Nicolas Magand on the internet

Comments about tech, media, nature, &c.

My name is Nicolas Magand and I live in Paris, France. I work as a social media and engagement editor at the Global Editors Network, a non-profit aimed at promoting innovation and sustainability in the news industry. Here I blog mostly about tech and media, but many other topics can face my enthusiasm.

Filtering by Tag: apple

Night mode is à la mode

On Tuesday, it was Apple's turn to unveil a "night mode" for its iPhone, a few months after nearly all its competitors. During last year, Google's latest Pixel sort of introduced the world to the power of computational photography ; its own version of night mode, the well-named Night Sight, looked like a superpower. A few months later, Huawei showed the industry that it wants to be considered as the leader of mobile photography. The P30 Pro demoes were a good argument for the company's ambitions, and they did so especially with, you guessed it, an impressive night mode.

The tech scene was understandably very impressed and I was too. What would have looked like an obscure dark shape now looked like a brightly lit scene. Shots of cities at night looked so bright that it almost looked the pictures were Photoshopped.

Knowing this feature is just a mode, meaning you can decide not to use it for a regular night picture, I never really liked the results of it. Technically the pictures are impressive. Sure. But something felt a bit off about them.

This morning, I had a "yes, exactly how I feel" moment when I read John Gruber's take on the Apple keynote, and more precisely the part where he compares Apple's take on night mode (where it is not really a "mode") with Google's, where you have to select "Night Sight" for the night mode to kick in:

My guess has been that Google made Night Sight its own mode because Night Sight images, though often amazing, are also often quite unnatural. It’s so effective that it often makes nighttime scenes look like they were shot in daylight — like an old Hitchcock movie where they shot day-for-night.

Speaking of movies, the iPhone 11 Pro video samples played at the event featured a lot of night scenes and the results were absolutely stunning.

When you think of a pencil, you probably picture it yellow: This is why

Another gem of a link that I discovred through Daniel Benneworth-Gray's newsletter Meanwhile. Gabrielle Hick, on Artsy, tells the origin story behind the colour yellow and pencils:

A number of pencil manufacturers, including Hardtmuth, now sourced their graphite from Siberia—the vast Russian province which shares borderland with China. That geographic proximity was key for Hardtmuth as it devised its marketing scheme.

In China, yellow had long been tied to royalty. The legendary ruler considered the progenitor of Chinese civilization was known as the Yellow Emperor; thus, centuries later in Imperial China only the royal family was allowed to wear yellow. Eventually, the shade came to represent happiness, glory, and wisdom.

Great story. I would love to see a list of products and the stories behind a particular colour or a specific shape; I can only think of blue jeans, white earbuds, and possibly the Laguiole knife. If you think of something, hit me up on Twitter.

What will come first? USB-C iPhone or no-port iPhone? Either way, Lightning seems here to stay

John Gruber, explaining one of the reasons why he thinks Apple will not switch to USB-C anytime soon on iPhone:

[…] the nerd world may clamor for one universal connector that charges everything from iPhones to iPads to MacBooks, but the normal world just wants their existing cables to keep working when they buy a new iPhone. Lightning is obviously better than the old 30-pin adapter — the old 30-pin connectors look ridiculous in hindsight. But people upgrading from older iPhones were outraged when Apple introduced Lightning with the iPhone 5 in 2012. They saw it as a money grab — a new port introduced so everyone would have to buy new cables. The fact that you wouldn’t have to buy USB-C cables from Apple wouldn’t change that perception if future iPhones switch to USB-C — nerds might rejoice but regular folks will object.

It is a very cable/connectors nerdy article 1 , but it actually says a lot about Apple and their need of control. I wish Apple would just switch everything to USB-C, but Gruber's reasons for why they are keeping the Lightning port are very compelling. One of them being that there are way more people in the world owning just an iPhone than people owning an iPhone and USB-C devices.

Besides, if you really want to go all USB-C with an iPhone, you can just buy a USB-C Qi wireless charger and work your way around Lightning. It obviously gets trickier when you add AirPods, an Apple trackpad, or even an Apple Watch to picture. 2 .

What I think Apple should do though: introduce a new cable design. The old shitty white-turns-grey-turns-crap cables look and feel great out of the box, but they wear off too fast and too easily, and they are not really practical or efficient when it comes to putting in a bag or in a pocket. Apple is very proud of its achievements in environmental policies: I am pretty sure those cables can be improved. They may be too busy on AirPower though.


  1. Yes, this is a good thing. ↩︎

  2. If you are in that situation, I am pretty sure you don't really care about ports anymore, and you just carry a bunch of cables everywhere you go anyway. ↩︎

MacBook or Mac Pro? Which will be the first Mac to fully run on Apple processors?

Dan Moren, writing for Macworld, and asking when Apple will start the switch from Intel processors in its Macs, and more specifically, whether the MacBook or the next Mac Pro would be the first to fully run on Apple processors:

So where in this mix does the Mac Pro fit? Well, it could represent a whole new way of Apple doing things, and isn’t that what you want out of one of your flagship machines? Especially one aimed at a segment of the market that tends to be envelope-pushers.

I admit, it may be a less likely scenario than the MacBook, especially from a standpoint of performance. While the recent benchmarks of the new iPad Pro’s A12X chip have put it in the neighborhood of Apple’s high-end Macs for certain tasks, there’s a question of whether it can deliver the kind of performance people expect from a machine that is all about performance. Then again, maybe Apple has a surprise up its sleeve there, too.

If Apple processors are not hold back by power-efficiency and the heat/size constraints of a mobile phone or a tablet, I wonder what level of performance they may be able to reach.

Last April I tweeted that the rumoured new Mac Pro's delay may be explained by Apple really wanting to unveil it equiped with its own in-house processors, at least as an option. I still hope I was right, but I have to agree with Moren: the MacBook looks way more plausible as the first Mac running on a A12 or A-something chip.

In hindsight, it is truly remarkable what Apple has achieved with its in-house chips in just a few years. The benchmarks of the new iPad Pro must have caused a lot of tremors inside Intel's headquarters. Kudos to Anil Dash who called it years ago.