New iPhones, New Behaviors

I’ve spent a little more than a week with the new iPhones. My first impression was, “Apple was not kidding when they said the only thing that has changed is everything”. This is the first iPhone experience I’ve had in quite some time where I felt a leap forward in user experience. The kind where you realize your behavior has changed, in a positive way, and you wonder how you lived without some of these new features. I’ve always considered it a good sign when a new feature is added to a device that makes you like it so much you wish you’d had it for years. The new iPhones bring several of these experiences.

Making Moments out of Pictures

While not the first to market with this feature, Apple introduced a new way for how we think about photos on our iPhones. Note I said not how we take photos, although that is also true, but how we think about photos. Live Photos turns pictures into little moments. When I saw this feature demonstrated on stage, I knew it would show well but the question I had was, would it work well in reality and practice?

My first observation about Live Photos was that I liked them so much, I wish all the photos I’d taken this past year included this feature. While there is a slight learning curve, it’s one worth figuring out because the results are worth it. We used to take pictures by snapping the photo at the desired moment. With Live Photos, since it captures 1.5 seconds before the shot and 1.5 seconds after the shot, it is a good practice to leave the camera on the target for the additional 1.5 seconds after you take the picture. This seems odd but, as I said, the results are worth it. Luckily, Apple included a small icon on the top of the screen that says “LIVE” to let you know the Live Photo is still capturing. Once it disappears, you can then move the phone. As I said, it is a slight change to how we typically take photos.

This feature makes you think about how you take photos. Part of this has to do with thinking whether or not a certain picture is good for a live photo. For example, sports or action photography work really well. One thing I learned quickly was, since Live Photos are only 15 frames per second, any Live Photo that includes fast motion is not smooth and contains some jitter in the movement because of the missing frames. I did not find this to be a huge deal but was part of my learning curve as I considered all my options when taking a photograph. One of the most compelling use cases for Live Photos was for taking selfies, something most people do daily and younger people do dozens of times a day. Selfies are always odd kind of moments, especially when they include more than one person. Some of the best moments are as the group is getting organized or focused on trying to orient their “good side” for the photo. Having the entire moment captured in the still of the photograph is incredibly compelling and addicting once you try it. As I said, it is one of those features you wonder how you lived without for so long.

It will be interesting to see how companies like Facebook, Instagram, and others integrate support for Live Photos into their apps. The mere presence of Live Photos changes how you think about photos.

3D Touch – The Evolution of Touch Computing

There is a theme I’ve been noticing Apple user experiences have been leaning toward — eliminating friction. While Apple is not always successful across the board in their offerings here, it is hard to argue they are not better than most user experience companies most of the time. The Apple Watch in its entirety is exactly this in my opinion. The Apple Watch is a consistently valuable piece of my personal computing solution because it eliminates so much friction from my digital work and personal life. 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus is an Apple innovation with an emphasis on friction removal. It is another feature you don’t know how you lived without it.

There are many great examples, but I will highlight a few. I do a lot of cooking in our household which means I search for a lot of recipes. I use the “peek” feature for links in Safari. I firmly press on the link and get a quick preview of the recipe. This allows me to get quick previews of these recipe links to see if it sounds interesting before pressing firmer and going right to the page. Now of course, it is not that hard to touch the link, visit the page, then decide if I want to stay on it or not and press the back button. However, what I mentioned before about the removal of friction is key here. This is a time-saving convenience and one that is hugely beneficial from a user experience standpoint. One addition I would love to see in the future is the ability to scroll, perhaps by just slightly moving your thumb up or down, allowing you to see more than the opening part of the web page, message, or email you are previewing. This would take the experience even further in my opinion.

Quick Actions into apps are an entirely new app interface model. These quick actions are super valuable and could have some fascinating long-term impact on how developers leverage this for new interaction models with their software. After using 3D touch for quick actions, it becomes second nature so quickly you want all your apps to have it. It’s generally a good sign when you like a feature so much you want it to be pervasive. I truly hope Apple’s developers dig into this feature and run with it and think creatively about all the ways they can use 3D Touch.

Death to the Lock Screen

When Apple said the second generation of Touch ID was fast I initially thought to myself, “It is super fast now. how can it get faster?” Then you try the second generation touch ID and realize it’s so fast you nearly don’t see your lock screen. From dark screen to home screen in milliseconds. There is no need to press and hold your finger on the sensor for a reading. Just press the home screen button and in the amount of time it takes to press, you are logged in and at your home screen. I had a nice picture of my family on the lock screen which I now only barely get a glimpse of. Here again is an example of shaving split seconds of time off an experience to let you do the things you want to do with your phone faster and more efficiently.

