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Apple got the iPhone 5's physical design right

iPhone 5 and 4S side by side. Making it a little longer and thinner makes a big difference.
iPhone 5 and 4S side by side. Making it a little longer and thinner makes a big difference.
(Credit: CNET)
With the iPhone 5, Apple did what it does best: come up with a good industrial design. But that's not always the case.
Until I got my hands on the iPhone 5 -- I picked one up on Friday -- I wasn't sure if Apple had nailed the design (hands-on videos and reviews go just so far).
Well, after 48 hours I'm pretty sure it did. It just looks and feels a lot better than the 4S (which I owned until Friday).
Thinness, in my book, is the foundation for coolness. But thinness isn't just an aesthetic bonus; it can be practical too. In this case, Apple stretched out the 4S just enough to allow for a bigger screen, while making it lighter and easier to hold.
Let's quantify that.

iPhone 4S:

  • Height: 4.5 inches (115.2 mm)
  • Width: 2.31 inches (58.6 mm)
  • Depth: 0.37 inch (9.3 mm)
  • Weight: 4.9 ounces (140 grams)

iPhone 5

  • Height: 4.87 inches (123.8 mm)
  • Width: 2.31 inches (58.6 mm)
  • Depth: 0.30 inch (7.6 mm)
  • Weight: 3.95 ounces (112 grams)

The two-toned back plate is a nice touch too. Not to mention that the metal-clad sides look better when there's about 0.7 inches shaved off.
And the front is more attractive too. The ratio of display area to non-display area (e.g., where the home button is) is greater for the 5 compared to the 4S.
So, my first impression is that the iPhone 5 seems to be a successful physical design.
But let me close with a cautionary note. The physical design of the last Apple product I bought, the third-generation iPad, was a disappointment. I agree with Raymond Soneira of DisplyMate Technologies that the resulting design was plan B for Apple.
Though it has a wonderful Retina display, it's noticeably thicker and heavier than the iPad 2 because of display assembly compromises Apple had to make. A newer product -- particularly in Apple's case -- shouldn't be thicker and heavier than the older model.
Let's hope Apple continues on the thinner, lighter trajectory of the iPhone 5 with future products, including the expected upcoming iPad Mini.
The iPhone 5 I picked up on Friday.
The iPhone 5 I picked up on Friday.
(Credit: Brooke Crothers)

'Late' iPhone 5 Pre-Orders Being Delivered Early

Apple seems to be catching up on iPhone 5 pre-orders faster than they had previous estimated. We've received a number of tips that iPhone 5 pre-orders that were originally estimated to be delivered in early October are being shipped now with a delivery date of September 27th.

Apple had originally "sold out" of their initial batch of iPhone 5 devices within the first hour of sales and went on to sell 2 million devices in the first 24 hours. iPhone 5 delivery estimates remain at 3-4 weeks out at Apple's online store.

The iPhone 5 retail launch seems to have been relatively smooth, bringing praise from analysts.
"We are positively surprised regarding the pace of the rollout, since we had expected a bigger impact from component constraints," Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes said.
Apple may announce iPhone 5 sales numbers on Monday. Last year, Apple announced 4 million iPhone 4S sales on the opening weekend.

Apple Actively Recruiting Ex-Google Maps Employees

TechCrunch reports that Apple is aggressively pursuing former and current Google Maps employees as part of its effort to build out its own Mapping solution.
My source — a contractor who worked on Google Maps as part of a massive undertaking to integrate Street View and newly licensed third-party data to improve European coverage, as well as develop the platform’s turn-by-turn navigation — says that when attention turned to indoor mapping, things started to become less interesting and a lot of staff began looking around for other opportunities.

Apple's own Mapping solution launched as part of iOS 6 just last week. The launch was marred by significant criticism of the quality of the data in many parts of the world. Apple has posted a number of job listings for Maps-related jobs over the past few weeks. Given Google's history and resources placed into their own mapping solution, it's no surprise that many qualified candidates may have worked on Google's product as well.

Early rumors had suggested that Google has already submitted their own Maps application to the iOS app store, but that seems to have been debunked by The Loop's Jim Dalrymple. It still seems that Google may be working on their own iOS app this time, but TechCrunch's prediction of a "before Christmas" target may be a more realistic timeframe.

iOS 6 adoption rate twice as fast as iOS 5 after two days

Despite claims by some that iOS 6 is less than a stellar update, it seems Apple’s latest release of its mobile operating system is being adopted quickly by users of iPhones, iPads and iPod touches.

