iPhone Battery — The 40-80% Lie

I’m Rene Ritchie, welcome back to another video where I’m once again busting just the weirdest myths, misconceptions, and straight up misinformation about the iPhone and how it works. This time — Do you need to micro-manage your iPhone charging? Like never let it go below 40% or above 80%? And, spoiler alert, in a word, no. In two words, hell no. No you don’t. Nobody does. Nobody has time for that.

Now, I know, I know… some people will tell you otherwise, even insist otherwise. But that hasn’t been true in ages, like since dinosaur phones roamed the earth ages, and I’m going to explain to you why, and I mean exactly, precisely why. Because that’s how I do.

So, first discharging first. Is…

allowing the battery level to drop down to 10% or less considered a bad practice?


Do these deep discharges exhaust a lithium battery sells faster?

Also nope. Deep discharges exhausting lithium ion batteries just… isn’t a thing.

But if your iPhone shows you 95% battery health, doesn’t that mean 5% of the battery cells have worn out from being charged and discharged over the last year

More nope. First, because there’s only one cell in most phones. Two in a very few. Sometimes because the other components make an L-shape more practical. Sometimes because it’s a foldable and they’re physically separated. Sometimes because the phone maker wants to offer faster charging speeds using two cells in parallel. But you can’t, like, lose 5% of one or two cells.

It’s really just chemistry. Over time, secondary chemical reactions happen that… reduce capacity. There’s build up. There’s gas. You know — science stuff… Bill Nye stuff.

But don’t deep discharges negatively affect the battery. Isn’t that when low power mode comes in at 20% and automatically begin throttling performance and background tasks to prevent the battery from draining even further?

No, no, and… It… doesn’t? At least not for that reason. It tries to prevent the battery from draining not to protect the battery but to protect your ability to keep using your phone for as long as possible. The idea there isn’t to prevent drain below 20% but to give you the absolute most you can get from that 20% until it’s convenient for you to get to a charger. Be that at 19% or 2% or whatever.

So you really don’t have to worry about getting your back on its charger by the time it reaches 30 or 40%?

Not because of the lithium-Ion battery, no. Even Apple’s battery optimization option, which I’ll get to in a thermally hot minute, only talks about managing maximum charge level, not minimum.

But if you personally feel anxiety over having a low battery, or you know you need to go somewhere later and you’ll be using your phone a lot for photos, video, gaming, whatever, and you’ll need a decent charge to do all that, then by all means, charge away. That’s the whole entire point of this video. We humans should never not ever have to worry about when or how much we charge. That’s the iPhones job to manage.

Ok, but what about optimized battery charging for the iPhone where it will wait to charge past 80% until it knows you’re ready to use it based on your charging routine?

Yeah, so, also the whole entire point. The iPhone will manage all this for us and just way, way, way better and beyond what we could ever micro-manage on our own. I mean, back in ye olden days of yore, battery management sucked, and you’d need to reset the system, and do all sorts of jiu-jitsu just to eek out every… energon cube of battery life you could.

But Apple’s been using machine learning and artificial intelligence for years now to do everything from unloading to pre-loading apps into memory, to charging and discharging to prevent it sitting at peak capacity, to more recently offering this Optimized Battery Charging feature where it’ll just idle at 80% until it thinks you’ll want to start using it soon, and then and only then will it push to 100.

Because being at over 80% isn’t bad in and of itself, it’s staying at over 80% for extended periods of time that’s bad. That, and one other major key thing I’ll get to in a literal hot minute.

Which is exactly what the Optimize Battery Charging feature does. So don’t worry or stress or even think about micro-managing 40% or 80% or any of that. Just leave Optimize Battery Charging on and you’re golden.

So it really, really isn’t best to keep your iPhone battery level between 40 and 80%?

Ok. Seriously. Charge your iPhone when you want or need to and take it off the charger when you want or need to and let the charging take care of itself.

What about fast chargers and wireless chargers, don’t they degrade batteries faster?

So… kinda. What really prematurely ages out lithium ion batteries fast is heat. Lithium Ion batteries will die faster in extreme cold, basically because it slows down the chemistry and the power delivery can’t keep up with demand. But when you return to normal operating temperatures, your phone will return to normal operations just fine.

Extreme heat will just break down the chemistry, though, and there’s no returning from that.

And, traditionally, fast chargers and wireless chargers create more heat either all at once or because they’re less efficient, over time. And I say traditionally because companies claim they’re getting better and better at mitigating that heat all the time. But Apple has also prioritized battery health over raw charging speeds for a long time as part of those mitigations.

Honestly, what’s probably most damaging to iPhone batteries these days — all days — is us. We. People. Leaving them out in the sun on hot days, putting them in front of vents or on radiators on cold days. And they’ll gate by cutting brightness, flashing warnings, even shutting down if they get too hot, but they’ll be prematurely aging the whole time that process happens anyway.

So, instead of wasting precious minutes of your life micro-managing your charging, stressing that you start your day with only 80% battery and panicking to plug in before you drop below 40% or, Lords of Kobol forbid, 20%, just don’t leave your iPhone out in the heat or on hot things and you’ll do way, way less damage in the long run and have way, way less stress in the meantime.

And please feel free to share this video with your friends, family, and colleagues, or any of my other explainers like this one on force killing apps. I’ll leave links in the description right below the like button.


Why 120Hz iPhone 13 Will DESTROY Android 👀🔥

Finally, the Rock comes home-level Finally, the iPhone 13 Pro is widely, really, truly expected to be getting a 120Hz refresh rate display this fall — basically in just a couple or few weeks — that’s after failing both last year and the year before. So, what took so damn long, and what’s going to make this version just 120% more eye popping than anything we’ve ever seen before? Well, buckle up!

