App Review - Pocket

There are Apps that do very few things on a select device, really well and there are Apps like Pocket, which does more than a few things, but again really well across multiple iOS devices. To me, Pocket is a link aggregator that aims to be a one stop, shop for all your links (or articles) for a later read. Before I dive into this App review, just to give some context into Pocket's usage, I am going to explain my use case for it a little bit more in detail, as an introduction. 

I was using Google Reader as my primary RSS reader for a while and then google decided to scrap its Reader, as it was not making them enough money. I ended up using Feedly as my RSS reader from then on, after trying out other competitors, of course. So my workflow with the RSS feeds goes like this. I have close to a 100(!) RSS feeds in my Feedly account and I save any article I find interesting or don't have enough time to read at that time, on Pocket, for later. Why don't I read that article on Feedly itself? Because the reading experience on Feedly is not that great. So till there comes an App that does both these, RSS feed management and a decent reading experience, I am going to stick to this dual App workflow.

Saving an article from the Feedly App on the iPhone can be as easy as a long press

Saving an article from the Feedly App on the iPhone can be as easy as a long press

iOS 8 has options to customize the sharing page on any App to include specific third party Apps. Shown here is the Safari's share option page.

iOS 8 has options to customize the sharing page on any App to include specific third party Apps. Shown here is the Safari's share option page.

Pocket is an App that is universal across all Apple platforms, iPhone, iPad and the Mac. Its integration with multiple third party Apps and services (like Feedly, Evernote, etc.) is also top notch. I generally save links to Pocket in two ways, one from the Feedly App (on an iPhone or iPad and a Mac) and two from Safari on any of the Apple devices. While saving an article on the Feedly App, can be configured to be as simple as a long press, a nifty browser extension for the Mac and the new iOS 8 feature enables a save to Pocket option on the share sheet from Safari on any iOS devices.  

Coming to the actual App itself on the iPhone, the home screen of Pocket presents a list of articles that you have saved in a list view with some graphics. The top portion of the view gets populated with some "featured" article (from your list) swipe view. Clicking on any of the articles presents a beautiful reading view that is so optimized for a pure reading experience, but does not screw up the graphics in the article in any way. Clicking on any links embedded in the article opens that link, again inside Pocket in a reading optimized view (unless the article is too complex for a "reading" view, then you can choose to open it with a web view or the view you would get if you open that link of Safari). The bottom of the reading pane has some options like going back to your list or archiving the article or saving it as a Favorite or bring up the share options or more options. The more options ("...") button brings up another menu with options like switching to the web view for the article, refreshing the link for changes, adding tags (for organizing your Pocket list), etc. 

You can search for keywords or tags inside Pocket, within all the articles in the list or even the archived ones. A sidebar presents a few more options to view images, videos, articles, tags, etc. There is a settings page for more generic or universal options like justify text, letting Pocket decide what view suits an article best for reading, etc. Other features of the iOS Pocket app include viewing curated sections of articles on, for example "Apple" or highlights of recently trending topics, etc. 

A nifty save to Pocket button can be installed on Safari for Mac (immediate left of the address bar)

A nifty save to Pocket button can be installed on Safari for Mac (immediate left of the address bar)

A popup confirms that the article has been saved to Pocket, from Safari

A popup confirms that the article has been saved to Pocket, from Safari

While Pocket's Mac App might not win any design awards, it is built right to the point. You can draw parallels between its Mac App and iOS App, in a broad sense. There is a running list panel on the left hand side with all the articles saved in Pocket that syncs seamlessly and in real time between all your other devices. A top menu bar has options like archiving, saving articles as favorites, deleting articles, increasing font sizes, sharing out from Pocket, adding tags to articles, etc. 

Again similar to the iOS App, the articles can be viewed in a reading optimized view or the original web view and Pocket's Mac App has options to share links via a variety of ways. Also Pocket has a safari version of this App that is very similar to its Mac App, for those who do not wish to install a separate App on their Macs, here.

Finally Pocket's iPad App is very similar to its iPhone App and that is a good thing. There are couple of features like viewing the list of articles in a tile or a list view in the iPad App that are different from its iPhone App. But overall the Pocket App experience is similar and fluid across all three Apple devices. 

