#277 2016 Apple iPhone 7 Event - September

I just finished watching the Apple iPhone 7 event.  I'll attempt to describe what was in the Keynote speech and how the new software and products will be good for archaeology. Let's get to it!


Apps are being developed for archaeology all the time. Well, not all the time, but, most of the time. I always get asked whether we're going to develop for Android or not. Of course we are, but, we develop for Apple first because there are more downloads in the AppStore compared to competitors and the Apple platforms are simply more durable and powerful. So, Android is on the list, but, we develop for the best, most stable, platforms first.

Games - Mario Brothers

Super Mario Run - a great time waster for you 30-40 something archaeologists. Promotes playing the game one-handed for the first time - play while holding a trowel! Available by Christmas.



Apple's program to get hardware in the hands of students - good opportunity to get archaeology software in front of students as well. And, on a platform that is durable and powerful.


Real-Time collaboration with iWork apps.

Apps on Mac, iPad, and iPhone, including Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, and real-time collaboration can now make Apple more competitive with Google. And, these apps work better than Google and Microsoft apps on Apple devices. The demo showed three people working on a slide deck all at the same time. I like this because I'm a Keynote user. I've never liked PowerPoint or the Google Slides so this could be really powerful. Also, the more we can move away from Microsoft, the better.

Apple Watch

Apple Watch is the number 2 selling watch in the world behind Rolex and the number 1 smart watch in the world. I've had one since they came out a year ago and I love it. This is a powerful device for archaeology if you use it right. Most of the time while I'm working I leave my phone in my pack while receiving notifications. It's great. Now, with the new GPS chip in Series 2 (see below) it just became even more powerful.

Here are some of the features of the new Apple Watch and Watch OS3.

Watch OS3

  • Apps Launch Instantly
  • New Dock for Apps
  • New Faces
  • Writing on the screen for notes
  • Activity sharing
  • Watch reminds you to do a deep breathing exercise every day
  • Contact emergency services within seconds
  • Available September 13th.

Pokemon Go - basically a fitness app now. You can start a walk - track calories, miles, hatch eggs, and find out where Pokemon are.

Apple Watch Series 2

  • Water proof - used for swimming - water resistant to 50 m
  • Dual core processor 50% faster
  • 2x graphics on the new GPU
  • Brightest display every - great for bright sunlight - like when you're surveying.
  • Built-in GPS.
  • New case - ceramic (in addition to aluminum and stainless steel)
  • Available - $369 for Series 2 - Pre-order on September 9th, available the following week.
  • The original watch, Series 1, starts at $269 and has the new dual core chip.

I see the waterproofing, brighter display, built-in GPS, and faster processor as being a real boon to future archaeology applications. Imagine seeing your next shovel tests on the watch and tracking your progress and location without a cell signal. Imagine doing light recording of certain aspects and having that information transmit to your mobile device stored in your pack. It's a brave new world, my friends, and it's time to reinvent archaeology.

iPhone 7 and 7+

The iPhone 7 is out and comes with the new iOS 10. Here are the features:

IOS 10:

  • Lift to wake
  • Siri for apps that aren't Apple.
  • Machine learning intelligence in the keyboard
  • Do more within the Maps app
  • Available: September 13th

iPhone 7:

