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: innovation

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.

“Media execs are good at aping, not at innovating”

Om Malik, about the state of the media industry, and how media execs historically never anticipated any of the changes brought by technology, namely the web, social media, mobile, etc.

Who is to blame? When posed to people in the industry, especially those on the business side, such questions often elicit a list of usual suspects dominated by technology companies. They may even include consumers on the list. Basically, anyone might be on there except the media companies themselves. And I, for one, am sick of this blame game.

Brilliant piece.

OnePlus reveals the OnePlus 6

After weeks and weeks of teases, leaks, rumors, the OnePlus 6 was unveiled earlier today. Marques Brownlee is part of the first batch of YouTubers that were able to do a "hands-on" video of the phone. A few notes on the successor of the OnePlus 5T, which is the phone I use every day:

  • Why does it have a glass back if wireless charging isn't available? Maybe it will come with the 6T? Glass is obviously more fragile than metal, ceramic, or plastic. It is heavier, and also more slippery. The only good reason to have a glass back is wireless charging. It may look more shiny, but most people will then use a case or a skin anyway.
  • Mandatory and welcome camera and chip upgrades, but nothing really new besides this glass back, water resistance, and yeah, the notch. I don't mind notches. What I do mind is having a notch while having a "chin" or bottom bezel: It makes them look a bit asymetrical. Notches obviously became a marketing feature, for the phone to be part of the iPhone X-class of phones in the eye of the potential buyer. So far, I think only Apple, Xiaomi, and Essential Phone really nailed the "bezel-less" design. Vivo's prototype sure looks interesting, but a prototype if far from becoming a device shipping to millions of customers in just a few months. Pretty sure every compagny has a prototype like this by now, they just decide not to show it.
  • Speaking of marketing, I am not a big fan of the marketing campaign for this phone: I really can't figure it out. Not a big fan either of the recent venture of OnePlus into the ugly world of cryptocrurrencies. I am sensible to what brands do outsides of the products I end up buying, because I am now limiting the numbers of brands I buy from, choosing them more carefully.
  • The usual six-month cycle update from OnePlus: improvements here and there, consistant build quality and software polish, fantastic value.

1. Update: Apparently the glass helps with network connectivity, allowing the device to reach faster 4G speeds. ↩︎ 

2. Thankfully there is a software feature to "disable" the notch, which makes the phone look much better IMHO. (Symetry!) ↩︎ 

3. The Mix 2 from Xiaomi I think had the best design of all, along with the Essential Phone. I considered it for a while before getting the 5T. The Mix 2S did not really live up to this particular design: the new camera placement ruined, guess what, the symetry. ↩︎