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: iphone

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.

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. ↩︎

Global smartphone shipments down 6.0%

The newest IDC report is out:

[S]martphone vendors shipped a total of 355.2 million units during the third quarter of 2018 (3Q18), resulting in a year-over-year decline of 6.0%. This was the fourth consecutive quarter of year-over-year declines for the global smartphone market, which raises questions about the market's future. IDC maintains its view that the market will return to growth in 2019, but at this stage it is too early to tell what that growth will look like.

Always interesting report, but it only tells one half of the story: there is no real indication in this report of the value of those shipments, or the average selling price. For a company, in the end, only money matters. If there is not much loyalty from all those shipments, volume will not mean much in a few months (think Nokia in 2008).

In a shrinking global market by volume – and 6% is not a small decrease – it is interesting to see some companies having huge growth, while Samsung is shrinking. Hard to tell what is happening from only those numbers, but it looks like Samsung is losing marketshare mostly in the low-end to middle-range market, while its shares in the high end do not grow much. I would not be surprised if Samsung would now only focus on the high end of the market, where they might be fine with smaller marketshare in volume, while maintaining a good reputation untainted by cheaper phones, and higher margins.

Intriguing to see Apple still gaining marketshare while raising the average selling price of iPhone ($793 versus $618 last year). Seems like Apple – strong in the high end market (selling 43% of all phones priced above $400) – anticipated this trend and betted on higher price to compensate for a lack of growth.

Fascinating too that China alone represents a third of the global shipments.

What dedicated cameras are missing to compete with phones in the future

John Gruber, in his review of the iPhone XS camera:

iPhones can’t compete with big dedicated cameras in lens or sensor quality. It’s not even close. The laws of physics prevent it. But those traditional camera companies can’t compete with Apple in custom silicon or software, and their cameras can’t compete with iPhones in terms of always-in-your-pocket convenience and always-on internet connectivity for sharing. In the long run, the smart money is to bet on silicon and software.

I would add a fifth and a sixth big advantage of smartphones over dedicated cameras on top of the software, the silicon, the convenience and the connectivity for sharing, and it's the security of a passlock, and the connectivity for cloud backup.

What happens to your photos if your camera gets stolen or if you lose it? Anybody can access the pictures, and you have no backup. What if you lose your SD card while traveling for the weekend? Everytime I upload my Fuji XE-2 pictures into Lightroom, when I come back home to my computer, I feel relieved that these captured moments are now safe in the cloud. With my phone camera, I never truly have to think about it. There is obviously an app to connect my phone to the camera, but it's very slow and not permanent.

I wonder if we will see more 4G-enabled cameras in the future à la iPad (maybe there are a few already), it really seems like a no brainer, just for a found my camera feature.