If you ordered Apple’s smart battery case for your shiny new iPhone 7, you’re in for a neat surprise. The iPhone 7 version of the case comes with a battery that is 26 percent larger than the iPhone 6S edition, with a bump from 1,877 mAh to 2,365 mAh.
Given that the iPhone 7 has a 1,960 mAh battery, I’d guess Apple wanted the battery case to actually be able to fully charge your iPhone, and it added in a little extra juice for fun. Apple says the smart battery case combined with your fully charged iPhone can give you 22 hours of internet use over LTE or 26 hours of talk time, which is enough juice to get even the most ardent user through an entire day.
Apple touted the speaker on its Apple Watch Series 2 as the key to the watch’s swim-resistance. The speaker intentionally fills with water when submerged and then uses sound vibrations to pump liquid out of the watch body. We got an animated idea of what the speaker looked like and how it worked during Apple’s keynote presentation last week. But now we’re getting to see real photos thanks to iFixit. Here they are:
The rest of iFixit’s teardown was relatively unexciting. The new watch has a bigger 273mAh battery, as compared to the 205mAh battery in the original watch. It’s also got stronger adhesive to keep water out, a larger Taptic Engine, and a second microphone.
Three news organizations are jointly suing the FBI for information on how the agency broke into the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook.
Associated Press, Vice Media, and Gannett bringing suit
The Associated Press, Vice Media, and USA Today parent company Gannett said in a lawsuit filed today that the FBI has no right to keep the technique it used to crack the phone hidden from the public. The suit, brought under the Freedom of Information Act, asks a court to force the FBI to release contracting information on the hack purchased by the agency.
The FBI faced off with Apple in a major legal standoff earlier this year when the agency demanded that Apple assist in cracking an iPhone used by Farook. The company fought the order, and ultimately, the FBI walked away when it was able to independently open the phone through a hack bought from a third party.
The agency has so far declined to provide many of the details the news organizations are requesting, such as the vendor who sold the hack. In April, Director James Comey hinted that the agency paid more than $1 million for the technique, although an exact figure hasn’t been pinned down.
In the complaint, the news organizations argue that the public has a right to know the source of the hack, and that law enforcement has a duty to be more transparent in its dealings. “The public interest in receiving this information is significant,” the complaint reads.
Fove is a Kickstarter-funded VR headset whose big advantage is eye tracking — in addition to knowing how your head is moving, it can tell where your pupils are pointed. On November 2nd, the company will open preorders for its first commercial product, the Fove 0. Making the trip from prototype to near-public sale is a big move that lots of crowdfunding projects never make, so props to Fove on that. But does this mean you should buy the headset? Probably not quite yet!
The Fove 0 is a tethered headset that hooks to a gaming computer, just like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. It has slightly higher resolution than either of those headsets, the same 2560 x 1440 screen size that you’ll find on the Gear VR, but it has a lower screen refresh rate and a smaller field of view as well. I haven’t tried Fove since last year, but it’s appearing at the Tokyo Game Show with some cool-sounding demos, including an interrogation-and-escape game with a story shaped by what you look at.
But this doesn’t guarantee that you’ll actually have much to do on the Fove 0, if you buy it. The company will support the Xenko open-source game engine, and features like foveated rendering — which lets computers render what you’re looking at in lots of detail, while reducing image quality everywhere else — could be used to make any experience run more efficiently. To make the most of the eye tracking, though, developers will have to specifically build for a very small VR platform. Without a strong eye-tracking portfolio, there’s not much reason to get the Fove instead of larger, more established products, since it doesn’t appear to support larger platforms like SteamVR or OSVR.
Fove also isn’t the only company working on eye tracking. Tobii, one of the biggest names in the space, has licensed its technology for the arcade-focused StarVR headset line. StarVR already touts significant advantages over Fove, like a huge field of view, although I’ve had mixed experiences with it. More competition in the VR headset space is good, but that competition might just weed Fove out.
Of course, this depends partly on when Fove is actually being released, and how much it costs, neither of which we know. Even if it’s not good for the average VR user, it could have specialized uses that make it worth buying for a subset of people. And if nothing else, Fove has a distinctive look on its side. If you need to wear a VR headset while sitting stiffly on the sofa in your gorgeously empty apartment, posing for an Anthropologie catalog, there’s no better choice.
After a week of swimming in Apple news, the classic cast of Nilay, Lauren, Dieter, and Paul get together via the internet to get deeper into their reviews of the new products and talk a little bit about their effect on the near future of consumer tech.
