Death Stranding: The Director’s Cut was due to be released on the Mac on the 2nd December, but has been moved back to the 31st January 2024.
Even Kojima-san (who came and visited us at SMG a few months ago along with film director Nicolas Winding Refn) can push back release dates at the last moment. Actually, that’s not quite true. I’m guessing it’s all to do with 505 Games, Inc., as they’re the ones that ported the original PlayStation game to Windows PCs and have consequently ported the game to the Mac. No reason has been given for the delay, but at least they’re willing to delay in order to fix any last minute bugs, etc.
I’m very much looking forward to seeing how well this game fares on a Mac on both a professional and personal level. Death Stranding is an absolutely superb game, and is currently my all-time favourite. So I’m happy to wait a bit longer for it to appear on my platform of choice. In the meantime, here’s hoping the dystopian cat game, Stray, gets an on-time Mac release – due the first week of December.
Resident Evil Village has just been released on the iPhone 15 Pro (only) and iPads with M1 and M2 SoCs (system on chip). It features PS4 assets which is, I believe, the first time that a mobile game has deployed such a thing. But given the size of the iPhone 15 Pro (and Pro Max), I ask myself this question: why? Why go to the trouble?
I downloaded a copy from the App Store to have a play about with, and the first thing I noticed was how bad the user interface was. Firstly, you’ve got to use a virtual touch controller or some other physical game controller (such as a PS5 or Xbox controller) rather than touching on menu options. I’ve never gotten used to virtual touch controllers – I find them too small and fiddly and when you’ve got multiple action buttons, the game becomes unplayable. The only way to play titles like those is to use a proper game controller from the Xbox or PlayStation console. That kind of defeats the purpose if you’ve already got the consoles!
You could use the USB-C function to hook the phone up to a monitor, but then because you’re just mirroring the screen, you don’t use all of the screen’s resolution. Plus, it runs at a much lower resolution to that of the iPhone’s native display. Not very Pro, Apple.
So, I think we can pretty much forget the iPhone Pro becoming a Nintendo Switch-like competitor because it tries to be everything, and that’s not always a good thing. Narrative games that require little or accurate input from the user, and the usual mobile culprits like Candy Crush and other simple UI games are about as much as the iPhone (or any other phone for that matter) will ever achieve.
This leads me to the new M3 family of chips destined for a newly refreshed MacBook Pro and iMac range. As I bought my M2 Max laptop earlier this year (and work providing me with a M2 MacBook Air), there is no chance in hell I’m going to be rushing out to buy an M3 Mac even if the MacBook Pros now come in a “Space Black” colour. If you want a fully tricked out MacBook Pro, it’ll cost you a staggering £7,200 (128Gb RAM and 8Tb of storage, 16-core GPU and 40-core GPU). Performance is a bit of a mixed bag, judging from the various commentary from those that have spent time studying the specs. Memory bandwidth performance is down a little, but overall memory is up (e.g. 32Gb becomes 36Gb) and you can now buy a MacBook Pro with a staggering 128Gb of RAM. Performance between an M2 and M3 equivalent is said to be similar between the M1 and M2 series. So, there is no love lost there.
The M3 series is really there for those people who have remained on Intel Macs all this time. Trust me, if you’re still on an Intel Mac, moving to an M1, M2 or especially M3 is going to amaze you with just how much faster things are.
The M3 does finally include hardware ray tracing for graphics, which is nice. But all this means very little unless Apple can convince developers (looks away, whistling) that developing games for the Mac (and iOS/iPadOS) platform is worth their while. Games that have been released aren’t going to play as well on a MacBook Air or lower end MacBook Pro than they would on an M2/M3 Pro or M2/M3 Max which has many more GPU cores. It’ll be interesting to see what the performance is like with Death Stranding when it’s released on the Mac platform in just over two months’ time.
Particularly if you use your phone as a video camera.
I’ve replaced every camera I’ve owned over the years with an iPhone because they’re getting good enough now for most situations.
When I got my first film camera, it was a 110 film-based point and click system. They were long and quite thin and used 110-type film cartridges which were far easier to insert and remove than traditional 35mm film cameras. It Just Worked(tm). I never really moved up to 35mm cameras as I found them too fiddly. And when I got my first DSLR camera many years ago, I found it a pain carrying everything and having to change lenses. When I did upgrade from the 110 systems, I moved to APS film which was just as easy to use.
