New Apple Watch

As mentioned in my last post, I ordered an Apple Watch Series 6 the day of the announcement. It was supposed to arrive between September 28 and October 1. It came a few days early on Thursday, September 24. So I got my iPhone 11 Pro upgraded to iOS 14 that evening and set up my new watch the next day. I made a silly unboxing video and finally found time to get it edited and posted to my YouTube channel (having a day job certainly puts a monkey in my wrench).

Week One Impressions

I am thoroughly enjoying the upgrade from a Series 1 to the Series 6. It’s a big jump in capabilities, size of display, responsiveness, and delight. I set it up as a brand new watch rather than use the backup from my Series 1. This is allowing me to experience the discovery of the new features of both the newest hardware and watchOS 7. This is an ongoing process. This is what has impressed me so far.

Apple Watch Series 6 gold aluminum with product red sport loop on wrist
After unboxing, I set up the watch to use the Analog Activity face as a starting point.

Speed

It’s unsurprising that a jump from a 1.5 generation device to a 6th generation device would bring a faster user experience. My Series 1 watch was upgradable through watchOS 6, but the hardware was never “snappy”. The Series 6 seems so much more responsive in all interactions—swiping through watch faces; scrolling with touch and the digital crown; launching apps from complications, the dock, and the app list (I don’t use the app “cloud” although I might give it a try since the display is bigger); and giving Siri voice commands.

Apple Watch Infograph watch face full of Complications
The larger watch size with smaller bezels allows for more information in the form of complications.

Size

Speaking of the larger display, I am enjoying it for enhanced readability and getting more information on the screen. My previous watch could not take advantage of many of the newer watch faces that packed more complications on screen because of it’s smaller size. Two millimeters and smaller bezels make a big difference.

Features

My older watch was also not able to take advantage of things like fall detection and the advanced monitoring of heart rate that were introduced with Series 3, 4, and 5 watches. I don’t feel left out anymore. I haven’t tested the fall detection yet, but I have set up the ECG and Blood Oxygen apps (I’m all normal so far) as well as started tracking my sleep by wearing the watch to bed. The always-on display is very nice when I want to glance down to check the time without having to raise my arm to wake it up. The display is also noticeably brighter and the colors seem richer.

Apple Watch hand washing detection app
The Apple Watch hand washing detection shows only 14 seconds more.

Delight

Oddly enough, it’s the hand-washing timer that continually delights me multiple times per day. It seems magical in how it detects that I’m actually washing my hands. I’ve only had a couple of “false positives” when I’ve gone to rinse something off my fingers while cooking—not fully washing my hands, but similar enough to tigger it. It has never once thought I was washing my hands when I really wasn’t, like when rubbing on hand lotion or just rubbing my hands together briskly. My wife says she wouldn’t want her watch telling her what to do, but I find the technology that can accurately figure this out fascinating and delightful. I don’t think of it as being told what to do or how to do it. I think of it as a tool to help my personal hygiene, especially during the pandemic.

Apple Watch Analog Activity watch face at 3:30.
Using the Apple Watch Activity watch face keeps me going to complete all three rings.

Workouts

I take a 2.5-mile walk every day and track it as a walk workout in the activity app on the watch. Getting the Series 1 got me up and moving more consistently through the gamification of closing all three rings. Like most things, I’ve gone back and forth sticking with the habit, but the Series 6 has revitalized my dedication to keeps the walking habit going.

I use that workout time to listen to podcasts and now I have a watch that performs well enough to use the watch app from my favorite podcatcher, Overcast. I still carry my iPhone and play the audio from there, but use the Overcast app on the watch to control it.

So Much More

I know I’m still just scratching the surface of what’s possible with this new watch. Of course it can alert me to notifications so I don’t have to pull out my iPhone, but I was using the Series 1 that way before. I’m intrigued by the notion that I can use the Shortcuts app on my iPhone to automatically set watch faces on the Apple Watch at specific times of the day. I’ll be looking into that next.

After only a week, I am very pleased that I purchased the Apple Watch Series 6. It was definitely time for me to upgrade. I look forward to several years of enjoyment before needing to replace it.

Fruit Flies Like an Apple

Apple Time Flies logo.

Yesterday Apple presented part of it’s annual fall new product introductions in a pandemic-friendly, highly-produced, pre-recorded video event titled, Time Flies. I say “part of” because there was no mention of new iPhones, which would be expected in a mid-September announcement, if this was a different kind of 2020. More on what was not announced below.