Now, Apple’s actually been shipping 120Hz displays since 2017. But not really — let me explain. Back at WWC 2017, the second generation iPads Pro were announced with a headline feature called ProMotion, which is Apple’s branding for adaptive refresh. Adaptive in that it doesn’t just sit at any single, specific refresh rate but rather adapts to the right refresh rate for whatever the display is doing at the time.

So, it can ramp up to 120Hz for that beyond buttery, just Gee-smooth scrolling, or super high frame rate gaming. But refreshing the display twice as fast drains a lot more power as well. So ProMotion will also ramp down to 48Hz to show movies at 24fps the way nature and Hollywood intended, even down to 24Hz when you have something more static on the screen, like a photo. That greatly reduces the power drain, sorta, kinda, evening out the battery experience.

It also reduces the risks of the “soap opera effect” like when your parents leave “motion smoothing” on their TVs and suddenly Shang Chi or The Suicide Squad or your favorite game looks like it was shot in your friends bathroom and is being rendered back at 1.2x speeds. But I digress.

The quad major key thing here is that Apple did all this without making us have to manually manage or force high refresh rate, or sacrifice high resolution density just to get high refresh rate. And because they’d spent years building out a full-on, end-to-end P3 digital cinema gamut imaging pipeline, we didn’t have to manually manage profiles or put up with brightness or put up with color shifting as the refresh rate changed either.

It all literally just worked. In part, because of a new backplane technology on the iPad Pro called IGZO — Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide — which… science… was not only more efficient, but capable of much higher refresh rates without just burning the battery to the ground.

But only on the iPad Pro, not on the iPhone. Because, back then, it only just worked on LCD displays, not OLED. And 2017 just so happened to also be the year Apple switched the iPhone from LCD to OLED.

Which meant way, way better contrast, peak brightness, and dynamic range, but staying stuck at 60Hz, like a… display animal. Womp. Womp.

I mean, Apple could have done what some other companies did over the last few years. Just implement 120Hz straight up through a more traditional backplane and… suck up the power drain. But it turns out Apple’s mostly mainstream, non-nerd customer base values battery life over pretty much everything else. And a phone that drains completely by mid-afternoon was just a non-starter. They could have gone to 90Hz as a stop gap, but 90Hz would still have significantly reduced battery life and also isn’t evenly divisible to 48Hz and 24Hz, the way 120Hz is, making the whole adaptive refresh thing… kinda all shades of janky.

They could have made it a manual toggle in settings, so we could choose between refresh rate and battery life, maybe choose between high resolution and high refresh rate, like Samsung did for a few years with 1440 at 60 or 1080 at 120. But Apple never made a toggle for Retina high density, or P3 high gamut, or XDR high dynamic range. So, while they tested some of those options internally, they never considered any of them elegant enough to actually ship.

Fortunately, time solves for technology. Or in this case, oxide.

OLED panels were beginning to integrated IGZO into their processes as well. Namely, LTPO or low-temperature Polycrystalline oxide.

Apple deployed it back in 2019… but for the Watch, not the iPhone. And for low refresh rate, not high. Let me explain.

The Apple Watch was OLED years before the iPhone. From the start, actually, back when it first shipped in 2015. RGB-stripe OLED to be specific. So, just, super crisp, super clean.

And while some of us highest order bit nerds would certainly argue 120Hz Gee-smooth scrolling would be phenomenal on the Apple Watch as well, what Apple wanted to was 1Hz instead, for the always-on display. But do it in a way that didn’t make you feel like your brain-matrix was being reset every time it switched from ultra-low-power to regular display. That meant truly adaptive refresh technology and that meant oxide performance and efficiency. LTPO.

So, why Apple Watch and not iPhone? Because, back in 2019, there just wasn’t enough LTPO OLED yet. Not for iPhone scale, which is in the hundreds of millions of devices a year.

There weren’t even enough for Samsung’s flagship phones, which while Samsung sells a crapton of low-end phones, they don’t sell anywhere remotely as many premium phones as Apple, who pretty much only sells premium phones.

It wasn’t until the end of 2020, when the iPhone 12 was already locked and loaded with its peasant 60Hz display, that Samsung was able to produce enough LTPO OLED for the Galaxy Note run. Which was a much, much, much smaller run. Estimates have all said under a million units, maybe way under, for the initial run. Less than half of the initial Galaxy S21 run. By contrast, estimates have said Apple planned an initial run of 75 million iPhone 12, and 90 million iPhone 13. You can’t directly compare those numbers, but you can get an idea of what’s meant by iPhone scale, and supplying components like LTPO OLED panels at iPhone scale.

And despite a lot of really dumb reporting to the contrary, Apple doesn’t just take Samsung Galaxy panels and slap them into iPhones either. Apple has an entire display division that designs and specs out their panels for fabs like Samsung to produce. Sometimes that’s even included requiring different materials than what Samsung uses in their own phones, but always includes Apple taking the OLED that comes off the line and going to town on all their own customizations, from the custom controllers in Apple silicon, to the custom display drivers, the custom mitigations for burn-in, off-axis color shifting, and a bunch more.

Basically, with Apple display, you’re not just getting the best of Samsung or LG or Sharp or whomever, you getting the best of them and the best of Apple display. Not just the jab to your eyeballs but the full-on uppercut combo to your optic nerve centers.

But now, this year, it sounds like Apple can finally, yes Rock comes home finally, source enough LTPO OLED, at least for the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max. It’s almost certainly still PenTile Diamond sub pixel OLED, and not RGB stripe, but it still means they won’t just be able to do 120Hz refresh, but full on ProMotion adaptive refresh. So 48Hz, 24Hz, maybe even Apple Watch-like 1Hz for an always-on Lock Screen?

