This is how Apple built the iPhone X -


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Friday, 10 November 2017

This is how Apple built the iPhone X

Apple has launched three phones this fall and, like a parent who insists he loves all his children equally, he says the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X are unique and special in their own way. But it's obvious that the company is not telling the whole truth, because the iPhone X is special in its own right .

" It's something completely new, " said Apple's SVP of global marketing, Phil Schiller. " I think the customers were ready to have one more thing in line with the iPhone that was new and very different ."

On how the iPhone X was forged, Schiller, Craig Federighi, Dan Riccio and Alan Dye sat down to talk about this , in conversations collected by the media

" It's one of those projects at Apple where you prepare to do something that, at first, you think, there's no way we can carry it out ."

Like virtually all other Apple products, the iPhone X was born from a collaborative and interdepartmental process. It was based on equipment and disciplines that the company has been testing for years . Some, such as 3D depth mapping and OLED technology have never been used in an Apple product. Apple executives also revealed for the first time how difficult it was for them to remove the start button , and why they do not believe that the notch, where the TrueDepth image processing module of the iPhone X resides , is big business.

" We all knew where we were going, " he said, " but there were a dozen things we knew we had to solve, and none of them could have failed ."

Depending on who you ask, work on the iPhone X began almost three years ago or a long time ago, in 2007.

It was around 2014, the year in which Apple's silicon team decided to include a neuronal engine within what would eventually become the Bionic A11 CPU . " At the time, we did not know exactly what we would use it for, but since silicon has been in the oven for a long time, we knew we had to include it at that time ," Riccio said.

That silicon allowed things on the device like augmented reality and powerful Face ID functions. However, the basis for a full-screen iPhone was placed a decade ago . " It's been a dream we've had since the original iPhone ," said Schiller. " We had a dream from the first day to be all screen, from end to end ."

Perhaps it is no secret that Apple wanted to eliminate the buttons and even the "head" and "chin", mostly dead space on the iPhone, but Apple executives offered a fascinating insight into why this is happening now and how Apple identified the moment when all the necessary technologies that were leaked for years were ready to make an iPhone with full screen possible.
And Apple was going to deliver it next year.

" As for last-minute design changes, we really did not have time for that ." As Riccio described it, Apple had "the line of sight" for an iPhone X launch in 2018 , " but with a lot of work, talent, and determination we were able to deliver them this year ."

That choice, which in retrospect seems a bit odd considering how the very existence of an iPhone better may have affected the fortunes of the iPhone 8, apparently exerted additional pressure on the teams.

In a rare moment, although brief, of impressive transparency, Riccio revealed that the compressed timeline left little room for considering functional alternatives. Such changes are part of the knowledge of the Apple iPhone. Steve Jobs demanded that the team change the scratchy plastic screen of the original iPhone a few weeks before its launch.

When Apple made the decision to remove the Touch ID fingerprint scan and start button in favor of the Face ID, Riccio said everyone was involved with that functional decision.

" We did not spend a lot of time looking (putting) fingerprints on the back, through the glass or on the side, " he said. Apple did it because they believed in the quality of Face ID security and screen unlock, with executives who described it as well as a second-generation Touch ID, but also because there simply was not time .

" Frankly, this program was on such a fast track to be offered and enabled this year. We had to block the design very, very early. In fact, we blocked the design in November, "said Riccio before he was interrupted by the Apple PR. Riccio seemed to realize that he had said maybe too much, and then reaffirmed with a smile: " We had to close it early ."

It is not at all surprising that Apple has not had major alterations at the last minute. After all, they were making some of the most aggressive design and functionality changes in the history of the iPhone.
Go home

Few things bother fans of Apple products as a removal. Apple has been ridiculed in recent years for removing the headphone connectors on iPhone and virtually all third-party ports on MacBooks and MacBook Pro. Did Apple have any concerns about what might be its most aggressive removal of all?

Apple's continued pride in the start button was clear, as Schiller described how hard they worked and how, with each generation of the iPhone, it has changed, becoming more powerful and, when they added Touch ID, they were fundamental to the operation of the iPhone and security.

It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of the start button, as it is still the first way in which everyone interacts with your iPhone. (Pick up your phone, where does your thumb go?)

Schiller rang, for a moment, as if he were making a case to keep the start button.

