Testing iPhone 6s’s 3D Touch and Live Photos Features

22 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple iPhone 6S has 18 new features.

Although the iPhone is already among the best smartphones for everyday shots, images from previous iPhones haven’t been as sharp as what rival cameras produce.

LOS ANGELES — For those of you who heard Apple tout new features for the new iPhone 6S and said, “that doesn’t sound like much,” Apple wants you to think differently.As is usually the case in an “S” year (or a “tock” year, which follows the “tick” of an entirely new device), Apple has refined last year’s model.

But how big is too big? “It’ll never catch on,” they cried. “It’s just too big!” Apple’s decision to upscale the previously resolutely compact iPhone to a whopping 5.5-inches with the release of the iPhone 6 Plus was a significant one, indicating the company was more averse to responding to mounting consumer demand for larger-screened phones than previously believed. The maker of iPhones, iPads and Mac computers took out full-page ads over the weekend touting that “the only thing that’s changed is everything,” for the iPhone 6S, which goes on sale Friday at 8 a.m. By my count, there are three this year: 3D Touch, Live Photos, and upgrades to the front-facing camera. 3D Touch is a pressure-sensitive layer that’s been added to the iPhone’s display, allowing you to access shortcuts and previews when you press down on an icon or link. You may have heard about the biggies: faster performance, improved camera, 4K ultra-high- definition video recording and that new 3D Touch engine that previews e-mail and apps depending upon how hard you press on the screen. Such hardware configuration supports the 4G standard known as Long Term Evolution Advanced, which provides theoretical mobile broadband download speeds of up to 300 megabits per second – about double what the early 4G networks offer.

You can jump to a new text or a frequently called phone number from the home screen, see a preview of a message in your inbox, check the pictures on your camera roll without leaving the camera app. Rival smartphone suppliers such as Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and Huawei Technologies already have certain Category 6 models with the same two-antenna configuration. Over the past few years, designer Jony Ive and his team have honed the iPhone into a sleek aluminium and glass beast that perhaps only the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge comes close to in the aesthetic stakes. Apple says you don’t have to press the home button to say Hey Siri, a change from previous models, which had to be plugged in to power to make it work.

Save for a new pink color option and some new touchscreen and camera tricks, Apple’s latest phones—which go on sale this Friday—look and feel exactly like the blockbuster iPhones released a year ago. Apple has buttressed its lead in the city even when its “s” models, which retain the external design of the previous’s year’s model but offer significant improvements under the hood. You wouldn’t know how hard to press; you’d press too hard; there’d be a lag and you’d press again, only to find that you had pressed twice, probably causing you to throw the phone across the room.

Or, with my finger still pressing the display, I can flick left and right to delete an email, or mark it as read/unread, or flick upwards to access another menu, which appears underneath. This can also be described as a “catch up” for iPhone users because there were already certain premium smartphone models with a 12-megapixel back camera. Apple trumpets features like 3D Touch, but after using an iPhone 6s, the new responsive screen hardly feels like a must-have—at least not until some killer uses come along.

So, if the last iPhone’s hardware was just that good, the next iPhone should address the final, remaining complaints we have with smartphones, right? This translates to a number of subtle changes to its dimensions, from 158.1mm x 77.8mm x 7.1mm to 158.2mm x 77.9mm x 7.3mm, and an increase in weight from 172g to 192g.

If you’re one of those who drop your phone, -and that includes all of us, you’ll be glad to know Apple says the new cover glass is the strongest it’s ever used before. Hard pressing on a text message gives you a quick reply, a hard press on Apple Maps drops a pin and generates directions to a destination, its phone number or opens its website. Follow USA TODAY tech columnist and #talkingtech host Jefferson Graham on Twitter, where he’s @jeffersongraham and listen to his daily audio tech reports on Stitcher and TuneIn. This last week, hundreds of people online and in person shared with me what annoys them most about their smartphones, and what they’d want most in their next ones. The more pedantic among you may still be irritated by the fact the Apple logo still acts as a fingerprint magnet due to its highly polished surface, but it’s still preferable to having to wipe down the entire back as you have to do with other shinier rival models.

Then a True Tone flash on the display matches the ambient light for a gorgeous shot with more true-to-life colours and more natural-looking skin tones. Apple is wise enough to introduce new colours so seldomly that fans go into meltdown each time a new hue is inducted into the fold, and one of the main talking points around the new handsets is the introduction of the new rose gold colour (tested here), slotting in neatly next to the gold, space grey and silver shades established by last year’s lineup.

Live Photos introduces an amazing way to relive scenes by capturing on video, with sound, about 1.5 seconds before and 1.5 seconds after a still shot is taken. The bigger 5.5-inch 6s Plus lasted longer and is the best choice if you’re a heavy user and want some juice left over at the end of the day. (Of course, battery life on any smartphone generally degrades over time.) Still, there is no battery improvement over last year’s iPhone 6 models. Following in the footsteps of such a luxurious benchmark, the decision to extend the colour to the iPhone has been interpreted as a flagrant appeal to the burgeoning demand for the handsets within China – a market Apple considers so lucrative, Tim Cook made the rare move of speaking out to reassure investors amid fears over Apple’s performance within China’s volatile markets last month.