Which is also why 120Hz and not something like 144Hz, because 144Hz, like 90Hz, just isn’t easily divisible into 48 and 24 the way 120Hz is. And no one wants to hear hardcore display nerds complain about split frames the way they’ve been complaining about off-grid pixels since the great scaler crisis of ought 14… That’s… an incredibly geeky display tech reference so if you don’t get it just yell at me and I’ll explain.

Would 144Hz be better? Yes, absolutely, for sure, in a vacuum. But we don’t live in a vacuum. Which is good because it would make our heads explode. Even with IGZO or LTPO, increasing refresh rate still increases power draw, so it’s always about finding the best balance, and incrementing as it makes sense until you start hitting diminishing returns.

It’s the same thing that’s happened with high density. Apple originally went Retina, which was 2x the previous density. Which means four times the pixel resolution at the same physical size. More recently, they’ve gone to 3x, but because there are so many physical display sizes now, and PenTile sub pixels, and those scalers come into play, and… bottom line, it’s better, and going to 4x probably isn’t worth the performance or battery hit required to achieve it.

For refresh rate, 480Hz is probably the limits in terms of what any human could perceive. But, for a phone, the battery drain on that is just a non-starter, at least for the foreseeable future. So maybe 240Hz is next at some point, and we’ll see after that.

But just like 60Hz on an iPhone is way better than 60Hz on any other phone, because Apple owns and can optimize for the whole phone, 120Hz on an iPhone is going to look way better than 120Hz on any other phone as well.

It’s the benefit of the those custom controllers in Apple silicon, custom drivers, custom mitigations, so every pixel is all that it can be, and of iOS end-to-end color management, so red doesn’t look like a different red when the refresh rate changes, or the refresh rate isn’t forced to change when the brightness level goes down. Also,
of developers seeing a hundred million 120Hz capable devices hitting the market over the next year, and hundreds of millions more to come, and getting up off their apps to make sure every game can amp up its frame rate to take full advantage of that refresh rate, fast enough to get featured in the Store for launch day if they can.

That’s always been one of the biggest advantages Apple has brought to any single technology — the ability to make it not just matter but be better than any of sum of its parts.

I mean, Nokia or those damn Hobbit movies, might have invented high refresh rate back in 1812, but I’m pretty sure Apple’s about to re-invent it for the mass market, and like Retina and HDR, in a new hotness kinda way most won’t even notice… until we glance back at our old, suddenly-so-busted looking phones.


3 Mistakes Apple Needs to Fix BEFORE iPhone 13

Apple just fixed Mobile Safari in the latest iOS 15 betas. Not in 6 years like the modular Mac Pro. Not in 3 years like the Butterfly keyboard. But in 2 months. They took in community feedback. They took it seriously. And they took action. Fast. Like speed-force fast. So, what else could Apple fix and fast? Child Safety, Game Streaming, Advertising? Well…

Read the rest in my weekly column at iMore:


iPhone 13 September 2021 Event Preview!

Every year, on the year, for almost a decade, Apple’s September event meant new fresh iPhones. Except, of course, for last year which, thanks 2020, was all… Apple Watch and iPad. So what does 2020 Jr…. I mean, 2021 have in store for us? Literally…

Well, it’s looking like a return to form with 120Hz iPhone 13, redesigned Apple Watch Series 7, refreshed iPad 9, redesigned AirPods 3, and maybe, just maybe, a redesigned iPad mini, some M1X Macs. Let me explain…

Apple introduced the current, entry-level iPad via press-release back in March of 2017. Basically a 9.7-inch iPad Air… 1-and-a-half reboot, it’s killer feature was its killer price — starting at $329.

But then, Apple started showcasing new iterations up on stage. Adding Pencil support and a $299 education price-point at the March Education Event in 2018, keyboard support and a bigger 10.2 inch display at the September iPhone Event in 2019, and most recently, an A12 chipset at the September iPad Air Event in 2020.

This year, rumor has it, Apple’s just gonna keep on iterating with another screen bump, this time to 10.5-inches. Which started on the iPad Pro 2, then moved to iPad Air 3 when the Pro 3 got its big redesign, and is now moving to the iPad Nothing 9, following the Air 4’s big redesign.

And.. never say never about laminated displays, but that’s really all I’m expecting at that price point or less. No A13. No full-screen. No Pencil 2, no Magic Keyboard that costs almost as much as the machine itself. No power button Touch ID. Nothing that takes away from the more expensive mid-range iPads like the current Air, or the widely expected new mini.

Which is supposed to be getting just exactly that big redesign. A very similar to last year’s Air big redesign. Pretty much making it an iPad mini Air… Air mini? Both? With Thanos-snapped bezels, deleted Home button, Liquid Retina display, better camera, better speakers, power-button mounted Touch ID, and a rainbow of colors. But with the mid-range price point between the nothing and the Air to go with it. I’ve also got a full video up on the new iPad mini rumors and I’ll link it below the like button.

My biggest questions are — will it require a new, smaller Apple Pencil 2? Could Apple possibly make a Magic Keyboard mini for it? And will it actually be announced at the September Event or will be part of the more traditional-for-iPad October event instead? Apple tends to ship things as soon as they possibly can to get sales going as soon as they possibly can, so it’ll just come down to what’s ready and when.

Apple Watch Series 7 is reportedly getting a new design, a new retro-future chic design as well. Something to bring it more fully in line with the current, flatter, more squared off iPad and iPhone looks. There are also rumors of better swim tracking, but other sensors like body temperature, blood sugar, and blood pressure might still be a year or several away. And the edition materials of ceramic and titanium might simply be going away. With the focus shifting, instead, to the aluminum models but with an iPhone like, even iMac-like set of new colors.

Full video on that up for you as well.

So, will Apple finally retire the Series 3? Update the Apple Watch SE? My guess is yes to Series 3 going away, just so Apple doesn’t have to keep supporting 3 form factors, and circa 2016 tech with 2022 watchOS updates. And, with the Series 7 getting a new design, maybe they’ll keep the current SE and rather than updating it, price drop it to cover the entry level instead? That’d be way more in line with the iPhone SE positioning.

For the iPhone 13 or iPhone 12s or whatever Apple calls this year’s new models, we’re looking at the same mini, regular, Pro, and Pro Max, same sizes and similar price points, but with A15 — or basically M2 jr. — chipsets, more efficient X60 5G modems, bigger and better camera systems, and smaller notices all around. Including portrait mode video.

And for the Pro models, the long awaited ProMotion, or variable refresh rate from a peak of 120Hz for scrolling and gaming, to 48Hz for movies, to 24Hz for static photos and interfaces, to 1Hz for always-on Lock screen displays.

And while it’s supposed to be the same or similar LTPO OLED panel as the Galaxy S21, the combination of Apple’s custom drivers, display engineering, and iOS pipelines and color and performance management, it could melt eyeballs in hitherto unimaginable ways. Yes, I did just say hitherto.

Full video on all that, you know it, linked below the like button.

If the new AirPods 3 are ready, we could see them announced alongside the new iPhone as well. I mean, the OG deputed alongside the iPhone 7 back in 2016, when Apple ripped out the 3.5 mm headphone jack and then quickly put some wireless ice on the wound. AirPods 2 were dropped in a press release right before the big Apple Services event in March of 2019. Because a billion phones in our pockets, y’all, not a billion pods. At least not yet.

Those traded up W1 for H1, Apple’s first purely headphone chipset, and added a inductive charging option to the case, but were otherwise very much the same. AirPods 3 are supposed to be much more like AirPods Pro, at least in terms of design if not active noise canceling or transparency.

Biggest questions I have is whether inductive charging will be included by default now, and whether or not they’ll have the one-size fits all on-in-ear tips some love, others hate, or silicon tip options others love, some hate.

And, more on That in this!

The elephant-sized wildcard in the room, of course, is the M1X MacBooks Pro, which everyone and their YouTuber expected back at WWDC in June, but which LED-displays reportedly delayed until the fall.

New, flatter, squared-off iPad Pro and M1 iMac style design, the return of MagSafe power, HDMI, and SD card ports, a bezel-snapped 14-inch model to match the previously snapped 16-inch model, and the death of the Touch Bar, RIP.

And yes, M1X, which should be a more massively multicore, and memory extended, Pro-ready version of the M1, not M2, which should be the next-generation ultra-low power M1 replacement for the next consumer MacBook Air, sometime next year.

But will Apple have them ready for the September iPhone Event, will it take until the more traditional October Mac event to push out, or will we be waiting until November again, like we did for the first M1 Macs?

And so does hitting the playlist above for more on all of Apple’s upcoming fall products, Watches, iPhones, iPads, Macs, AirPods, and more, so you can better decide what to buy for and what to skip. Hit it up and I’ll see you in the next video!

If I had to guess, my brains says October or November, even if my heart says now, now, now. Because I’m still on a 16-inch Intel MacBook Pro and there’s no device in the world I want more right now than a 16-inch M1X MacBook Pro.

And I know some people find it hard to believe Apple would release an M1X MacBook Pro after releasing the iPhone 13, because M1X is on A14 generation silicon and iPhone 13 will be on A15 generation. And think that means Apple will have to go with M2X instead, to also be on A15 generation.

But, you know, Apple sees pro devices differently. I’m not even talking about the Mac Pro or iMac Pro being on older Intel architectures, because that’s just how Intel rolls with their Xeon chips. I’m talking about what Apple’s done with their own silicon in the past. Most recently with the 2020 iPad Pro, which shipped with an A12X even though the iPhone 11 had already shipped with A13 six months earlier.

So, yeah, lower single core performance but far more massively multicore performance and way higher memory options.

Not a perfect world, I grant you. That would have been shipping back at WWDC in June. But a pragmatic one, given the 2020 jr. we’re blazing through right now.


Apple Watch Series 7 Leaks Will Blow Your Wrist Mind!

New design. Flat design. But not round design. New display. Fuller display. But not rugged display. New finishes. Color finishes. But not Edition finishes. New S7 chipset. Maybe new radios. But maybe, maybe not new sensors. Not blood sugar, not blood pressure, not body temperature. It’s the Apple Watch Series 7 and it’s as close as a month away. So, should you get ready to upgrade?

Last year’s S6 system-in-package was based on the A13’s Thunder efficiency cores. Along with a W3 wireless chip, and a U1 ultra-wide-band chip. That was after the previous year’s S5 SiP was basically the same as the S4 before it, just with a digital compass and always-on display controllers. So will the S7 be more of a tweak, like the S5, or more of a leap, like the S6?

I’m hoping for the latter, because I’m… all about that silicon, but not just for performance, for efficiency as well. Get the A14 icestorm efficiency IP in there, shrink that process and boost that battery life.

I know I’ll still have to charge it every day, just like I have to charge my phone every day, because power draw is the price we pay for powerful features, I just want a wider window in which I can choose to charge it.

The current Watch is also still 802.11n, which is Wi-Fi…4 now? It’s gone 5Ghz, which is great, but could it go better? Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 better? Wi-Fi 6E as in 6Ghz better? It’s also still LTE. Could it go to 5G? Not frequency range 2 mmWave, because that’s all drain and pain, but frequency range 1 low and mid-band? And could it go completely self-contained so it wouldn’t need an iPhone any more, not for messaging, not for anything? And, I guess, yeah, Could U1 go… U2? Sorry, so sorry…

The health sensors are tougher. Not just to talk about but actually to ship. Apple keeps working on them. They keep buying companies that claim they’re thissssss close to getting them working. And they just keep being… not so close. Not at all close. Like years away so not close. At least not for practical solutions like ECG and blood oxygen that Apple can roll out to millions of consumers.

