eXtensions - Monday 10 Jun 2019
Cassandra - Monday Review: Lazy Reporting from WWDC and Less-evident Problems
By Graham K. Rogers
Particularly with an iPhone release, after I have watched the event video (a lot there that some miss), I take the time to look at Technical Specifications: always a revelation or two there. Although I come to my own conclusions about a device, I read certain online sources for opinions. I also like to wait for the iFixit teardown and the full report from AnandTech, both of which will come later and show some important points that those early reports missed with their hit-hunting content: but it is too late. Many people have already formed misconceptions borne of the shoddy reporting.
And so it is with WWDC: a Developers' Conference, not a product event; although this year (unusually) the long-expected MacPro was announced, to the cheers of the developers, but howls of derision in the popular tech press.
As has been done in the past by others, Chuong Nguyen (Digital Trends) came up with a close comparison of the new MacPro with a near-equivalent PC. A direct comparison is not possible because of the relative specifications of components, some designed specifically for the Apple machine. It turns out that for the basic specs, you would have less for over $7000 with a PC.
When the full specs are examined, however - estimated at $35,000, or more - prices on the PC side are astronomical, with one figure (for an HP computer) coming in at $150,000, while none of the PC devices examined could match Apple's 4 video card potential, a Dell could handle 3TB RAM. I am suitably impressed, especially with the $90,000 that would cost. It would serve anyone well to look again at the section of the WWDC video that introduces the MacPro to see the well thought-out components and their assembly. The section also mentions the developers, like Adobe, Autodesk and Serif (also see below).
Qualcomm used its position "to hold everyone over a barrel" and to "crush the opposition". And in that Opinion there was reference to the ruthlessness of Qualcomm with a slide "of how to starve MediaTek (MTK) in a PowerPoint presentation"". Masnick closes with "But if you ever want a pure example of the "evil" created by excessive patent monopolies, Qualcomm is about as pure an example as you can find." A PDF of Judge Koh's 233 page decision is included at the end of the article.
Google however was not thought likely to change its position on Android access, because it couldn't, so Huawei has to come up with its own solution which had already been under some development, but is now a priority. Bloomberg News reports that as many as 10,000 workers on three-shifts are working to come up with a product that will be capable of taking the place on Android on the phones. They are also working on things like chips and base station antennas. There is, however, a delicious irony to the Android-Oak story as Google has now put forward the point that if Huawei are unable to use Android, and of Oak is developed successfully, it could compromise security, which was one of the points of that sweeping ban (Derek Wallbank, Bloomberg).
A potential result of all this re-creation is "China having an independent communications technology industry", which may not be what Trump intended. Another unexpected effect will be to the mass of networking equipment that is in use especially in rural areas. Apparently the engineers like it because it is so low-maintenance. Replace that and communities may initially have no broadband (Suhauna Hussain and Alice Su, PhysOrg) and who knows what the substitutes may be like. The current president has already done an about-face on Mexico - it was a negotiating tactic after all - so if China presses hard will he back down again? It may be too late as China - and other countries who are now seeing the writing on the wall - may seek out alternatives.
Notes from Scott Adam Gordon (Android Authority) suggest that the new Huawei operating system could be ready around September. It is likely to be named Oak OS, which has a nice sound to it, although in China it is expected to be called HongMeng OS, which also has a nice ring to it. Talk Android (Oscar Cooke-Abbott) shows what appears to be a screenshot of OakOS which they describe as a little Android, a little iOS with the additional point that this probable Android fork may still handle Android apps. That is significant for users.
The Nikon brought a couple of changes to my workflow. As Photos has limited storage, even with a 2TB plan on iCloud, I now keep only the best images (and a few that might be useful. I delete the others, but all the original photographs (and the scans from my film cameras) are stored on external disks so if I do need a RAW image from April 2018 that is not in Photos, I can dig it up. The only photographs I do not store are the occasional black image and those that are so terminally blurred as to be useless.
For editing on the Mac now that Aperture is unavailable, I make use of several other editing applications, such a Graphic Converter (which I had used since before OS X), Pixelmator and Affinity Photo, among others. Those last two also have iPad versions, and there is also Pixelmator Photo, so I am able to do considerably more editing on the iPad (and the iPhone at a pinch with some apps), even with Photos. Some of the editing apps are also available as extensions for Photos on the iPad. With iOS 13, those tool sets will be expanded (Sharpen, White Balance, et al).
Affinity Photo was available as an extension on the Mac, so along with Luminar3 and Tonality there were many options available to add to the basic tools in Photos on the Mac: a user could do a lot from within Photos, but for really heavy editing it might be better to export and work in a standalone app, rather than from within Photos. When Apple provided the option to save iPhone photos in HEIC format (High Efficiency File Format), instead of JPEG I switched to this although I also use some apps on the iPhone that save in RAW (or TIFF). When these HEIC files were synchronized to the Mac, via iCloud, the Affinity Photo extension balked and for a long time (with a number of user complaints) the only way was the image export route, which for basic fixes is inefficient.
Serif have finally updated both the iPad and Mac versions of Affinity Photo to version 1.7 and this will allow the handling of HEIC image output from within Photos on the Mac. There were several other improvements to the app including multi-GPU and multi-display support (Jeff Benjamin, 9to5 Mac): just in time for the new MacPro. This just adds to the ability to work on images without being tethered to one specific software developer. Affinity Photo (and Designer) also have support for Sidecar, so when I have iOS 13 and macOS Catalina running, I will be able to link the iPad with the Mac and work on both platforms. I can hardly wait to try this. A number of other applications that run on both platforms will also be Sidecar-capable.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)
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