  • Jet Black finish
  • Taptic Engine similar to Apple Watch - allows for better notifications 
  • New enclosure is water and dust resistant. That's huge for archaeology!
    • IP67 Protection Standard
  • Camera
    • Optical Image Stabilization
    • F1.8 Aperture Lens
    • 6 Element Lens - Sharp edge to edge
    • 12 MP sensor
    • True-Tone flash - 4 LEDs with 50% more light than previous models
      • Flicker sensor compensates for artificial lighting
    • Image Signal Processor
      • Face and Body Detection
      • Sets Exposure
      • Sets Focus
      • White Balances the Color
      • Tone Mapping
      • Noise Reduction
      • Can fuse multiple photos for a perfect image
      • Performs 100 billion operations in 25 milli-seconds every time you take a picture.
    • APIs for Capturing Live Photos
    • Raw camera API
  • iPhone 7+ Camera
    • Wide-Angle and Telephoto Lens on the back of the 7+
    • Wide-Angle and Telephoto allows you to zoom efficiently
    • Hardware Zoom to 2x - Software zoom to 10x.
  • Bonus Feature: Shallow Depth of Field
    • Uses Software to recognize faces and then blurs the background.
    • Available to all iPhone 7+ models as a software update later this year.
  • Retina HD Display
    • 25% Brighter
    • Color Management
    • 3D Touch
  • Speakers
    • Stereo Speakers for widescreen listening.
    • Twice the volume of previous models
  • Lightening Jack
    • Power and Control
    • Audio
    • Lightening Headphones
    • Can get an adapter for regular headphones - comes with the device for free
  • Apple Airpods
    • Wireless earphones
    • Two wireless earphones. No wires between the two.
    • Has the new W1 chip.
    • Tap tough for Siri
    • Knows when they are in your ear.
    • 5 hours of listening.
    • Case has 24 hours of battery life to recharge the Airpods.
    • Auto routing of audio to one headphone if you have just one in.
    • Available: Late October
    • Cost: $159
  • Performance
    • A10 Chip with 3.3 billion transistors
    • 40% faster than 6S and 6S+
    • 50% faster graphics than the A9
    • Graphics takes 2/3s of the power of the A9 Chip giving better battery performance.
  • Battery Life
    • Longest battery life of any iPhone
    • 2 hours more than the 6S, on average
    • 1 hour more than the 6S+, on average
  • Available for pre-order: September 9th
  • Ships: September 16th
  • Cost
    • IPhone 7:
      • Starts at $649 (32GB, 128GB, and 256GB)
    • IPhone 7+
      • Starts at $769 (32GB, 128GB, 256GB)
    • IPhone Upgrade Program
      • Unlocked
      • AppleCare
      • New phone every year
      • Starts at $32 a month

So, there are a lot of things here that will make archaeology easier, more efficient, and just overall better. Recording a special ArchaeoTech Podcast today. Look for it later this week. We'll be talking all about this announcement and what it means for the future.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you in the field!!

#261 What Apple’s Sept Event Means for Archaeology

On September 9, 2015, Apple held their annual Fall product announcement event. They have so many product lines now that they didn’t spend the first 30 minutes talking about how awesome they are and how much money they’re making. Tim Cook, Apple CEO, just went right into new stuff. 

I’m not going to cover everything in this post - just the stuff I think is beneficial to archaeologists and archaeology. Honestly, though, if you found this post through non-archaeological means and you’re a field scientist, this stuff will still benefit you.

Apple Watch

Since it’s arrival in April, the Apple Watch (not the iWatch for some reason) has taken the wearables space by storm. It’s not as big as some of the competition and it’s not even as powerful as some, but, what it does do, it does with classic Apple style and grace.

The first iteration of the software, WatchOS 1, is quite functional. I use my Apple Watch for many of the small tasks that I used to pull my iPhone 6+ out for. Let’s be honest, the 6+ is a massive phone and pulling it out of your pocket or bag every time someone sends a Candy Crush invite can get a little annoying. Instead, I see the notification come over my Apple Watch and I either dismiss it or quickly respond to it. Quite handy. A word of warning to manners-conscious people: when you look at a silent notification that announced itself by simply lighting up the screen, others around you think that you’re looking at the time and are getting impatient. I tell people that it was a notification, not the time. We have to recondition the general public regarding watches and what they mean. They’re not just time-pieces any more.

OS2 isn’t a major upgrade since the hardware isn’t being upgraded, but, it does bring a few notable improvements.

Time Travel. On the face of the watch, you can now rotate the digital crown to advance all of the displays on the watch forward in time. This will show you upcoming calendar appointments, sunset/sunrise, and whatever else you have on the custom face that is temporally based.

