Well, I’ve ordered a nice wallet case for a ASUS Zenfone 7 Pro from Aliexpress so it’ll be interesting to when that’ll arrive and how well it’ll look with the Zenfone 7 Pro I’ll be buying off a parallel importer (which also deals with the whole ‘paying GST as it goes through customs) which will be a nice step up from the iPhone I have. I’ve been giving Apple a second, third, forth (you get the point) chance to finally get Safari HTML5 technologies sorted out and yet Safari on iOS 14.0 is still only scoring 494 points on HTML5 test when compared to Chrome which achieves 525 points.
At this stage I really have to ask whether Apple’s failure to implement the numerous APIs that make up the HTML5 standard a situation of Apple wanting to maintain Webkit’s super efficient reputation by ensuring that what is implemented doesn’t result in regressions or whether it is a situation trying to fend off progressive web apps for as long as possible by not implementing key technologies that developers require. Unfortunately in the case of iOS, although you can install other browsers the reality is that they’re merely a front end over the same Webkit rendering engine that Safari uses which includes all the limitations as well.
I have to admit, I am kind of old school in how I use my computer in much the same way that many people by default search for an app on their smartphone even though the website is perfectly fine or in many cases exactly the same as the app itself (where I work the app and the website look exactly the same when accessed from a smartphone). In the case of me I tend to use the blogging app but the problem is that there are features not available on the app which is available on the website. A good example of that would be the auto-arranging of photos – on the app you try to move it around into some order whereas on the website all you have to do is select the photos and WordPress will offer you layout options where you select the one you want and it takes care of all the details itself.
There are more rumours making the rounds regarding the performance of the next Samsung Galaxy smartphone given what has been leaked so far (link). It appears that there is still going to be a gap between Qualcomm 875 and the new SoC appearing in the next version of Samsung’s flagship smartphone but on the upside the battery life is a whole lot better. There is also a rumour that Samsung will be standardising on their own CPU design globally which given the costly nature of Qualcomm’s up and coming 5G modem/SoC combo – as seen by the rumoured release of the Pixel 5 skipping the 865 in favour of the 765G which has a better battery life (at the expense of performance – but most users wouldn’t notice) which will offset the hungrier 5G modem.
That being said, given that Samsung makes their own modems they might just not even bother with mmwave support given that globally all the focus by carriers has been in the sub-6 GHz zone – T-Mobile deploying 5G on the 600 Mhz spectrum they recently acquired which will given them coast to coast coverage (not to mention the refarming out of spectrum it acquired via the acquisition of Sprint). In the case of New Zealand there is 5G being deployed on 3.5 GHz by all of the three major carriers although things will start to get interesting as lower spectrum is refarmed out or made available in future auctions such as 600 MHz or possibly lower (Scandinavia there is investigation by a few carriers about the possibility of deploying 5G on 450 MHz).
Apple has pushed out Beta 8 of macOS ‘Big Sur’ recently (link) – I still very much have the release date being at the same time as iOS/iPadOS/etc 14.2 being released along with Xcode 12.2 since that version of Xcode will include an updated SDK which supports all those platforms. There hasn’t been any word on next press conference but I’d probably say that it’ll be on 14 October given that 30 September is already the launch day for Google’s own products.
I’m looking forward to seeing the first crop of Apple Silicon based Macs – for me I’m not going to upgrade at least for another 2 years at the very least. The reason for that is firstly finances and secondly I tend to avoid buying 1.0 of any sort of product, I’d sooner let the early adopters deal with the first crop of products and then come in to purchase the next version which has improved baed on the feedback received from consumers in the real world. When I do upgrade I’ll make it an ‘all in one’ affair – iMac, MacBook Pro, iPhone and Apple TV plus maybe a newer television – all in a single transaction.
Things are slowly getting back to normal – Auckland is moving to Level 2 and the rest of New Zealand has moved to Level 1 but it will be interesting to see whether the wearing masks will become mainstream in much the same way that wearing a mask when one is sick is the normal thing to do in many Asian countries. Reading through the Wellington subreddit it was interesting people noting how many were wearing masks on public transport.
Apple released another beta build of macOS 11 ‘Big Sur’ (link) – it will be interesting to see whether beta 7 marks the move to the final stretch or whether Apple will keep pushing out updates to address the last few ‘known issues’. There Is a rumour going around that there will be another event held at the end of September regarding the iPhone 12 and the launch of the first Apple Silicon based Mac so it is plausible that they’re wanting to stabilise macOS as much as possible so that the first round of Apple Silicon based Mac’s give customers the best possible experience out of the gate (although like the Intel Mac’s I’m sure there will be a flurry of updates pushed out to fix up bugs developers find, to improve Rosetta optimisation etc). I have a strong feeling (completing guessing) that macOS 11.0 will be released when Xcode 12.2 and the x.2 series of iOS, iPadOS etc. will be released around the same time.