Conventional wisdom says that you can only be a "Jack of all trades and master of nothing", but Pocket disproves that statement boldly. It is the only App that has seldom crashed in any of the Apple devices for me. It has almost always performed all the syncs in real time across all devices, reliably. It is another App that screams "no bull" and that is exactly the reason I highly recommend the App for everyone, power users and casual ones, alike. 

Conventional wisdom says that you can only be a ‘Jack of all trades and master of nothing’, but Pocket disproves that statement boldly.

The Pocket App is free to download on all platforms and similar to Overcast, it has a "freemium" model, that is done right. For a small monthly fees, Pocket offers some "pro" features like permanent storage of your links, more powerful search and tagging options. But the key to a successful "freemium" App in my opinion is to make the App completely usable in the free version and enhance it further with a paid model on top, and Pocket manages to pull this balance, off perfectly!

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iOS App Review - Overcast

Downcast was my default podcast player for a few years and though I had a few issues with it, I stuck with it as it seemed to be no worse than other App out there and I moreover had paid for it. So if nothing out there is better than it, I did not want to go through the laborious process of migrating my podcast library to another App. That was until Overcast, another App by one of the few notables in the Apple blogosphere, Marco Arment, was released a few months ago. Unlike Vesper, Arment was its sole developer. Having been a follower of his work and opinions and an avid listener of the famous Accidental Tech Podcast, I had to try this one to improve my otherwise mundane podcast experience. Oh by the way I tried Apple's Podcast App and it was not for me, a moderately advanced podcast listener, for various reasons. 

To begin with, Overcast has everything that you would expect from a smart modern podcast player. Though it initially looks like one apt for more advanced users, it is intuitively designed and in reality simple enough for anyone to use. Current podcasts (with unplayed episodes) and then all subscribed podcasts are shown in a table view in the first screen of the App in vivid text with a nice clipart for each podcast. But I am not a fan of the typography for some reason (I think though Arment had a designer help him with this App, the final design decisions were made by him, rather than the designer), but this is only a minor quibble. The bottom of this list of podcasts screen also shows a useful quick mini player for the current episode that is playing, where the episode can be played/paused or forwarded/rewinded. The top navigation bar has a few options like subscribing to new podcasts, the download pane, and the playlist creator. 

The subscribe to podcasts view also suggests popular podcasts listings grouped by genre, a search for podcasts, adding a podcast URL and to get recommendations from your Twitter followers. As a tech podcast listener, I have to say that the "Tech" genre podcast list in this App. had pretty much all the podcasts I listen to, so I was happy with that curation, at least. The create playlist pane is all what you would expect from other podcast Apps, with selecting different podcasts to make up a playlist with options like, select episodes to include or exclude, sort options, podcast priorities, etc. Frankly I have never used playlists, so I did not, exhaustively test this feature out. The downloads view shows all the episodes that are being downloaded and the items in this list disappear once their download is complete. There is a toggle to set download over cellular network at the bottom of this page, with a nifty warning! Though not a big deal, Arment shows us why he stands out as a developer, by including a bunch of other possible alternatives to his podcast App that we might be interested in. Somehow this one pane increases my respect for him and his App, I wonder why!  

Arment shows us why he stands out as a developer, by including a bunch of other possible alternatives to his podcast App that we might be interested in. Somehow this one pane increases my respect for him and his App, I wonder why!

But aside from the aforementioned characteristics of Overcast, what truly makes it stand out are its unique, podcast specific audio controls. The first one is called the Smart Speed and it essentially speeds up the podcast, but not by just playing the episodes faster, but by intelligently analyzing and eliminating unncessary voice breaks that occur normally with any podcast. The result is absolutely stunning. There is a good 20 - 30% decrease in podcast times, depending on who the speaker is and once you start using this effect, you don't even realize it exists unless, until you listen to it in parallel with the effect turned off. Different speakers have different pace of talking and that is what makes them unique in their own way. For example Jim (The Beard) Dalrymple on Amplified has a slow but steady pace with pauses in between sentances and Arment's Smart Speed works wonders on this podcast. But ATP's John Siracusa is a very fast speaker and Overcast's smart speed makes it a little hard to listen to that podcast as the steam becomes to fast. So bottom line is that this Smart Speed feature is truly unique to Overcast and it really works and is no gimmick.

