eXtensions - Friday 15 December 2023

Friday Notes: Updates from Apple; ProRes Video on iPhone 15 Pro; Delivery Woes

By Graham K. Rogers


Apple operating systems were updated this week with fixes and some new features. I looked at the requirements for HiRes video and bought a suitable disk. The Phoenix films I ordered from Hong Kong finally arrived after tripping round Asia for a few days. Lightning accessories to be updated with USB-C connections.

Updates and Journals

This week there were updates to iOS and iPadOS (14.2) as well as macOS (Sonoma, 17.2). WatchOS (10.2) and tvOS (17.2) were updated as well. On iPhones Apple included the new Journal app, which may suit some. It seems this uses information available on the device (photos, music, calendar) to create entries. I also see it offers my morning walk, which is only a few steps to and from the taxi and probably best forgotten. When I include a journal writing requirement in writing courses students can unusually only manage the most boring and basic entries: instead of a page, three lines. The best writers, put something on paper (preferably paper) every day.

Apple Journal app I like writing when I am actually doing something, like reviews or commenting on a photo journey, not that I have done much of that lately. The Victorians loved to keep diaries and these give insights into the daily (and restricted) lives, particularly of the women.

When I was in the police, diaries, journals or personal letters were sometimes used in criminal trials or in divorce proceedings. A recent, bad example is the diary used by police in Australia to show the state of mind of Kathleen Folbigg when all 4 of her children died. 20 years later she has just been freed as DNA evidence showed that the children carried extra genes that could lead to unexpected deaths. The diaries were used to prove her state of mind, when she was using them to try and understand the deaths.

These days we have XTwitter, Tik-Tok or Facebook, et al. And internet entries are far more indelible than diaries. At least you could burn the letters or journals. The internet is forever. Although I am not a diarist, Niléane (MacStories) has written a good overview of the app's values (and some limitations), also commenting that Apple has made the API available to developers of other like apps.

Video Requirements on the iPhone

One of the many features on the iPhone is the ability to record high quality ProRes HDR videos, but there is a problem which I looked at a couple of weeks ago. Apple Support tells us we need "a USB 3 cable with speed of at least 10 Gbits per second. Your external storage device must write at speeds of at least 220 MB per second". I tested the disks I had with Drive Speed from OWC and none that I have were suitable.

Following the update I selected this option on the iPhone, but immediately there was a warning 4K and 60fps needed external storage devices and with higher specifications. Eric Butterfield (recently updated) on B&H, the well-known camera dealers writes about the disks needed for these higher specifications and mentions the LaCie 4TB d2 Professional USB 3.1 Type-C External Hard Drive, the The SanDisk 6TB G-DRIVE Enterprise-Class (both shown at $184.99), and the San Disk Professional G-RAID shuttle 4 (24TB) for $1999.99: around 6500 baht and 71,000 baht respectively. Note that these disks all require a power supply, which defeats the idea of mobile video with the iPhone.

However, there was a mention of the Samsung SSD T7 Touch with USB 10.2 Gen 2 speeds, with the local Samsung pages claiming "Sequential writes up to 1,000 MB/S" so this seemed to fit the bill and I was interested. It takes its power from the device and weighs only 58 grams. They are available in 500MB, 1TB and 2TB capacities. However, there are 4 versions shown on the page, with only the first 2 having the higher transfer speeds. The "Touch" version has fingerprint ID and is more expensive. Read the box specifications and serial numbers carefully:

Prices shown online here vary considerably, but are mainly between 7,000 to 9,000 baht for the 2TB T7. Amazon has this starting at $169 and it does ship to Thailand. Links to some sites show other products and even the good ones are not always well-organized. I went into the city and had a look. In Siam Paragon I found the series of Samsung disks. I looked carefully at the boxes and the serial numbers before I was sure I had the 2TB T7. The T7 Touch and other similar disks were available. The 2TB T7 was priced at 8690 baht, which compares reasonably when VAT and shipping charges (see above) are factored in. And it was there.