As I stated at the beginning, this was the first time a number of new behaviors emerged that are now ingrained in my patterns of device usage. Overall, these latest generation iPhones are laying new ground for Apple to build upon for all future versions. There is simply no going back. Desktop class CPU, 3D Touch, and more are all new foundations for which Apple can further develop their hardware, software, and services.

Lastly, for fun here are some benchmarks using Geekbench of the new A9 Apple processor in the 6s Plus. To put this in perspective, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus compare favorably to the new Macbook in terms of performance.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 10.04.32 PM

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Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

59 thoughts on “New iPhones, New Behaviors”

  1. I keep being amazed at how some people only see tech through the lens of iPhone’s features. I’m foreseeing amazement when tap to wake, wireless charging, widgets, and SD cards make it. Don’t hold your breath for that last one.

    1. Which features besides the HTC live photo equivalent? I’ve never experienced something like 3D touch on a smartphone and I use every new Android flagship when it comes out.

      Touch ID far surpasses anything out there including Samsung’s latest as well FWIW.

      1. HTC is not a live photo equivalent, it’s a precursor (so Live Photo is a Zoe imitator, not Zoe a Live Photo equivalent), and it’s superior (true video, not the jittery stuff you complain about, as well as several pics to choose from).

        For force touch, I’m not sure what a long press does in the iPhone email app ? In my mail client that’s configurable, admittedly “preview” is not an option. Again, Android does report press force, I’m not aware of any app using it though. I think 3D Touch only specificity is the tactile feedback, well, and the fact it’s being used ? It’s a 4th tap type (after tap, double-tap and press)… not sure we’re using the first 3 to start with ?

        You’re forgetting quick wake-up, for which Android phones have double tap anywhere on screen, move, take out of pocket, call out to Google, and others I’m sure… combined with location/proximity unlock for the security-conscious. Some phones (Samsung for sure, probably others) have eye-tracking so they don’t go to sleep as long as you look at them… Not to mention that the latest touch ID on Android devices seems to be more than at par.

        But again, the issue is not so only that 2/3 of Apple’s “new stuff” is new only to Apple users, and the 3rd is iffy; it’s mostly that there are a lot of true innovations or nifty features on other platforms (HTC’s Zoe is proof of that) that are being totally overlooked.

        Apple are in the fantastic place were they got their users and a lot of the the commentariat blind to anything happening anywhere else. They’re managing to sell a $600+ flagship on the strength of its camera (among other things) with not even OIS. I’m in awe.

        1. What can’t be missed is that several of these features alone don’t drive sales. I’m not switching to an HTC device because they have a nifty photo service. It is when the whole package comes together.

          I don’t discredit those who had great features before, this is a positive thing. The fallacy is in thinking those features alone drive sales. If those companies want credit for being first, great, they can have it. However, let’s not forget what matters and what people remember is not who is first but who takes it mainstream.

          1. Exactly. How is more important than when. Besides, they’re all ripping off Harry Potter anyway πŸ™‚

          2. Being first doesn’t always matter there either (licensing), the system can be exploited, and is often misunderstood (rounded corners!). The basic concept holds, who did a thing first doesn’t matter. How you do a thing is what actually matters, the implementation, the entire package. But if your ego feels the need to prove that Apple didn’t do X, Y, or Z first, by all means keep score. It still won’t matter though, normal consumers aren’t even thinking about who did what first, they’re just enjoying their Apple devices (or whatever device they bought). Most likely when they use Live Photo on their iPhone they’ll think “Hey, that’s like the photos in Harry Potter, neat.”

          3. I’ve always maintained that Apple is a great design company. To say “first doesn’t matter” diminishes invention, and that’s wrong.

          4. It doesn’t diminish invention at all, only in your mind because you want to keep score and prove that Apple didn’t invent X, Y or Z. It remains true that How is more important than When.

          5. The problem is, we’ve achieved circularity:

            – anything on iPhone is mainstream, because iPhone is the quintessence of mainstream. All Techpinion contributors (and almost all commenters ?) use iPhones; it’s iOS 9 and iOS9 is on 80% of devices (on older devices iOS9 doesn’t implement that stuff, but let’s overlook that, shan’t we ? It’s called iOS9 !!)

            – anything mainstream must be on iPhone, because who are those weirdoes 80% not using iPhone anyway ?

            So we’ve successfully established that mainstream = iPhone and iPhone = mainstream, from where innovation = iPhone and iPhone = innovation by your definition of innovation == mainstream. Circularity. The rest of the world just doesn’t exist.

          6. The strength of Android is it’s diversity, but that’s also it’s weakness. Even when an individual Android OEM comes up with an innovative feature, that feature is unlikely to propagate beyond that manufacturer or gain any traction.

            Apple is building support for their new Live Photos into 500 million devices, FaceBook and Instagram are adopting it. HTC can’t even get Google to build support for Zoe photo-videos, Samsung, LG, and the other Android OEMs are more likely to add support for Live Photos than Zoe.