Bottom line is that this Smart Speed feature is truly unique to Overcast and it really works and is no gimmick

The same goes to the Voice Boost feature as well. In many tech podcasts that feature more than one speaker not physically located in the same studio, I have found that the some speakers' voice is either not too clear or too low in volume compared to say, the host. Rene Ritchie's iMore Show is a nice example. Ritchie's podcast setup is gold and his voice is generally loud and clear, but his co-hosts sometimes don't enjoy the same setup quality and Voice Boost works really well to overcome such situations, where only that person's voice that is low in volume is boosted to output an uniform listening experience. Other than this there is also a manual speed of podcast playing control that works on top of these special podcast effects, quite well. 

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There are some downsides to this App as well. Some advanced features like swipe left or right to increase speed that Downcast has, are missing. But I did not miss them much at all. Then there is an obvious glaring feature that is missing, i.e. streaming podcasts. As of now you can only download episodes and listen to them. Arment has promised an update to get this working soon, though. In spite of being one of those people who actually missed and complained about the lack of this feature initially, I strangely have gotten over it already. The originally reason I liked streaming podcasts in the first place was the growing pain of my iPhone's paltry 16GB memory (don't even get me started on this topic...). But Overcast does an excellent job of deleting episodes once you are done listening to them and it also has a user setting that limits the number of unplayed episodes that it will retain, in the podcast specific setting panel. These two features together have ensured that the space optimization problem I had on my iPhone previously, was gone, eliminating my need for streaming podcasts, instead of downloading them. In fact I think I now prefer downloading the episodes, as it allows me to listen to podcasts without the trouble of spotty cellular reception that bothered me while I was streaming podcasts with Downcast (my Gym has terrible reception). 

In spite of being one of those people who actually missed and complained about the lack of this feature (streaming podcasts) initially, I strangely have gotten over it already

Overall Overcast another excellent iOS App that I highly recommend and Arment's reputation as an App developer is top notch from his older Apps like Instapaper, so you will have nothing to worry about. But even for the skeptics out there, Overcast is available to not just try, but use, un-crippled for free. Certain features like, download using cellular networks are offered as an in-App purchase for $4.99, that I highly recommend as well.  

iOS App Review - Vesper

Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.
— Steve Jobs

A search for "notes" on the App store for the iPhone, reveals a list of 7851 results! What makes Vesper stand out of this bunch? Simplicity. Vesper is a note taking App designed by well known Apple enthusiasts, most notable of whom is John Gruber of Daring Fireball fame. Anyone who follows Gruber's blog will have no qualms in terming his style as no-nonsense, honest and straightforward and this is true with Vesper as well. Right from the first App screen, Vesper screams "diving right to the point". 

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It has a bold, clear type face and with settings for different text sizes and two different text weights, it is user customizable. Creating a new note (using the "+" button on the top right of the screen) or tapping on an existing note, brings up the note view with a select few options. A header line for the note that is in bold, a subject section below and a tag section (where multiple tags can be added for the same note) complete the note view. The navigation bar on the top of the App has options to choose pictures to insert into the note from different sources (like the photo library, take a new picture with the iPhone's camera and a quick link to the latest picture that is in the cache). There is no save button or anything, in line with Apple's recent iCloud productivity Apps like Numbers or Pages, where everything is saved automatically, here when you hit ""All Notes". There is a simple share screen for emailing the note, texting it to someone or just copying it to the clipboard. 

Sliding the screen to the right on the main screen or tapping the "<" on the top left of the navigation bar, brings up a sidebar with options to choose from all notes tagged with a particular tag, all notes that have been archived, sync (using iCloud to sync across multiple iOS devices) and typography settings. From the list of "All Notes" or in the Archive or anyplace in the App with a list view, you can slide the notes to the left or right for more options like moving the note from the main screen to the Archive and vice-versa or for deleting a note permanently. 

