Fair warning, macOS and iOS users, you’re going to be a little mad at Apple for this, but I’ll wait until the end to explain why. Firefox Quantum has been in beta for a few months now, and I finally decided to take it for a spin about a week before release. Currently, I’m putting together a browser comparison, one that will show real world performance, benchmark performance, memory usage, and battery life impact, on both my 2010 MacBook Pro (representing older hardware) and the 2015 MacBook Pro I have from work (new hardware) but that’s going to take some time. Perhaps before you read that, you’ll want to try out Mozilla’s latest and greatest browser for yourself.
Firefox Quantum was designed to be a modern browser, made to meet current expectations of what a browser should be and take us to the future, a complete revamp of Firefox and the web browser itself. After using it for about a week now, I love it, and, as such, I’m once again pissed at Apple.
Let’s just get this out of the way, I love how Apple’s handling multitasking on the iPad in iOS 11. I like how you can easily share items between apps, I like the new multitasking view, I like that you can have floating windows, respoisition items, do split screen in Safari, and generally use the iPad more like a Mac. However, there’s still one big issue with split screen multitasking, and that’s how Apple handles bringing apps in from the home screen. It’s still a little awkward to use apps that aren’t in your dock, as you can see in the video below. While trying to make that tutorial, I actually screwed up twice before finally getting the app I wanted sitting next to Safari. There’s got to be a more efficient way to do this, Apple, right?
I still question Apple’s choice on this shot, those iPhones would have all shattered.
When a new iPhone is coming out, I always spend some time using my old iPhone without the case. It’s dangerous, I know, one drop could shatter the screen, meaning I’d be out hundreds of dollars when I try to trade it in to Gazelle or Apple, but it’s something I have to do. I want to really get to know the device one more time, before I give it up. This is the phone that got me countless dates through OKCupid and Tinder, the phone that I used to talk to the girls I loved this year, the phone that connected me to my friends. It’s where I followed election results, then tweeted angrily about the electoral college undermining democracy, and a new president undermining American freedoms. I’ve written blog posts, even portions of books on this phone. It’s the phone were I found the apartment I hope to move into in a few weeks. And, also in a few weeks, I’m going to wipe this phone clean of any of that, deleting those memories from its storage permanently, and ship it off to a recycling facility, where it will be dismantled and either sold for parts or cleaned up, sold as refurbished, and enter the home of someone else, to become an integral part of their life, as it once was a part of mine. Really, I just want to give myself one last chance to get to know this phone, remember what it was like, before I give it up. Because the truth is, despite everything I’ve been through with this phone, I kind of hate it
No, I’m not talking about how changing the volume takes up the entire screen on an iPhone for absolutely no reason. No, I’m not talking about lingering notifications that aren’t easy to dismiss blocking interface elements. Apple still hasn’t fixed those after 11 versions of iOS. You’d think someone at Apple would be half decent with an interface design. I honestly now think they’re keeping the volume display as obtrusive as possible to see how long Apple users will continue to put up with it before being driven mad. No, I’m talking about the biggest problem the iPad faced in iOS 10. Remember?
Yeah. No flashlight. Well guess what?
The flashlight is here to stay. Now, when you’re lost in the woods with no phone, no lighter, no flint and steel, no camera with flash, and no glow sticks, you can use the flash on your iPad to find your way home.
As a subway commuter, I quickly learned a little trick for getting service in the subway. For the uninitiated, nearly every subway station in NYC now has cellular reception. Usually it’s LTE, but sometimes it’s just 3G. But these are the only places where you can get service. In the tunnels between stations, there is no service. When the iPhone loses a data connection, it goes down the chain of potential technologies to use for a connection. First it looks for 3G, then it looks for a call-only connection, and finally, it settles on no service. When service returns, it goes back up the chain… slowly. Often you’re not in a station long enough for it to get back to LTE on its own. That’s where the little trick comes in. I have an iPhone 6s, so I’ve got Force Touch. I press hard on the Settings icon, and tap the Cellular option that comes up. Then I turn Cellular Data off for about 5-10 seconds, then I turn it back on. This causes the cellular radio to reset. When the cellular radio gets powered back on, it looks for a connection in descending order, starting with the best possible connection. First LTE, then 3G, then a voice only connection. When this happens, it goes from “thinking” there’s only a 1x voice connection to realizing that there’s an LTE connection available. It’s a handy trick, and one I’ve actually heard other commuters talking about, so I know it works.
When Apple introduced iOS 11, they put all the wireless radios in Control Center. I was probably more excited than I had any right to be. This put the cellular radio toggle just a swipe and a tap away from any app. Surely this would make my little trick easier. However, when I tried it on the subway, I found it didn’t work. The next day, I read an article that told me why: the toggle is a lie. iOS doesn’t shut off the cellular, WiFi, or Bluetooth radios when you toggle them in Control Center. This is a huge problem, it’s a UI element that claims to do something, but doesn’t do it, tricking it’s user. It’s simultaneously unlike Apple and extremely Apple-like.
Apple didn’t release the first smartphone, they didn’t release the first touchscreen phone, but they did release the best, by a wide margin. Since then, other smartphones evolved to look more like Apple’s, and from there, we get the iOS vs Android duopoly that we have today. Apple wasn’t the first to make a GUI, the first PC manufacturer, the first to put a fingerprint sensor on a phone, they weren’t the first with two cameras, or even the first to make an MP3 player, but they’ve done the best versions of all of these things, changing the market forever. That’s why I hate graphics like the ones above, which seem to come out every time Apple releases some exciting new iPhone. No, Apple wasn’t the first, but they’ve done everything so much better, so the question becomes, why did the others create such half-assed projects to begin with? If you’re going to do something right, take your time and do it right, don’t rush it and release something that’s less than the best. That’s Apple’s philosophy, it’s why iPhone users stick with iOS, and it’s why we’re excited to use the iPhone X.
So, what about the points raised in the graphics above? I’m going to tear each of them apart. Why? Because I hate the spread of fake news far more than I hate know-it-all fanboys, and this involves both.
There are developer and public betas out for Apple’s upcoming operating systems. You could, right now, put iOS 11 on your iPad or iPhone, macOS High Sierra on your Mac, or tvOS 11 on your Apple TV 4. But you’d be opening Pandora’s box of operating system woes, unleashing unstable, often broken operating systems on your devices. These are works in progress. You wouldn’t climb scaffolding on a building in construction just to see what it’ll look like from the top once it’s completed, would you? Perhaps if you’re a daredevil, seeking out an adrenaline rush, but certainly not if you intend to keep yourself safe. Those who have used iOS 11 on their devices have found it rapidly drains their batteries, often crashes, and that not all apps work with the operating system. This is perfectly normal for software that’s in development. Apple’s beta operating systems won’t truly be “safe” to install until the golden master. Personally, I’m usually willing to take the risk around the time of the 4th public beta, but even then, I’ve frequently come across random issues, like apps not working and crashes. The new operating systems may be tempting, but you must resist.
Now, if you’re an app developer or you have a spare iOS device laying around, then, by all means, check out what Apple’s working on. But do not risk your only or most important device on incomplete software, you will regret it.