iPhone 5s Review (sort of…)

What’s New Is Not That New

I’ve spent a week with the iPhone 5s now, and of all the iPhone’s I’ve owned, and I’ve owned every one except the first, this feels like the least significant upgrade yet. That’s not really something bad though. The iPhone 5 was (and is) pretty great. Externally, the only differences between my iPhone 5 and my iPhone 5s are the Space Gray casing and the new home button. I’m sure there’s a slight speed boost as well, but after iOS 7 slightly slowed down my iPhone 5, iOS 7 on the faster iPhone 5s just feels normal.

Space Gray is the New Black

Screen Shot 2013 09 27 at 8 03 13 PM

There’s not a black iPhone anymore. That’s weird, right? Instead, we’ve got Space Gray, which is fine. Truth is, most people, (I know, not John Gruber) use a case. I bought one of the new Apple cases as well. The color doesn’t matter all that much when you have 60% of the phone covered up with a case. The front of the phone is black and my leather case is black, so, it’s essentially a black iPhone. I’d love to go caseless, and actually did for the first couple weeks with the iPhone 5, but I buy a new one every year and I sell the old one off. I need to keep it as pristine as possible so I can get as much of my money back as I can for these damn things. It’s a fine color though, and probably less prone to the chipping that people experienced with the black iPhone 5. I approve of Space Gray.

Security Meets Ease of Use

Much has been said about TouchID being fooled into acknowleding fake fingerprints. I’m not surprised at this development, but it’s highly unlikely that someone will have a good fingerprint, your iPhone, the equipment required to do this and the skill that doing this requires. For a more secure solution, Apple would be better off to require a password and a fingerprint every time you want to unlock your phone. As with all things, there are trade-offs with security and convenience. As far as security goes, I’m satisfied with TouchID. I haven’t lost a phone yet, and I’m not worried about a perfect print being pulled off my phone.

In the convenience department, I’m thoroughly satisfied with TouchID. You tap the home button to wake the device, let your thumb linger and BAM! you’re in the OS. It’s smooth and easy to use. Just remember to wipe the fried chicken grease off your grubby paws.

Happy As a Pig In…

I’m pleased with my iPhone 5s. It’s the hardware that iOS 7 was designed for. It’s the best iOS 7 experience I’ve had so far. I’ve yet to see any noticeable performance boosts in any specific apps, but everything feels as smooth as iOS 6 did on my iPhone 5. Nothing feels slow, and that’s the most you can hope for. Maybe, as apps get iPhone 5s-optimized code up on the App Store, we’ll see the performance of the iPhone 5s jump up.

All observations are of a 64GB Space Gray iPhone 5s running on Softbank’s LTE network.

Questions from WWDC 2013

IOS 7 calendar app

Will the iOS 7 calendar support natural language input?

The new iOS 7 calendar app looks pretty and all, but I wonder if it’ll support natural language input. If it doesn’t, then all the fancy graphics won’t make a difference. I’ll keep using Fantastical because its language parsing makes adding calendar events a breeze.

Is the weather app still using the same weather backend?

I’ve grown to love Forecast.io and I want to continue to use it, but I’m gonna bet Apple ain’t using it.

Will the new Siri voices be available for OS X?

You can download Siri’s voice, Samantha, for OS X. Will the new male and female voices be available for OS X McCain/Palin ‘08 as well.

How secure is the new iCloud keychain?

Will you have to unlock the keychain when you want to access your passwords or are they going to be opened up after just your four digit pin code is used to unlock the screen?

Can the iCloud keychain store other info like software licenses and attachments to notes?

Can the iCloud keychain replace 1Password? I use 1Password to store software licenses and other secure notes (with attachments) and I’m betting iCloud keychain won’t do those things.

Interesting Links: July 30, 2011

That’s a Hell of a paycut.

Been waiting for this bad boy.

And this was a welcomed surprise.

  • nvALT browser extensions

    They let you create a new note in Safari 4 different ways:

    1. Click the toolbar button to have nvALT download the current page you’re on as a new note
    2. Right-click on a link, and select the appropriate option from the contextual menu, to have nvALT download the linked page as a new note.
    3. Right-click away from either a link or a selection, and select the appropriate option from the contextual menu, to have nvALT download the current page you’re on as a new note.
    4. Right-click on selected text, and select the appropriate option from the contextual menu, to have nvALT create a new note with the selected text as well as a link to the current page you’re on.

I don’t know how I should feel about this.

Where did my passion go?

