Saturday Notes: The Usual Apple Updates and Doom; More Film with a Newly-arrived Rolleiflex (Updated - minor corrections)
By Graham K. Rogers
With iOS 14 coming soon, this week iOS 13.7 arrived with COVID-19 notifications changes. There are plenty of new product rumours including Apple Silicon CPUs and GPUs. iPhone sales figures show good results, but with a NYSE drop, Apple is doomed again. Apple and Google are again being criticised for the fees they charge for in-app purchases, but Epic is digging its heels in and litigation is in the air. A Rolleiflex arrives.
Midweek there was an update to iOS with version 13.7 including Covid-19 notification changes that will only apply in some countries. A Tweet from Mark Gurman explains that Exposure Notifications Express (contract-tracing without an app) is also coming to Android later in the month but is only working in 4 US regions right now.
Apple recently updated its Final Cut Pro suite, with several improvements and additions. Scooter Doll (ScreenRant) in a useful article writes about the "new framing tools to aid in editing content specifically for social media platforms". Most modern users must be aware of the effect of YouTube and other video-based platforms, as well as the unfortunate but necessary growth in conferencing applications. This new output flexibility is in response to these evolving ways in which we are communication nowadays.
There are lots of reports that suggest Apple is not going to include a charger or ear buds in the next iPhone: the iPhone 12. This has appeared before, courtesy of Ming Chi-Kuo whom I do not rate highly, but the new reports seem to have more to them. There are also other reports about Apple that include several patent filings: the expected Tags (Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider) and new iPads with A14 chips, and the Apple Watch (Omar Sohail, WCCFTech).
There are also other reports concerning the tile like product tracker, like the one from Chris Burns (SlashGear). The information adds to what has been known, and tells us they will likely work with NFC, Bluetooth, and/or Wi-fi connectivity. It is all speculation of course, but the specifics on technology use sound convincing. Like the promised Apple Silicon computer, I want this device although the Tags may well arrive before the Apple Silicon.
On the subject of the Apple-developed chips, another rumour appeared recently not about a CPU but an Apple GPU: graphics. Joel Hruska (ExtremeTech) outlines the case for a graphics card that would be developed for an iMac release early next year.
There have of course been lots of reports from experts over the last few months that told us that sales of iPhones were falling and Apple was obviously in trouble. Those reports persisted even after the last quarter which surprised many people. Services saved Apple they said. Maybe not, as Omar Sohail (WCCFTech) reports that the highest selling phone over the first 6 months of the year was the iPhone 11 with just under 38 million units.
The second-best seller was not even on the same lap: the Samsung Galaxy A51 with just over 11 million sold. Other iPhone models sold 31.1 million between them, which with my rough maths shows sales of the 5 iPhones in the top 10 reached a little under 70 million units.
However, the stock market has seen some major readjustments in the last few days, with the DOW dropping considerably, taking Apple and everyone else with it. NASDAQ also saw a loss of 1.3%. With the largest ever fall seen in any company's capitalization, there were reports that Apple had dropped below the $2 Trillion mark; although when I checked on Saturday, all indexes and companies are showing falls but Apple was reported as still being above the $2T mark.
I briefly mentioned TikTok last time, but things are hotting up. The CEO who has only been with the company a couple of months has resigned (Yingzhi Yang and Kanishka Singh, Irish Independent). It is also rumored that Walmart has joined Microsoft in a bid for the TikTok operations in the United States. Rumors also suggest this could be completed within 48 hours, so by Monday this might be another Microsoft toy. 20 September is the final deadline.
Despite the problems that include suing Trump. TikTok is carrying on with business as usual, at least for the time being and just a couple of days ago "announced a slate of marketing partners to help brands create and measure the impact of campaigns on the app, and a little later the company announced a new feature: Stitch, which lets users sample up to five seconds of video from another user in their own TikTok posts" (Ingrid Lundgren, TechCrunch). Not that I use TikTok but I am hoping that between a President with certain idées fixées and a Chinese government determined on retaliation if a ban comes into play, that saner heads will prevail and it will be allright on the night: who am I kidding?
Apple has been taking flak from all sides, including Microsoft and Facebook - neither with unsullied reputations - about its monopoly position with apps, but as Horace Dediu comments slightly tongue-in-cheek, "In the second quarter of 2020, 13.5% of all smartphones sold worldwide were iPhones. No wonder all the accusations of an Apple monopoly."
With its Epic dispute ongoing, as well as removing the apps from the App Store, Apple has now terminated Epic's developer account. Google also has a dispute with Epic (both Apple and Google are being sued by the developer) and both lawsuits are about control. Epic wants to ignore the T&C it must have signed to do business with each of the distribution giants, and take income from its customers without paying the fees that the stores levy. Having grown through its use of those stores, it now wants to drop the shackles. Many other developers and organisations are following these related disputes closely.
A couple of years ago I tried a Rolleiflex twin lens reflex camera, but was not overstruck, particularly when I had trouble with loading film. I returned the camera to the owner, much to his chagrin: I think he wanted me to buy it. I have collected a few cameras since then, and despite a couple of 35mm devices, most of what I have use Medium Format film (120). I tried a Bronica, but its 645 output did not appeal, so I gave that to a student who is taking some excellent photos with it.
With GAS or gear acquisition syndrome, there is an occasional urge to buy more. I often look through eBay and sometimes put a camera on my Watch List, with a couple, such as the Topcon Horseman on a long term wish-list. Despite my earlier negativity, I am aware that the Rolleiflex is a good camera (as is the Bronica) and several famous photographers have produced great images from these: Robert Capa, Diane Arbus, David Bailey, Vivian Mayer and many more.
Mayer was a mystery. She worked as a nanny and in her free time (sometimes with her young charges) she would walk around Chicago and take photographs in the streets. Not that she seems to have printed the output: her negatives were found around 2007. Reading about Mayer particularly I had another look at Rolleiflex cameras on eBay and accidentally pressed the bid button for one camera only to find out a couple of hours later that it was mine. It arrived this week and I set about learning how to use it.
Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex camera
I managed to load a roll of film and took the whole roll as a test. It is in for processing now. While in the shop, I decided load another roll, but this behaved in the same way as when I had borrowed the other camera a couple of years back. I tried a second roll, again with the same result: the film is wound on but the counter always shows zero. As I had just taken a roll successfully, I was obviously loading it wrongly. Although I had downloaded a PDF manual, I used Google to find out what I was doing wrong.
The answer was that when feeding the film it has to go under a small roller before going across the gap to the take-up spool. This small roller is critical as it senses the movement of the film and thus all the cogs turn and the numbers appear in the display window. I tried with the rewound second roll (it was probably wasted anyway) and that worked perfectly. When I put in an unexposed roll of film I was careful to feed it under and over the right places: the numbers appeared. I had learned a good lesson. Let's see if I can now take some good photographs.
I was recently asked by a respected US academic who has worked here for many years to help another US researcher who has problems with his MacBook Pro. The initial problem description was not good, with poor organisation and a general lack of knowledge about how computers work. A follow-up telephone conversation with the owner was even worse, although that was partly due to the way the conversation drifted away from the problem focus all too easily. From his vague descriptions, it is clear that he does not understand how to select the right commands, how to conduct a search, nor how to organize files. I will not be able to analyze the computer until later but thinking now about the chat over the phone, it might have been better to have run away.
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)