Facebook Messenger. For many, Facebook Messenger has replaced text messaging. Especially for people that constantly talk to people outside of their own country and can’t text them at a reasonable cost. With WatchOS 1 messages display on the watch face but you can only dismiss them. You have to go to the phone to reply. Now, it’ll be built in and you can reply on the watch with a canned response or you can dictate to Siri for voice translation or a simple voice recording.

iTranslate. I’ve used Microsoft Translator before and iTranslate seems to do much the same thing with some really nice features. On the watch, you’ll be able to speak a phrase into the watch and see the translation on the face AND hear the translation as well. It’ll be great for all you world travelers out there, or, those that work in Boston or the deep South!

GoPro Control. This new OS will allow you to use the watch as a secondary display for certain GoPro cameras. You can set the device at a location and watch it from your watch. You can also start and stop recording. GoPro control isn’t too useful for archaeology, however, I’m thinking of other things you can do. For example, can you see the display on, and control, a pole-mounted DSLR camera for taking overviews of sites and features? That would be nice.

So, while some of these might not be directly beneficial, the technology behind them is. Other developers will come on board and do interesting things with the new features available to them and we’ll all benefit in the long run.


The iPad line got a chipset upgrade, as usual, and the prices mostly remained the same. The biggest announcement was the arrival of the iPad Pro. First, let’s get the specs out of the way:

  • 12.9 inch screen (measured diagonally)
      • 5.6 million pixels (more than a 15” MacBook Pro with Retina Display)
      • Variable refresh rate display: when things aren’t moving on the screen it slows the graphics processor down to save power)
    • A9x Processor
      • 1.8x faster than the current iPad.
      • Desktop class performance
      • Faster than 80% of the portable PCs on the market
      • Edit three screens of 4k video in iMovie with ease
    • 8MP iSight camera on the back
    • Dimensions
      • 6.9 mm thick (just a hair more than the current iPad Air 2)
      • 1.57 lbs (only 0.03 lbs more than the iPad Air 2)
    • New smart keyboard case ($169)
    • New stylus available ($99) called the Apple Pencil
      • Charges by plugging into the lightening connector on the iPad
    • Starts at $799

While I feel this iPad, and the iPad Air, are too big to carry around for survey in the hot desert sun (I prefer my iPad Mini to my iPad Air 2), this iPad is ideal for excavations and testing. With the Apple Pencil, you can draw amazing detail on profiles and overviews. Really, anything you can do on paper with a pencil, you can now do with the iPad Pro. The new processor will give it more power and developers will soon be coming out with traditionally desktop-only apps for use. This might just be a true PC-killer. I’ll update on functionality when mine gets here!


3D touch graphic.

3D touch graphic.

The iPhone 6S and 6S+ were announced and are available for pre-order on Saturday. They’ll be shipped on Sept 18, I believe.

The new iPhones both have the new A9 chip which makes them 70% faster on the CPUand 90% faster on graphics than the current models. The new M9 motion co-processor gives more accurate health and fitness data that is always on and Siri is also always listening now. Previous models required the phone to be plugged in to use “Hey Siri”. Now, though, she’s always listening.

The touch ID has been redesigned and is now much faster to respond. I have touch ID turned on for all my devices. Passcodes are easy to forget.

12MP camera!

12MP camera!

The biggest news for me is the back camera. It’s now 12MP and shoots 4K video! Yay! I can use it for the NV BLM (10MP camera requirement)!

The new phones also have Force Touch, or, 3D touch, similar to the Apple Watch. It lets you gain a lot more functionality when tapping on your phone. You can "peek" in an app by pressing down a little bit harder than normal. If you hold long enough the app will "pop" into place. Pretty slick and I can see many applications for archaeology. For example, having a dynamic site map where you can force touch artifacts and features to get more info.

Pricing is the same as it’s been for years with the 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB pricing at 199-299-399 for the 6S and 299-399-499 for the 6S+.

