM support, but this is something that’s progressively rolling out. It looks like. We’ll watch the space for further information on the carriers, but that will be nice to be able to use your Apple Watch away from your phone when you’re traveling internationally and that’s available from Series 5 onward.
Now, there’s a new Apple Watch SE and so this really gets into the question, what does the SE not have that the full Apple Watch does? It looks like there’s no change there in terms of some of the sensors, some of the more advanced things relating to your heart rate are not in the Apple Watch SE Second Generation. Do we have any data on that at all, Heidi, in terms of product differentiation?
Heidi: The SE still coming in the 40-millimeter and 44-millimeter case size, so not the Series 7 form factor, the one before that.
Jonathan: I remember the SE does not do blood oxygen, for example, which is a very handy feature, particularly around COVID time.
Heidi: Yes, no blood oxygen, no ECG but does have the heart rate and irregular heart rhythm notifications. No temperature sensor, obviously. That’s it.
Jonathan: The price is right. Do they lower the price of the SE a little bit, I think?
Heidi: I’m not sure.
Jonathan: I think they said it started at $249 or $299.
Anthony: $249, wasn’t it? Yes.
Jonathan: Yes, that’s good. Where this really does go, well, if you don’t mind not having the blood oxygen sensor, I guess it’s an attractive proposition, but particularly for kids, I think, and they really sold this idea, you can set these SE’s apps with your iPhone. Even if your kids don’t have one, and give them to kids, they can make calls. If they’ve got the cellular version, they can do various things to keep in touch. That’s where they really aiming the SE. I think if you can swing for a full Apple Watch, just the standard one, then you do get more sensors and you do get a bit more capability. There’s the faster chip in there, in the SE, and no additional sensors that they’ve added. Now, let’s talk about the Apple Watch Ultra. I did wonder if this appeals to you, Judy.
Judy: It doesn’t. I texted a friend of mine during the show and I said, “Should I get an Apple Watch Ultra?” He said, “I can’t imagine why you would.” I said, “Well, I can’t either.” I cannot imagine why I would get an Ultra. Well, for one thing, the 49 millimeters is a major deterrent.
Jonathan: Yes, I guess it could be an advantage for perhaps men who like larger watches potentially.
Jonathan: Yes. For those who didn’t follow the keynote, the Apple Watch Ultra, it’s a new product category of Apple Watch. It’s really aimed at people who do very extreme things with their life–
Judy: Extreme sports, diving, and things like that.
Jonathan: Yes, and triathlons and marathons on a regular basis. If you want to walk 26 miles to work every day, this is quite an extreme device. It’s very ragged and what else can we say about it? It’s a made of titanium and that protects against impact. If you bump this thing, it’s going to withstand it. As Judy said, it’s 49-millimeter display. It’s very bright and I did wonder whether that might help some with low vision.
It’s also got an extra speaker, so that might help people who have trouble hearing their Apple Watch potentially because I find it curious that Apple Watch still doesn’t connect to made-for-iPhone hearing aids after all this time. That could be an advantage, bigger digital crown. If you have some dexterity issues, that may be good, the side button’s more prominent. You can use this thing when you’re wearing gloves, as you might in extreme situations, as well as that second speaker. It sounds like a pretty impressive microphone array in there.
Cellular is built into every Apple Watch Ultra. You’ve got bigger battery life, 36 hours of battery life on a single charge and up to 50 with this new battery optimization feature. Before I go on, what do you think it looks like, Heidi? Can you give us a visual description?
Heidi: It’s definitely not sleek, I’ll start with that.
An easy place to start. With the display, instead of it curving into the body, like the current ones do, it’s got straight edges and the display is completely flat. The metal is around the edges of the screen, which helps with the impacts is what they were saying. There’s also the crown and the side button are protruded out with an extra protective layer around them. They stick out more rather than being flush against the side. There’s another side button on the opposite side where the speakers currently are. There’s an additional side button.
Jonathan: That’s called the action button.
Anthony: Customize that thing.
Jonathan: Again, it might help people with some dexterity issues if you find it hard to handle that smaller watch but did they give a price on the Apple Watch Ultra?
Anthony: $799, I think if I remember.
Jonathan: Okay, so it’s way up there.
Heidi: If you want to get one in New Zealand, it’s $1,499.
Judy: Whoo. [laughs]
Jonathan: Mate, we’ll get half dozen.
Anthony: It’s hard for me to go back to my diving, right?
Jonathan: Yes. You’ve got a Wayfinder feature that can be customized for mountains or oceans or trails. There are bands that are specific to what task you’re performing. You’ve got an Alpine band, a trail, and an ocean band. You’re signaling to me, I think, it’s a bit gimmicky, Judy?
Judy: Yes, I do. I just can’t imagine who it’s for. Are there that many people who do extreme sports?
Jonathan: I understand that the extreme sports smartwatch market is fairly lucrative and it’s a market that Apple hasn’t quite been catering so that they feel like–
Judy: No, they are.
Jonathan: The product they have didn’t quite fit the– they’re really after these Garmin smartwatches, aren’t they? I think that’s the watch that does this quite well. Re-design GPS. This is interesting. That will provide the most accurate GPS experience they say in built environment. If you’re going in really major urban situations. You might well do this, Judy, in DC and find that if the GPS drops out.
Judy: That could be good.
Jonathan: Yes. See? I’m selling it to you. Tim will be proud. [laughter]
There’s a re-designed compass app, there’s an orienteering view, and I’ll tell you another interesting thing that caught my attention. I don’t know if you saw any visuals about how this works, Heidi. The idea that it connects GPS data in such a way that it lets you retrace your steps so you can go back the way you came. Now, I did wonder if there might be an interesting blindness use case for this.