Samsung T7 SSD
Samsung T7 SSD

A Suitable Disk

At home, once the disk was out of the box, I was surprised at how small it looked. It came with an unmarked USB-C cable and one for USB-C to USB-A. That went straight in the drawer with all the others. I ran a test on the iPhone running the OWC Drive Speed app, using both the cable in the box and a Thunderbolt 4 from CalDigit. It seemed inconclusive. With the drive connected to the phone I tried the Pro Res video and the iPhone did not object. I made a 30 second clip. Then I made another video using the cable that was in the box: no objection again. The two 30-second videos were 6.34GB and 6.58GB respectively. As a comparison, my students had just given me 5 minute .mov videos, each of about 70MB. The quality does not compare.

At the prompting of John-Anthony Disotto (iMore) I also turned on Spatial Video. Not that I am likely to have a Vision Pro, but just to see how it works on my iPhone. In the video section of the camera display, there is now a Vision Pro icon (greyed out and with a line through it). Touching that changes it to yellow and it is ready to go, although my first try early morning showed that there was probably not enough light. I did not need the hard disk attached for this. I ran a 30 second clip which Photos reports to be 82.1 MB.

With the Pro Res and Spatial video output I am pleased with the quality that the iPhone can now produce. As a comparison I recorded a 30 second clip with no special features which was 321MB and again really sharp. Not that I use video much at all but the iPhone 15 has some quality output as we all saw with the recent Apple video of the announcement of Macs.

When I compared the Spatial with the ordinary output, the former was recorded at a resolution of 1920 x 1080, while the vanilla clip was 3480 x 2160, which explains the size difference. I will need to experiment more.

In good time, Anton Shilov (AnandTech) reports on some USB 4-capable drives and enclosures. The Adata disk outlined is capable of 3.7GB/s write speeds, while the disks enclosures examined also are capable of 3GB/s speeds or more (presuming that the user's disk is up to it). All of these support USB 4, which obviously supersedes USB 3.2, with "either 40 GB/s or 20 GB/s transfer speeds". Again these are unlikely to be available here currently, but as more suitable disks appear, things should improve.

Delivery Woes for Phoenix

Phoenix I ordered several films 2 weeks ago, including the new Harman Phoenix color film. Instead of the Express Delivery that I paid for they went tripping round Asia and arrived on Monday, a week after I placed the order. It reminded me of a package of films that went astray a couple of years back. The delivery actually arrived at the airport here, but then went to Vietnam, Hong Kong, Vietnam and a couple of other cities before ending its grand tour and being delivered over a week late. The online tracker was the only information.

This time I started with the chat robot whose answers indicated early that it had no idea what was going on. I switched to email and had a couple of anodyne replies. With the non-committal apologies and weak as water excuses they must be using the same AI writing add-on as airlines. It is a busy time, so it is my problem. Just imagine if Apple wrote something like this to a customer who had ordered a new Mac. The iPhone releases of only a few years ago were logistics nightmares. Using an app it was possible to check the planes as they left China for destinations in America, Australasia, Japan and Europe: Apple's most favored countries and regions. A second flood would come a week later.

Apple has now changed its logistics, with more supplies for some products being sent out earlier and handled locally. If, at the time of one of those especially busy periods, the pallets were lined up waiting for enough aircraft to arrive, deliveries for the first week alone would have been extended several days and we can imagine the outcry were this to happen. Instead Apple makes sure that there is enough transport to cover the expected orders (and more).

I am surprised that a major logistics company is overwhelmed by the annual end of year ordering binge. It is like the yearly surprise in England when snow falls and hundreds of drivers have accidents. Every year. Christmas and the new year should hardly be a surprise. Sometimes you have to make a loss to make a profit overall. My small express delivery parcel was sent from Hong Kong then sat in Japan for more than 4 days, each of which was marked on the FedEx tracking page as "On the way", when clearly it was not. On that 4th day, there was a change and the package arrived in China (Guangzhou) which was heading in the right direction although it is only 129 Kms from where it started, and 2473 Kms from where it had been for the previous 4 days.