            So yeah… Apple defines what is mainstream.

          7. Since I study the device landscape globally you know I know that isn’t true. But not all features in Android are created equal. Zoe for example, made it maybe to only 20m people… We also have a very large percentage of the Android installed base at very low end, barely capable devices. Immersion is the haptics leader that several OEMs use or could use with their software to enable these experiences and I know how many devices in use have the highest capabilities of these features.

            So the issue is, Apple’s installed base is significantly larger than any SINGLE ANDROID OEM.. That’s my point. It is going mainstream by default, where that is not the case in Android-land. Some features are out there but not in quality, others are there but not used, etc.

            You think the iOS community is on a high horse, but so are the passionate Android fans. Ultimately who really cares? People get what they want on the product of their choosing.. Pretty simple.

          8. I’m not saying it’s on a high horse, I’m saying it’s blinkered. Calling innovation stuff that’s been available for years because only 20m people have bought it is surrealistic. As is calling a 4th tap revolutionary. Nice maybe “hey, more ways of clicking” ?
            And I’m fairly sure some non-Apple features are mainstream but never mentionned neither positively nor negatively about missing from iOS, stuff used by several OEMs on several models (tap to wake, SD slots, widgets, NFC/Pay, IR blasters, USB OTG, MHL, Remoting both ways, old school file management + network access, wireless charging…). I’m guessing it’s a case of not missing what you never had, and/or I’ll get the “but it’s not u-ni-ver-sal” now that the “mainstream” argument no longer works.
            To someone who has had most of those features, the enthusiasm towards the few Apple does eventually pick up is unfathomable, and the blindness to what it lacks is irritating.

            You’re happy you get to your home screen quickly now. Imagine if you could tap anywhere and land on a home screen with your unread messages, upcoming appointments, weather, and news ?
            And just plunk your phone down and have it charge up ?

          9. I only used the word innovation once in relation to 3D touch, which as I’ve stated are unique.

            Again, I get your argument, but it’s moot.

          10. 3D Touch is not a 4th tap. It’s bringing three-dimensional UI interaction to a two-dimensional plane. You can read this piece on how it came about. It took many years and tens of millions in R&D.


            You can even read about the patents that gave rise to it;


            There is nothing remotely close to 3D Touch on any other mobile platform.

          11. >> non-Apple features …. (tap to wake, SD slots, widgets, NFC/Pay, IR blasters, USB OTG, MHL

            SD slots – Macbook Pro 2009
            Widgets – OS X 10.4 2005
            IR – Apple TV 2007
            USB OTG – iMac 90′-00′

          12. “- anything on iPhone is mainstream, because iPhone is the quintessence of mainstream.”

            Well, there’s the paradox of the imaginary ‘Android’ device. Imagine comparing Aaron Rogers, a great Packer quarterback to all the other NFL quarterbacks. AR has a great arm, but ‘NFL’ has a better arm. AR can shred his pass really fast when he needs to, but ‘NFL’ is faster. AR is quick and avoids the rush, but ‘NFL’ is quicker.

            When you say ‘Android’, you are frequently citing features from a few models out of 10,000 Android devices. 90% of Android is NOT comparable to Apple. (Are Ford and Chrysler comparable to Lexus?)

            Examples: Android had Live Picture before Apple. (How many Live Picture thingies were taken on that HTC? Apple will have more Live Pictures in its iCloud by 3PM on launch day.)

            Android has 64bit! Yeah, maybe 15% of Android has 64bit. The rest? 32bit, maybe a few at 16 bit. (I kid.)

            Name 5 Android models and put them up against the 6S and then think about this: Apple’s 6s will sell at least 8 times more units then those 5 models altogether. I wonder why.

          13. You’re dead on with this. As a platform (not a company) Android offers more diversity, thus more choice, and less lock in on the hardware front.

          14. It also creates a lack of consistency in experience. The features you like on one device and established behaviours for do not exist on the new one if you switch vendors.

            At least with Windows there was a fair amount of consistency. It is an interesting dynamic with the Android landscape. Over the past few months I have been collecting many interviews with mature Android users across the globe and hearing how they talk about it is fascinating. Particularly when they think about their next device.

          15. I’ll take that over being tied to a single supplier. One company can’t do it all. That way I pick what matters most to me.

          16. A couple of posts up you will see that I was focusing on hardware.
            True, you’re tied to Google (sort of) on the OS, not on App Stores. There are alternate stores on Android.

      2. BTW, my iBrother tells me a long press in the iPhone’s mail client doesn’t do anything, so that force touch thing is just really a long press ?