The very first digital camera I owned (around 1998/1999) was a Sony Cybershot DSC-S70 and it was chunky thing. It only took 3 megapixel photos, but the results were surprisingly good. A few examples from around 2000 to 2001:
When I was married, we bought a second-hand Canon Powershot G5 which was a truly great all-rounder. It was practically impossible to take bad photos with it. Some sample shots from Cambodia:
This was eventually replaced with a Sony DSC-S930, which despite being a budget camera, took some really rather wonderful shots when we were in Kenya…
The last two proper cameras were the Sony RX100m3 and the RX100m5. I like the Sony brand, and have tried to stick with it for as much as I can – I have a PS5, a Sony Bravia TV, earphones, headphones, etc. Sony and Apple – you can’t go too far wrong 🙂
RX100m3 (Vancouver, Canada and Oregon, USA):
With the iPhones, the sensors keep getting larger every year, and improvements with Smart HDR and other computational photography features mean that taking photos (and video) with the iPhone – something that I always cary with me – is a no-brainer. But I’ll admit that I still miss the Sonys and the Powershot G5.
This year, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max feature updated Smart HDR and better low-light photography. The Po Max now has 5x optical zoom. And with the release of iOS 17, the 48-megapixel main camera combines images from the other lenses to form a new 24-megapixel default. But images from the telephoto and ultrawide – both remain 12Mp sensors for now – will still come out as 12Mp.
iPhone 15 Pro Max:
With the replacement of the Lightning port with USB-C, it is now possible to record video in Apple ProRes 4K 60fps to an external device. Watching sample footage from the phone, even with the limitations of the lenses and sensor, the iPhone Pro range is now a legitimately a genuinely powerful video recording tool. USB-C and the USB 3.1 protocol makes it 20 times faster to transfer any local files on the iPhone to a desktop computer. So we NOW have a phone that’s worth of the Pro moniker. But it be more “Pro-er” if it offered Thunderbolt 4 or USB-4 speeds. Maybe next year or the year after?
But speaking of speeds – the Qualcomm Snapdragon X70 modem in the iPhone 15 range provides a significant 5G and Wi-Fi boost. On my home WI-Fi 6 network, I am now able to go beyond 1Gbs on my iPhone 15 Pro Max whereas the iPhone 14 Pro Max would only go up as a high of 935Mbs. During my tests at a Premier Inn, I got significantly higher 4G/5G performance from subsequent visits, and they’re not got the best reception either.
Next year I hope that Apple manages to upgrade the telephoto and ultrawide sensors to 48Mp too – providing 24Mp images across all three lenses. Some more work on reducing lens flare too would be nice – I’ve seen fewer flares with the 15 Pro Max, but it hasn’t gone entirely based on what I’ve seen of others photos/footage.
It’s ironic that a camera manufacturer (Red) who tried to join the mobile revolution by producing a smartphone that tied into the Red camera system failed in their attempt, but Apple (which doesn’t make any professional camera equipment) is able to outdo them in every way.
Smartphones continue to amaze me in what they can do. Even incremental, evolutionary updates can bring small amounts of joy and improve the overall experience. But the real progress here, I think, is with iOS which in it’s 17th release, has made massive improvements to not just the iPhone 15 range, but previous generation iPhones too.
As I lost one of my AirPods Pro gen 2 AirPods, I decided to go for the new USB-C AirPods Pro gen 2 from Sky Mobile who were doing them for a good deal (I will eventually get around to sorting out the missing AirPod, that way I’ll have a spare). When the DPD driver turned up, he took this photo as proof of delivery, and it makes me look like some form of drug addict waiting to get his fix.
The USB-C AirPods Pro gen 2 should have really been given a gen 3 label, as they are different (other than the USB-C port) – the H2 chip within the AirPods can now use the 5Ghz wireless bandwidth to incorporate lossless audio which, apparently, is intended for Apple’s new Vision Pro headset. Not that I intend buying one given that it costs more than my 16″ MacBook Pro. But I do wonder if Apple will enable it on the iPhone and iPad.
As for the iPhone 15 Pro Max – well, again, Sky has had a very good deal on them for the handset only (I also note that EE, Sky and Vodafone now all let you pay the handset off separately for up to 36 months after which you’re just paying for the airtime – so everybody is now following in the wake of O2 which has been doing this for ages now). I’m on an older EE contract which will still charge me full rate even when I’ve finished paying off the handset, so I’ll be changing to SIM only once that’s up next year.