If you’re looking for more free content to listen at your leisure, The Verge has more weekly podcasts you can listen to! They include Ctrl-Walt-Delete with Walt Mossberg and Nilay Patel, which dives deep into tech; Verge ESP with Emily Yoshida and Liz Lopatto, which blurs the lines between science and entertainment; and What’s Tech? with Christopher Thomas Plante, which explains technology in layman’s terms. You might also want to check out Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, and Too Embarrassed to Ask hosted by Lauren Goode! You can find them all in iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and anywhere you get your podcasts nowadays.
iFixit is the hero this industry needs, and it has once again done a beautiful job of ripping apart a brand new iPhone and showing us what’s inside. Even better, iFixit does x-rays, too! Do you want to see inside that Taptic Engine black box? Now you can:
Thank you, iFixit! Oh, and what’s that weird ghostly circle on the lower right third? It’€™s the non-mechanical home button, of course.
A couple other things of note:
There are only a few tweaks that make the iPhone 7 waterproof. One of them appears to be the glue that holds the phone together, meaning it might be hard to waterproof it again if you get anything repaired or replaced in your phone.
Despite the lack of any way to output analog audio other than the (apparently great) built-in stereo speakers, the iPhone still has three CirrusLogic audio chips.
Okay fine let’s talk about the headphone jack.
So, as you may have noticed, the iPhone 7 has speaker grilles on each side of the Lightning plug, but there’s still only a loudspeaker on the right side. What’€™s on the left, where the headphone jack used to be? Well, that’s also where the microphone is traditionally, and it’s still there despite the refreshed it-kind-of-looks-like-a-speaker-now exterior experience.
As pictured above, a piece of plastic sits behind the ingress protection (waterproofing!) and it’s unclear what it does: it’s either routing sound to the microphone, or routing vibrations from the Taptic Engine which is nearby (it could be working like a subwoofer). Maybe both activities? We have a little mystery on our hands!
Car-sharing service Zipcar is partnering with a bike-share company called Zagster to launch bike-sharing services on 15 college campuses, the companies announced Thursday. They’re calling it “the first national sponsored mobility solution designed for universities.”
Dubbed Zipbike, the new program won’t officially launch until January 2017, starting with 10 schools and then spreading to a total of 15 by the end of the year. Students and faculty can rent out cars and bikes using one app and one membership, the companies say.
“The goal is to make Zipbike the standard for bike sharing on hundreds of campuses nationwide over the next few years,” David Piperno, vice president of finance and strategy at Zipcar, said in a statement.
Cost will vary across individual Zipbike programs based on input from each university. In general, though, Zipcar says the cost to riders will be in line with most other bike-share programs, which include a small membership fee, with a set amount of free time per ride followed by a flat hourly rate. The announcement comes as Zipcar is experimenting with new price options, offering pay-per-mile plans in some US cities rather than the per-hour system the company is known for.
Zipcar, which is a subsidiary of Avis, has seen a rise in competition lately, both from other car-sharing services like Car2Go (owned by Daimler) and traditional car manufacturers like GM’s Maven. Meanwhile, Ford recently announced that it would be adding its own branded bikes to San Francisco’s bike-share program through a partnership with global bike-share operator Motivate.
In other words, a lot of businesses are finding that dealing exclusively in cars isn’t cutting it anymore. Customer tastes are shifting from personal car ownership to car-sharing, ride-sharing, carpooling, and privatized transit.
Or at least that’s what the corporate executives are telling us. How widely used these new services are is still up for debate. The American Public Transportation Association recently surveyed 4,500 people in seven cities. They found that while an overwhelming number use public transit like subways and buses — around 65 percent — far less were using bike-sharing (11 percent), car-sharing (12 percent), and ride-sharing (10 percent).
In a game of chess, there are occasions when you’ll have almost your entire army of pieces still on the board, but positioned in such a way that their systematic downfall is all but assured. As The Matrix’s Agent Smith put it to an overweening police lieutenant, “your men are already dead.” We may be experiencing such a moment in the tech industry today, thanks to Apple’s exceptional new A10 Fusion chip, which threatens to devour a big chunk of Intel’s heretofore imperious silicon army.
Now, before you accuse me of being high on my own metaphorical supply, I’m not saying that Intel will be crippled or surpassed anytime soon. But I am arguing that the chip giant is under a substantial threat, the likes of which it hasn’t faced for a long time, maybe ever. A quick look at the Geekbench scores attained by the iPhone 7 quantifies a staggering achievement: the single-core performance of Apple’s latest generation of smartphone processors has basically caught up with Intel’s laptops CPUs. The A10 chip inside the iPhone 7 comfortably outpaces its predecessors and Android rivals, and even outdoes a wide catalog of relatively recent Mac computers (including the not-so-recent Mac Pro). The iPhone’s notoriously hard to benchmark against anything else and this is just one metric, but it’s illustrative of Apple’s accelerating momentum and mobile focus.