Judy: I wondered that, too.
Heidi: I actually thought that as well.
Judy: The titanium aspect of it, I find appealing because the compass app on my current stainless-steel watch, doesn’t work well at all, but I think being in a stainless-steel case is a major deterrent to the functionality of a compass. It’s true. It just doesn’t work. It’s very unreliable, but a titanium case could be really good.
Jonathan: See? You’re warming to it. You’re warming to that.
Judy: [laughs] 49 millimeters.
Jonathan: Yes. That would really be quite a showpiece on one’s wrist, wouldn’t it?
Anthony: I do like the size though.
Jonathan: The 49 millimeters appeals to you?
Anthony: It really does. I’m not a fan of the smaller watches.
Jonathan: I’ve got the 44 at the moment, it’s okay. I suppose it would also mean that you’d have larger real estate to play with in terms of the smart keyboard on the device.
Judy: That’s true. I have a 40 and that’s plenty big.
Jonathan: All right scuba diving, if you want to do that, anybody’s going to scuba diving.
Judy: 25% bigger. I don’t think so.
Jonathan: This is probably a very difficult question, Heidi, but are you able to give us–? Impractical terms, how much chunky, how much bigger do you think it is? Would somebody really notice–?
Judy: Would it really be big on a woman’s small wrist?
Heidi: I’m going with yes to that question, Judy.
Judy: Okay. I thought so.
Heidi: Give me a second. I’ll try and bring up the specs page and see if I can get some info.
Jonathan: It’s always interesting when Apple effectively brings in a new product category. The battery life is pretty appealing, but I couldn’t see myself springing for one of these.
Judy: That’s pretty close to two inches. No, no, that’s too huge.
Jonathan: If you get one, Anthony, then I’ll take a look at it.
Judy: We can all have a look at it.
Jonathan: Any more intel for us, Heidi, before we move on from Apple Watch?
Heidi: They don’t have height info for me, how tall the watch is from the wrist, but it definitely looks like it would be taller from the wrist as well, and the side protrusion.
Heidi: Thank you.
Jonathan: The protuberance.
Heidi: [laughs] Around the crown and the side button is reasonably obvious. Maybe from a distance, you wouldn’t notice it, but if you were standing next to someone and looked at the watch, it would be super obvious.
Jonathan: This is a statement that says either I’m a really extreme dude going out there taking on the world or I’ve got more money than since–
Heidi: Pretty much, I think.
Anthony: Or maybe a bit of both.
Jonathan: Right. You are in the market for a Series 9 though, are you, Judy? Series 8, I’m sorry.
Heidi: 8. Yes, I am.
Jonathan: It’s very confusing because they’ve got watchOS 9. I’ll be interested to see what you make of that. Let’s talk about AirPods. This is a very interesting one. We’ve got new AirPods Pros to talk about. I know there’s a lot of interest in this. Let’s just go around the table. Who’s getting new AirPods Pros?
Judy: Yes, I’m sure.
Jonathan: You interested in that, Anthony?
Anthony: I’m interested, yes.
Jonathan: What about you, Heidi?
Jonathan: Aren’t you in the market for new AirPods or something?
Heidi: No, I just bought some when I bought my iPad.
Jonathan: Oh, did you?
Heidi: Yes. I’m not going to buy more.
Jonathan: No, I didn’t realize that you bought the AirPods as well.
Heidi: I got 3rd gen ones.
Jonathan: Heidi’s got one of the cool new iPads and I really like the shape of that. The new iPads are nice and square, like me.
Heidi: It’s hip to be square.
Jonathan: Let’s just go through some of the things that you can do. These are powered by the new H2 chip. Have to say though the woman who presented the AirPods, whatever she’s on, I wanted because she just sounded so happy and perky.
New low distortion audio drivers and there’s also personalized spatial audio using through the TrueDepth camera.
Judy: That’s a cool idea.
Anthony: Yes, you can set that up with– Well, when iOS 16 comes out.
Jonathan: Yes, I’ve just bought these new AirPods and earbuds just don’t work for me with my hearing impairment, but I got these new Sony noise canceling headphones for our trip, the WH-1000XM5 which sounds a bit like something out of Harry Potter. They’ve got this thing where you can measure your ears and it customizes the profile to suit and that kind of thing. This is the new thing in audio. They’ve got double the amount of noise canceling compared to the original AirPod. That’s great if you are going to be on the plane and they have this thing called adaptive transparency which dynamically reduces the volume of harsh sounds.
Now, I immediately thought, I really hope you can turn this off because if you’re a blind person, that could mess with your environmental clues. Did you see any UI that indicated you can turn it on and off, Heidi?
Heidi: I didn’t, but they didn’t really show the phone side of what settings you could choose. They just demonstrated the new features.
Jonathan: Right. This is the classic conundrum that hearing aid users who are blind have, that audiologists like to reduce loud sounds. That’s great in most situations, but in traffic, you really need those sounds. What else have we got here? I’m just looking through the features. There’s a touch control type thing. I also have this on my Sony WH-1000XM5 where you can swipe up and down to adjust the volume with them because I’ve got a bit more real estate, you can swipe left and right to skip.
Anthony: All I can say about that is finally.
Jonathan: You’ve been waiting for that?
Anthony: Yes, it made no sense that it’s taken them this long to add that feature.