How does the App (Vesper) perform? In one word, just as promised.

So enough with the App design and architecture already, how does the App perform? In one word, just as promised. Critics of this App claim it is over simplified, offering too small a feature set, but I say, compared to what? Evernote? Frankly, Evernote does too much (and they seem to have realized it themselves too). But more to the point here, Vesper promises little but delivers on every little detail. The App is simple, straightforward and performs reliably (the App has not quit or crashed on me even once in the last month of use). Your use case for a note taking App might be different, but I hate Apps that cram in feature after feature for the sake of checking another point on its imaginary list of customer demands. For me after a month of using this App, I don't have anything that this App is missing, but again I might not be a median iOS notes App user. Design, clarity and fore-thought ensure a strong foundation for anything, features are just like more floors that can be built later on top of that strong foundation. 

That’s a real balancing app, I think the core Evernote app is too complicated right now. I don’t think anyone understood design philosophy, especially mobile app design philosophy in the early days, we certainly didn’t.
— Evernote CEO

What are the downsides to this App? Nothing, well actually it again depends on what you are looking for. For example if you need sharing options with a dozen more services, like Evernote or Notability from Vesper? Then you will be disappointed. I on the other hand just use the copy option in Vesper and paste in another App or service. Bottom line is that if a developer keeps up his/her  promise on what the App can or can't do, he/she will be forgiven for "features" that are missing from the App. Vesper as an App reminds me of Apple and its philosophy in every minute detail from the finesse in design to the well kept promises! You can download Vesper on the App store for $2.99 and no, there is no in-App purchase so far and having been following John Gruber for a while on Daring Fireball, I don't think there will be any in the future as well. 

Vesper as an App reminds me of Apple and its philosophy in every minute detail from the finesse in design to the well kept promises!

A take on Samsung's profit decline

As usual, as expected, a very nice take on Samsung's profit decline in the recent quarter(s) by Ben Bajarin at TechPinions. Samsung struggling to sustain profitability was well expected and predicted by almost everyone following the technology industry (especially Apple and Samsung), who was smart enough, but there will always be someone out there for whom 1 + 1 = 3 and not 2! 

I want to highlight the lessons learned and the key takeaways all hardware providers, but specifically those who ship someone else’s software like Windows, Windows Phone, Android, etc., must learn from Samsung’s cautionary tale... Ultimately, Samsung’s challenges occurred due to a lack of sustainable differentiation...
Those who did not see Samsung’s problems coming had a weak understanding of the dynamics of integrated and modular systems within the technology industry... Apple is an integrated player... Apple’s iPhone stands out not just at a hardware level but at a software level.
— Ben Bajarin


Why is my 2012 iPad mini so slow running iOS 8?

UPDATE: Could this be another reason for slower than expected iOS 8 adaptation? (via MacRumors

The wonderful anti-aging MacBook

I bought my 15" MacBook Pro in 2007, when I was a student and loved it from day one till the last day I sold it for $600, after five years! I sold it because I bought another MacBook Pro, not because anything was wrong with my older MacBook Pro. I upgraded the RAM on my older MacBook Pro to 8GB from the 4GB. I had AppleCare for it and hence had the LCD screen and the hard drive replaced, when something went wrong and I updated to the latest Mac OS as when Apple released them (the latest Mac OS X that this 2007 MacBook Pro saw was Mac OS X Lion). All this while my MacBook Pro kept churning out impressive performance, day after day. Only when I finally got my new MacBook Pro in 2012 and when I used both of them side by side, did I notice how much faster the new one was. But if I hadn't done this side by side comparison, I am sure I could have hung on to my old MacBook Pro for a few more years, before I felt the need to upgrade to a newer MacBook. 