Intel has for many years been the undisputed champion of desktop and laptop processors running the x86 instruction set. Its sole competitor, AMD, hasn’t actually been competitive since around the turn of the century, and we have the Wintel portmanteau reminding us of the enduring dominance of Intel’s chips and Microsoft’s Windows OS in the years since. But many things have changed since the days of comparing AMD’s Thunderbird against Intel’s Pentium.
The first thing — the one we’re all aware of, but never really adequately conscious of — is that the whole world is moving to mobile computing. This isn’t some slow transition off on the distant horizon like AI, it’s a thing happening right now. Advertisers are shifting their spending from desktop to mobile faster than they are pulling it out of print media, and people are buying smartphones at five times the rate that they’re acquiring new PCs. IDC’s 2015 figures show 1.43 billion smartphones shipped versus 276 million PCs. Apple by itself shipped more iPhones (74.8 million) in the last quarter of last year than the entire PC industry (71.9 million) managed to ship PCs.
It’s already the case, by sheer force of numbers, that Apple’s A series of mobile processors are at least as important and market-leading as Intel’s vast portfolio of x86 chips. But the present pseudo-equilibrium between them is being drastically upset by Apple’s leap in performance with the new A10 Fusion. By straying into the performance waters previously reserved for Intel’s laptop CPUs, Apple is teasing us with the question of why not inject the A10 (or its successors) into actual laptops? Why shouldn’t the next MacBook run on the same chip as the current iPhone? Granted, the MacBook’s macOS is based on x86 whereas the A chips all use the ARM architecture, but then an equally interesting question might be whether Apple shouldn’t just bite the bullet and make iOS its universal operating system.
I think we’re past the point where ARM chips in Apple consumer desktops make sense. The only Q now is OS to run on it – shouldn’t be macOS
It sounds wild, but the A10 looks to have the power and efficiency to handle the workload of a full PC. This coalescence of mobile and desktop PCs is driven by forces on both sides: mobile chips are getting more potent at the same time as our power needs are shrinking and our tasks become more mobile. If you think your workplace isn’t changing much because there are a bunch of weathered Dell workstations sitting next to frumpy HP printers, consider just how much more work every one of your officemates is doing outside the office, on their phone. And all those grand and power-hungry x86 applications that might have kept people running macOS — Adobe’s Photoshop and Lightroom being two key examples — well, they’re being ported to iOS in almost their full functionality, having been incentivized by the existence of Apple’s iPad Pro line, last year’s harbinger for this year’s performance jump.
Unlike Windows, whose x86 reliance is tied to its dominance of the lucrative PC gaming market, Apple really has very few anchors locking it down to macOS. The Cupertino company has been investing the vast majority of its development time into the mobile iOS for years now, and that shows in the different rates of progress between its two pieces of software. macOS is, in many ways, legacy software just waiting for the right moment to be deprecated. It’s getting a fresh lick of paint now and then, but most of its novelties now relate to how it links back to Apple’s core iOS and iPhone business.
It’s difficult for those of my generation — people who grew up with the beige PC box as a cultish object of desire and the symbol of cutting-edge computing — to understand just how divorced the modern world and population have become from the desktop PC. The desktop today is akin to what mainframes were in the past: an imposing, burring, gargantuan construction that you only resort to when you really need to get some heavy work done.
There will always be room for Intel’s dominance to persist. As workloads increase in size and complexity, the opportunities to turn them into parallel tasks improve, and that’s where machines like the 12-core Mac Pro will handily outdo the iPhone 7. Of course. You can also strap massive graphics cards and massive amounts of RAM onto a tower PC, and you won’t have to worry about limitations of storage either. But the market for such high-end power is small and shrinking. Our video production needs today are better characterized by Snapchat Live Stories than Adobe Premiere Pro.
Intel already let Apple down once with the original MacBook’s underpowered Core M processor, and the absence of an Intel Skylake upgrade for either the MacBook Pro or Air this year also seems to have been caused by Apple’s dissatisfaction with Intel’s CPUs. There is nothing that Apple would like to do more than rid itself of its reliance on Intel, which would eliminate such unforeseen hiccups in the future. Apple is famous for its vertical integration, owning and controlling every possible aspect of its supply and production chain, and switching to its own processor chips across all devices would be the next logical improvement in that integration.