Jonathan: Up to six hours of listening time, there’s not a lot of listening time, is it? Really? I was surprised that it’s that low. If you’re on a long flight or something, yes, that doesn’t give you a lot of listening.
Judy: You better put it in your case for a while.
Anthony: Put it in the case.
Jonathan: Yes, so you have to stop listening and put it in the case to recharge and then take it out again.
Heidi: Didn’t it used to only be four or something?
Judy: It was four.
Jonathan: Yes. Our happy friend from Apple was super excited about the six hours. Up to 30 hours with the charging case and the charging case [crosstalk]
Anthony: The charging case has got a speaker.
Judy: And it has an attachment point. That is terrific.
Anthony: You can plug, use your Apple Watch adapter and–
Judy: Yes, you can charge with your Apple Watch charger now as well. It’s got precision finding so you can use the Find My app and it will come up presumably.
Judy: You can find each AirPod individually.
Jonathan: [crosstalk] Yes.
Heidi: You can already do that.
Anthony: It does that, but it just allows you to find the case. I must say I’ve never lost a case, but I have had to locate one of the–
Judy: Yes, I have to. [laughs]
Jonathan: What do you think overall, is this a meaningful upgrade? The AirPods Pro?
Judy: I think so.
Anthony: I think so, yes.
Jonathan: Cool. All right. Order September the 9th and delivery on September the 23rd, I don’t think that we talked about the Apple Watch order dates. Do we have that?
Anthony: We order them now, September the 8th, they said.
Jonathan: They did, didn’t they?
Judy: September the 7th. [crosstalk] You could have ordered them yesterday.
Anthony: It’s still the 8th, yes.
Judy: Still the 7th here.
Heidi: The Apple Watch Series 8 and SE are available on the 16th, but you can order from today and the Ultra, you can order today and it’s available from September 23rd.
Jonathan: There are quite a few features in the Ultra that are coming later this year, it looks like, so they’re getting the hardware out. I think it’s really important that we talk about this. The reason why this event has happened so early is because they’re trying to get some sales into this quarter because Apple’s really running out of puff. They’re running out of puff with some of these more established products. The upgrades are so incremental to the extent that I think, how long will we keep doing these recaps? Because there’s less and less to say, really. They’re just getting more and more incremental, but they need to squeeze some revenue into this quarter to keep the investors happy. That’s the only reason why we’ve got an event as early as this.
Judy: I actually thought this one was a little bit more interesting than the last couple have been.
Jonathan: Yes, I agree with that. You ended up getting the 13 anyway, Judy, didn’t you?
Judy: I did and it’s not great. It was such a small difference between the 12 and the 13. It really probably wasn’t worth it.
Jonathan: Yes, I feel very good about my decisions.
Judy: I think it was the right one.
Jonathan: It’s also good because Bonnie did end up getting the 13 and now, she goes around telling everybody who cares that she’s got a newer phone than me which she seems to think– The trouble’ is, few people actually do care. That she’s got a newer phone than me.
Judy: Did they ever say when iOS 16 was coming out?
Jonathan: They did not say that.
Anthony: No, they did not.
Jonathan: One presumes with new phones dropping next Friday, that following the typical [crosstalk] pats be Monday of next week or Tuesday of next week thereabouts and we’ll come back and make, perhaps talk about iOS 16, a little bit later. Any further comments on AirPods before we move on to iPhone. Let’s talk about the iPhone 14 first. Now, we will play the moving music or something and and deliver a eulogy to the iPhone Mini. I know that this will make some of our listeners quite disappointed because there are some people who don’t care about the increased screen real estate.
They’re happy to take a little bit of a battery hit. What they really want is a super small phone with as many of the new bells and whistles as possible. That was the iPhone Mini. It went down like a lead balloon. It’s sold very poorly.
Anthony: I thought you were got to say like a cup of soup, your favorite?
Jonathan: Like, a cup of soup. The iPhone Mini is no more. I presume you can still get the iPhone 13 Mini on the market, but in essence, really is pretty much the same. One of the big things that Apple has done this year, they’ve snuck this one in, they’re trying to get as many people as possible off the iPhone line and onto the iPhone Pro line for obvious reasons, it costs more. This year, what you’re seeing is greater differentiation. One of the key ways they’re doing this is that the iPhone 14 has the same chip that the iPhone 13 did.
They had to do this sometime and they’ve done it now. In future, what you’ll see is that the Pro models will have this year’s chip and the regular models will have the chip that was used in last year’s Pro models. Although they say they’ve optimized it a bit. You have a new phone size called the iPhone 14 Plus back to the future. I remember Heidi and I lining up for a 6s Plus or something or 6 Plus.
Heidi: 6 Plus.
Judy: Oh, I remember that.
Jonathan: The iPhone 14 is a 6.1-inch and the iPhone 14 Plus is a 6.7. What else have we got? The colors. We’ve got Midnight, Starlight, Blue, Purple for–
Judy: Product Red.
Jonathan: Product Red. What does Product Red mean?
Judy: Bright red.
Anthony: Very bright.
Judy: All red Apple products are called Product Red and some small amount of the price goes to something. I can’t remember what it is, some charity.
Jonathan: What is the Starlight color?
Judy: They said it was blue. What kind of blue is it?
Heidi: Starlight and blue are different colors.
Judy: I thought she said Starlight.
Anthony: A blue was another one for the iPhone Pro.
Heidi: No, that isn’t blue. [crosstalk]
Jonathan: We’ve got Midnight, Starlight, Blue, Purple, and Product Red for the iPhone 14 range. What is Starlight?
