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My Favorite BirchTree Posts of 2017

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 4 min read

Because what is the end of the year for if not looking back on the entirety of the past 12 months and reflect. In that spirit, I wanted to revisit some of my favorite posts from 2017, ranked exclusively by the arbitrary measure of how happy I am to look back on them and think “hey, that was a good one!”

Breath of the Wild Wallpapers

January 14

These were just a ton of fun to make, and they had the added bonus of being passed around the Nintendo-centric web for a number of weeks after I made them. These were my most successful wallpapers of the year.

Apple needs to make us at least think they’re paying attention of the iPad

January 31

So what the hell is going on, Apple? The iPad is wonderful, and your third party developers are breaking their backs to make some amazing software for it. Even as I write this today, The Iconfactory has just released a great new app for iOS called Linea, which looks fantastic. But where is Apple in helping these developers do more? iOS 10 brought no new iPad features, and a lot of us had our hopes up that this spring’s 10.3 release would bring the good stuff. Well the 10.3 beta has hit and theres…zero new iPad features.

What if you put iOS on a Mac?

March 3

There’s a lot of work to do here, but Apple has the ability to move all of their hardware to iOS and relegate macOS to a “legacy” status. If they can do the leg work to make this happen, I think there is a lot of potential for us to think quite differently about iOS in the next couple years. Here’s hoping Apple has it in them.

This post seems extra relevant given this week’s rumors.

RAW images and why smartphone camera comparisons are just plain complicated

April 26

The RAW images that come out of the camera sensor are not ready for prime time, and it’s the job of software to translate that image to something that looks like reality.

High end cameras are largely differentiated today by what decisions their processing units do with raw image data, not just how good the lens itself is.

The Nintendo Switch is probably my favorite video game hardware ever

May 20

I knew I would enjoy my Switch, but I was not expecting to be this overwhelmed. I have not even talked about how amazing Breath of the Wild or Mario Kart 8 is on the Switch, but even without those, I’m a very happy camper. Maybe I’ll come down from this high in a few weeks, but I’ve owned a good number of gaming devices over the years, and this is the strongest first impression I can remember having to any of them.

I have not come down from the high yet, and I’m more convinced than ever that the Switch is my favorite hardware ever. 7 months later I can happily say the game lineup has improved dramatically as well.

2016 iPhone Rumor Roundup

July 9

I recorded 77 total rumors that made it to MacRumors between January 1, 2016 and September 6, 2016. Of those 77 rumors, I found 41.5 of them to be accurate, or 54% of all posts. That’s actually pretty good, considering we generally say “that’s just a rumor” and dismiss these right away.

Should you force quit your iOS apps? Let’s look at the data

July 22

Turning this into a “he said, she said” debate doesn’t solve anything, so I booted up Instruments on my Mac, plugging in my iPhone and ran some honest-to-goodness analytics on my phone to see what’s actually going on. Here’s what I found.

I love demystifying things with data, and this was a big hit this year. I don’t know many people this converted, sadly.

2017 iPhone Rumors Roundup

September 15

Overall there were 90 total rumors posted to MacRumors about the iPhone 8/X and 58 of those rumors turned out to be correct.

Not only were the iPhone 8/X rumors coming earlier this year than last, they were also more accurate than ever.

watchOS 4: The BirchTree Review

September 19

Of course you should update your Apple Watch if you own one, it’s free and makes the Apple Watch a better product than it was yesterday. But set your expectations properly because this release will make your Apple Watch better, but it will not change your life.

This is the biggest single article I write every year, and this year’s version was the biggest and (far I say) best yet.

What’s the best way to charge your iPhone 8 Plus?

October 5

In which I learned that the 12W iPad charging brink was basically giving us fast charging already.

An iPhone Lover’s Review of the Google Pixel 2

October 31

If you are an iPhone user who’s on the fence and is wondering if the Pixel 2 is the phone that can steal you away from Apple’s camp, I don’t have a one-size-fits-all answer. If you’re wondering if the Pixel 2 beats Apple at it’s own game (hardware) then the answer is a resounding NO. The Pixel 2 hardware is not as good as the iPhone in basically any way, and the software tricks Google uses in features like the camera only get it close, not into the lead. But if you’re looking for a change and want to see what Android is like, I don’t think there’s a better phone out there than the Pixel 2 to get the best that Android has to offer.

Android Oreo Review

December 4-13

The Android of today is far better than it was back then, but it still pales in comparison to iOS in my book.

And that’s it folks, another year in the books! There’s still a week until New Year’s, so I may post a few more times between now and then, but that about wraps it up for BirchTree. Happy holidays!