Apple Loop: New iPhone X Reviews, Apple Limits Bad Coverage, MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar Failure

Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes the latest reviews of the iPhone X, Apple’s review strategy, iOS 11’s secret feature, the iPhone 8 challenge, the failed Touch Bar experiment, HomePod locking out Spotify, tearing down the iPhone X, and why the new iPhone feels like a sham.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days.
The main news this week was the first reviews of the iPhone X showing up. These voices started to address issues such as the impact of the notch on the so called ‘all-screen’ display, the look and feel of the handset in use, and the accuracy or otherwise of FaceID. What did the internet think? I found out as I explored the online reaction to the tenth-anniversary iPhone:
What is clear with the screen is that the inclusion of the forward facing sensors has robbed Apple of a genuine ‘all screen’ forward display. The notch is an obvious iconic element, but one that serves Apple’s marketing first and users second. Most reviewers have suggested that it becomes ‘invisible’ after use, but  it is going to remain an awkward reminder that this silhouette is an Apple smartphone’s silhouette.
…Was it all worth it? Apple dropped the home button and TouchID from the iPhone X, as well as forcing the notch onto the screen, just so it could implement facial recognition. In the hands of the tech-savvy reviewers FaceID is getting a tentative thumbs up – its great indoors and in dark environments but put it in sunlight or under fluorescent lights and the accuracy drops. You also need to have the sensors in a ‘sweet spot’ close to your face.

 

Who Choses The Reviewers?
These reviews were all released before the iPhone X went on sale, which means that Apple chose who could review the new handset. In a change to years of precedent. Apart from a few notable exceptions (including Forbes’ David Phelan) the majority of tech journalists had less than 18 hours from picking up the handset to the embargo for ‘reviews’ to be lifted – although some smaller lifestyle YouTuber’s did get access. What was Apple’s PR strategy hoping to achieve?
Apple is well within its rights to implement this incredibly restrictive policy – it is their phone and it is not yet publicly available – but it flies in the face of what has happened in previous years, casts a long shadow over the value of these reviews to consumers and limits the ability to make informed purchasing decisions
The decision to offer review units to low trafficked YouTube channels rather than tech journalists with a long track record of in-depth reviews was highlighted by Daring Fireball’s John Gruber in multiple posts, including “Thank god Apple seeded Fashion [Magazine’s YouTube Channel] with a review unit.”
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The new iPhone X is seen in the Apple Store Union Square prior to launch on November 3, 2017, in San Francisco, California (Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/AFP/Getty Images)
iOS 11 Still Broken
There may be promising signs in the iOS 11.1 beta (see Apple Loop last week) but the public’s latest version, iOS 11.0.3 continues to fail to address key problems – such as a dramatically poor battery life, system instability, and BlueTooth connection issues are present. Forbes’s Gordon Kelly reports:
Here we are again. Following Apple iOS 11’s troubled launch and the rushed releases of iOS 11.0.1 (which made things worse) and iOS 11.0.2 (which did the same), iOS 11.0.3 has become the fourth iOS 11 upgrade (and third dedicated bug fix) in just three weeks. And predictably rushing out upgrades means iOS 11.0.3 has also started to cause problems.
I warned about this last week in my iOS 11.0.3 Upgrade Guide given the flurry of user complaints across reddit and social media, leading me to conclude you should hold off. One week later and having had the time to properly evaluate this, that was the right call.
What If The iPhone 8 Is The Better iPhone?
With three phones announced in September, it might have looked like Apple was trying to cover all the bases, but the marketing focus (and apparently consumer interest) has ignored the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus M. G. Siegler thinks the unthinkable. What if the best iPhone is not necessarily the most expensive, top of the line iPhone X?
But is it actually being “stuck” or is the iPhone 8 a good device? Well of course it is. It’s an iPhone, after all. And it’s just like last year’s model, but a little better in a handful of ways. So, no, you shouldn’t feel too badly for me. Or anyone who gets the iPhone 8 (or, presumably, the iPhone 8 Plus, which I have not bought and/or tried and don’t plan to — see, I’m not totally insane).
Having said that, this iPhone 8 feels like the smallest “step up” I can recall in the iPhone line. Obviously, some years bring “ticks” and some years are “tocks” — that is, “mere” speed and more subtle enhancements to the iPhone line versus bigger, more obvious overhauls — and the iPhones 8 are very clearly ticks to the iPhone X’s tock.

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