There was a podcast I was listening to a few days ago that claims Apple were looking at moving to their own ARM based designs for Mac as far back as the 2015 based on Intel falling behind the roadmap that Intel promised Apple but I personally disagree with that assessment. I disagree with with the assessment because of Apple’s historical tendency towards wanting to bring as much as possible ‘in house’ which enables them to control the complete process and for the components to suit their needs rather than a third party developing something aimed for a larger market and it kinda meets the needs of Apple. When Apple started to move to their own CPU design (vs. using a reference design) that long term Apple was going to move the Mac platform to their own CPU design – the situation wasn’t if but rather when. I would say that where the decision in 2015 kicks in is the decision to bring forward the time line – that it was always going to go ahead but sometime in the future but given what has taken place with Intel unable to meet it’s roadmap it brings forward the time line of transitioning over to its own CPU.
On Tuesday (NZ Time) Apple announced that iOS, tvOS, watchOS and iPadOS would be released on Wednesday (NZ Time) so when I woke up this morning I was ready to install it. On my iPhone it was a pretty hefty download of around 2.3GB but I was also surprised that Safari 14 was made available to macOS Catalina (I was expecting the rumoured ‘Supplemental Update’ that was talked about on 9 to 5 Mac (link)). With that I did a clearing out my macOS installation (falling down into single user mode and deleting the contents of ~/Library along with Caches etc).
I’m enjoying Safari 14, it loads websites faster – not only making the initial connection but also downloading and rendering the page as well. It doesn’t include 4K Youtube support in the form of VP9 support being added so that’ll have to wait until Big Sur is released but that being said – so far everything is working well. What I am hoping for is that gradually they’ll expand WebExtensions API so that it has the depth and breadth of support that Firefox has. Although Ad Guard does a pretty good job I do wish for uBlock Origin to make its way to Safari.
I’ll be writing up a longer review once Big Sur is released – I’m hoping that’ll be released while I’m on my holiday – I’ll do a clean install on all my devices so I start with a clean slate which will give a fair assessment of how Big Sur performs.
As we draw closer to the release of Apple’s first ARM based Macs it is interesting to watch various people speculate about the future – I generally avoid the clickbait in favour of Snazzy Labs, Rene Richie which have a more measured tone in terms of forecasting where they think Apple will go.
Although there is a lot of speculation about the performance of the SoC, the question is whether we’re going to see software vendors make use of the various parts of the SoC (Neural Engine processor, CPU and GPU) through frameworks provided (Metal, Metal Performance Shaders etc) or whether they use the CPU as a dumping ground resulting in customers getting a subpar experience (see Adobe drag their feet every step of the way when it comes to adopting new technology). There is a certain amount that Apple can do in terms of ensuring that various parts of the operating system’s frameworks are tapping into the underlying hardware but there is a limit particularly if software vendors are writing multiplatform software and need to utilise multi-platform frameworks such as Qt.
What has also happened recently was the announcement by nVidia to buy ARM from SoftBank (link). It’ll be interesting to see how it all turns out but given that it would provide nVidia with a CPU of their own, it will provide them with the opportunity to make use of ARM based SoCs for cloud servers and maybe even open up the possibility of ARM based laptops, desktops, workstations in the mainstream. Regarding how this impacts Apple – it doesn’t as Apple has a licence which gives them access to the ARM ISA but the design of the SoC itself is up to Apple to build from the ground up (vs. licencing a design from ARM as with the case of Samsung’s upcoming Exynos which will revert to standard CPU designs straight from ARM).
It will be interesting to see whether long term we might even see console vendors like Microsoft and Sony look into using ARM based nVidia SoC’s with nVidia GPU particularly if it means they can get improved performance but at a lower cost per unit which can either be passed on as savings to customers the ability to develop consoles beyond consoles – imagine a XBox running a stripped down modernised version of Windows where you boot up and choose between ‘gaming mode’ and ‘desktop mode’ – where a student could purchase an XBox, hook up a screen, mouse and keyboard, and have a games machine and computer that they can use for study all in one.
Something that I realised when thinking about the fact that the move to ARM based Mac’s will enable the running of native iOS/iPadOS applications on macOS about what it might mean for Google applications that run on iOS/iPadOS. For example, for years people on various Apple forums have complained about the subpar integration between macOS and Google services but with the movement to ARM based Mac’s might open up the opportunity for the native Gmail application appearing on MacOS along side a native YouTube Music app, Google Maps etc. Keeping in mind that for these applications to make their way onto macOS it is something that Google would have to opt in on – it’ll be interesting to see whether they go, “meh, might as well, it’s no skin off our nose” or whether they rigidly stick to their current position of “small screen’s get the apps, everyone else uses a web browser to access our services”.