My 2007 MacBook Pro had no issues running Mac OS X Lion after five years of purchase (Source: Apple.com)

My 2007 MacBook Pro had no issues running Mac OS X Lion after five years of purchase (Source: Apple.com)

The iPad mini not aging too well

Fast forward to 2014 and when Apple released iOS 8 for its iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches, I updated my 2012 iPad mini (with no Retina display) to iOS 8, at the same time I updated my iPhone 5S to iOS 8. The scenario turned out to be much different this time around. My iPad mini became almost unusable after iOS 8 installation, as it became so sluggish. The graphics on it, started stuttering, even simple scrolling on webpages happened in discrete steps, rather than than the smooth scrolling we have loved and gotten used to on all Apple devices. It was so bad that I was getting a headache (literally) using my iPad mini with iOS 8. I tried turning off animations on iOS 8 to see if that improved performance, but had no luck. I compared the performance on my less than a year old iPhone 5S and was actually surprised to find that even my iPhone 5S on iOS 8 felt slower than my wife's iPhone 5S on iOS 7, though much less so than my iPad mini. I had to look for the sluggishness on my iPhone 5S running iOS 8 to notice it, but on the iPad mini, I had to stop using it because it was so slow! Again to reemphasize, I was not expecting my two year old iPad mini to have comparable perforamcne to my less than a year old iPhone 5S or the latest iPhone 6, running iOS 8, but it should not be too sluggish for me to even barely use it! 

My 2012 iPad mini with no Retina Display became almost unusable after iOS 8 install (Source: Apple.com)

My 2012 iPad mini with no Retina Display became almost unusable after iOS 8 install (Source: Apple.com)

Only solution

So since I am going to upgrade to an iPhone 6 soon and I don't use my iPad mini for anything intensive, I was not going to upgrade my iPad mini to a newer model anytime soon (the October iPad refresh might change my mind, though). So I had to get my iPad mini back in usable condition somehow or the other. So I tried a clean install of iOS 8  deleting all my data on it (after backing up to iCloud of course). Without installing anything from my iCloud backup I tried using the iPad mini, that was now setup as a clean new device and I did notice a significant improvement in its performance with iOS 8. It is still not as fast as my iPhone 5S running iOS 8, but that is ok as the iPad mini is a weaker (technical capability wise) device than the iPhone 5S. The difference between it running iOS 7 and iOS 8 is very little now. But the price I paid for it? All my data! I did not want to restore my older iCloud backup on it again for the fear of making it sluggish. But since I did not have anything significant on my iPad mini that I needed, I am ok with installing a bunch of Apps again on it and using it as a fresh device. 

I don't expect my two year old iPad mini to have comparable perforamcne to my less than a year old iPhone 5S or the latest iPhone 6, running iOS 8, but it should not be too sluggish for me to even barely use it! (Source: Apple.com)

I don't expect my two year old iPad mini to have comparable perforamcne to my less than a year old iPhone 5S or the latest iPhone 6, running iOS 8, but it should not be too sluggish for me to even barely use it! (Source: Apple.com)

 

So what's wrong or is there even something wrong?

But if you read the first paragraph of this post, you can clearly make out the difference between Apple's MacBook Pro scenario and its iPad (or its "i" device) scenario. Apple's yearly refresh of iOS is hugely welcomed and coupled with its yearly hardware refresh of the "i" devices, Apple is leaping forward in terms of its performance in huge strides. But all these benefits seem to be only for the latest and the greatest "i" devices. Older "i" device models are being left out and sometimes in bad, unusable conditions. This issue has been brewing for sometime now and no Apple is not deliberately sabotaging your "i" device performance to force you to upgrade to its newer devices (I am not linking to that stupid article in my blog, nope). But there is an issue here that at least needs to put out there. While traditionally Microsoft with its "we welcome all computers of all ages to our new operating system" fared well for a while, with its extensive backward compatibility, it was at the cost of  a lot of things for its customers. Windows now is pretty much the same thing as Windows was more than ten years ago and while that is good for people with more than ten year old computers, it is horrible for people buying the latest hardware. So while Microsoft's lenient legacy policy stands at one end of this issue, does Apple's aggressive latest and the greatest policy deserve the other extreme end of this spectrum? 

If a five year old MacBook can run the latest and the greatest Mac OS, just fine, why can’t a two or a three year old “i” device run the latest and the greatest iOS, even barely?