" So here we are at the pinnacle of the best single-button interface on a device; Really, I do not think it's an exaggeration, and with an incredible strategic advantage compared to anyone else, nobody has a touch sensor that works as well as Touch ID and just when we're at the pinnacle, we replace it, "said Schiller. Then he laughed and added: " That's the way it is, like other things we've done ".

Replacing a feature that people like, and that Apple believes is one of its greatest technological innovations, is risky and only intensifies the pressure on each replacement technology in the iPhone X.

" We did not replace it because it did not work well ," Schiller said. " We replaced it because we wanted to do something else and, therefore, the bar was very high and it had to be great ."

" So here we are at the pinnacle of the best single-button interface on a device ... and just when we're at the pinnacle, we replace it ."

Each of these replacement technologies presented its own challenges : " I think the toughest challenge we had was to replace the Touch ID. Very, very hard, "said Riccio.

Apple argues that Face ID, its new biometric security, is a better and more natural authentication strategy . Nobody, Riccio reminded us, examines someone's fingerprint when he tries to identify them on the street.

"You use your eyes and you recognize them that way, " he says. Riccio makes an obvious point. Less obvious was how Apple would implement facial recognition on the iPhone.

Fortunately for Apple, it already had the core technology at home, even if it never foreseen its use for this purpose.

In 2013, Apple acquired PrimeSense, the company best known for building the first 3D motion tracking technology in Microsoft's original Kinect . " We did not know what place it would have ," Riccio said. But Apple decided to invest and develop it anyway, thinking that " someday we could have a place, " Riccio recalled.

Even when Apple approached the idea of ​​integrating 3D depth sensing technology into the iPhone, they never considered using it for authentication. Instead, Apple focused on enabling light experiences like the new animojis , who use a 3D depth map of their face to synchronize their expressions with an iMessage cartoon character on the screen.

At the same time, Riccio's team decided to see what would happen if they married the depth detection capabilities with an IR camera for facial recognition. The results were better than expected .

" We were not so far from the specifications we had on Touch ID, both in what we call false acceptance rate, which is another person trying to use your phone, and the fake rejection rate, which is more annoying, where are you, but he says it's not you, "said Riccio.

With True Depth hardware in place, the team focused on the Bionic A11 neural engine and other software and algorithms to reduce the false acceptance rate from one in 50000 to one in a million.
The notch

Apple's solution for a start screen without buttons, however, had a great consequence. The TrueDepth module resides on the front of the iPhone X, digging a notch about a quarter of an inch deep into Apple's perfect OLED display. When choosing a similar location for the IRIS scanning authentication technology in the Galaxy S8, Samsung, in particular, chose to simply give it the full top edge of the device and not cut it on its screen.

Schiller, however, made an energetic and unusual defense of the iPhone X notch.

" For me, it's something that, as you use it, makes you feel comfortable quickly. You see it as something on the screen. You do not see it as something unusual or different, beyond the fact that the bite of the Apple logo looks bad when it is torn from the apple. It's a bite of the apple and that's how it is. It's just the screen, "said Schiller.

He is also proud of the large amount of technology that was squeezed into the space of the notch . There are eight components in space, including the infrared camera, the flood illuminator, the ambient light sensor, a speaker, a microphone, a front camera and a spot projector. " It's one of the densest technology sections we've created, " he said.
Look at me

And that notch will be busier than the iPhone start button . Apple is also using the TrueDepth camera and its facial tracking capabilities to track attention.

Federighi said that Apple is taking advantage of the detection of attention and the management of the frequency with which the iPhone X looks back at you.

" It's one of the densest technology sections we've created ." In addition to identifying your face among millions of others for secure unlocking, the iPhone X performs a less personalized attention detection scan. " Just one, is anyone looking at the phone now? "Said Federighi.

While it may seem creepy, it is actually a movement of battery efficiency . Current iPhones keep their screen on for a while after you leave them in the possibility that you still look at them. If you are reading on the iPhone, you may have to touch it from time to time to prevent it from dimming or turning off.

" Now we can use your eyes as that virtual touch ," Federighi said. " If you're reading something, the phone can check periodically, that the look still points to the screen, so the phone does not dim, but if nobody is looking at the phone, the phone can be more aggressive to dim and save energy ."