Howdy! Remember when I used to write about software and Apple stuff? It’s been a while, right? Sometimes, just sometimes, I get people asking me about when I’m going to do more of it. I honestly don’t feel the same feverish passion about Apple stuff the way I used to. It’s not that I like Apple’s products or the software that I use on them any less. I use my iPhone and Macs just as much as I ever did. Perhaps even more since I got the MacBook Air that I’m writing this on. It’s just that I don’t care about the news cycle anymore. I don’t read Apple blogs anymore. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I switched from Google Reader to Fever full time again, and Fever does a good job of just giving me the really hot news items. I occasionally click on a link to Macstories but it’s not everyday. I don’t go to Apple blogs just to skim. The big blogs (read: blog networks) have a bland voice and I don’t find them interesting. I fell in love with Smoking Apples long ago because it was independent, beautifully laid out, and I liked Milind’s voice. They were great about finding beautiful and interesting software, which I argue, is the most exciting thing about computing. The big blogs, if they ever find these cool little pieces of software, are really late to the party. The smaller guys were much faster and had better taste. There were plenty of small sites thought that ran reviews on every shitty little piece of software that they got App Store promo codes for. I, as well, was guilty of taking free software, and then reviewing it even though I didn’t give two shits about it. Remember that location-based iPhone game I reviewed? Bored me to tears to write about it, but I did it because I felt compelled to. Why? I don’t know. It’s not like I even requested the promo code.

So Smoking Apples kind of died a long slow death. The writers (and content) slowly disappeared. I still don’t know why. But it’s like a case of the flu, once someone catches the bug to not write, other writers pickup up on the sinking ship feeling and stop writing as well. And when my favorite Apple blog started fading away, so did my overall interest in keeping up with the news cycle. I still enjoy talking about Apple stuff; I have an Apple podcast that I do with Gabe Glick, but that’s not every week anymore, and we save the show for big topics and often have guests on to talk about things. It’s a communal experience where you’re sharing your thoughts with others in real time, not just yelling at the great black void that is the Internet. It’s a tough thing trying to be serious about writing when you don’t know if anyone’s listening. Building an audience is hard. Even if you’re saying things that people might like to hear, it’s a pain in the ass getting that message to their ears to begin with. I made a lot of great connections through Smoking Apples, and then subsequently pissed them all off through Twitter.

So what’s my point with this post? Hell if I know. I think what I was trying to get at was I would like to write about Apple stuff again, but for the last six months, I haven’t been able to work up the passion for it. What I do know is that I don’t want to write the same stuff that TUAW and Macstories do. I’m more into the weird tinkery stuff that Dr. Drang or Practically Effecient do.

TextExpander 3 Is The Smartest Software On My Mac

TextExpander is possibly the most useful piece of software I’ve ever used. I love Launchbar and Hazel, but nothing compares to TextExpander in terms of sheer power. There are so many email addresses, URLs, usernames and Markdown snippets that I would have to type over and over in the course of a single day that TextExpander probably saves me 15 minutes worth of extra typing every day. (Okay, maybe not 15, but this stuff adds up fast.) I’m looking at my statistics that TextExpander provides now, and it says that in the few months I’ve been using it, I’ve expanded 393 snippets, I’ve saved 5,242 characters and saved 0.22 hours at WPM.

0AA9ABDE C76B 4C90 A2CB 6BDC3A75C03C

I know it does’t sound like a whole lot, but that’s because I’m still not really using TE to its full potential. I mostly use it for things like mmail into my email address or iidont into http://idontknowifyouknowthis.com. At the same time, you could create a snippet like:

Dear (insert customer name here),

Thank you for your order of . We greatly appreciate your continued support and look forward to serving you in the future as well.


(Your Name Here)

And you could trigger this with tthanks. I think you can see the value in this. Much in the same way that Hazel saves you time by helping you do actions that you do all the time automatically and easily, TE takes all those repetitive typing tasks and shrinks them down to just a couple characters.

I really love the way TE3 handles syncing and backup. You’ve been able to sync over MobileMe for a while, but now they support Dropbox as well for folks who don’t want to pay the Apple sync tax. It also backs up your snippets locally, and you can tell it how often to back up, and how many backups to limit itself to. I was about to create a Hazel action to clean up the backups but then I noticed that TE3 is smart enough to do that all by itself!

TE3 came out last year, but I didn’t pick it up until the end of the year, and I meant to write about it sooner than now. With the 3.0 release, TE is now a real application and not just a system preference. I’ve found it to be much faster now. You can download a demo of TextExpander 3 or purchase a license for $34.95 here.