Body temperature? Maybe a next year thing. Blood pressure and blood sugar? More like a some year things. Even if all of us really, really want them to be a soon thing.

Does that mean Apple will be leaving upgrades on the table? Most people, even most iPhone people, don’t even have an Apple Watch yet. So it’s less about getting the smaller percentage of those that do to buy a new one, and more about getting the huge percentage of those that don’t to buy their first one. And that’s just removing road blocks and adding features, until it triggers that buy.

The big one for me is still complete and total independence from the iPhone, so if you want an Apple Watch, you can just get an Apple Watch. And the halo effect, the advantages and integrations that come from having an iPhone, or iPad, or, hell, Mac as well, that stays very real. And I’ll drop a link below the like button to the interview I did with Apple on all that.

Now, there were rumors of a more rugged version that would have a more extreme screen and more extreme casing, and be targeted at more extreme athletes. More Ray Zayhab adventurist types. But how rugged? And just how much bigger and thicker, because rugged? Most recent rumors say we’ll have to wait until next year to find out.

This year though… This year it sounds like what we’re getting is a new design. The second new design in the Watch’s history. The last one was all about Apple’s old futuristic full-screen look. This one is in keeping with Apple’s last retro future chic look, the one that started with the 2018 iPad Pro and came to the iPhone 12 last year. You know, all flat sides and extruded roundrects. But not round.

As cool as a round Apple Watch and circular watchOS interface would be, Apple still sees the Watch less like classic horological jewelry, and more like hyper-functional computer for your wrist. iPhone for you wrist, to be more specific about it. Where a square display just allows for way more text on the page and data in the corners. And Apple thinks being bound to a traditional round Watch shape is about as important as being bound to a traditional banana phone shape. But, who knows? Maybe one day!

The display might be getting better as well. Better laminated, maybe even better screen-to-bezel ratio. But does that mean more screen or less bezel? Like the iPad Pro going from 10.5 to 11-inches at the same chassis size, or like the bigger iPad Pro staying at 12.9-inches but at a smaller chassis size. I mean, do you want the smallest, lightest watch imaginable, or will you absolutely, positively not stop until you have a full on Swartzenager sized brick on your wrist?

There’s also talk of the Edition going away. You know the ones that kicked off back in ought 14 with 24K gold and have since iterated through ceramics and now, titanium. But would that mean aluminum and aluminum alone, or steel still on the higher end? Where Apple currently offers polished, black, and gold. And what about Hermes?

Also, maybe even more colors on the aluminum models. Even more than the red and blue models that debuted last year. Maybe as many as the base level iPhones have had for the last few years now. Maybe as many… and matching colors?

So, no new materials, no big new sensors, no game-changer features like always-on, aside from the new design and maybe increased independence, what could drive upgrades for those of us already in the Watch ecosystem? Aside from people who are just timing out on their old Watches. You know, had them for 3 or 4 years now, and the sum total of the new features are already compelling, including a bigger display, always-on display, fall detection, pulse-ox, the new design.

Well, weird as it may sound… colors. Apple’s been going all-in on all-the colors lately. The complete taste-the-rainbow of colors, at least on the consumer product side. iPhones been there for a while, but now iPad Air, presumably the new iPad mini, AirPods Max, 24-inch iMac, presumably the next MacBook Air, and the Apple Watch just feels like such a prime candidate for that. Even more than the red and blue models that debuted last year. Because while colors are fun, you know what’s even more fun? Matching colors!


iPhone 13 Pro Leaks Are Pure Upgrade FIRE!

120Hz refresh rate. Always-on. Smaller notch. A15 chipset. X60 modem. Wi-Fi 6E. Bigger batteries. Bigger cameras. Better cameras. Better video. Mini, non-mini, Pro, Pro Max. Maybe 1TB. Maybe even Touch ID. It’s the iPhone 13… or iPhone 12s and it’s as close as a month away.

But is it can't miss or must skip? I break it down in my weekly column at iMore!


My Fix for Apple Privacy Panic

Apple believes they’ve made the most privacy respecting Child Safety Features in the history of… technology. Others believe Apple’s new system is dangerous, invasive, and… as anti-privacy as you can get.

These features are currently slated to ship in the US as part of Apple’s fall software updates, including iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, and I’ve already done a 43 minute — yes, 43 minute —mega deep dive video on how exactly they work, why Apple says they’re doing them, and what the main objections are, and I urge anyone even remotely interested or incensed by any of this to watch it. Link in the description, the comments… everywhere.

But, TL;DW — Apple says they want to disrupt the cycle of grooming and child predation in the Messages app, automatically blur sexually explicit images, warn on send and receipt, and optionally alert parents or guardians so children can get help and stay safe. Also, get child sexual abuse material — CSAM — off the iCloud servers, but without scanning our full iCloud Photo Libraries, by instead doing on-device hash matching on upload, to maintain, what they believe, is the most privacy possible.

Others warn the Communication Safety alerts could lead to outing non-hetero children, exposing them to abandonment or abuse, and the on-device component of CSAM detection, rather than maintaining privacy, irrevocably shatters it, inevitably opening up Apple devices to wider detection by increasingly authoritarian governments.

So, what can we do about it?

Communications Safety

Communications Safety, as currently implemented, is opt in. Parents or guardians have to turn it on for child devices as part of Family Sharing’s control system. For child devices set to 17 or under, it will automatically blur any sexually explicit images that come in over iMessage or SMS/MMS, require a tap or click to open them, and a second tap or click to go through a warning screen before they open. Similar warnings and tap-throughs are required if the child device tries to send a sexually explicit image.