What Apple did announce was right in line with most of the leaks and rumors reported by too many reporters, bloggers, tech pundits, “analysts”, and YouTubers. The hardware announcements included the Apple Watch Series 6, a new mid-range Apple Watch SE (the series 3 is still available at the entry level), an updated iPad (gen. 8), and a new iPad Air (gen. 4) sporting the design language of the iPad Pro line. On the software/services side there were segments about new apps on the new watch—most notably the ability to take a blood oxygen reading, a Family Setup option for Apple Watch that provides the ability for multiple family members to have an Apple Watch that’s managed by a single family member, a new subscription service called Fitness+ that integrates with the watch and provides video training for 10 different kinds of workouts viewable on any Apple device screen ($10/month or $80/year, available late 2020), and a service bundle called Apple One with three price tiers (Individual: $15/month, Family: $20/month, and Premier: $30/month). Check out the links for all the details.

If you’d like to read Apple’s stories on all the announcements, point your browser to Apple’s Newsroom for the official press releases. For the moment Apple’s Fall 2020 Keynote is at the top of the feed. It’s also well worth the little over an hour to view the video of the keynote in order to get the full experience of the new “reality distortion field”.

For some thoughtful first-impression analysis, you can do no better than reading John Gruber’s “Brief Thoughts and Observations on Today’s ‘Time Flies’ Apple Event”. If you prefer videos, tune in to Rene Ritchie’s YouTube channel.

I do have to say I do like the way Apple is making announcements by presenting these pre-recorded keynotes during the COVID-19 pandemic (both for WWDC 2020 and these fall announcements). They are certainly missing a specific energy that only a live audience can provide, but these recorded keynotes provide an opportunity for Apple to tell a very tightly controlled and concise story about their hardware, software, and services. Another aspect I really enjoy are the transitions from segment to segment where the viewer is seemingly flying through the Apple campus, inside and out—with a couple of comedic cameos by Craig Federighi in the Time Flies event video. It’s like getting a privately guided tour of parts of Apple’s headquarters that most of us will never get so see in person, albeit a very speedy one.

Apple Watch Series 6 gold aluminum with product red sport loop band.
The gold aluminum Apple Watch Series 6 with a (PRODUCT)RED sport loop band that I ordered.

This keynote marks an historic occasion for me personally. It’s the first time I’ve ever pre-ordered a new Apple product on the same day as it’s announced. That’s right, I ordered an Apple Watch Series 6 a few hours later. I had several Apple Store gift cards burning a whole in my virtual Wallet app on my iPhone. I’ve been wanting to upgrade to a newer version for a couple of years, but this time I actually followed through. It should be delivered about September 30. It’s not a moment too soon, either. Last evening when I was going to bed after placing the order I noticed that my current Apple Watch Series 1 screen has begun popping off of the case.

Apple Watch Series 1 on a wrist. The display is coming off of the case.
My Apple Watch Series 1 with the display coming off of the case.

Near the end, Tim Cook made a somewhat passing announcement that the new operating systems would be available today (Wednesday, September 16). Specifically, iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14. I will be waiting until the weekend before my new watch arrives to upgrade my iPhone 11 Pro, however. The main reason being that this last-minute announcement has caught a lot of developers off guard. They were provided less than 24 hours notice of when the public will have access to the new operating systems. Normally they would have about a week to get the final adjustments to their apps made before the operating systems went live (thanks, 2020!). I’m not in a hurry and want to make sure that the developers of the apps I use have time to get their iOS 14–compatible updates submitted and through the review process before I upgrade my iPhone.

Lastly; what wasn’t announced. There was no word on the release date of macOS 11 Big Sur. There was no mention of Macs. We recently got updates to the Intel iMacs, but we were told at WWDC that the first Macs with Apple’s ARM-based SoCs would be out before the end of the year (there have been rumors and/or leaks regarding an Apple silicon MacBook coming soon). And as mentioned up top, nothing about this year’s new iPhones. We know there will be some if for no other reason than on Apple’s Q3 financial results call the CFO specifically set expectations that this year’s iPhones would be “a few weeks later” than usual. My suspicion is that there will be another announcement event sometime in October to tell the story of the iPhones 12 (I thought this was supposed to be an 11S year), more features of iOS 14 that depend on the new hardware, the first Apple silicon Mac, and when macOS 11 Big Sur will be available. And maybe, just maybe, “one more thing”, although the talk of the tech pundits would lead me to believe there might be two or three “one more things”.

One thing for sure is there is no shortage of rumors and speculation about what Apple’s going to do in the future. When/if they actually do, we’ll find out when Apple tells us.