If I press hard on the camera icon, I can take a selfie, record a video or slow motion, or snap a photo. iPhone 6s introduces live photos, where the camera quietly snaps three seconds of video when taking a still. Photo: Geoff Pugh | The Daily Telegraph Apple’s rose gold is a funny kind of shade – its tendency to reflect or absorb light depending on the lighting conditions when photographed means it can appear anything from an icy mauve to a muddy golden brown in pictures. One friend of mine tried switching to Android, but text messages started getting lost in his girlfriend’s iPhone iMessage app. (iMessage is known for causing headaches to those who move to Android.) He switched back to an iPhone in a week. Like the aluminium, the 6s Plus’ display glass has also benefited from reinforcement, and is now the most durable in the smartphone industry, Apple claims, thanks to a dual ion-exchange in the manufacturing process. While other phones employ wireless charging and rapid charging technology for added convenience, the new iPhones still require you to plug in your phone and wait at least two hours (nearly three for the Plus) to charge to 100%.

Text is sharp, colour reproduction is accurate and contrast ratio is excellent, but if you’ve been using the 6 for the past year, there’s nothing to really offer you by way of improvement, which is a shame. In addition to familiar gestures like Tap, Swipe, and Pinch, 3D Touch introduces Peek and Pop, which lets a user preview all kinds of content and even act on it – without having to actually open it. With the 6s Plus Apple has decided to upgrade the rear-facing camera for the first time since the iPhone 4s’ release in 2011, when it leapt from 5MP to 8MP. Exporting an HD video was three times as fast, scrolling through Facebook FB -1.51 % and Web pages was smoother and jumping between tons of open apps felt noticeably quicker. Other features include higher resolution 12 and 5-megapixel cameras, a faster A9 processor with faster graphics, and a new sensor for Touch ID, which greatly increases the speed of fingerprint recognition.

You barely place your finger on the button and you’re in. “You know, I really wish I could press harder on the screen.” Yeah, not one person I surveyed said that, but as Steve Jobs famously said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” That’s where 3D Touch comes in. Debate rages over quite how accurate this kind of statement is, but there’s no denying that Apple desperately needed to up its camera game to remain a true contender.

But you guessed it: For now you can only share Live Photos with other Apple device owners. (Apple says it plans to open sharing to third parties like Facebook, but I’m not holding my breath it will come to Android’s messaging app.) Apple executives have argued for years that their advantage is tying together hardware and software. Apple’s defenders say the iPhone’s App Store is open to most outside services—Google Maps, WhatsApp for messaging, Spotify for music, Dropbox for storage. Thanks to the iSight sensor’s 50 per cent more pixels, its autofocus is now faster and more accurate, according to senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller, resulting in less accidental blur and noise. This means pictures taken on the Plus models tend to appear slightly brighter and more true-to-life in terms of colour, but the difference is very minor.

Apple took a step in the right direction by saying its new Apple Music service would be available for Android devices, though we’re still waiting to see that arrive. No iPhone 6 owners I spoke to complained about the camera. (Good thing, since my colleague Geoff didn’t find anything extra special about the new camera anyway.) In fact, only a handful of people requested a better camera. These otherwise-unglamorous performance boosts don’t get the crowd on their feet at product launches, but they’re exactly what a great smartphone needs to achieve its ultimate goal, which is to get out of your way. With prodigious speed, well-thought-out interfaces, and flawless hardware-software integration, these new iPhones provide the tool for whatever it is you’re doing and just let you do it. New feature Live Photos creates brief animations by taking a second-and-a-half’s worth of low resolution images before and after the core 12MP photograph, resulting in a moving image and a short burst of sound.

If there were ever an iPhone that needed more storage, it’s this one, yet Apple continues to rip off customers with a 16GB base model ($649 without payment plan/contract), rather than offer a 32GB one. The Live Photos mode is automatically turned on each time you open the camera, and a small yellow box reading Live appears on screen while you take your picture as you would normally.

Scrolling through pictures in the Photos app triggers a brief burst of movement to remind you it’s a Live Photo, rather than a standard still image. Live Photos will be supported across iOS 9, the forthcoming El Capitan and watchOS 2, meaning while you will need a 6s Plus to shoot them, you’ll be able to watch them in webpages and messages across your Apple ecosystem. In fact, according to SquareTrade, an electronics insurance service, 15% don’t repair them, probably because they just assume it will only happen again.

Quick Actions is a means of providing shortcuts to the most important aspects of a homescreen app directly, removing the need to open the app, select and then launch your desired action. This works much more smoothly in practice than in does in theory – for example, pressing the Messages app opens a list of contacts it thinks you have ongoing conversations with, whilst pressing on Photos pulls up a menu to directly open your most recent picture, those marked as favourites, photos taken one year ago today, or search. Pressing lightly on an address within an email, for example, allows you to ‘peek’ at the point on Apple’s Maps app, and ceasing to press returns you to the message. You can also use Quick Actions within apps, such as peeking into a book and sliding up to share it, or likewise on a link to open a new tab, copy it or add it to a reading list. There are those who will question just how desperately a smartphone requires pressure-sensitive capabilities, but anything which abbreviates the process of switching between apps – and especially when it comes to labourious exercises like inputting a lengthy address into a mapping app – is a good thing in my eyes.

Again, the Moto X offered a similar service, which allowed you to peep inside notifications under their Moto Display function, this is not ground-breaking tech. As with the 6, you can register up to five fingerprints to the phone for unlocking the handset, authenticating your identity or verifying purchases from the iTunes Store, App Store or iBooks Store.

I did find that a woman of a similar age and voice range to myself was able to activate Siri from a distance by speaking a command, so maybe this is a feature which needs a bit of refining. I prefer the larger display and the resolution it affords me, and once you get past the novelty of carrying something akin to a large bar of chocolate, it’s a brilliant device. As the entry-level iPhone 5c has now been wiped from the company’s lineup, Apple is unashamedly targeting the premium market, and there will inevitably be fans who think nothing of dropping close to £800 on a phone.

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