iPhone 7 Plus Portrait Mode

It didn’t take Apple long to release a new beta that supports Portrait mode for the iPhone 7 Plus. As someone who likes taking depth of field pictures with a DSLR, I couldn’t resist. The feature does show amazing promise:


The above grid shows two sample shots, one in bright sunlight and the other in a coffee shop (my favorite one – BeanTraders. The biggest thing that you see is that the traditional iPhone camera doesn’t really have a focus area. Everything is clear and in focus, which makes the picture look a little flat. Once you turn on portrait mode it will focus on things between a few and eight feet distance. The second thing that you learn is that the brighter the light the more pronounced the depth of field will be.
Overall, the effect is very satisfying. I wish they would call it depth of field instead of portrait mode, as I don’t then to take portraits. I find that landscapes are more satisfying. However, Apple has this working really well and I can’t wait for the full release.

Apple Watch Series 2 and Swimming

I was waiting for this morning before I posted my review of the new Swim features of the Apple watch Series 2. I’ve been a bit under the weather the last few days, so there was a chance I would not go for my Sunday morning swim… but I felt up to it this morning. I decided to do half my normal swim. I normally do a mile (or 72 laps) but this morning I just did a half mile. What was cool was that the watch performed perfectly.
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I received a first swim achievement, which I hope to be able to blow away quickly, as the watch will capture many more swimming sessions.

img_0835 One thing that was cool was that it captured the dominant stroke. My Garmin Swim used to capture the stroke for every lap, and provided me with details on all of it… Perhaps a new swim app will come out quickly to analyze the data and show me a per lap time and stroke, but for now, getting the details of the workout is good enough.
The post workout twisting of the crown made a delightful (not really) noise, but I did not see any water spit out of the speaker. Perhaps it had already gotten out by then. Another thing I noticed was that the watch didn’t react to my touch for a while after the workout, but that could also be due to my fingers getting a bit wrinkled. We shall see.
Overall a nice new addition to the apple watch workout capabilities.

Apple’s Wednesday Announcement – Three “One More Things”

img_0230One of the things I look forward to each summer is upgrading my iOS devices to each of the developer beta drops. It is always an exciting time, usually with lots of bugs and problems.  For some reason this summer was different.  The upgrades were simple, they didn’t cause a lofty of problems, and not once did I lose all my passwords and configurations.  

As we look at the devices which were just announced, we learn the new features that were right in front of us during the beta, but we could not see. I enjoy seeing this, as it comes as the “one more thing” that you didn’t see all summer during testing the beta.  This Wednesday there were a few interesting one more things, 2 for iOS and 1 for Watch OS3. 

The first “one more thing” is the update to the camera on the new iPhone 7 Plus.  I specifically call out the iPhone 7 Plus since it allows the new zoom feature enabled by the 2nd camera lens.  The software feature in iOS10 that I am looking forward to is depth of field in portrait mode.  I don’t take a lot of portraits, and while I will do a new selfie every so often, I am not a bit fan of selfies.  But I am looking forward to testing this feature out.  More so for close ups of inanimate objects.  Expect at least one review of this feature when my new iPhone arrives.

The second “one more thing” is attached to yet another non-surprise, the loss of the headphone jack. The software feature that looks really amazing is how much easier Apple has made pairing the Airpods with you iPhone and Apple Watch.  While I will probably not go for Apple’s new Airpods, since the shape of them doesn’t fit well with my ears, I do hope that Apple opens up this feature for third party headphones. 

The third “one more thing” is the swim mode of the Apple Watch series 2.  I have really enjoyed the updates to WatchOS3 this summer, the spead increase by keeping certain apps in the dock has made a huge difference to the usefulness of the Apple Watch.  I’ve also noticed that the battery usage has not been adversely impacted by this feature.  I have been using the three rings and the workout app this summer, a lot.  But when I do my swim workouts on the weekends, I’ve had to swap out to Garmin Swim watch.  The Garmin doesn’t integrate with the activity rings on the Apple Watch.  So I am so happy to see this update both in hardware and software.  Now I just need wireless earbuds that work with the Apple Watch Series 2, so that I can not only capture my workout, but also catch up on podcasts while I swim too!

Stay tuned for updates after I play with the new hardware and these new software updates!  I can’t wait.