Heidi: We’ve already had Starlight. It’s somewhere between gold and silver. It debuted last year.
Jonathan: I was just curious. They’re saying improved battery life. That is nice. I’m just going through my notes to find out if there was anything else. There’s not a lot new in the iPhone 14. Oh, except– An interesting stats that 3 trillion photos were taken with iPhones now.
Judy: How do they know that? Are they counting the number?
Jonathan: That’s a really interesting question.
Judy: Are they counting the number of pictures my phone takes?
How do they know that? They don’t know that.
Heidi: Also, in the US, you can’t have a SIM card anymore. You have to use an eSIM.
Jonathan: Now, that’s interesting because there’s been talk about Apple moving to a portless device. It’s a moment of reckoning coming up for Apple. Word is that next year, the iPhone 15 will be going to USB-C. I cannot wait for that. Bring it on, mate. There’s also talk about longer term. They just want to take ports away altogether. I’m not clear how that’s going to really work in practice, but if you’re in the US, you will no longer be able to buy, at least through US sources, an iPhone 14 with a sim tray.
Does this apply to the Pro as well or only the iPhone 14? Because they mentioned it in the context of the 14, but they didn’t really say specifically about the Pro. I’m assuming it’s all of them.
Judy: I would think so.
Jonathan: This is eSIM, they are touting the greater security and convenience of eSIM. I don’t know. I like the idea of being able to go to a store when you’re in another country and pop out the SIM and pop in a local SIM. Now, you can do all that with eSIM.
Judy: You can do that.
Jonathan: Yes, but it requires the carrier to be on board with it.
Judy: It may also require entering about 20 digits or something, too.
Jonathan: Yes, we have to look at the accessibility of this because when I have used– I’ve used eSIM in a couple of contexts. I got one when Bonnie went to the states to get eclipse and what we did there was we used the T-Mobile app and that was a really cool experience. We were able to sign up. There were a few accessibility snafus, but we were able to sign up for the eSIM from New Zealand and go through the process of credit card and everything. The eSIM was just on her phone, ready to go when she’d landed, and it just worked.
Judy: That’s cool.
Jonathan: She had a US phone number and it was brilliant. As Apple said, you can have multiple eSIMs on the one device, but I’ve also seen it the way it works here in New Zealand is you have to scan a barcode and that can be a bit fiddly. Apple’s really pushing this though because an iPhone iOS 16, you can now transfer eSIMs from one device to another via Bluetooth. That’s going to be important if they really pushing eSIMs hard. There’s a better camera again, much wider lens, faster aperture, and better in challenging lighting environments, which might really help some of us who tend not to– [crosstalk]
Judy: They say that every year.
Jonathan: Yes, that’s right. It’s pretty much the script. The iPhone 14 has a new TrueDepth camera system. For the first time, it has autofocus. That is great news for blind people. That is auto-focusing on you. Has even more advanced stabilization when you’re recording a video. If you are a bit inclined to shake the phone, when you’re recording video, that will be a welcome feature as well. The iPhone 14 range has crash detection. When you’ve got an Apple Watch as well, they work in harmony to give you the best hope of contacting emergency services.
Before we talk about the satellite stuff, any other comments on the iPhone 14? It’s really incremental, isn’t it? If you’ve got an iPhone 13, unless you expect to be in the back of beyond in an emergency, I can’t really think of a reason why you would upgrade from a 13 to a 14, if you’re not in the proline at all. Same chip. Don’t do it. The emergency SOS via satellite. I don’t know. We knew this was coming. We understand the technology may have been finished last year, but that the partnerships were not.
The way this works is that you are pointing your phone directly at the satellite for this to work and to help with this, I guess blind-incited people are exactly in the same predicament here because you can’t see the satellite if you can see. The iPhone will guide you to where to point the phone, to make contact with the communication satellite. At that point, you can send a message from a preset list of messages and it can take as quick a time as 15 seconds if there’s a clear view of the satellite, but it can take a few minutes if it doesn’t have a clear view.
If the emergency service you’re contacting supports contact by text, it’ll just pass the text on. If not, then it will use a relay service to do that. You can also in less dire circumstances, just use this to share your location with friends and family. That’s the extent of it. You can’t make calls. You wouldn’t use this in a regular situation. It’s got a very specific use case, and sadly only available in the US and Canada to start with when it goes live in November and they are signaling that after two years, they’re going to charge you for this, so this will be another service.
Judy: [laughs] It’s free for the first two years.
Jonathan: Did the video or anything in the presentation visually show us any more, Heidi?
Heidi: I feel like you’ve pretty much covered it. There’s a little indicator on the screen that helps you find the satellite, which I assume would be fully accessible because it’s apple. Then, with the messaging system, they showed off an example where you choose your preset so what’s the emergency and you could choose from vehicle issue, sickness or injury, crime, lost or trapped, fire, and then various examples that relate to the incident so that it sends one big text to the people.
Jonathan: That’s useful so that gives us a feel of what the user interface might be like. Is this a selling point for any of you? Would you think I have to have an iPhone 14 something because of this feature?
Heidi: I’m not planning on going to the US or Canada anytime soon, so no.
Jonathan: That’s true though.
Jonathan: It’s interesting. I don’t know whether it meets or doesn’t meet expectations because we knew the satellite stuff was coming. I am disappointed that get again, there’s another feature that this part of the world doesn’t get, but unfortunately–
Anthony: I’m not surprised.
Jonathan: They are mounting where Apple is concerned. The pricing does not appear to have changed it. The iPhone Pro, sorry, the iPhone 14 starts at $799, that’s the 6.1. Then the Plus starts at 899. Did they flash out prices for the different storage capacity?
Heidi: They did not. I can look it up if you could [crosstalk] one moment.
Jonathan: That would be good because there has been some discussion about what storage capacity is available this year. The iPhone 13, the Pro, what was the maximum capacity you could get on the iPhone 13? Did it go up to a terabyte last year?
Judy: I think it did. I think last year was the first year that went to a terabyte.
Jonathan: Right. There was some speculation they were going to double the storage, but–
Judy: I’ve only been getting 256 and it’s been working just fine and I don’t even ever worry about it.
Heidi: For the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus, you can have 128 gigabytes, 256 gigabytes, or 512 gigabytes.
Jonathan: Do not get the 128. Gosh, I see such a–
Judy: Oh. [laughs]
Jonathan: I see so many people come to grief when they get the 128 and really regret that they did it. 128 is the new 16 gigs in this day and age. The interesting thing they said too was that you can get up to $800 off in the US when trading in for a qualifying iPhone 14. Now, the thing that we didn’t see this year that was touted as a possibility was that they might be getting ready to let you subscribe to the iPhone as a service so you would be able to kind of pay an ongoing fee to keep current with the iPhone, but then obviously not ready for that yet but–
Judy: We have that already because if you buy your phone from Apple, you pay them about $60 a month, and then when comes time for a new phone, you mail that one back, you get your new one and you keep paying them, $64 a month or something. It’s almost like that.
Jonathan: Some of our carriers are doing that to a New Zealand, aren’t they? Anthony?
Anthony: Are they? I’m not, actually–
Jonathan: You get the phone. In fact, I think in some cases you can get the phone and you don’t have to pay any upfront cost and then they split Judy: [crosstalk] I don’t pay any upfront costs.
Anthony: They’ve been doing that for a while. That’s just standard being part of the contract [unintelligible 00:39:38]
Judy: When I get the phone, I have to pay the sales tax on the new phone.
Judy: That’s all.
Jonathan: Makes it attractive. Now, in terms of availability, this is an interesting one. You can order the iPhone 14 or 14 Plus tomorrow, is that right? On Friday.
Anthony: The 9th.
Judy: On the 9th
Heidi: September 9th.
Jonathan: The 14 will come out on September the 16th, but the Plus doesn’t come out until October the 7th.
Judy: October 7th.
Jonathan: If you want to an iPhone 14 Plus, hang in there. Apple will keep your money for a while because you can order that tomorrow. I’m saying tomorrow because it’s Thursday here in New Zealand already. You can order it, but you have to wait till October the 7th to get it.
Anthony: Which means if you probably believe for about a week or so, you’d be waiting until January.
Jonathan: That’s the thing, isn’t it? You think I don’t want Apple to sit on my money that long, but if you wait, then who knows when you’ll get it? The iPhone 14 Pro. Black, silk, gold, deep purple, good band. Am I missing any colors? Is it what we have?
Anthony: I can’t help but think of smoke on the water [unintelligible 00:40:54] [crosstalk].
Jonathan: Smoke on the water. At least, your iPhone is waterproof and dust resistant, so the smoke won’t get into the iPhone [unintelligible 00:41:00]
Jonathan: The smoke or the water won’t [crosstalk]
Anthony: I’m going for that deep purple.
Jonathan: Is that what we had, Heidi, black silk, gold?
Heidi: It’s silver.
Jonathan: Oh, silver. Why have I got silk? It must have been like a prediction. I was going to say, how do you get a silk iPhone?
Heidi: We got black, silver, gold, and deep purple, which is really calling to me because it matches my iPad.
Jonathan: I think my auto-prediction algorithm fail me there. I’m very interested, Heidi in your description of this newer TrueDepth camera technology because this is the famous notch. I don’t think Apple really calls it the notch, do they? Have they got rid of the notch entirely or is it a significantly reduced notch?
Heidi: It’s not quite a notch anymore. The way that the notch connected to the top bezel and it was like a half-pill shape. Whereas now the some of the screen goes above the notch pill, whatever we’ll call it, and underneath it. It looks like a long oval shape, but it is smaller.
Jonathan: Will it be controversial or will people just welcome the fact that it’s smaller, less intrusive?
Heidi: I think the way they’ve integrated it with the software so that the black of the notch area becomes part of the notification area will be embraced because it means that the notifications aren’t taking up as much screen real estate.
Judy: It’s the lagoon on the dynamic island?
Heidi: Yes, pretty much. That’s what they were calling it, wasn’t it? The dynamic island.
Judy: Do you think anybody–
Jonathan: What a strange name [unintelligible 00:42:50]
Judy: What a strange name. You think any real people are going to call it that? Oh, my notification is in my dynamic island.
Jonathan: It was very strange. I wonder if [unintelligible 00:43:01] [crosstalk]
Anthony: People will look at you [unintelligible 00:43:02] know what you’re talking about. They’d look at you and like, what on earth you on?
Heidi: It is the most ill-thought-out name.
Jonathan: For those who didn’t hear the dynamic island, it’s something you’ll be hearing a lot about. It is a new way to interact with notifications and alerts. It is fully interactive. One of the things we talked about when we looked at iOS 16 was this concept of live notifications or live alerts that are coming later. They’re not in the first version of iOS 16, but the idea is if you’ve got an Uber or Lyft coming or you’re following a score from your favorite team, then the nettle that will automatically and dynamically updates with the latest information.
