Apple, Mobility

Two weeks with the Apple Watch

28 May , 2015  

 Apple WatchA little less than two weeks ago I received my Apple Watch shipment, just the Sport version, with no added frills. Keep in mind that I ordered my watch the moment the Apple Store started taking orders. And it still took that long. The local Apple retail store told me I have the only black sport watch with black band they are aware of, so it’s still uncommon to even have an Apple Watch. I very rarely see someone wearing an Apple Watch. That all adds up to tell you how short the Apple Watch supply really is.
What’s my verdict on the Apple Watch? So far I like it, very much. But the real question is will I still be wearing it 3, 6 or 12 months from now? Here’s what I think of the Apple Watch so far.
Apple Watch Pros
  • Watch Face w/calendar. There are many watch faces to chose from (Mickey Mouse, chronograph, analog, digital, etc.) I immediately found value in using the watch face that displays a combination of info: time, date, temp, activity, and especially current calendar event.  Checking my calendar with just a flick of the wrist (the glance interface) is extremely handy. Net +Timesaver, +Productivity
  • Calendar. Right from the watch face (mentioned above) I can tap the current calendar item to bring up the full calendar display. The list of calendar items, beginning with today’s and out about a week, are vey handy to scroll through and check out. You can drill down into an individual calendar item but I don’t often do this. Net +Timesaver, +Productivity
  • Incoming calls. I love being able see who’s calling, again by just looking at my wrist. I don’t often answer and take the call on my watch (Dick Tracy style) but one of the features I like to use is “Answer on iPhone”. This immediately answers the call (so I don’t lose the caller), puts the call on hold just long enough to get to my phone when it’s not immediately handy. Net +Convenience
  • Texts (iMessage). While I have my struggles with iMessage on the iPhone, getting texts and sending default responses is extremely useful and saves time by not having to always grab my phone. The default responses (the one’s I’ve set) are really useful to quickly respond. I have used Siri on the Apple Watch to craft a text, but not too often. More involved or longer texting conversations happen on the iPhone. Net +Timesaver, +Convenience
  • Notifications. Calendar reminders, voice mails, Lync (IM) messages are all useful to know about via notifications on the Apple Watch. From there, I can chose whether I take any next steps or let the notification pass by. One less reason I need to pull the iPhone out of my pocket, and I like that. Net +Timesaver, +Convenience
Apple Watch Cons
  • Notifications. Some I like, but some I don’t. Every app wants to let you know about whatever it thinks is important. I really don’t need to know someone’s posted to Facebook, or that some game with a watch interface wants me to respond. My recommendation is, as with your iPhone, be very selective about what notifications you let Apple Watch bother you with. Be sure to set the Notifications settings for each watch app using the iPhone’s Watch app. They can be set to stay in sync with whatever that app’s notification settings are on the iPhone, or custom. I say again, I’d recommend being very selective. Net +Time waster, -Annoyance Factor
  • More Sounds. Having your watch start binging, bonging or making some other sound during your meeting or at the movies is not particularly useful. It’s yet another digital device in the meeting that really should be silenced. To help solve the problem, Apple Watch will stay in sync with the mute switch setting on the side of your iPhone. There is also a setting in the iPhone’s Watch app that tells the Apple Watch to stay in sync with whatever the Do Not Disturb setting is on your iPhone. Net -Annoyance Factor
  • Unreliable Glance. Lifting the watch, turning your wrist doesn’t always cause the Apple Watch display to wake up and display the watch face. It reminds me of how the iPhone doesn’t always flip between portrait and landscape when you rotate the phone – it can take a few tries, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen. I’ve had to press the “digital crown” occasionally to wake up the watch. Net -Annoyance Factor
  • Games. So far I’ve not found games to be that interesting or engaging on the Apple Watch. Maybe someone will create the killer watch game app. Until then I’ll stick to other digital venues for game entertainment. Net -Not fun yet
  • Packaging. The Apple Watch comes in this massive, heavy white box loaded with the typical Apple style layers of packaging. The Apple Watch box is about 2x the size of the box the iPhone comes in. Did I mention the box alone is heavy? It’s heavy. What did they put in this thing? For such a light weight watch, is the packaging trying to make up for other things? Who knows. I was a bit baffled by how over the top all the packaging was just to contain a thin case with an Apple Watch inside. Net -Waste, -Hurts our Planet
There are so many more apps for the Apple Watch, so much so that I’ve had difficulty finding the time to try even all of those I’m interested in. Keep checking back as I’ll post if I find something truly interesting or useful.