New figures released to Techcrunch by analytics firm Apsalar, show that iOS 6 is proving more and more popular as time progresses, with the adoption rate after two full days of availability being a healthy 20%. That’s up 5 points from after day one.

Perhaps more telling is the fact that iOS 6 sees an adoption rate of double that seen by iOS 5 after the same period…
The news will be music to the ears of iOS app developers who may see the chance of supporting less versions of the mobile OS, reducing development time and potentially making it possible to add features that would not be available to users still stuck with older versions of the operating system.

Apsalar isn’t using a small sampling of devices to work these figures out, either. The company took a sample of 2.2 million iOS 5 devices, and 6.3 million iOS 6.

Have you updated to iOS 6, despite its arguable lack of any standout features this time around?

How to fix battery life issues with iOS 6 or iPhone 5

Every time Apple releases a new version of iOS or a new iPhone, it seems battery life becomes an issue. On the positive side, that also means we're getting really good at troubleshooting it and helping everyone get back to good battery life. If your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad on iOS 6 suddenly losing charge far too fast, or if your brand new iPhone 5 is draining before your eyes, here are some things you can try.

First: Are you using it more?

The first thing you need to do is make sure you simply aren't using your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad more than you used to. I know it sounds silly, but when you have new features like Flyover or turn-by-turn navigation to play with, or when you have a brand new iPhone you just can't put down, your battery might be draining because you're using it a lot more. With iOS 6 there are more notifications, location features, and other battery consuming features than ever before, and the iPhone 5 has a bigger screen and an LTE radio to really put the drain on.

Before you do anything drastic, put your device down for a minute make sure you're not the battery drain cause, because that's the easier thing to fix.

Second: Is there a problem with the OS or the device?

If, in general, your battery life is consistently short and you're basically just watching the indicator drain down before your eyes, here are some things to try, in order of how easy they are to do.

Restart/reset your device. If you haven't rebooted in a while, give it a try. There could be a rogue process or something else doing what it shouldn't be doing, and a restart can often fix that. (Here's how to reboot](
Power cycle. About once a month, and certainly if you're having problems, you should completely drain your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad's battery -- drain it until it shuts down on its own -- and then charge it back up to full.
Restore your device as new. The single biggest cause of battery life problems with iOS devices occurs when they are restored from backup and not set up as new devices. Whether it's cruft or corruption, a clean install as a new device -- incredible pain in the butt though it may be -- is usually the best fix for any battery life issues. This is the nuclear option. You will have to set up absolutely everything again, and you will lose all your saved data like game levels, but in most cases your battery life will be better than ever. (Here's how]
Go to the Apple Store. Sometimes you do get a lemon, or your iPhone or iPad develops a real problem that only Apple can solve by either swapping it for another device or otherwise figuring out a fix.
Third: Are you plugging it in?

Like our friend Phil Nickinson from Android Central always says, don't be ashamed to plug in your device! If you're using your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad a lot, plug it in to recharge whenever you can. At home, at work, in the car, there are plenty of opportunities to top up your battery.

Sure, it's a bit trickier with the iPhone 5, since it uses the new Lightning connector and that means you need new cables, and/or you old cables need pricy new adapters, but if you work on the road or in an office, the price is easily worth it.

Fourth: Have you turned off what you aren't using?

Anything running on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad uses up the battery. So if you've tried everything else and it turns out you're just using your device more than the battery will allow for the length of time you need to use it, you'll need to make some hard choices. You'll need to stop using some of the features you don't really need in order to keep using the ones you do. The more you turn off, the longer your batter will last -- but of course the less you'll be able to do. It's a balancing act but one that can help you squeeze out a little extra juice when you really need it.