A whole lot of questions

What else can Apple do? And why is the situation so different with its "i" devices than its computers? If a five year old MacBook can run the latest and the greatest Mac OS, just fine, why can't a two or a three year old "i" device run the latest and the greatest iOS, even barely? Is it because of the fact that the computer operating systems have evolved over many years to an extent that there are no major overhauls and that the smart devices are just a few years old and are still evolving significantly every year, hence older computers have much less trouble running recent OS upgrades? Is Apple's hardware "specs" not able to keep up with its software improvements? Is Apple's tight control on say profit margins limiting forward looking "stronger" specced "i" devices (for example is the so called paltry amount RAM on the iPhones making it unsuitable for more than a couple of years)? Should Apple dial down on "significant" leaps with every year iOS refresh and/or improve the hardware specs of its "i" devices to a higher degree to make them a little more future proof? 

Will Apple put in some effort to make its “i” devices as future proof as its MacBooks or is it just going to wait out for iOS to reach Mac OS’s maturity levels, that will take are of this problem by itself?

In conclusion, the scenario with the "i" devices in terms of them being future proof is definitely different than the scenario with traditional computers. While there is no conspiracy behind this, there is a perceivable issue here and I am certainly not alone in this (though my experience is what, that got me to write this column). Will Apple put in some effort to make its "i" devices as future proof as its MacBooks or is it just going to wait out for iOS to reach Mac OS's maturity levels, that will take are of this problem by itself? Only time will tell... 

Apple and Samsung - The difference

I have written multiple times about this issue of a not so thin line that differentiates Apple and Samsung or rather the difference between being inspired by someone's idea and just blatantly ripping it off. Apple is known for its inspiration, like for example Johny Ive and Steve Jobs loved Sony's design but none of the Apple products looked like photo copies of Sony's, like how Samsung phones and tablets of today look like Apple's iPhone and iPad. There will be many more articles written about this issue and this will argument will rage on forever. There is a saying in my home country, "You can wake up people who are sleeping, but you can never wake up people who are pretending to be asleep". The morale is that, what you believe in depends on your scruples and of course that Samsung as a company lacks any. Anyway like I said before I can go on writing about this but might not convince anybody. But this guy (Dave Wiskus) knows what he is talking about and anyone who is even remotely interested in technology should see this short video. Heck his logic on "Copy Forward" makes and has made sense in every field of life. And this video is neither for people who are already awake nor for people who are pretending to be asleep, it is for people who are genuinely still asleep!

Apple Court filings during the Samsung v/s Apple trial (Source: via MacRumors)

Apple Court filings during the Samsung v/s Apple trial (Source: via MacRumors)

Apple's iPhone stress testing facility

Antenna gate was the last major serious issue that plague Apple, and it was the iPhone 4 at that time. The way Apple or rather Steve Jobs reacted to it at that time, was typical of him. He basically said that iPhone was not the only one affected by that issue and that you can get to force the signal dropping issue by holding the iPhone wrong or rather deliberately tight shorting our the reception antennas. Well, this started a long series of memes and funny anecdotes of Steve jobs saying "you are holding it wrong". While it is debatable if the way Apple and Steve Jobs reacted back then was appropriate or not, Apple of today certainly seems very different. Apple seems to have matured (?). It seems to have become more open in its interactions with the Press and Media. Don't get me wrong, it still does not want its future product information to leak out even a bit, but when it faces issues like the nonsense-gate or the botched iOS 8.0.1 update, it has been prompt in responding. 

On the flawed iOS 8.0.1 update Apple responded yesterday saying it was sorry for the buggy release and immediately pulled off the update, set up an area for more support on this issue and to reverse it back to the previous iOS version and promised a working iOS 8.0.2 update soon. Like I tweeted yesterday, mistakes happen, even at Apple and best thing anyone can do is apologize, fix anything possible and move on. And this time we got an apology as well...  