On Saturday and Sunday the package rested at Guangzhou then early Monday morning took the 97 minute hop to Bangkok Airport almost 7 days after it was picked up. It was in my hands late afternoon, but to add insult to injury there was a customs charge of over 500 baht, which I do realize is neither the fault of the retailer or the delivery service. I spent the next couple of days taking lots of photographs (3 x 35mm rolls) to find out what this new film can do.

Phoenix Film Phoenix Film

Harman Phoenix Film

Other Comments

Another big change following the iOS update was to iTunes with the removal of movies. This has now been moved to the AppleTV app. It is fairly easy to look around although I am not a lover of the AppleTV interface, especially when trying to work with the Apple Remote, which in these parts does not have Siri. I find the selection of current programs and those that have been viewed difficult. If I want to watch an older series that may not be found so easily. With movies now in the interface too that has added to the confusing array of titles. I used to be able to put movies in a list that I could consider buying later, but that could not be found, and pressing an arrow, put Slaughterhouse 5 in the Watch list, although the purchase was not made.

We should also note the comments of Joe Rossignol on MacRumors: 7 features in iOS are US-only. As I have mentioned several times in the past, users in countries like Thailand pay top prices for Apple products with few (if any) discounts, while Siri is unavailable in some situations and several services are not accessible here. Rossignol mentions, "Apple Card, Apple Card Savings, Apple Cash, Apple Pay Later, Wallet IDs, Roadside Assistance via Satellite, and Clean Energy Charging" but there are more in the overall Apple experience.

We were reminded this week of the original Apple Maps release which led to a number of navigation problems, and to the removal of a couple of Apple heads. Luke Dormehl (Cult of Mac) outlines one particular problem in Australia, but does note that the original source for location data was wrong. Locally, there were several errors, some of which took a while to fix, including the location of a branch of the Bangkok Bank in the middle of the river. An update last year to the location of the local Immigration Office was also fairly quickly added.

Apple Maps

I checked the maps again when I read the Cult of Mac article as I have found another problem locally and reported this in July. Four months later and it has still not been fixed. There is a satellite photograph of a new stretch of road in Nakhon Pathom. I have used it and it cuts a lot of time. Although this is shown on the satellite images (you can hardly hide something like this), it is still not shown on the road maps even after the iOS 14.2 update.

Apple Maps

Several rumors at the weekend noted that it is expected that production facilities for Apple products in Vietnam are expected to be (or have been) upgraded. This is in expectation of a new, cheaper iPad that could arrive early in 2024. Tim Hardwick on MacRumors picked this up from Reuters. Several other sites have repeated the information as if it were a news release from Apple. It was a rumor release from Taiwan and we do not hold those in high regard, although this one has potential, particularly with regard to Vietnam and the increased investment in SE Asia in the last couple of years. Vietnam in particular had some major upgrades so it should not be expected if the investment is to be used to improve the products.

With my M1 Mac Book Pro still giving me sterling service, I am unsure if I should upgrade when M3 notebook computers are released as it does all that I ask of it, with a little help from its friends: iPads, iPhone and Mac mini at the office. I could certainly make a case for upgrading to a new M3 iPad Pro (my real workhorse these days) and adding an iMac to the team. I then wondered if that should be for the office or home. Or maybe I should consider one for each location.

When Apple announced the latest iMacs, many were critical of the need for a Lightning cable in the box. This was still needed for those with devices like the Magic Mouse or the Keyboard. I also need a Lightning cable for the AirPods. Apple missed a chance to update those devices at a time when the iPhone had switched to USB-C and many other devices use USB-C too. Apart from the AirPods and an older Apple Watch charger (Using USB-A) all my Apple devices are USB-C these days. A couple of older 3rd party disks and my Nikon DSLR use that ghastly micro-USB, but I have cables to connect directly with USB-ports saving much trouble.

Now it appears Apple is about to update the "Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse, and Magic Trackpad" in early 2024, Hartley Charlton (MacRumors) reports.

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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