Turn off Siri's Raise to Speak. Go to Settings, General, Siri. Readers keep telling us this has helped them with battery life due to accelerometer issues.
Turn off Location Services. Go to Settings, Privacy, Location Services, and turn off any app you really don't need tracking or using your location.
Turn off Push Notifications. Likewise, go to Settings, Notifications, and turn off any app you don't care to be alerted about.
Turn of Notification Center widgets. Stocks, and particularly weather in Notification Center seem to be causing our readers some battery grief. Since weather can be location-based now, the potential is there for more battery abuse.
Kill power hungry apps. Double-click the Home Button to activate the multitasking dock, hold your finger on an app to enter "jiggly" mode, and kill any apps that might be running in the background, especially VoIP (like Skype), streaming audio (like Pandora), or navigation (like TomTom). (Here's how)
Here are some old standbys as well:

Set Auto-Lock to 1 minute
Turn off any extra sounds, like keyboard clicks
Turn off the iPod EQ
Use headphones instead of the speaker if you have to listen to audio or music
Turn down the screen brightness
Turn off Bluetooth when not using it
Turn off Wi-Fi when not using it
Turn off LTE when not using it
Turn off cellular app and media downloads.
Set all email, calendar, and contacts accounts to "Fetch" (turn off Push)
Bonus tip: If you're really desperate, put your iPhone or iPad in Airplane Mode and save the radios for when you need them. If you're really desperate, you can also turn your device completely off until you need it (it will still use a tiny amount of power but far, far less than anything else).

How to get more help with your iOS 6 or iPhone 5 battery life

Be sure to let us know how what you're seeing with your iPhone 5 and iOS 6 battery life, and if any of these tips, or any other tips, help you improve it, make sure to tell us!