We have a workaround for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users who lost cellular service and Touch ID functionality today after updating to iOS 8.0.1... We apologize for the great inconvenience experienced by users, and are working around the clock to prepare iOS 8.0.2 with a fix for the issue, and will release it as soon as it is ready in the next few days.
— via The Verge
One of the many stress tests the iPhone is put through to check for its reliability at Apple (Source: The Verge)

One of the many stress tests the iPhone is put through to check for its reliability at Apple (Source: The Verge)

In another series of unfortunate events for Apple and Tim Cook right after the successful September even and iPhone 6 launch, the so called bend-gate was blown out of proportion on the Internet. Though there were multiple videos as response to the original iPhone 6 Plus bending under strong pressure, showed that all modern smartphones succumb to similar pressure, in one way or the other, the damage was already done for Apple in terms of marring its image. But this time around, Apple instead of acting similar to the antenna-gate issue, handled this issue a bit more professionally (?), in my opinion. Apple invited a bunch of journalists (via The Verge) to its campus and showed them what kind of stress and reliability testing an iPhone goes before being sold to the customer. And from what Verge reports, it seems exhaustive and more than assuring. But more importantly by doing this, Apple is passing on the message that, others can insinuate Apple in whatever way they want, but here is what Apple does to avoid such issues and now the customers can be the judge of it. There was no "other smartphones also bend under the same amount of pressure" or "you are sitting wrong, with the iPhone 6 Plus in tight pockets", etc. For me this in another indication of a more matured Apple and that is a good thing! 

iPhone 6 Plus - Not for everyone

As soon as Apple announced the iPhone 6 and the 6 Plus, it was clear that the iPhone 6 was the successor to the iPhone 5S, as the iPhone 5 was to the 4S. However the iPhone 6 Plus appeared so much better, hardware wise, well because Apple made it so much better. The iPhone 6 is clocked at a slightly but higher speed, it has a bigger battery that gives appreciable improvement from the iPhone 6's battery life, it has a much better camera and finally it is $100 more expensive. So of course the public's conception is that the iPhone 6 Plus is the best iPhone that can be bought at this time. I blogged about this even before the iPhone 6 announcement. As an Apple fanatic and a technology connoisseur, I want to have the latest and the greatest iPhone. So I should buy an iPhone 6 Plus, right? No. 

The iPhone 6 Plus feels significantly bigger than the iPhone 6, which itself if much bigger than the iPhone 5S (Source: Apple.com)

The iPhone 6 Plus feels significantly bigger than the iPhone 6, which itself if much bigger than the iPhone 5S (Source: Apple.com)

However tempting it is for me to buy an iPhone 6 Plus, I don't think it is the right choice for me. For me the purpose of an iPhone is predominantly to use it whenever and wherever I need it as it is right there next to me, most of the times with only one hand and this one handed usability is very important to me. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are designed exceptionally thin and sleek and almost weightless for a reason and that is to make the taller phones seem comfortable to use or offset some of the weight and height increase by decreasing the thickness. But this sleek design comes at a cost. I feel like the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are so slippery (without the case), the 6 Plus even more so as it is too big to hold in one hand. So for me the ultimate choice came down to having an iPhone that is one tick "lower" in being the best iPhone available v/s the one handed use and decided to go with the one handed use. I of course did this after going to the Apple store and spending a good amount time with both the models, trying to recreate my everyday use cases with them. I am not happy about this, that is to having to choose between better hardware and portability, but that is life. 

Removed from its slim, minimalistic cardboard home, the iPhone 6 Plus’s size intimidated me. I couldn’t decide how to hold the thing, so I cradled its bottom in my right hand and its top in my left, like a vulnerable cranium.
— The Verge

Since Apple let customers pre-order their iPhone 6 models this time and it was this time in a long while, the iPhone has gone through a "major" change, design wise, a lot of people pre-ordered iPhone 6 Plus without even looking at it in person. While, like I mentioned yesterday, many of them might already have experienced a "big" smartphone, as they were switching from Android Phablets, there are bound be a good number of them who have pre-ordered an iPhone 6 Plus and have never used a smartphone this big in their life. For these people it is going to be a surprise (and some shock) as to how bight the 6 Plus actually is. Some small portion of them might even realize it to be almost useless for their use case of the iPhone that might predominantly involve using it in one hand. 

