The AnandTech iPhone SE Review

Brandon Chester, writing for AnandTech:

It’s really not difficult to come to a conclusion on the iPhone SE. It’s clearly the best 4-inch smartphone on the market, and you can ignore all of the specs when making that assessment because it achieves that by virtue of being the only offering at this size. For the sake of comparison, you can take a look at some Android devices that are larger than the SE, but smaller than your average Android smartphone.


Even when you consider the smallest high-end devices from the Android manufacturers, it’s not hard to see that the iPhone SE comes out on top. Apple’s A9 SoC is still one of the fastest chips you’ll find in a smartphone, and it goes without saying that the Snapdragon 810 SoC in a smartphone like the Xperia Z5 Compact really isn’t comparable in the slightest. Based on my experience, the camera is also unmatched at this size and price.


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The iOS 9 keyboard shortcuts window

David Chartier:

When using a hardware keyboard with iOS 9, you can hold the Command key to view a cheat sheet of an app’s shortcuts (assuming its developer has updated to add some). But I noticed this morning that those shortcuts can be contextual, based on the task at hand or which panel or tab you are currently viewing.

The contextual menu is interesting, and handy.


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Apple confirms reports of potential bug in iTunes; safeguard patch expected next week

Official statement from Apple on the “iTunes deleting your music” bug:

In an extremely small number of cases users have reported that music files saved on their computer were removed without their permission. We’re taking these reports seriously as we know how important music is to our customers and our teams are focused on identifying the cause.

We have not been able to reproduce this issue, however, we’re releasing an update to iTunes early next week which includes additional safeguards. If a user experiences this issue they should contact AppleCare.

Huh? They can’t reproduce the bug but they can safeguard against it?


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Reimagining the iPad’s Smart Connector

Dan Moren:

As the happy user of an iPad Air 2, I honestly can’t find much of a reason to take the leap to the iPad Pro. Yes, there’s the bigger screen size, and I admit that I’ve been tempted by the Apple Pencil support, but overall it’s not such a big improvement that I’m salivating at the prospect.

I also find myself a bit puzzled by the Smart Connector. This new connector, which can transfer both data and power, gets used by the Apple Smart Keyboard—and similar third-party keyboards—and a couple other accessories, like the Logitech Base charging station.

And that’s about it.

Frankly, that doesn’t seem like much to warrant the addition of an entirely new port, especially given Apple’s tendencies towards reducing connectors. So that has me wondering what else Apple might have up its sleeve for the Smart Connector?

As an equally happy iPad Air 2 user, I have to agree with Dan on this.

That connector just doesn’t seem like it entirely worth the addition, unless there are more features coming for it, it’s very non-Apple-like.


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6 ways Apple can improve Apple Music

Apple Music has attracted more than 13 million users in less than one year, but it’s been drawing criticism since its release for being confusing and complex.

Rumors suggest that Apple will update Apple Music soon, in order to address some of these issues. Here are six ways Apple can improve Apple Music.

Some nice suggestions from Kirk McElhearn for MacWorld. It would be nice if Apple actually reads posts like this, and really considers some of the pain points.


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Apple’s actual role in podcasting

Marco Arment:

Podcasts are just MP3s. Podcast players are just MP3 players, not platforms to execute arbitrary code from publishers. Publishers can see which IP addresses are downloading the MP3s, which can give them a rough idea of audience size, their approximate locations, and which apps they use. That’s about it.

They can’t know exactly who you are, whether you searched for a new refrigerator yesterday, whether you listened to the ads in their podcasts, or even whether you listened to it at all after downloading it.

Big publishers think this is barbaric. I think it’s beautiful.

Big publishers think this is holding back the medium. I think it protects the medium.


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Spotify growing faster since introduction of Apple Music

Spotify, which was created in Stockholm 10 years ago, now boasts of having close to 100 million users in more than 59 markets, despite increasing competition and, so far, a lack of profits.

Spotify claims it has 30 million paid users compared to Apple’s 13 million. Both Apple and Spotify say they are growing, so the users are coming from other services, or they are new to streaming.