If you want to develop the next great processor, you’d better be going mobile first and building from there. Intel’s decades of futile attempts to shrink desktop chips into mobile devices have shown how not to do things. Now Apple’s persistent and apparently accelerating performance improvement with the A series suggests it might have found the right path through. It’s fitting that this new chip is called A10 Fusion, because the path it’s leading us on will eventually lead to the merging of what we now consider two distinct classes of mobile and desktop PCs. As Morpheus once put it, “it is simply a matter of time.”
Hatsune Miku is the world’s most prominent non-existent pop star, so she’s a natural fit for virtual reality. The PlayStation Move isn’t exactly the world’s most accurate VR controller, but it sure does have a glowing ball on the end, so it’s a natural thing to wave at a virtual Hatsune Miku concert.
That seems to have been the design brief that came out of Sega when it decided to build a Hatsune Miku title for PlayStation VR. I played a demo of Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live at Tokyo Game Show, and I didn’t come away with much idea of how the actual game will work out — it was minimally interactive, with some simple rhythm elements that had little in common with the actually-pretty-great Miku games for other platforms. As demos go, it was particularly demo-y.
The visuals are clean and attractive, though, while what you think of the sound will obviously depend on your predilection for Vocaloid-powered J-pop. I felt pretty silly waving my PlayStation Move around in the middle of a gigantic convention center, as did probably everyone else, but I could see people getting more into it in the comfort of their own homes. If that’s your thing.
Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live will be released alongside PlayStation VR next month.
I think I’d scream the first time I saw an ant the size of a two-story house waddling in my direction. I’d still be pretty perturbed the 10th time, I’d wager, and maybe the 50th time, too. But I like to think that once I’d seen my 500th massive ant — each identical to the last, with blank eyes, rigid legs, and clacky jaws — I’d have conquered at least some of my fear. Enough, anyway, that I wouldn’t scream as much as Earth Defense Force 5‘s soldiers do.
Earth Defense Force 5, announced at this year’s Tokyo Game Show, is the latest in a long-running series that stars crack teams of elite soldiers sent to clear out infestations of building-sized bugs, hovering UFOs, and vast space aliens. You’d think, then, that they’d be used to killing huge ants: historically the weakest enemy in the EDF games. But in my experience with EDF 5 on the TGS floor, that certainly wasn’t the case.
I would scream the first time I saw a 50-foot ant
“WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!” one of my teammates kept yelping, albeit in Japanese. “It’s a giant ant, buddy,” I wanted to say. “You can tell by the fact it looks like a regular ant, but really, really big.” I could’ve given him a primer right there: in addition to massive ants, EDF 5 has oversized wasps, spiders, and frogs. These latter foes seem to be a particular threat, using cover and alien weapons to take over Earth. But he was too busy screaming about the ants.
“IT’S COMING TOWARD US!” Yes, my friend, it is, just like the last 400 did. Or at least, it kind of is — I think it’s trapped on that doorway, stuck jerking back and forth behind one of its ant-y colleagues. You should know this, soldier man, the EDF games have been great fun, but not the most technically proficient titles on the planet (at least since 2003’s Earth Defense Force, released as a budget title in Japan and as Monster Attack in the West).
I’ve got a rocket launcher right here
“WE NEED HEEEELP!” No, we really don’t. I’ve got two stupidly powerful weapons right here: an assault rifle with 120 bullets in the clip, and a rocket launcher that burns through giant ants like a magnifying glass the size of a city.
“WHAT DO WE DO?!” Probably shoot at it, I guess? Anyway, if you think it’s bad now with just a few ants in the way, you wait until the enormous lizard-alien-beast-things turn up. Then we’ll probably need some of the EDF‘s more outlandish weapons, and we may even need to target their limbs to cripple their mobility, a new tactic we’ve apparently just picked up for EDF 5.
I would say they need to calm down, but it’s this kind of campy over-the-top action that’s made Earth Defense Force games such cult hits over the past few years. Their English translations have been beautifully weird, too, with the Xbox 360’s Earth Defense Force 2017 making screaming soldiers sound like cheerful spelunkers, repeating the phrase “we’re on an exciting underground mission!”
There’s historically not much to EDF games, beyond blasting wave after wave of insects, arachnids, and frogmechs, and it seems like EDF 5 won’t be vastly different. But for the sheer spectacle of a full-scale alien invasion — coupled with the characterful screams of your colleagues — it promises to offer some excellent afternoons of action.
EDF 5 is launching on the PS4 in Japan some time next year; there’s currently no word on an English release.