So, do you NEED to upgrade? Well, that depends on use. If you’re devices are doing what they need to do, then no. If you have an older device then you might want to just because apps will stop working at some point on older devices.

If you do replace your old iPad or iPhone, do the responsible thing and sell it to Gazelle. They’ll either refurbish it and resell it or they’ll responsibly destroy and recycle it. And, you’ll get a few dollars in your pocket. They even pay for shipping.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field!!

#8 Take a Picture, Get an Answer

I just saw this app reviewed on AppAdvice and thought it could be of some use to CRM Archaeologists.  The app is called Pupil, from Doozy, Inc., and is available for the iOS and Android platforms.

Main screen. Press the "pupil" to open the camera.The company slogan for Pupil is, "take a picture, get an answer".  Imagine if we had that in CRM?  I'm thinking that this would work especially well for historic artifacts.  I'm not going to presume that I know everything about historics, as no one should, which is why working as a community would work well.  Of course, the information gained from using this app could never be cited but it's a great start if you are completely stumped.  So, how does it work?

This is the bottle base that I uploaded.You start by creating a quick account.  You then choose categories that you know something about so you can be asked to identify things for other people.  It's a community app, after all.  There really isn't a good category to put most artifacts in but I'll discuss a possible work-around in a minute.

Once you've created an account (all free, by the way) you are ready to Pupil it!  On the app's main page is the Pupil icon.  Clicking on this will open your camera.  Take a picture, resize if needed, and ask your question.  You'll be asked to put the question in a category.  I tried this on a bottle that I have in the house and put it in the category, "Other".  I was then prompted to tag the entry with my own tag, since I choose "other", so I entered, "Historic Bottles".  I just did all of this today so I haven't received any responses yet.  I doubt there are many archaeologists that have seen this app yet.

This is what my entry looks like with the tag I created. No responses yet!Let me know what you think of this app and its potential.  I'm always interested in trying out new things and I want to know if anyone else is, or will, try this.  We probably have to build our own community of users.  If we do, we might be able to get the devs at Pupil to create a few more categories for us.


#4 Geotagged Photos or "Hey! Dig here!"

In the modern age of social media and smart cell phones a new concern has developed. Who hasn't taken a picture of a landscape, feature, or artifact that they wanted to show their family and friends? Those of us that do archaeology on a daily basis get excited by what we find and want to share it with others. The common sharing method for photos is on popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Many people also share photos on a number of photo sharing sites such as Flickr and Photobucket. While I agree that we should share our excitement and love of our jobs with others, in the technological age that we live in, we have to be careful.

All modern smartphones, which are usually defined as phones that can run applications, have GPS chips inside. The default setting for the camera on these phones is to geolocate and tag the photos. Stored in the meta-data is latitude/longitude and elevation information. It's not difficult to find this information on a photo saved from the internet. The best way to prevent the location information from getting out is to turn off the location services on your phone.

On Apple's iPhone (all models) location reporting can be easily turned off.  

Go to "Settings", then "Location Services".









At this point, you can turn the phone's GPS receiver off entirely by sliding the "On" switch after "Location Services" to the "Off" position.  








If you choose to just turn off the GPS for the camera application then simply scroll down to it.  Keep in mind that if you use a different application than the factory installed one to take pictures, you will have to turn off location services for that app as well.








Once you have switched the slider to the off position you are safe to take photos of artifacts and sites and post them on your website of choice.  You can post with a clear conscience knowing that you have done your part for archaeological digital security.








The technology review website, CNET, has a great video on how to disable geotagging on the three major platforms, iPhone, Android, and Blackberry:

I hope that everyone includes digital security in their next "tailgate" safety meeting.  We don't realize sometimes that collectors and looters search the internet looking for artifacts to sell.  It wouldn't surprise me if they also trolled Facebook and Twitter looking for photos of artifacts and sites.  Keep this in mind when you post a photo and when you see a friend's photo.  PASS THE WORD so we can keep our friends from shouting to the world, "Hey! Dig here!"