iPhone 5 Forum battery life thread
iOS 6 Forum battery life thread

Local search Field Test: Apple Maps vs. Google Maps

Yesterday we performed a Field Test of the turn-by-turn directions on both the iOS 6 Apple Maps app on the iPad and Google Maps on a Samsung Galaxy Tab. Both fared pretty well with getting us to our destinations, but Google Maps came out on top. As we pointed out yesterday, a number of people have been complaining about the Apple Maps app, from inaccuracies to poor directions.
Today, in part two of our testing, we did a number of searches for landmarks and other destinations to see how each app performed. After only a couple of tests, it was clear Google Maps was easily the superior app with much more information than Apple's replacement Maps app.
To test out the apps, we focused on four different aspects of local search results: info windows, generic search terms, accuracy of landmarks, and level of map detail. What becomes clear very quickly is that Apple has a long way to go to match Google's offering, and in some cases, the difference is downright shocking.
Info Windows
One of the first things we tested was the usefulness of each app's pop-up info window, which gives an assortment of information about a particular business or landmark. Apple's info window is powered by Yelp, while Google's aggregates its data from several different sources, including Google Places and the Google-owned review database Zagat.
Using an iPad running Apple's Maps app, we pulled up the listing for the Anchor and Hope restaurant here in San Francisco, and as expected we got all of the restaurant's vitals, reviews, and user-uploaded photos, all courtesy of Yelp's database. Other convenient Yelp features were available as well, like Check-ins, Quick tips, and the ability to add photos. And of course, from the info window, we could easily jump to more information on Yelp itself, provided we had the Yelp app installed.
(Credit: CNET)
Meanwhile, Google's info window displayed much of that same vital info and a whole lot more. Since Google aggregates data from multiple sources, it had a distinct advantage here. It even linked out to reviews on Google, Yahoo, Urbanspoon, and Allmenus. Plus, we were able to easily jump to Street View and even an indoor panoramic view of the restaurant. Granted, the panoramic view isn't available for all listings, but the reality is that no such feature is available at all on Apple's Maps app.
(Credit: CNET)
Generic search terms
One common use for a maps app is to search for generic items like "pizza" or "coffee." It's easy to imagine craving one of these items but not knowing where to get it, so we tried to play out a typical scenario.
When we searched for "coffee" on the iPad, the red pins dropped, plotting out a number of local coffee shops, just as we had expected. However, we were surprised to notice that a number of shops that we knew of were called out on the map with tiny coffee cup icons, but they weren't included among the red-pinned search results. In fact, the red-pinned search results accounted for only a small fraction of the coffee shops in the area.
(Credit: CNET)
On the other hand, searching for "coffee" on Google Maps yielded at least twice as many results, all of which were clearly marked by red dots. Also, those results with Zagat ratings were marked by larger red pins. Clearly, the user experience here is superior.
(Credit: CNET)
Accuracy of landmarks
Next, we tested the accuracy of each app as we searched for landmarks around the city. Apple was up first, and we tried to give it an easy one -- San Francisco's most visited block, Union Square. While neither of us expected Apple's Maps to slip up on such an easy landmark, the Yelp-powered Apple Maps failed, as it returned the address of a locksmith (that probably described itself as close to Union Square) located more than a couple of blocks away from our target. Needless to say, this was not the address we were looking for.
When we searched for Union Square with Google Maps, the results were remarkably different, as the app dropped a pin right in the center of the famed landmark. If we were tourists, this would've been exactly what we were looking for. Hitting the Navigation key at this point would even lead us to the front entrance of the Union Square parking lot.
(Credit: CNET)
(Credit: CNET)
As another test, we tried throwing the apps a curve ball by searching for a less specific search term: "crooked street sf" Again Apple failed miserably, as it displayed no results, while Google hit it out of the park by showing the exact part of Lombard Street that we were looking for.
(Credit: CNET)
(Credit: CNET)
Level of map detail
Throughout these tests, what became clear was that Apple's Maps app was consistently lacking in the details department. While Apple certainly showed an admirable number of clickable restaurant and shop icons on its maps, we liked that Google plotted out the actual names of businesses. This saved us from having to click around on each icon to see exactly what we were looking at. San Francisco's BART stations were also clearly discernible from bus stations in Google Maps, while Apple simply lumped them them all together under its generic public transit icons. Interestingly, we even found a BART station missing (Civic Center) from Apple's map. Further, when we enabled Apple's Hybrid view, which includes an overlay of satellite images, almost all of these details disappeared. Google Maps, however, maintains its high level of detail, with or without satellite images enabled.
When we looked up the University of California, San Diego, on both apps, the difference in their levels of detail was immediately apparent, at every zoom level. Apple gave almost no campus information, save for a few major street names, while Google plotted out buildings, dorms, parking lots, fields, and just about everything else on the college campus. So, you can imagine which Maps app would be more helpful to a visiting student or parent.
(Credit: CNET)
(Credit: CNET)
Finally, we took a look at the San Francisco International airport on both apps, and the results were startling. Apple showed nothing but the relative terminal locations, while Google stunned us with plotted out ticket counters, restaurants, shops, Internet access stations, exits, and countless other useful details. We were even able to explore all of the airport's five floors, thanks to Google's Indoor Maps feature. Granted, Google doesn't have this level of indoor data for every building, but it does have coverage of many major airports, shopping centers, hotels, museums, and more. And its list continues to grow.
(Credit: CNET)
(Credit: CNET)
As you can see, this was really no contest. For local searches of landmarks, level of detail, and even the interface for info windows, Google Maps wins out in every category. It's no secret that Apple is new to the maps game, but the startling lack of detail and inaccurate location information really shows they weren't ready for prime time. You can bet that over the next couple of weeks Apple will be working furiously to correct the mistakes and add more details, and, as a crowd sourced maps app, the users will be adding their share of information too. In the end, the Apple Maps app will probably improve over the coming months, but it's clear that Apple has a long way to go to compete on the level of the tried and true Google Maps.

Final Builds of 10.8.2 and 10.7.5 Maintain OS X Battery Life

Earlier this month we conducted extensive testing on OS X battery life from Snow Leopard through the developer builds of Mountain Lion 10.8.2. The results of our tests showed that both Lion and Mountain Lion decreased battery life upon their release, with Mountain Lion notably causing a painful 30 percent reduction in running time that persisted through 10.8.1.

The developer builds of 10.8.2 showed a dramatic improvement, restoring all of the lost battery life and even adding a few minutes of running time. We were hopeful that this improvement would persist to the final release but, with all beta software, nothing can be guaranteed.

On Wednesday, Apple released the final builds of 10.8.2 and 10.7.5 to the public. We anxiously fired up our test MacBook Pro and ran tests on both updates. Here are our results (new tests highlighted in red):

Users will be happy to see that both 10.7.5 and 10.8.2 maintain, and even slightly improve battery life. We now feel confident recommending that users concerned with battery life upgrade to Mountain Lion, with all other considerations being equal. We hope that Apple won’t release future builds of Mountain Lion that negatively impact battery life, but we’ll keep our eyes peeled for 10.8.3 and test it and future updates as they are released.

For a full description of our testing methodology and hardware, check out our original report on battery life.