The sexually explicit images are detected by computer vision running on-device, in the Messages app, similar to what Apple’s been doing for years already in the Photos app to tag cats and cars and a bunch of other stuff for search. In the Messages apps, it only tags sexually explicit images, doesn’t block any messages or images, and doesn’t report anything to Apple or law enforcement.

Instead, on devices set up for children 12-year-olds-or-under, parents or guardians have the added option of setting up a notification. That way, if the child taps to view, taps through the warning, and then taps through an additional warning that the parent or guardian will be notified, the notification gets sent. Still not to Apple, still not to law enforcement, just to the parent or guardian… but that’s the exact objection here.

The notification warning may deter some… even most children, and some… even most parents or guardians really will be there to help and to get help, but… some won’t. And that means already at risk children, specifically non-hetero children, could be outed by this system, putting them further at risk for abuse or abandonment.

So, what I’d like to see, is Apple change the option from notification to an actual block. So, instead of just blurring and warning about sexually explicit images with the option to notify the parent or guardian, it’d be the same thing but with the option to block the image completely.

A parent or guarding could still take physical custody of a child device, either way, under either implementation, and the warnings, explanations, and resources to get help will still be presented either way, under either implementation, and yes, this will reduce the chances of a positive parent or guardian intervention, but it will also prevent the chances of a negative parent or guardian intervention through this system.

But not only does changing notify to block remove the potential for data leaks, it’s more in keeping with the existing Content & Policy Restrictions, which have for years let parents and guardians block explicit lyrics, R-rated movies, and access to other apps and services entirely.

This is obviously very, very different from that, but so are the potential ramifications and precedents it sets, so if Apple is intent on going ahead with Communications Safety, that’s my suggestion for addressing the objections and reducing the potential risks.

CSAM Detection

CSAM Detection compares NeuroHashes from a blinded database of known and existing CSAM images, provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, NCMEC, and other child safety organizations, to NeuroHashes of the images on your device, as they’re being uploaded to iCloud Photo Library. Since the database is blinded, it requires a secret on the iCloud server to decrypt the headers, any matched hashes are stored in a secure voucher, the system periodically creates synthetic vouchers so the server can never really know the exact number of true vouchers, and if and when an unknown threshold of matched hashes is reached, it’ll unlock all the vouchers and forward them for manual, human review at Apple, and if verified, will lead to the account being shut down and a report being sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for them to refer on to law enforcement.

And if that sounds incredibly cumbersome, complex, and confusing, that’s why I made a 43 minute video about it. Please watch and share.

Now, the objection here isn’t just that Apple is matching hashes on-device, because Apple’s been full on scanning full-on images using computer vision to enable face and image search in the Photos app for years, and will be doing machine learning character recognition with Live Text soon as well. They’ve also been detecting malware signatures and enforcing DRM On iOS for years.

It isn’t even that Apple is detecting and reporting CSAM at all. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Imgr, TikTok, Snapchat, and pretty much everyone else has been doing full-on server side scanning for and reporting on CSAM for upwards of a decade as well.

But… on their servers. Which, many people seem ok with. As if the act of uploading to a company’s computer relinquishes their feelings of complete privacy over the images. Plus… everybody’s doing it.

It’s Apple’s combination and conflation of those two things — on-device hash-matching with server-side reporting, that’s creating a ton of push back.

One, because it eliminates the last mainstream photo storage option that wasn’t doing any scanning at all, which makes it intolerable to privacy absolutists and leaves them with… no other mainstream options.

Two, because it’s putting something on our devices that’s reporting off our devices, and while Apple thinks on-device is always more private, the reporting part makes many people feel the exact opposite, that’s it’s a proactive, presumption of guilt fueled violation.

Third, because while Apple can do anything on iOS at any time, doing this on iOS and doing it now takes what was a vague, kind of ephemeral truth and solidifies it into a screeching, neon, alarm bell. And it makes them feel like it’s no longer a matter of if but when Apple will increase the scope of the detection, either on their own or because of government pressure.

Apple has pushed back on this, saying it’s not possible and even if it was, they’d never do it, but it’s the harshest of reminders that we’re all ultimately at the complete and utter mercy of every platform company and device maker, with charging leadership and conflicted business interests, always, forever.

And while some will say Apple wouldn’t have over-engineered such a specific system if they weren’t hoping to keep the scope restricted, forestall or prevent increasing regulation over content reporting and anti-encryption, and maybe even lock down the rest of iOS user data even more strongly…

…Others will say Apple wouldn’t have over-engineered such a specific system if they weren’t planning to increase the scope of detection and broker deals with regulators, with this as basically a proof-of-concept implementation.

And the worst part is no one can ever really know which of those it is, because like Shrodingers dead or alive cat, we’re all just left wondering what may or may not come next, but can’t ever know until it actually does at some point or doesn’t… forever.

So, if a government is emboldened by these new features, maybe Apple will fight and win like they did over breaking encryption in the San Bernardino case, or maybe they’ll fight and lose like they did over repatriating iCloud data to China, or we won’t know, like maybe they did or didn’t when coming up with these Child Safety features to begin with, and we’ll get a privacy-centric terrorist radicalization detection system next.

Fourth, hat tip John Gruber, that given Facebook made 20 million CSAM reports last year, Google 500 thousand, and most other tech companies 100 thousand or more, and Apple made 265… period… it may simply be impossible for the manual human review team to cope with what the launch of this system will kick up.

I don’t know if there’s any way to solve for that, but for the rest of it, I’d like to see Apple move the on-device element off device. Since Apple believes on-server scanning is a violation of privacy, and a significant group of users see on-device matching as a violation period. How about moving the hash detection to a private relay server that’s not Apple’s? Like the inverse of Apple’s upcoming Private Relay service proper. That private relay server would do the hash matching and secure voucher generation, Apple’s server would still hold the secret for header decryption and voucher threshold, nothing would be on our devices, and Apple wouldn’t have to scan our full libraries.