#2 Digital Tool Box

When I worked on the Ruby Pipeline in Northern Nevada a couple of years ago I was astonished at the amount of paper that we carried in the field. We had a three ring binder for IMACS forms (standardized site recording forms used in several western states) and associated supporting forms, and a binder for reference material. We were recording a fair number of historic sites and had glass and can identification material. Fortunately, many of our sites were near access roads which limited the need for packing that material into the site. It did happen, albeit occasionally. I needed a change.

During my various careers I have strived to find ways to make my job more efficient. My approach to archaeology is no different. The solution to my paperwork problem came with the purchase of my first smartphone: an iPhone 3GS. I instantly embraced the technology. All of the reference material that we had was already in PDF form, with a few exceptions, and the IMACS Guide, which also has good reference material, can be found online. I began using Apple's MobileMe service which gave me online storage and cloud syncing. I still kept the reference binders in the truck but that is where they stayed, in the truck. Using the iPhone made everything much more efficient for me. The iPhone's small size was the only limitation. Enter the iPad.

Only a couple weeks after it's debut I purchased my first iPad. Immediately, I saw the applicability of this device to field archaeology and site recording. I moved my PDFs to the iAnnotate App for the iPad which is a great reader and annotator for papers. I also use Pages, Numbers, and DocsToGo for spreadsheet creation and editing and document creation and editing. I'm not done yet...

I'm currently teaching myself how to program and develop apps for the iOS platform. My initial idea is for an IMACS site recording app. The IMACS form has a minimum of two parts, more if the site is multi-component. The app could be used not only for just filling out the fields but could have the reference material linked to appropriate fields and could have the ability to add the references to the end of the document as well. All this would be done in real time, as opposed to later in my hotel room or by someone in the office later on. With multiple tablet devices on the site the different parts of the form could be electronically delegated to other crew members via Bluetooth or onsite wifi technology. Upon completion of all requisite parts of the form it could be uploaded to a server and/or printed out in any format desired.

Now, a common complaint I hear to my ideas is what happens when the battery fails, or when I drop the iPad down a mine shaft, or when I drop it on a rock. As for the battery, the iPad can easily run for an entire work shift and then some, as long as you aren't watching video all day. In 2011, battery life is becoming less and less of a concern as battery technology improves. Also, there are energy storage devices that can charge devices in the field (Zagg Sparq). The other two issues that involve destruction of the device are also solved by evolving technology.  My iPad and my iPhone are both in cases made by Otter Box (iPad case, iPhone case) As of right now, there are large parts of the west that do not have access to cell service. For those areas, the data within the iPad would have to be uploaded at end of each day. This is similar to what most companies currently do with GPSs and digital cameras. In areas with service, the data can be backed up in real time to a dropbox, cloud server, or company server. How great would it be to tell your PI that the form is on their computer right now and that they can provide input and feedback instantaneously?

The last piece of equipment in my tool box is my BlueAnt T1 Bluetooth Headset.  This thing is great!  It has two microphones, one for talking and one for extraneous noise cancelation (i.e. wind).  It will also do bluetooth streaming from a smartphone which means I can listen to podcasts and audiobooks during those long surveys in the desert.  The benefit to using bluetooth is, first, that I still have one ear out and can interact with others.  Second, I can shovel test, excavate, survey, climb up boulders and steep hills, and whatever else is needed with out pesky wires getting in the way.  Also, most older project managers don't yet understand bluetooth and don't put it in the "headphones" category.

A short side note on headphones.  Generally, unless safety and heavy equipment is a concern, I don't think headphones are all that bad of an idea.  Just don't have both ears in and don't listen to blasting music.  If you can't interact then it's unsafe.  Podcasts and audiobooks are much less intrusive and let you learn at the same time.

I've only just begun to incorporate this type of technology into the field of archaeology. I hope that others can provide their experiences and concerns regarding this shift. I'm not arrogant enough to think that I've thought of everything and welcome suggestions.