Any change of score, how far away your driver is, that kind of thing. If you are doing this, if you’ve got some live alert, I feel like such a dweeb saying it.
Anthony: The dynamic island.
Jonathan: The dynamic island will mean you can actually find that information without leaving the app you’re in. That’s pretty cool for a range of use cases. I’d be interested to see what the voiceover UI is for this because ideally, what you need is a gesture or something to just get you there are a hotkey you can press to get the latest live alert or something.
Judy: They may not even notice it.
Heidi: Visually, with most of them when you’ve got some music playing in the background, for example. It’s in the, what do you call that bar across the top that has–
Jonathan: Status bar.
Heidi: It’s essentially in the status bar. It’s in line with the status bar. I assume you’d go to your status bar and there’d be new elements there.
Jonathan: You would want some voice-over UI, I think that you could hopefully toggle that automatically speaks the updating of live alerts that are going on in the dynamic island. There’ll be times when you don’t want to be distracted, but there are times when you want to be notified when that dynamic island [unintelligible 00:45:04]
Anthony: [unintelligible 00:45:04] when you wish to leave your island, technically.
Jonathan: Maybe you’re going to be voted off the island.
Anthony: You’ve been voted off. You’re not the sole survivor anymore.
Jonathan: What else could we say about the dynamic island? The notifications are interactive as well. In a sense, that’s not really different from notifications now because you can have an interactive notification in notifications center.
Jonathan: I guess we just have to see how it works from a voiceover users perspective. The display is the brightest of any smartphone they claim, and so that may be of assistance to people with some low vision conditions. Now there’s always the always-on display that has been talked about for quite a few months and now it’s been confirmed. I presume this will have very little impact on voiceover users because we don’t want our phones chattering away if they get bumped in a pocket or something like that.
Jonatha: I don’t know how that’s going to be accommodated or if it’s going to be accommodated at all, but the first thing I thought of was, they will have done some pretty careful software optimization to try and avoid major battery degradation. Perhaps if we turn the always-on display off, we’ll get super duper long, battery life. I did notice that normally apple touts, more battery life. This is our longest-lasting smartphone ever, that kind of stuff. They were very circumspect about the Pro models. They just said it’s still has all-day battery life and it makes me wonder, is it worse than the 13 or is it just the same?
Anthony: Just the same.
Jonathan: It certainly doesn’t appear to be any better or they would’ve made a big noise about it.
Anthony: They didn’t mention the screen sizes either, did they? Just thinking about it?
Heidi: They’re the same at the 14s and 14 plus.
Jonathan: 6.1 and 6.7.
Judy: Last year they didn’t talk much about battery because we commented on that then.
Jonathan: Right. Yet it was a bit longer, wasn’t it? Did you find that, Judy, that one benefit was longer battery life with your 13?
Jonathan: You didn’t. Interesting.
Judy: This whole battery optimization that they’re doing now, so if you’re charging your battery overnight, it doesn’t charge to 100% until right at the end. That was a big change, but–
Jonathan: That’s interesting because I heard people say they thought that the 13 had significantly longer battery life than the 12. It’s interesting that you haven’t found that to be the case.
Judy: I didn’t find that. I didn’t have a problem with battery. It’s not that it kept running out. I just didn’t have the problem.
Jonathan: If you want the latest and greatest apple chip with billions of transistors in it, then you will need to get the Pro because the Pro is what has the A16 bionic chip. It’s more powerful and it’s more efficient. They claim the fastest chip ever in a smartphone. There are a number of things they’re doing with that chip including helping to drive the new 48-megapixel camera. That essentially–
Judy: 48-megapixel. Now that’s a huge leap. It’s huge.
Jonathan: Now, of course, Judy has written books on the subject of blind people taking photography. What’s your take on this new camera system?
Judy: I think this could be really major because there’s so many things that blind people are doing with cameras on phones that have little to do with photographs. Scanning and Aira trying to read things and all of this stuff. I think this can only help us enormously. It’s a huge leap and not only the 48 megapixel, there’s also other incremental improvements as well.
They talked about the ability to– Oh, what’s the word for it? When you can look at really, really tiny things, macro photography. There’s an improvements in that. When you’re trying to look at the details on something that it’s only two or three inches away, it’s a significant improvement plus it’s a wider angle. They never said what the angle was, but it’s the wide angle is even wider than it was, which will help us a lot.
Jonathan: I must admit, I normally switch off and go into La La land when apple talks about its cameras, but this one, this is the first time, this did make me think, it’s worth buying, the iPhone 14 Pro for this camera.
Judy: Don’t forget LiDAR which they never mentioned. LiDAR has come and gone as a–
Jonathan: I think we can be very confident that there is no LiDAR in the 14 and 14 plus. If [crosstalk]
Judy: They would’ve said that.
Jonathan: They would say it if there was. Maybe we can–
Judy: If you want door detection you’re going to have to get a Pro.
Jonathan: On this coming week’s episode it’s devoted to looking at some of my favorite new iOS 16 features. I actually leave my studio and wander around and demonstrate the door detection thanks to the cool, new ZOOM F3. I will give you what I hope is a really effective demo of the door detection, but let’s just segue into that. What do you, Anthony and Judy, what do you think of the door detection features in iOS 16. Start with you Anthony.
Anthony: When I eventually got it to work because obviously, I’ve been testing it for a while. I’m very, very impressed with the detail the surroundings, the shape where the door’s going to open. I love it. It’s definitely one of my favorite features.