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GearVR Tips

I’ve been a fan of virtual reality since the early days, in fact I even worked in a VR lab back in the late 90s where we mostly just played games on early VR rigs.

Ever since the Oculus Rift came out, I’ve been a fan of it’s premise, and I’ve owned a couple models, which all worked fine.

My biggest problem with the Oculus was wires though, you sit in a comfortable chair, and move around but the wires can limit you.

That was what brought me to the GearVR, Samsung’s partnership with Oculus to create an Oculus-powered VR rig.

Games are pretty fun with it: you can race against other players in a mario-cart type race environment, build entire worlds with Minecraft VR, fight against enemies in space with End Space, Eve: Gunjack or Anshar Wars 2, solve puzzles with Darknet or go bowling. You can also use a variety of apps such as Netflix, Hulu and Oculus Cinema, or even talk with others via AltSpaceVR. There are other games and apps, but those are the main ones I’ve been enjoying.

Google’s Cardboard initiative follows a similar idea but it’s not quite as nice as the GearVR, though Google has promised a Gear-like headset for all android phones.

GearVR has some handy pieces to it, aside from the lack of wires running to a computer, it’s powered entirely by your phone, and has a touchpad on the side of the unit that lets you control most of the apps.

Obviously, the units that mount to your desktop will have better games, but that’s actually just fine by me, I’ll take portability and wireless convenience anyday.

But there are a few things you need to make this experience better.

1. Enable airplane mode and close background apps.

  • Enable airplane mode on your phone, and then turn wifi and bluetooth on. This helps against some overheating issues that have been reported and lets you use the rig longer.
  • Close all the background apps on your Samsung device before you start GearVR. This will free up resources and make your programs run faster.
  • Connect and enable any devices you plan on using before you start using the GearVR. Once you’re in, you cannot install or connect devices. Also, make sure they are within arm’s reach so you can locate them by touch while you’re using the device.

2. A comfortable place to sit

  • Sit in a comfortable position that allows rotation. A swivel chair is ideal because it will allow you to turn freely while in virtual reality. Stay away from dangerous ledges or sharp objects as virtual reality can be quite disorienting.

3. Headphones

  • You want a nice pair of headphones, I actually enjoy noise-cancelling headphones for this, but any comfortable pair will do.
  • Wireless headphones may sound like a great idea, but they tend to have some lag between device and ear, so wired is the recommended.
  • If you plan to chat with people in apps such as AltSpaceVR, then you also want to get a pair that includes a microphone.

4. Game controllers

The GearVR can be used with any pair of standard or bluetooth headphones. That being said, some users have reported audio lag with bluetooth, so wired headphones are recommended. Additionally, the GearVR can be used with Bluetooth Controllers, and some applications require the use of one (noted in content list). Confirmed compatible controllers include:

Additionally, any standard bluetooth controller should work, as long as it follows standard button mapping and control schemes.

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Language Creation Society: Paramount Does Not Own Klingon Language

As we reported earlier this month, Paramount Pictures is trying to block a crowdfunded Star Trek fan film based, in part, on the studio’s claim that it actually owns the copyright on the Klingon language. Now the Language Creation Society has chimed in on the case, making the argument that Paramount can’t claim ownership on a fictional language.

While Klingons have been part of the Star Trek universe since the original TV series, the actual Klingon language was not created until 1984 for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, produced by Paramount.

“Given that Paramount Pictures commissioned the creation of some of the language, it is understandable that Paramount might feel some sense of ownership over the creation,” writes the LCS in a brief [PDFKlingonamici] filed yesterday with the federal court hearing the case. But, feeling ownership and having ownership are not the same thing.”

While Paramount has long asserted its ownership over the Klingon language, and official books published by groups like the Klingon Language Institute, have licensed the language from the studio, this is believed to be the first time Paramount has made a claim to ownership in a legal proceeding.

In its brief, the LCS contends that Klingon is no longer used solely within the context of a fictional universe, noting that Microsoft’s Bing search engine, allows users to translate text to and from Klingon.


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