 

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Apple, Mobility

Apple Watch: A Window into Our iPhones

11 Mar , 2015  

iPhoneAppleWatchIn yesterday’s post Will Apple Watch Grow Closer To Us Than Our iPhones, I explored how the Apple Watch may build an even stronger bond with us than our iPhones have today. We shouldn’t be flipping back and forth between our iPhone and watch just to get the benefits of what the Apple Watch has to offer.

What in fact is really true is Apple Watch will make us rely even more on our iPhones. Much of what Apple Watch does can’t happen without the iPhone nearby. But what’s going on behind the scenes?

Apple Watch is really an extended window into functionality provided by iOS apps running on our iPhones, particularly 3rd-party Apple Watch “apps”. Aside from features Apple built into Apple Watch (the most basic of which is telling us the time via various watch faces), what you are seeing on the Apple Watch screen is actually a user interface extension of an app running on your iPhone.

Apple Watch applications are comprised of two components: WatchKit app is the portion installed on the watch containing resources (images and things called storyboards) displayed on Apple Watch, and the WatchKit extension, a component within the iOS app running on your iPhone containing programming logic for managing the watch user interface, responding to user input on Apple Watch, and keeping the content WatchKit app displays up to date.

Does that mean all the “brains” of an Apple Watch app are really happening on the iPhone? Not necessarily. While the iPhone portion (Watchkit extension) is the behind the scenes worker bee gathering up content and interacting with HealthKit and other information sources, Apple Watch is brilliantly smart about how we interact with that information. Here’s what I mean.

AppleWatchmsgsApple Watch knows from your movements when to wake up the display and show you information on Apple Watch, such as your run distance, heart rate, meeting information or the current time. This is something called a glance interface. It also helps us interface with and manage notifications, coming both from Apple Watch itself as well as notices originating on the iPhone (meetings, messages, incoming calls, etc.) Interacting with some of these notices actually launches the 3rd-party Watchkit app or other features built in locally to Apple Watch.

While iOS developers care a lot about how all this works, you as an end user don’t. We go on blissfully using Apple Watch unaware of everything your iPhone is doing in support of Apple Watch. I like to think of it as, your iPhone helps make your Apple Watch cool.

Now does it make sense? Hopefully you can see that what Apple Watch really does is tie us closer to our iPhones, but without picking up or interacting with the iPhone. We interact with our iPhones through Apple Watch.

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Apple, Mobility

Will Apple Watch Grow Closer to Us Than Our iPhones?

10 Mar , 2015  

Apple-WatchMonday’s Apple “Spring Forward” announcement was chalked full of new Apple product information about  Apple Watch, New MacBook, Apple TV + HBO Now, and Mac line up updates. In addition to a long list of design inspirations and new capabilities, a few other things jumped out for me during the announcements.

The day started with Tim Cook telling us about the 700 million iPhone unit sales and how iPhone has become so much a part of our daily lives. The iPhone (you could say all smartphones) are never farther than arms’ reach. Interesting then later when Apple showed Apple Watch was designed so we don’t have to reach for our iPhone.

Most things Apple Watch does, the biggest exception is loading apps from the App Store, is performed on the Apple Watch. When you use your Apple Watch, you don’t have to flip between your phone and watch devices to access fitness info, answer calls, check the weather or your calendar, see and respond to messages, or get help from Siri. Those things you can do right from the Apple Watch.

The added wi-fi plus bluetooth in Apple Watch means your iPhone can be in another part of the house and you can go right on using your Apple Watch, not tethered via a short Bluetooth leash like other Smartwatches.  Similar to iPhone becoming even more important in customers’ lives than the iPod (because it’s built into the iPhone), Apple is attempting to make the bond with Apple Watch even stronger than with our iPhones.

Will Apple succeed? For some of the watch wearing faithful (and those who return to wearing a watch to be able to sport the Apple Watch) that answer could very well be yes. Apple does many things well and is one of the best at creating a tightly integrated user experience for their customers. The less time customers spend jumping back and forth between devices to use capabilities unavailable on their Smartwatches, synchronizing data or adjusting settings to get things working, the less intrusive and the more useful the experience is for Apple Watch customers.

Two things that could stand in Apple Watch’s way. Price and battery life. The $349 entry price is high but seems reasonable for something almost as advanced as our Smartphones, but the price rises quickly as you move up the line of chassis and wristband options. A stainless steel watch chassis and linked band runs $949 to $999 for example. 18 hour battery life means Apple Watch’s short tether is to a charging cable. Apple Watch won’t be of much use unless it is tucked in for a fresh charge every night.

Will Apple Watch move Smartwatches from tech novelties into the mainstream like iPhones and other Smartphones are today? Only time will tell.

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