Judy: I haven’t tested it yet because I didn’t put 16 on my production phone. I have not tried it, but it depends on how it works. If it’s going to help me find the door out of the room, I don’t think I need this, but if it can find a door from 150 feet away outdoors and find the entrance into a building that would be very cool.
Jonathan: That’s something I haven’t tested in terms of how far away it’s seeing. In the demo that you’ll hear in the next episode which is 197, one of the things that is really cool is that you can turn on a smorgasbord of features that are all related now. They’ve had people detection for a while. That one’s interesting.
My first thoughts were people detection were cool during the pandemic when people were maintaining social distancing and things, but it’s also actually quite good for finding spare seats in a room or on public transport so it does have some interesting use cases, but you can also turn on not just the door detection, but also very impressive image descriptions.
The reason why I put this on my production machine before I left to travel overseas, and actually why Bonnie now has a video of iOS 16 for the first time, she’s testing a pre-release is because you can walk around I think hotels, for example, where in Europe they tend not to have braille labels on the doors. You can walk around and read the signs on the door. Read signage around you. Describe the kind of door you’re coming up to. It really is very impressive.
I think for people who travel to unfamiliar places and want a bit of AI to a system in those sorts of environments, man, it’s hard not to argue for the Pro model these days if people can manage to afford it. Super impressed. What else have we got? Are there any comments on the iPhone Pro range, Heidi?
Heidi: Just that it’s very impressive.
Jonathan: Just going through the– The pricing points, are we able to get any pricing data? We know that the Pro starts at 999 US. The max starts at 1,099. I think that is the same as last year.
Anthony: Same as last year.
Jonathan: You can order on the 9th of September and they are delivering them on the 16th which means that Heidi you’ll have to babysit my iPhone 14 Pro max when it turns up.
Heidi: Sure. Just throw in an iPhone 14 Pro for me and we’ll be all good.
Anthony: Me, why not?
Jonathan: Very much incremental this year. You have been testing iOS 16 on a non-primary phone that doesn’t have LIDAR. Is that right, Judy?
Judy: Yes. SE.
Jonathan: What’s your take on iOS 16?
Judy: There’s not much to it on the SE. I was interested in playing with– Oh, my poor brain.
Jonathan: Eloquence maybe.
Judy: Eloquence. Thank you. I was interested in testing it with Eloquence to see what I thought about having because I love Eloquence on my computer and so many people are so excited about Eloquence now on iOS 16. It was okay. I think some of the voices that iOS has anyway are just spectacular. I don’t know that I’ll use Eloquence.
Jonathan: Interesting. What’s your favorite voice?
Jonathan: Right. He’s–
Judy: One of the Siri voices.
Jonathan: He’s all right. Samantha sounds so grumpy, doesn’t she?
Anthony: She’s very angry. Angry Samantha.
Judy: She does. I don’t like Samantha. I like the Siri voice, one of the male Siri voices that I use on my watch.
Jonathan: Do you get enough latency though? I find sometimes the Siri voices can be just a little slower to respond.
Judy: No. It seems fine.
Jonathan: All right. Good. Excellent. What do you like about IOS 16, Anthony? You had little battles with it along the way during the testing process.
Anthony: [laughs] Yes, I did. Oh, my goodness. Although there’s nothing worse– If you decide to have a bit of an iPhone break and not be overwhelmed by notifications and install a beta version, because I got no notifications. I’d get the sounds. I’d get the sounds, so I knew there was notifications, but there was nothing in my notification center whatsoever. It was peaceful and weird at the same time. I would just like to say that that has [unintelligible 00:55:49] really been resolved. [laughs]
Jonathan: It’s funny because notifications seem to break every cycle.
Anthony: Every cycle there’s always something wrong with it.
Jonathan: There’s something, but it’s in reasonable shape.
Anthony: It is.
Jonathan: One thing that you must be quite interested in, Judy, is the support that’s there for multi-line braille displays and the fact that you can do all sorts of interesting things in the rotor now relating two devices.
Judy: Isn’t that interesting? I had a terrible time getting out of Apple. What all those rotors settings meant? I wrote about this in my AccessWorld article that I did on CSUN and talking about the different, all the new braille things that were at CSUN. I talked and– I asked Apple, what do these things mean? Nobody at Apple accessibility knew. Finally after badgering them for several weeks, I finally got a good answer as far as what those rotor things actually did.
Apple’s way ahead of the curve on this one. It’s really interesting. Let’s just hope the braille displays can catch up and be as good as what you can do with them.
Jonathan: Obviously Android, Google have completely blotted their copybook with their chain dragging over the human interface driver. It’s incredibly unfortunate. Hopefully, the issues with Apple braille are behind us. I’m not aware of any issues with braille in iOS 16, at least it weren’t there before. That’s really encouraging and I hope that they can move ahead because obviously they’ve really embraced the dot pad concept and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on one of those actually I presume you have played with one.
Judy: I have. My reaction continues to be it’s very small. I just don’t think we’re going to make a lot of tactile graphics progress with a display that size.
Jonathan: Right. All right. That’s interesting. I’d be interested to talk further about that at some point and see how we go, but there’s also the Canute, isn’t there? I haven’t seen that one either.
Judy: I wrote an article about that as well for AccessWorld and it’s slow. It represents a huge leap forward and a nine-line braille display is very, very cool, but it does take a long time to refresh. I respect it ,what it’s trying to do hugely. I personally chose not to buy one.