Apple clearly reacted to the market in deciding to make larger iPhones. There are many people who are delighted to use a smartphone with two hands, but many others who, like me, want to be able to use it with one hand as well. Apple is still selling the iPhone 5s at a lower price since it’s last year’s model. But I wonder if the company will keep selling the older model in large numbers to people who simply don’t want a phone as big as the iPhone 6.
— Macworld

This issue with the iPhone 6 Plus is understandable as the iPhone jumps from the 4" form factor to a 5.5" form factor. However there are some worst case examples (Macworld) even with the iPhone 6. While there was some uproar at the increase in the iPhone size from iPhone 4S's 3.5" screen to the iPhone 5S"s 4" screen, it subsided quickly as customers got used to the taller iPhone 5. Now while I am sure this will happen soon with the iPhone 6, there will be more people this time missing a "new" 4" iPhone (Where is the "new" 4" iPhone?) than there were people who missed a "new" 3.5" iPhone two years ago. 

In summary it is very important that you try out the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models before you buy them, particularly this time. due to the "significant" increase in the iPhone screen size or else be prepared to be surprised by the iPhone 6's bigger presence when you first get your iPhone 6. 

It is very important that you try out the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models before you buy them

Who wants to buy an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus?

Tim Cook said that the iPhone 6 would herald in "the mother of all upgrades" for Apple and all the initial reception the iPhone 6 models have garnered seems to indicate, that he was indeed right. Surveys always interesting and try to give you an overall view, sidelining individual biasses that you or your close acquaintances might possess. This latest survey from Digital World Research, has some interesting findings in it. The most important question of the survey was that if you plan to buy an iPhone 6, what phone do you currently own? The results were surprising... or were they? 

More than 50% of the respondents who said they were planning to buy an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus currently owned an Android phone (Source: Digital World Research)

More than 50% of the respondents who said they were planning to buy an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus currently owned an Android phone (Source: Digital World Research)

Only 26% of the survey respondents who plan to buy an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus owned an iPhone currently. More than 50% of the respondents who said they were planning to buy an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus currently owned an Android phone. Out of which 27% of them had a Samsung phone in particular and wanted to move to the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. So if this population is in anyway representative of the general smartphone market, boy are we going to see the market share momentum shift towards Apple with the iPhone 6. Also a particularly high 20% of them did not own a phone, what?? Now all we need to do is wait for a couple of quarters (mainly the holiday quarter in the US) and see what the market share numbers say. 

More than 50% of the respondents who said they were planning to buy an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus currently owned an Android phone. Out of which 27% of them had a Samsung phone in particular and wanted to move to the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.
— via Digital World Research

Another nonsense-gate

I am not even going to entertain this so called controversy of "bendgate" by positing more than this one post on this blog. It is total bull crap and another ill fated attempt to either garner more attention at the cost of Apple or a cheap publicity stunt to tarnish some of the very positive response the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have got. I think this article from AppleInsider summarizes this nonsense completely. It is up to the user to decide if he/she wants a smartphone that is thin, weightless, made of metal and is slick that can bend when deliberately bent with force or stuffed inside tight pants for extended times or a phone that is thick, bulky, made of plastic, that can resist bending better but will break at the same amount of pressure. This is the difference between malleable metals and brittle plastic. 

Compared to the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, it appears the iPhone 6 requires much more force to flex, and the final result is only slight bend in the frame. Hilsenteger notes that the kink can be reset by applying pressure in the opposite direction...

As for the HTC One M8, the bend test caused the screen to pop out slightly from the casing, while internal adhesive bonds can be heard crunching as they become unseated... Coming out practically unscathed from the test was the Moto X, which sports an arched back and comparatively thick body design. Testing Nokia’s polycarbonate Lumia saw the display break free in certain spots only to return to its original position once pressure was removed.

Finally, the 4-inch iPhone 5s was found nearly unbendable, which Hilsenteger believes is thanks to the smaller form factor.
— via AppleInsider

Like any other Apple product, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus seem to be extremely durable, much more so than any other competitor out there, in fact they have been dubbed the "the toughest iPhones made", that performed the best amongst any phone tested by SquareTrade (via 9to5mac).