Your smartphone is powered by a chip. The new iPhones, including the upcoming iPhone X, use one called an A11 Bionic, and other handsets, like the Pixel 2, pack a Snapdragon 835. But chips in modern phones are not homogeneous pieces of silicon—they have specialised components, or hardware blocks, on them. Because of these multiple elements, processors like these are referred to as a “system on a chip.” One of those blocks is the image signal processor, which takes the data from your camera and makes it into a photograph. Another part of the chip is the graphics processing unit, or GPU, and it's responsible for an increasing number of your phone's fanciest features.
Back in the film photography days, different films produced distinct “looks”—say, light and airy or rich and contrasty. An experienced photographer could look at a shot and guess what kind of film it was on by looking at things like color, contrast, and grain. We don't think about this much in the digital age; instead, we tend to think of raw digital files as neutral attempts to recreate what our eyeballs see. But, the reality is that smartphone cameras have intense amounts of processing work happening in the background. Engineers are responsible for guiding that tech to uphold an aesthetic. The new Google Pixel 2 phone uses unique algorithms and a dedicated image processor to give it its signature style.
I started using the iPhone as my personal device in the 4S era of 2011. I liked the hardware and the fact that it let me avoid all the tricky Android version and compatibility issues. Since then, I have waited for an Android phone that could sway me to the other side, away from the iOS life I chose for myself many years ago.
This week marks the official arrival of iOS 11, and Apple's latest operating system boasts quite a few party tricks that you're going to want to try out. Here are some of the best new features, from playing with the magic of augmented reality to adding a dock to your iPad interface.
10 years ago on 10 January 2007, Steve Jobs dazzled the world with the very first iPhone. Despite the fact that the presentation could have gone very wrong, it went off without a hitch. How did the world react to that historic day? Let's take a look back in time, when tweets looked like old-school Facebook statuses and Apple keynotes went online as Quicktime presentations: