eXtensions - Thursday 7 October 2021


Thursday Comment: Making friends with the iPad mini; iPhones now Shipping to Thailand; Positive comments on iPhone 13 and A15 chip (Update and minor fix)

By Graham K. Rogers


Making discoveries with the new iPad mini: RAW imports, metadata and fingerprint ID. Shipping iPhones to Thailand. Some real facts on the A15 chip from AnandTech: not as slow as the rumors suggested.

As a personal test of my new iPad mini, I decided to import some photographs directly from my Nikon DSLR camera. These are large RAW images, each of about 50MB. Although the older iPad Pro with the A-series chip that I recently replaced with the M1 iPad Pro, would import such images, the space available would usually bring the import to a halt if there were more than about 10 images. That meant it was OK as a standby, but not for major work. The new iPad Pro with 128GB of storage had no such problems and I could import 30-40 images (the most I have tried thus far) without a quibble.

batch metadata adjustment of photos on iPad The iPad mini has less storage at 64GB, but when I tried with 17 images - a normal number for a quick walk round - the import was quick and easy. At some stage I shall try to see if I can cause an import to pause: to see what the limit is for the device. While working with the imported images I found a slight annoyance that also occurs on the iPad Pro.

While Apple has belatedly added a metadata display to Photos, unlike the similar panel on the Mac, adding data to the Information panel is not totally straightforward. Adding a caption is fairly straightforward. Adding or changing date and time-zone information needs the user to press the Adjust text (it is not really a button). Adding a location also has a suitable link.

However adding the location for all images at once is not possible although I can do it on the Mac. On the iPad or iPhone the user is limited to a one-by-one approach that is not productive. However, with the images selected, the actions arrow (bottom left) has a number of features, including "Adjust Location". This opens a panel that displays the current data if there is any location entered, and a panel at the top allows the user to Enter New Location. Right hand, left hand. Apple giveth and Apple taketh away.

Using the iPad mini is a little different from using the other devices. While I use the iPad Pro mainly in landscape mode, because of the keyboard and case (and the iPhone has face-recognition), the new iPad has its fingerprint ID through the button at the top right. With its size, I find I often switch to landscape mode and the button is then on the left.

When it was set up, I used the right index finger, as I had for other devices I had owned with fingerprint ID, but that is not enough for the iPad mini and the different ways I work. I took some time one morning this week to set another fingerprint ID for the left-sided working, which should save me a few nanoseconds.

A number of news sites breathlessly reported that, according to Ming-Chi Kuo Apple is not now planning to release an iPad Air with OLED screen. Roll back time a little and the rumor about this came from the same source, so perhaps the rumor-monger has corrected something that was mere speculation in the first place. Don't count your rumor chickens before they have hatched. It now appears that Apple has changed the supplier from Samsung to LG who apparently will produce these according to Apple's requirements (Stephen Warwick, iMore).

We are also warned that supplies of the Apple Watch 7 could be limited on its release. Orders open this Friday (at least in Apple's important countries) although there is no information at all in the Thai online store currently (which still shows the Apple Watch Series 6).

Apple iPhone 13 Pro
iPhone 13 Pro - Image courtesy of Apple

There have been rumors about supply of the new iPhones, but I ordered mine last week and that showed (and still shows) the original delivery date. Like the iPad mini that arrived a few days ago, Apple seems to have changed its supply lines in recent months. Singapore has always been an important base for Apple in this region, but now may have taken on more importance as companies rework logistics with the problems from Covid. That might imply - I am speculating here - that Apple may be using other regional distribution hubs worldwide in an effort to streamline the process rather than have (for example) iPhones going directly from China to the customer.

On Wednesday afternoon this week, a message on the Apple Watch showed me that a large sum had been authorized on my credit card. That was a signal that the status of the iPhone 13 Pro order had changed. When I looked at the information in the Apple Store, this had changed from Processing to Preparing to Ship. The next morning (Thursday), this changed to Shipped, although the delivery date still shows 14 October. As with recent deliveries tracking information shows it has already been picked up in Singapore: again not shipping from China. I should have that in my hands in a few days. The case I ordered is still shown as Processing.

Update - A message later Thursday afternoon told me that the case had also now shipped and was due to be delivered on 12 October: next Tuesday.

When a new device is produced by Apple I tend to play down the early reviews. When I am able I look at the device myself, I only usually report user experiences (as above). I always prefer to wait for two specific sites to publish their reports: iFixit and AnandTech. The former tears down the device and reports on chips, connectors and other internal hardware, with some occasional speculation as to what an unidentified component might be for. AnandTech on the other hand runs a broad range of benchmarking tests, and will occasionally come up with an internal image of chip cores.

A15 chip from Anandtech Page
Image of A15 chip from Anandtech Page

Early on when the A15 chip was announced - which I am finding performs nicely on the iPad mini - there was a lot of head shaking because Apple never really said how fast it was. Instead of comparing it to the A14 chip, there were some vague comments about its speed in comparison to the chips used in other phones. The speculation was that development was slowing down or the number of cores had not been expanded as much as before, or Apple was losing its mojo and (ergo) doomed. Andrei Frumasanu (AnandTech) would disagree and in the 4-part article was suitable impressed with the development of the A15.

Writing in The Guardian, Samuel Gibbs has reviewed the iPhone 13 and calls it "Apple's very best". Positive comments are made on the camera upgrades, the longer battery life and (in the UK at least) a small price cut. With regard to the macro mode, users of models other than the iPhone 13, are now able to take macro photographs with the latest update to Halide that was released this week. I tried this while using the iPad Pro and was surprised to see how the fabric in the keys showed up (as well as the dust).

Apple iPhone 13 Pro
iPad Pro keyboard using macro mode in Halide

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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