Federighi said that the iPhone X seeks this kind of attention approximately every 30 seconds .
Wake up

Obviously, the iPhone X is not so alert that it never goes to sleep. Place it on the desktop and, depending on your settings, it will automatically lock and the screen will turn off . What leads to another core and radical change.

Awakening the iPhone X is another reminder of what is missing. Without a start button, how does the phone open?

" It's the biggest adjustment in the experience, but I think it happens pretty quickly, " said Federighi, who spent so much time with the iPhone X that, when he picks up his wife's phone, he starts to slide it up and then he can do it. It gives you to understand why nothing is happening.

Although Apple was committed to removing hardware from the start button, it considered other ways to represent the same idea .

Teaching iPhone users new habits meant that, whatever they did, it had to be obvious and clear .

" There is no doubt, we explore whether it is the form of visual flexibility or if it is totally new or, perhaps ... the digital versions of the start button. Of course, we were very, very broad, as we do, more or less, with everything, "said Dye, who said the teams worked closely with Apple's chief designer, Jony Ive, as well as with all the hardware and equipment. software

The result is a rather indescribable bar that appears at the bottom of the screen and, if you do not use it immediately, it reminds you to "slide up to open". Dye said that the appearance belies all the work that is in it and the incredible attention paid to the placement, the size and the quilting around it.

Federighi added that smaller versions of what he called a "capture bar" appeared earlier on the iPhone, most notably in the control center of iOS 7. Coincidentally, the gesture bar of the iPhone X forced movement if the Center Control slides up from the base toward a less intuitive slide from the right side of the notch.

Unlike the start button, this bar gesture serves one purpose: to slide up to open the iPhone X. However, even after people learn the new gesture, you can not turn off the bar , confirmed Federighi.

IPhone X users will only get used to that new gesture if it works accurately and instantaneously each time .

" We work to get every millisecond of latency of this gesture. If at the moment your finger touches the bottom of the screen, if the UI does not respond, we would not be happy with it, "said Federighi, who recalled the early development and toured with" impromptu prototypes, crazy TrueDepth bolts, even the new interface running on iPads . "

The first Apple iPhone OLED screen and its improved update rates helped some with this effort. Even so, even adding OLED comes with its own set of challenges .
More than a pretty face

Apple had been working on OLED for years, but knew they could not use OLED technology for iPhone X. " To enable the edge-to-edge design we wanted, it could not be a typical OLED, it had to be a flexible OLED to be able to go from top to bottom and from side to side, "said Riccio.

They also had to overcome some of the challenges of existing OLED technology, including color accuracy , off-axis viewing and recording.

" We are very particular about the colors of the whole system ". Apple confirmed that the iPhone X uses a Samsung OLED screen, but it is not a standard component. They worked with Samsung to create custom technology and then, Federighi told us, they did a lot of low-level software work to overcome the inherent drawbacks of OLED.

Even the perfect OLED technology will handle the representation of color differently than the LCD.

" Making sure the colors were consistent with our expectations was a challenge, " said Dye, whose team spent time adjusting the screens and working on how the OLED would display system colors. " We are very particular about the colors of the whole system ".
Applications to taste

For all the changes promised by the iPhone X, there are many things that fortunately have not changed or at least will work despite the changes. Third-party applications that use Touch ID to authenticate will automatically work with Face ID , Federighi said.

There is not even a customized version of iOS 11 for the iPhone X. Instead, Apple designed the underlying mechanics of how the user interface works and the engine behind it to support both the iPhone X and the traditional iPhone experience.

When Federighi was asked how the application developers were dealing with the new edge-to-edge screen, he noticed that most are ready .

" In general, most developers have now taken advantage of size classes and automatic designs and other technologies to adapt to a wide variety of screen sizes ... There is very little dependency where developers have essentially encoded their screen relationships, " he said. .

Still, this recognizable yet different iPhone X design could confuse or frustrate some. Schiller recognized the challenge as he turned toward another Apple victory. " Yes, there is a moment when you need to learn. It is a completely new experience. In fact, I love that. For me, technology is exciting when you do not get stuck in your paths for a decade, but you learn something new . "

You've been asking Apple to innovate for years. Now, you must ask yourself, are you ready to accept what innovation really means?

Via | mashable 

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