Now, I’ve said that I’m slowing down/stopping my tech spending as of now – and I am – but I do feel that the iPhone is a very personal and important device that for my line of work (especially the iPhone 15 Pro’s ray tracing capabilities for games) and as a hobby. I feel the need to switch out handsets each year so that I can be familiar with the new features and whether it’ll impact stuff at work (for example, some of the newer privacy features in the iPhone affected Wi-Fi connectivity back in my old job – took me a while to figure out what was happening). After all, a smartphone these days is my personal assistant, camera, wallet, ID, phone, portable entertainment centre (music and video), gaming device, bus pass, train pass (though there’s going to be a whole blog post about that soon), loyalty cards, messaging service, taxi ordering service, maps, delivery tracking, and so much more.
The only problem is that on the day of pre-ordering, pretty much every single service provider (and even Apple’s own site) had significant problems keeping up on demand. I had problems with Sky but managed to get a pre-order in, and received an email to confirm that I’d get the unit on Friday 22nd but, ALAS, “due to a technical error” (yeah, more like logistical error) that was wrong. Hopefully should find out next week when I should be receiving the device, but indicators point until the end of October. Analysts have stated that there has been a significantly higher demand for the iPhone 15 Pro (and especially with Max edition with the 5x telephoto lens) than anticipated.
The only real problem is that I was due to send the iPhone 14 Pro Max to be sold and the very generous offer for it is about to expire on Tuesday. Nevertheless, even if miss the deadline, even with a reduced offer it’ll still hold a much better value than an Android device. We go through this rigmarole almost every year, though this year has been particularly bad with delivery delays.
You should see the Sky forums about the Pro Max delivery days – many people claiming Sky mislead them. Alas, I wish people would see reason because this practically happens every year during pre-ordering. Apple has an initial finite stock that has been split between the various telecoms companies and themselves. There is much higher pressure this year because of the change to USB-C for data and charging, and the new camera system in the Pro Max. Many people have been waiting to upgrade from the iPhone 12 or 13 to the 15 – and if there was going to be one year that they’d do it, it’s this year.
At the end of the day, people will get their phones – it just requires a bit more patience – although a legitimate criticism has been that Sky hasn’t communicated the delays very well. A lot of us have either been on holiday or working from home when the phone was originally due to be delivered and it means that now we’ll have to organise another day to be home to take delivery – but as to when? Whenever Apple has more stock, and whether your order takes priority within the next stock release.
Technology, eh? Got to love it. It’s expensive AND it drives us insane.
P.S. – The Apple Watch Ultra 2 isn’t worth upgrading to – I’m perfectly happy with my Ultra 1. Don’t need the extra 1,000 nits of brightness or the speedier processor. Nice to haves, but not essential. The Ultra 1 has been a great trooper so far and it really is one of Apple’s finest products to date (along with the AirPods Pro) and it’s even better now with the release of WatchOS 10 (I love the new Modular Ultra watch face in particular).
I have a love/hate relationship with Apple’s products. They’re incredibly well designed when you put them to work, but occasionally their design is such that they break or get lost much more easily than products from other manufacturers.
I was about to make a phone call using my iPhone 14 Pro Max and AirPods Pro 2nd Generation – a much more comfortable way of making phone calls in my opinion – and I opened the AirPods case to discover that the right earbud was missing! I tried Apple’s Find My device finder app to see if I can make it bleep or bloop, or to use the feature which lets you track the AirPod earbud if it’s nearby. Alas, nothing doing.
I don’t know how long it’s been missing – but I’ve carried the AirPods Pro case to work a few times without using it. It may be at work, but it may be at either one of three offices (well, realistically speaking – two offices).
But I think an even more realistic outcome is going to have to buy a replacement AirPod Pro earbud for the princely sum of £80 directly from Apple. There’s no two ways about it.
On the other hand, it’s less expensive than having to fork out for an entire AirPod Pro 2nd generation set. The first ever set of AirPods I bought ended up in the washing machine which killed them completely.
The AirPods Max that I paid more than I should have ever paid for headphones are now completely dead. Not by washing machine, not by losing them, but Apple’s useless design. And their warranty has run out. I shall not be buying their AirPods Max range again. When it worked, it was wonderful – but when these things break., it’s a slog having to go to an Apple Store to get them replaced. And I should mentioned I have already had the AirPods Max replaced once (to the extent I had express delivery which puts a 10-day charge on your card for the FULL price of the unit). Never again.