One Week with the iPhone X

I have had the iPhone X for about a week now. There seems to be a lot of talk about this new phone. Some people are loving it while others are scorning it for various reasons. I have been due for a phone upgrade for a while now and we did happen to get a couple of these at work for testing. So, after a week of using it how does it stand up? 

Well in short it is an iPhone. It is a very good iPhone, but fundamentally it does everything previous iPhones did and continues to tread the path of design aesthetic that Apple has been known for. As you can imagine, this is going to lead to some strong opinions on the design. My general impression has been that those who are the strongest critics of the new phone are not Apple fans or iPhone users to begin with. The design choices Apple has made very much stay with their design methodology and whether you agree with that or not really just comes down to you as a user. Here's the thing, you don't have to like Apple’s choices and there are tons of other phones out there if you prefer something else. I do think what Apple has done is interesting though. So let's take a look at what I like and what I don't like.


What I really like 

The Screen 

I simply love the screen. It is bright and crisp and very responsive. The change to the near edgeless design is really fantastic. I really like the look of the rounded corners on the screen. Going back to my iPad with the square corners and the bezels really feels like a step back. I really like how the corner information like the battery and cellular network are tucked away out of the main viewing area with the black tab, but they also still feel cohesive with the background continuing through to the screen area. It is hard to describe, but it does feel like an amazing design aesthetic. 

While we are talking about the screen we might as well talk about the black notch at the top. I have found this to be a non-issue when using the phone and it "disappears" after a few moments. The dual depth cameras and IR sensor that are included in that notch really are a nice asset, and I feel like the phone’s design aesthetic would be worse if the black bar did continue across the entire top. 

There is a "notch remover" app in the iTunes store now which creates a black bar across the top of the screen and quite frankly, I think it looks terrible. The phone feels unbalanced. But, to each their own. 


The Camera

The camera is great and the dual camera setup on both the front and the back adds a lot. This is one of those things that could justify the extra price tag for most people. The portrait photos look fantastic and the low light ability is a huge step up from my iPhone 6. I do wish that Apple had done a bit more with the photo filters or given us something a bit more on the software side. 


Face ID

Face ID is a really cool addition and it works really well. I just wish it didn't involve the removal of the touch ID because I still prefer that in some instances. There are times when you simply don't want or can't bring your face directly to the phone. 


So what Don't I like? 

The Hardware Design 

The phone feels amazing in your hand and it has a nice "heft" to it. Unfortunately this feels like a super fragile phone and the back is made of glass. It is extremely slick in your hands and I feel like this is an instance of Apple just moving with blinders. They really should do a better job of hitting their design aesthetic while making a phone that isn't this fragile. What's the point of making something so pretty if you have to put a case on it? 

Also the continued "bump" from the rear camera. I can't believe that we still have this. Just make the phone thicker so it can rest flush on a table. 

The Removal of the Home Button and Touch ID

Despite the new edge to edge screen and Face ID, I miss the home button and Touch ID. Touch ID feels like a more secure feature, especially for Apple Pay. While the new screen gestures are easy to get used to, you still lose something without the home button. 

I used Apple's "Reachability" feature a lot on the old phone. The new phone is almost impossible to use with just one hand. The reachability mode was previously accessed by double tapping the home button. It now has to be turned on in the accessibility menu. Actions now have to be accessed via a little "bar" on the bottom of the screen. Unfortunately, while holding the phone in my hand I can't really reach the bottom of the screen. It makes for an awkward experience at best and at worst an opportunity for the phone to slip right out of your hands. 

I really would have liked to see something on the bottom of the screen. The notch actually mirrored on the bottom of the screen with that touch line and haptic feedback would be really cool I think. You could get the gestures you want while still having a physical component for your hand to be guided to when using the phone. I really want to see touch ID come back. 

iOS 11 UI changes 

Some of the UI changes to accommodate the loss of the home button also are not quite there yet. I like what Apple did by moving them to the corners. I have been using the hot corners on my Mac for years, so this make sense to me, but they are not that responsive. Opening the App Switcher is a crap shoot and it just doesn't feel good. It is also difficult now to figure out how to turn off the phone and force close apps. Unfortunately I feel like these changes were driven by the hardware, and while some of them are good, some just don't hit the mark. 


Overall Thoughts

Overall, this is a nice phone. I like the camera features, but it is too hard to try and justify the prices for this first round. I hope to see the screen design get into future phones and iPads, but I want to see the Touch ID come back. 


Music Listening: AAC - Liam Gallagher - As You Were

Oasis is (was), hands down, my favorite rock band. Its ironic that I like them as much as I do considering I really do not like the Beatles at all. Oasis is as close as you are going to get to a Beatles sounding band without being an actual cover band. For those of you out there who are Oasis fans, you are well acquainted with the long standing feud between the Gallagher brothers. They are in short assholes and they are assholes to each other. Liam, the lead singer, developed an almost historic reputation for his antics and the journey that was Oasis came to an end around 2008.

All of the band member's have experimented with projects for the past decade, but we not have before us Liam's first solo album. I have always been able to enjoy his and Oasis' music without having to like the member's personally. I don't need to be friends with them, so what they do with their personal antics are of no concern to me. 

This album is pretty much exactly what you expect it to be. It sounds like Oasis, and for me that is just find. Some good, solid brit rock is always welcome. The opening track "Wall of Glass" is a great sounding song that captures that glimmer of Oasis and Liam. That quintessential Oasis guitar riff is featured right there while the track opens. 

The rest of the album is good, but doesn't really present any truly memorable songs. If you are an Oasis fan, like me, then you will probably love this album. It is good to have fresh album in my library with this sound. For everyone else out there, I would say check it out. It is sort of like how the new U2 albums are. When you listen to them they are all solid albums and well produced, but not necessarily "memorable". 

My New Favorite iOS App - Momento

https://momentoapp.com

This past week I have come across a new favorite app, that is now sitting on my iPhone. Momento was featured this past week with several apps in one of Apple's daily lists. Momento caught my as a private journaling app that has a really clean interface and the ability to automatically import content from your social media. 

I like the idea of a private journaling app at lot to just capture quick things throughout my day. The added benefit of the social integration makes that even easier because my Facebook, Instagram, etc. posts can automatically find their way into the app, which makes it ideal for weekend and vacation adventures. 

What is particularly cool about the social media import though is that it will actually bring in content that you are tagged in from someone else. If a family member tags you in a photo and posts it on Facebook, it will capture that automatically. Even cooler still, is that it is smart enough to see all of those tags across different social networks and identify those people or places. So you can then go in and find your spouse for example , and find everything, going back years with photos and posts with her. 

Another great feature for just looking back on your journal is the "One this day" feature on their calendar. You click on it and you can see every entry for that day/date going back years. It is sort of cool, but also freaky that Facebook has content back to 2008.

This app has filled two holes for me. I was a big fan of Flavors.me, which was a personal landing page website that aggregated all of your social media into one place. It was a great tool that really should have a replacement online. This doesn't replace that for a public profile, but offers a lot of the same features for private use. 

The other app it replaces is Foodspotting. I loved Foodspotting and it was my goto app for taking my food photos. Unfortunately it hasn't really been updated in years and while Instagram and Foursquare can serve that purpose for public usage, having something for private food tracking that can tag people and places is nice to have. Evernote Food unfortunately never got a replacement app. 

So I would highly recommend people check this out if they are looking for a great app to have a quick and small personal journal.  It is also a very affordable app to ranging from free to about $4 depending upon what you want to do with it.