Rumour has it that there is an ARM iMac being released next year – 24 inch but in the same case as a 21.5 inch by stretching the screen to the edge (27 inch being upgraded to a 32 inch by stretching the screen to the edge) but as noted in the past – I always let the early adopters take the 1.0 version and I’ll be waiting for the the next revision where hopefully most of the bugs will be found and corrected.
After much excitement was created after Samsung announced their return to using bog standard designs from ARM rather than a custom core architecture there was also the rumour that the next Samsung device next year (rumoured to be the Samsung Galaxy S21) will be shipping with it along with an AMD GPU. Unfortunately it appears, based on information from a source with a good reputation for reliability that although it will be using a bog standard ARM CPU design it will be staying with the Mali GPU rather than making the switch.
One thing to keep in mind that although it will be using bog standard ARM designs it is also important to realise that they can be customised – for example when it comes to the Mali G78 it is possible to choose from between 7-24 cores, from 512KB to 2MB of L2 cache etc. not to mention the customisations that I’m sure can be done at the processor level. As long as the performance is ‘close enough’ to what Qualcomm offer then the only people who will quibble over a matter of a few points on synthetic benchmarks are those in the press and in online forums all while the average person will happily rock up and buy a Samsung device.
There is also a rumour that with US carriers phasing out their CDMA2000 networks and the rise of nationwide LTE support (including VoLTE support) that Samsung may look at dropping Qualcomm. This is particularly interesting given that there are handset vendors deciding to go with the Qualcomm 765G SoC as a success to the Qualcomm 865 SoC, Samsung using its own modem and SoC could mean that Samsung decides to standardise on their own SoC worldwide which would either allow them to bank higher margins, pass on the savings yet still maintain better profit margins that if they kept with Qualcomm. If the sales in the UK of the Exynos based Note 20 is anything to go by, Samsung not using Qualcomm outside of the US hasn’t hurt their sales so it would make sense – to make that leap and standardise on a single hardware platform in much the same way that Apple has done with it’s iPhone when stopped sourcing modems from two suppliers and decided to go ‘all in’ with Intel modems.
After much umming and arring over the subject I decided to renew the extra domain I have. The primary reason? holding out for the next Samsung Galaxy phone running Android that will also have Samsung’s new SoC that is rumoured to being using a standard ARM design coupled with an AMD GPU and their own modem. Where does the domain fit into this? for G-Suite – if I go all in, I might as well go all in and make use of the complete suite of Google services. With that all being said – it’ll be interesting to see what the Pixel Phone 5 XL turns out as well (it appears that Amazon is selling the Pixel Phone 4a directly around the world so maybe that is what Google’s long term plan – sell in the big markets directly and let Amazon cater for the rest).
There are rumours regarding the Pixel 5 using the Qualcomm 765G SoC with rumours that there won’t be a Pixel 5 XL. I’m guessing that there will be one, I think people assume that the Pixel 5 XL must be just a larger version of the Pixel 5 but it could be just the flagship version of it so then Google reduces it down to three models: Pixel 4a for entry level, Pixel 5 for mid level and Pixel 5 XL the flagship with the most grunty specifications, biggest screen, big battery etc. which would still enable Google to provide a decent range while also ensuring that resources aren’t spread too thin over too many product lines.
Chilling out at home before I head off to sleep and while doing so it is fun reading through the technology news, in particular, the whole to and fro that is happening between China and the United States (and it’s allies). I’m not going to pick sides since I’m not well versed regarding the ins and outs of all but it appears that each side is dragging out the dirty laundry of the other side. Thomas Friedman made a great point regarding what the Trump administration had done – yes, there were legitimate issues regarding China but the lack of multilateralism in terms of the US working with its partners has resulted in a disjointed and incoherent strategy between the different countries which make up the ‘western alliance’ with little in the way of a strategy of divestment and moving supply chains out of China towards countries that have a more productive working relationship.
Side note: I don’t think it is controversial to state that China has its interests so as a consequence their economic and foreign policy reflect those interests. It isn’t being conspiratorial to point out the blatantly obvious, as I and others have in the past (present and the future) that China and the West will have divergent views but that being said it is important for the West to admit that China is where it is today because of decisions that Western governments made for the sake of maximising profits in the believe that ‘rational self interest’ would never result in what the West today is accusing China of doing. When you treat China as the factory of the world then it shouldn’t be surprising that the factory decides that it wants to move beyond merely being a factory, a destination for outsourcing, in favour of making their own goods that they themselves have conjured up so that they can make higher profits and higher paid employment.