Zero violation for us, zero knowledge for Apple.

And if that can’t work, because I’m just a dumb YouTuber who doesn’t know what the hell I’m talking about, and not a genius privacy engineer who already looked at this eight ways from Babylon, fall back to on-server scanning, because if Apple needs to detect CSAM but doesn’t want to scan the server, well… need beats want, and if a compromise has to be made, Apple has to be the one to make it, not users, never users.

Because that way, even if Apple says the privacy is technically worse, the sanctity of our devices will be absolutely better. And every time China, or the U.S. or the U.K., E.U., Canada, Australia, Belgium, anyone comes knocking, Apple can say, flat out, bring all the server-side warrants you want, but we don’t fuck with user data on device, not for this, not for anything, not for you, not for anyone, not ever.

Let me know what you think in the comments below, let Apple know via or email, and then share this video and I’ll you in the next one!


NEW iPhone 13 Leaks Will Melt Your Eyeballs!

Buttery Bokeh Portrait Mode for video. Higher quality ProRes formats. New, context-aware filters. And that’s in addition to better 5G, smaller notches, adaptive 120hz refresh rates, next-generation A15 silicon, and all the other leaks already swirling around the iPhone 13, iPhone 12s, iPhone Mother of Dragons, iPhone The Dark Knight Notches… or whatever Apple decides to call the next set of iPhones coming our way in… Holy wow, just a few weeks now! Let's break it all down!

2020 felt like it took… forever… and now 2020jr is going by in the blink of eye. From, it’s way too soon to talk about new iPhones, to… when did it become almost September again and can I get these last 18 months back!

But either way — anyway — sometime in the next 4 to 6 weeks, Tim Cook is going to take over our streams and screens and Good-Morning Yote fresh new iPhones into our brainstems.

And according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, those fresh new iPhones will include three fresh new photography features.

The first is Portrait Bode for video, or what he says Apple is internally calling Cinematic Video. A term Apple’s previously used for stabilization — keeping video looking smooth and steady.

Now, Apple won’t be first to blurry background video. Samsung tried it a few years ago with… very mixed results. And I’m sure some of you are already typing away to tell me Nokia actually invented it back in 1812.

Depth of field, bokeh, is just one of those things traditional cameras with big old lenses have always done and tiny camera phone lenses could just never compete with. Not on the physics.

But, instead of big sensor, or big glass, Apple’s been able to throw big compute at the problem. Mostly using dual camera systems to derive some depth data from the small differences between them, and segmentation masking, which just means using machine learning to figure out the subject and apply the blur to everything else. And, of course, Apple insisted on doing it in real time in the view finder, with zero shutter lag, so what you saw was what you shot.

At first, this was so computationally expensive it would redline an iPhone 7. But as Apple improved their silicon, they were able to add lens models to produce more realistic bokeh, dynamic aperture so you could adjust the amount of bokeh even after you took the shot, and thanks to LiDAR on the iPhone 12 Pro, which collects much, much better depth data, night mode portrait mode.

But they still didn’t have the raw processing power to apply it to 4K 30, much less 4K 60 frames per second of video. Not even 1080p it sounds like. Not well enough to ship at least. Until now.

Which is why some of us still use traditional cameras for our a-roll, which is just the talking head stuff, and b-roll, which is all the glamor shots of people, products, and more.

The iPhone is already used in a bunch of specialty production but if they can nail computational lens effects in video, or even just start nailing, it’ll be one less reason to lug around the big camera kits, at least for some stuff.

You know, we’d still need it for the big zooms, until Apple tweaks SmartHDR into SmartZoom.

ProRes is the name for a family of high quality video codecs that Apple uses in Final Cut Pro, and some cinema cameras like Arri and BlackMagic and accessories like Atomos and Sound Devices record in directly. They currently vary in resolution up to 8K, and in quality from various levels of lossy compression up to ProRes RAW.

So, ProRes is gorgeous, and is a dream to edit with, but it’s also hella thirsty. Like just take all your drive space hella thirsty. And that means it’ll be super interesting, really an open question, as to what exactly and how exactly Apple implements it.

Mark says Apple will offer HD, so 1080p, and 4K.

In my perfect world, it’s be a highly optimized version of at least ProRes 4:2:2, with a 1 terabyte storage option to hold… a lot of it… and a Thunderbolt 4 port to pull it all off with, so I don’t have to use Lightning or ad-hoc Wi-Fi, you know, like an animal.

But, I don’t every time get the perfect world I want.

The part about filters may have some pro-level pros salivating at the thought of LUTs, or the look up tables used to transform the flatter, higher dynamic range log or raw video files into… everything from standard color profiles to other cinema camera styles to vintage or classic film looks, or just otherwise transform them to taste.

But what it sounds like is more of an evolution of current photo filters, now for video, but with all the more advanced, machine-learned computer vision tech, like scene understanding, so it can tell what’s a sky, what’s a tree, what’s a face, what’s an object, and semantic rendering, so the filter isn’t applied uniformly but contextually to each element in the scene.

Mark says there’ll be filters to cool down and warm up video, for example, or to add more dramatic shadows and contrast, while preserving proper white balance.

And I’d love that… but I’d also love LOG and real-time LUTs. What? I have room in my heart for all of it. Give me all of it.


The Ugly Truth About Apple’s Privacy Panic

Apple’s new child safety features: Siri and Search intervention. Communication Safety. Image detection — Explained in my weekly column at iMore:


How Apple DESTROYED Facebook’s Spyware

Facebook was interested in licensing the Pegasus malware to spy on their own iOS users. John Gruber reminded me about this on Daring Fireball, but let it sink in for a moment. Bad enough it’s less Big Tech and more Big Social Tobacco, but does it really have to be so damn Big Social Brother about it so always? Just wait until you hear the story, because it’s a slobberknocker, and then you tell me!

