New iPhones, streaming TV, and the Apple Watch
Bob's Tech Talk
November 1, 2019
Q. What are your favorite new features on this year’s new iPhone?
A. Every September Apple releases new iPhone hardware and a major system software update. Both deliver plenty of new features.
This year the big hardware update is longer battery life. It is the best single-year battery life improvement ever for the iPhone.
If a hardware upgrade is in the cards for you this year, the iPhone 11 128GB model delivers the most value.
The system software update this year is iOS 13. Its marquee feature is dark mode.
However, my favorites are some less-obvious refinements:
The most useful feature on my list is a new setting to forward any incoming phone call directly to voicemail unless the caller’s ID is recognized by the phone.
Next is the photo search, which can find things inside each photo, like a person or an object. While not perfect, it has made it easier to find images with specific characteristics. It can even find text in an image.
The Maps app and the Reminders app both received welcome refreshes, but the biggest leap forward for an app is probably the video editor. Now it’s possible to crop, rotate and enhance video directly on the phone itself.
All these refinements add up to an excellent overall lineup for 2020.
Q. I am confused by the number of choices when it comes to streaming TV. Is one of the services a better value than the others?
A. We are still in the very early stages of streaming television. This fall several new players will enter the picture, making the race for your wallet even more confusing.
Netflix continues to have broad appeal, and it is still the best choice for most people who want a single streaming service.
Amazon Video is bundled with the Amazon Prime shipping subscription. Amazon’s key differences are exclusive original shows like “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Bosch,” along with fee-based add-ons such as BritBox and Showtime.
Hulu, which is now owned by Disney, faces an uncertain future, especially with the November 12 debut of Disney+. I suspect Disney+ will be a blockbuster arrival. Its massive library includes everything from Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar, to the classic Disney films.
The other big service debuting this fall is Apple TV+. This star-studded service will be free for a year with the purchase of an iPhone or iPad, $4.99 a month otherwise. Given that Apple sells almost a million devices a day, AppleTV+ will have a large audience from the start.
The value of each of these services depends on how many hours of entertainment you actually watch. Since every service can be billed monthly, my advice is to sample the services that have the programs you want and keep the ones you rely on most.
Q. I bought an Apple Watch years ago and was less than impressed. I returned it after a week. Are the latest models better?
A. What a difference a few years can make. The Apple Watch is now on its fifth major version, the Series 5. And yes, the latest models are substantially more powerful. Moreover, they feature several noteworthy capabilities that my readers should know about.
The first is a lower price. The Series 3 is available for about $200, less than half its original price. The Series 3 is an excellent fitness tracker. One step up the price ladder adds a cell radio, which can become a lifeline in the event you need to call for help. The watch can even be worn in the shower.
The second is fall detection, which requires a Series 4 or Series 5 model. Fall detection will call for help automatically when it detects the wearer has taken a tumble.
The Apple Watch is no longer a luxury toy. Some models can perform a simple EKG. A GPS tracks your location and uses it appropriately.
The Apple Watch has grown into a feature-rich wearable computer for health conscious consumers. The peace of mind it fosters can benefit both the wearer and his or her loved ones.
Wander the Web
Here are my picks for worthwhile browsing this month:
Horology – the study of time – is a broad subject with many facets. Celebrate your inner horologist at this site dedicated to wristwatches. http://www.hodinkee.com
Free Digital Library
HathiTrust hosts millions of titles from libraries around the world. The site has an academic flavor, but the catalog includes a vast number of public domain books. http://www.hathitrust.org
Spice up this year’s harvest season with a few ancient recipes from around the world. The Old Foodie blog published thousands of entries from 2005 to 2017. http://www.theoldfoodie.com