I’ve Been Vectorized

Periodically I will share some of my favorite websites, podcasts, videos, and/or blogs I follow to learn about the Apple-centric tech-o-sphere. This is one of those posts. The last time I posted about a podcast was back in October of 2016 after I discovered The Checklist. Today, I’d like to tell you about Vector.

T-Shirt, pin, and stickers with Vector logo

My new Vector T-shirt, pin, and stickers on the dining room table.

Vector is what I call a three-in-one resource by Rene Ritchie from iMore. It’s videos, a podcast, and a blog (or series of articles, if you wish) where Mr. Ritchie provides insight into the world of Apple technology with short, palatable, and entertaining morsels of online media. I say “three-in-one” because his content is provided in any of the three ways in which you want to consume it — as a blog (or article) you read, as a podcast you listen to, or as a video that you watch. I personally subscribe to the Vector channel on YouTube, but you can read, listen, or watch right on iMore.

His latest posts (as of this writing) are reviews of the Watch Series 4 and the iPhone XS and XS Max. They are a little longer than his usual five to 15 minutes, but well worth a look/listen if you are at all interested in the new hardware that Apple introduced on September 12, 2018.

So, check out Vector and let me know what you think in the comments below. As Rene would say, “Thank you so much for reading.”

Apple, you’ve got some ’splainin’ to do!

20180912-apple-event-invite

I did not get an invitation, but Apple live streamed the event, so I watched. And I’ve got some questions. Whether Apple answers them or not is up to them.

Gather round?

What’s with this title? If it is a title, why is it not set in title case, as in “Gather Round”? And, does this really mean “gather around”? If so, where’s the apostrophe for the missing “a” (i.e. Gather ’Round)? The grammar police surely started surveillance back in 1997 with your Think Different campaign. Why they let you continue to get away with abuse of the English language, I’ll never understand.

What’s in a name?

I’ll tell you what. The shaking of heads (and probably some fists), that’s what. Last year was confusing enough with iPhone X. But it looks cool and goes along with the history of Apple using a roman numeral for 10 (except for when they don’t, like for Xcode). So I got used to the name and mostly remembered to pronounce the X as “ten”. I also love using it and am looking forward to the new iPhone experience that iOS 12 will bring.

But, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR? Seriously? Let me see if I got this right.

iPhone Xs Emoji

(In case it’s not obvious, that’s a man singer emoji — the closest thing to a tenor in the emoji character set. Don’t you just hate it when someone explains their jokes? 🙄)

My cell phone has a first name,
It’s I-P-H-O-N-E.
My cell phone has a second name,
It’s X-S-M-A-X.
Oh, I love to use it everyday,
And if you ask me why I say,
’Cause Apple people have a way with M-A-R-K-E-T-I-N-G!

What’s on your wrist?

It’s not a Capital One credit card, that’s for sure. Well, I take that back. I have an Watch Series 1 and I do have a CapOne credit card in the Apple Wallet app and can use it via ApplePay from the watch. After my iPhone X, the Watch is my favorite Apple device. The Watch Series 4 is the announcement from this week’s event that is most drool worthy for me. Will I buy one? I’m thinking it’s time to upgrade, yes.

Watch

The Long Wait is Over

After the Apple Watch was introduced in the Spring of 2015, I wrote a short post entitled “Which Watch.” Twenty months later, I finally purchased one. I did get the Space Gray 42mm aluminum with black fluoroelastomer sport band. Since I waited so long, I had a choice between the Series 1 and Series 2. Target made my choice easier due to a Black Friday discount on the Series 1.

I was originally planning on making this an unboxing photo essay, but it’s now been almost a year, so what’s the point? The introduction of the Series 3 has prompted me to come back to this draft post and wrap it up, finally!

My First Apple Watch

I did have an Apple Watch prior to the introduction of what the tech community is now calling “series 0,” however.

Original Apple Watch

Even though it thought different [differently?], it was not smart. So I was glad to upgrade to the Series 1.

Watch Series 1 Box

It has been a fun 11 months with the Watch Series 1. I use it primarily for notifications, a remote for playing audio from my iPhone 6s, and, in the last six months, walk workout fitness tracking. Having the watch has motivated me to get out and move more than I had been in many years, so I think it has been a good investment.

Watch Series 1 on Wrist

So, there you have it. I’ve incorporated the Watch into my daily routine. Now, another decision has to be made. Do I upgrade to the Series 3? And if so, do I go for LTE?

Which Watch?

Do I want an  Watch? Yes. Do I need an  Watch? Probably not. Will I buy an  Watch? At some point, yes. Which  Watch? 42mm Sport with black fluoroelastomer band.

But first I want an iPhone 6. And before that I need a new Mac.

The  Watch is getting more and more expensive. 😜