Pegasus Spyware, which was splattered Watchman-smiley-face-bloodstain-style all over the news cycle a couple of weeks ago, is what the NSO Group licenses out to nation states and agencies to infect iPhones and Android phones for the purposes of intelligence and counter-intelligence gathering, including, according to the recent accusations, authoritarian regimes who use it on journalists, dissidents, opposition parties, even other governments.

In a declaration from the NSO Group’s CEO, he said two Facebook representatives approached them back in October 2017 and asked to purchase the right to use certain capabilities of ther military-grade Pegasus spyware on iPhone users. Why and what did Apple do about it? Pop a beverage and hit play!

Now, previously, Facebook had been just… running rampant on iOS. Using older frameworks to monitor what other apps we had installed on our iPhones, so they could try to figure out where we were spending our time and attention. You know, when we weren’t on Facebook.

It’s how they identified threats. We’re scrolling Instagram instead of the Newsfeed? Buy Instagram! We’re texting through WhatsApp instead of Messenger? Buy WhatsApp! We’re snapping our chats instead of booking our faces? Buy Snapchat! Oh, they won’t sell? Clone their features! Stories everywhere!

It’s why Facebook seemed to be willing to pay what were considered ludicrous prices at the time, or face-hugger on what seemed like completely alien feature sets, only to have… turns out… gotten ludicrously good deals and stolen back tons of attention now in hindsight.

But that golden era of data piracy was ending. Apple was cracking down. And tightening up. The ability to see what other apps were installed and figure out what we were using and doing was becoming increasingly difficult, if not impossible.

And, unlike Google, Facebook had just never been able to get their act together enough to ship their own phone or browser platform, like Android, Pixel, and Chrome, so they couldn’t just get the data directly, straight from the source.

That’s probably why Facebook bought Onova in 2013, which among other things, offered a virtual private network or VPN service. Now, a VPN’s job is to protect our internet traffic — everything we’re doing on the net, every site we’re going to, every server we’re connecting to — by tunneling it away from our computers and out through the VPN’s computers. That shields our activities from our ISP, blocks person-in-the-middle attacks on free wi-fi networks like at coffee shops and airports, sometimes allows for geo-hopping so we can watch Netflix in… I dunno… France?

But because all of our traffic is now tunneling through the VPN, the VPN get full knowledge, they’re the one who sees every site we’re going to, every server we’re connecting to. And Onova had been using — or abusing — that fact, for data harvesting. Which had already led it to be frequently classified as — you guessed it — spyware.

Now that VPN, that Spyware, was Facebook’s and in a plan fiendishly clever in its intricacies, they started using Onova to work around Apple’s protections and resume spying on iOS user activity. Our activity. Even going so far as to advertise Onova inside the Facebook app to get it onto more iPhones.

But, apparently, that still wasn’t enough. According to the NSO Group’s CEO, Facebook said Onova still wasn’t as effective at gathering user data from iPhones as it was from Android phones. So, get this, Facebook was willing to pay a monthly per-user fee to NSO for parts of Pegasus so they could more deeply monitor people using Onova Protect on iPhones.

By parts, it likely means the data harvesting parts. Facebook wouldn’t need the hacking parts because… well… we’re doing that for them, hacking ourselves, by installing their apps. They just needed a way to pull out more of out data than Apple’s security and privacy protections otherwise allowed. And, I guess they figured military-grade spyware was the way to go there?

Now, Facebook claimed NSO’s account was inaccurate and misrepresented the discussion, but offered no alternate account or rational for the that discussion, at least that I’ve ever seen. Also that NSO was making the claims to deflect from Facebook suing them over NSO’s exploits of WhatsApp.

NSO said they ultimately refused to license any part or parts of Pegasus to Facebook because Facebook is a private company and NSO only deal with governments. Which governments exactly being the current controversy.

Anyway, Facebook was forced to pull Onova Protect from the iOS App Store in 2018, due to fatal violation of Apple’s anti-data harvesting policies.

But, of course, this story doesn’t end there. Like Spice, the data must flow. So why not just go full on Harkonan?

Facebook began offering something called The Facebook Research app. Deal was, they’d pay up to $20 a month, and in exchange, they’d get to collect data on our app usage, web browsing history, web search history, location history, personal messages, photos, videos, emails, and Amazon order history. Though it’s unclear how much of that was really made 100% crystal clear up front rather than just being buried in some fine print somewhere.

Kicker was… the Facebook Research app was allegedly just Onova Protect rebranded and distributed outside the App Store. Uppercut was Facebook using ads on networks like Instagram and Snapchat to target it on teenagers — children as young as 13. Facebook also started using their beta programs as another way to install their certificates on iPhones. All of this in direct violation of Apple’s policies on how certificate distribution is supposed to work — in other words, they’re for internal use within a company only, never for external distribution and end-runs around App Store privacy protections.

So, when all this came out, Apple pulled Facebook’s developer certificate, which immediately killed all instances of Facebook Research on all iOS devices, everywhere. Yeah, go walled garden capabilities go! It also killed all of Facebook’s internal apps, so… nobody could check the cantina menu or find their way around campus for a bit, or something?

After some weak ass attempts to spin, deny, deflect, Facebook sunsetted the Research app for good, even on Android. Apple restored Facebook’s developer certificate a month after they first pulled it as well. But Apple also started ratcheting up the privacy protections. Including app tracking transparency and privacy labels in iOS 14 and now Privacy Reports and Private Relay in iOS 15.

Which is why Facebook said they needed to start inflicting pain on Apple, even as Apple was encouraging Facebook to just delete our data.

And I’ve got videos up deep diving into… just all of that.