Jonathan: Right. Let’s wrap on the far-out event and maybe we could go around get some final comments and get a score out of 10. I guess things that you might consider when giving it an evaluation, the wow factor. I must admit thanks to that Mark Gurman from Bloomberg, who’s an incredible source. He’s got an incredible source. It feels like he’s the kid who tells you what your parents are giving you for Christmas every year. There was absolutely nothing in there that hadn’t been talked about at all.
It was a reasonably solid product offering I guess, but nothing sensational, nothing that makes you go, wow, this is just great. I do wish once in a while, I think I’ve made this comment before that Apple would focus on audio to the degree that they focus on the camera. Just for one time and deal with these crises, all the reverberance that you get so much now when you watch people coming in on their iPhones, on radio and TV.
The pandemic means that zoom and those technologies have been normalized for people to come in and you just hear, they sound like they’re talking in the bathtub and stuff like that surely some good algorithms could take care of that if there was a mind tune and different things like that. What I don’t think the iPhones recording 32-bit float yet, for example, and some Android devices do. There are a number of things that they could really do to improve audio for us audio geeks.
I guess I’d give it about a 7 out of 10 because I think that what really swayed the event for me was the camera in the Pro. I just think that could be very significant for blind people who are using all these apps. For me, that will cause me to get the old credit card out and get the 14 Pro. I’m looking forward to the improved camera. What about you, Heidi? What’s your take on the whole Apple event? What would you give it out of 10?
Heidi: I’m never very good at this.
Heidi: Maybe a six or a seven.
Jonathan: Is there anything there that you really feel you wish you could have or anything like that? You’re happy with what you have?
Heidi: I’m phoning over the 14 Pro particularly in the deep purple, because purple is my absolute favorite color, but also the 48-megapixel camera seems amazing.
Jonathan: Is that the one I should get? The purple?
Heidi: I guess. Is purple your color?
Jonathan: I don’t know. What’s my color? What’s right for me?
Heidi: Probably whatever you want.
Jonathan: I seek your advice on these matters though.
Heidi: Oh, maybe you shouldn’t.
Heidi: You should ask Nicola. Nicola’s the one who knows these things.
Jonathan: All right then. I’ll ask her. What about–
Heidi: This black one’s pretty sleek.
Jonathan: Black struck me as safe and businessy. What about you, Anthony? What’s your take on this event and are you tempted to get anything from this event?
Anthony: Unless I find a rich benefactor, probably not. I’m going for a six. The camera’s fantastic, but then they’re always making improvements to the camera so that just didn’t really surprise me as much because it just happens every year. The one thing I guess, and it wasn’t a wow factor, it was more of a finally factor that’s why it’s a six is the touch controls for the AirPods.
Jonathan: What AirPods do you have at the moment?
Jonathan: Do you think you’ll get the new ones, the new airports Pro?
Anthony: Probably not, straightaway anyway but I–
Jonathan: Just coming back to the AirPods Pro. I think that was a bit underwhelming in the sense that there was some discussion and maybe we’ll see this in the specs or something like that. Maybe there just didn’t want to go into this level of detail but there was some discussion that the AirPods Pro the new generation would support this new Bluetooth, low-energy audio. The advantage of that protocol is you can have many AirPods connected to the one device at the same time, but you can also have the AirPods connected to multiple devices.
At the moment with handoff, the AirPods only control one device at a time. Then when you hand over, it’s handed over until the handover occurs again. With the Bluetooth low energy, what is supposed to be able to happen is that you could have your iPhone, your Mac, your Apple watch all connected at the same time and actually hear them all at the same time. It looks like they have not adopted that technology. It may be that it’s in there and they’re going to sort it out in software later, but there was no talk about that.
There was also actually no talk of Apple lossless as well, which I suppose would be part and parcel of the Bluetooth, low energy as well because that takes a lot of bandwidths to do. Judy, what would you give the event out of 10?
Judy: I’d give it a seven. I think the differences in the camera this time are a little bit more than incremental. I think they’re actually fairly significant. That’s pretty exciting. It sounds like such a tiny thing, but I’m so excited about having an attachment point on the AirPods case. [laughs]
Judy: I think it’s a pretty great event.
Jonathan: I get Anthony’s cynicism because I know that they are always going on about the camera, but this is a massive leap. What was the camera in the 13?
Judy: I think it was 12.
Jonathan: Going from 12 to 48 megapixels it’s humongous enormous. It’d be interesting to see how we get on and maybe we can try doing some side-by-side comparisons. I think that would be really instructive for people who aren’t going to jump on the bandwagon right away. If we can have an older phone say even an iPhone 12 or 13, take pictures of exactly the same image, say with Envision or Seeing AI or one of those apps, and just see how much difference there is.
That will be quite instructive.
Judy: Be careful a bit because many of those apps don’t use all of the features of the camera. You may not get as wide of an angle or some such that you might with other apps. If I was going to do comparisons, I’d use Apple’s camera app.
Jonathan: Right. That’s a very good point. Will all of these features be available in time to those third-party apps?
Judy: Most of them do it eventually, but it’ll take time.
Jonathan: Right. Very good caveat there. Wonderful. Thank you all as ever for being a part of this, always appreciate your insights and we’ll look forward to doing it again. Who knows? There’s some suggestion there might be another Apple event before the end of the year. We have to evaluate what they talk about and see if we come back.
I’d love to hear from you. If you have any comments you want to contribute to the show, drop me an email written down or with an audio attachment to jonathan, J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N@mushroomfm.com. If you’d rather call in, use the listener line number in the United States, 864-606-6736.
[01:06:09] [END OF AUDIO]