        1. Tough to explain. You’ll have to try it with somebodies device or at a store. Long press does different things and pressing with pressure does other things. For example, long press and app icon and it wiggles and gives you the X to delete. Press hard and it gives you quick action options.

          Long press an email message just highlights the message. Pressing with pressure let’s you peek at it and pressing harder pops into the message.

          I just recently learned if you press and hold on the keyboard on the iPhone you get the cursor feature on iOS 9 on iPad. Big difference is one finger and pressing with pressure then swiping lets you highlight text.

          1. Easy to explain: it’s a 4th type of touch (after tap, double tap, and long press), for when the other 3 are used up.
            What the touches map to is details, it’s nice to have one more not only available (Android does it too) but actually used (Android doesn’t AFAIK).

      3. Taptic feedback has been around a while. How hard is it to modify for “3D Touch”? Also, Samsung has had air view and air gestures (3D in the other z-direction) for quite a while. Just sayin…

        1. “How hard is it to modify [taptic feedback] for “3D Touch?”

          It’ll be easy and quick. Samsung or HTC will be copying it within 6 months.

          1. To correct it all after reviewing Zoe, I’ll say, “Apple was probably inspired by HTC’s Zoe to create Live Picture and Samsung and HTC will probably be inspired by 3D Touch to create their own version of’3D Touch’.


          2. The Harry Potter books introduced the concept of live pictures where bits of the image moved in 1997, I think. I’m pretty sure it was in the first book.

          3. When inventing, especially when patenting, reduction to practice is what matters. Many people envisioned flying machines before the Wright brothers…

          4. As I’ve been saying, How is more important than When. But if you want to continue to focus on When, then Harry Potter wins, not HTC.

          5. You really bought into this “magical” stuff didn’t you. Harry Potter presented an idea, they did not reduce it to practice on a camera or any device.

          6. Magical has nothing to do with it. I’m sure there are prior concepts re: Harry Potter as well. And GLMPS did this on the iPhone in 2011. But, if you want to obsess about who was first you have to count the original idea. I’ve said who was first doesn’t matter, I don’t care who did what first. Proving company A did something before company B doesn’t have a significant impact, it doesn’t make Company B’s product or feature magically disappear. What matters is the How, the iteration, different implementations, everyone building on good ideas, moving forward. How is what I use. When is for your ego.

          7. Whether you, SG, care is immaterial. You could not care about many things, me too.
            So, using your logic, MS deserves 90% all the credit for personal computing…
            There are too many factors, having nothing to do with technology, that create an impact. When discussing technology-invention, first matters. Everything else is business.

          8. Your phrase “deserves credit” sums it up. That’s all about your ego. Give Microsoft 90 percent of the credit for personal computing if you like, it doesn’t matter.

          9. “Transference” sums you up. I did not claim to have invented anything here, so as to assuage my ego.

          10. Of course you didn’t claim to invent anything, who said that? But the need to assign credit, that is driven by ego.

          11. Ego means self, I am not defending myself. This is about principles of inventorship, which are established and time tested. This has nothing to do with me, so as to have anything to do with my ego.

          12. Having read this thread, I must say you are defending yourself and your ego. You could have ended this nonsense a long time ago by stating your point and not banter. So, in a way, your ego took control driven by your id.

          13. I believe you didn’t mean to use assuage, possibly another word, idiom, would be better.
            Stroke? Sums it up much better and fits the argument appropriately.

          14. Well since you read this thread, and if those are your criteria for “ego”, anyone who makes a point then, is driven by ego.

          15. Of course, what else is there. It’s human. And nothing is wrong with that. You’re still letting comments bother you and it’s something I have noticed about your past comments.
            I believe you can state your arguments, make it clear and be done with it.
            And, who cares if you’re defending your ego, we all should. It means you at least believe in something, but defend it and be done with it.

        2. 3D touch isn’t about ‘haptic feedback’.. it’s a new UI interface that lets you push into an object, like an icon, without opening the application. It literally breaks down the UI barrier of ‘opening’ an application to get to something specific.

          If you think 3D touch is just a vibrating phone, you’re either trolling or clueless..

          1. Part of the sensation of “3D Touch” is the feedback back to the finger, that’s what I experienced on Apple’s 3D Trackpad. Yes, you need a force sensor (piezoelectric crystal?) to translate the depth of the touch. But remember, nothing is really moving in the z-direction…

  2. I have animated photos on a oppo phone i bought, it wasnt marketed the way apple market things. Actually i just looked and it does the same thing on playback. Only apple could market this as some revoultionary new idea, if a $250 smartphone can do this before the iphone 6s came out. I have double tap to wake double tap to turn of screen, this thing also has a set time the phone can actually shut down at night and restart in the morning its running android L and is a slick smooth operator. So for $700 more for an iphone 6s on top of what i paid for my phone i would get much less in operation.

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