Time For A Watch Upgrade

After years of iterative updates and advancements, Apple’s smartwatch – finally – has won me over. It’s about time! (Pun intended.) Apple Watch seems better than ever now. So my plan is to wrest the Timex Ironman’s grip from my wrist and strap on a wearable computer from Apple. Dumbwatch, “Bye.” Smartwatch, “Hi.”


In the past, I sometimes thought of Apple Watch as superfluous and not ancillary. Sure, it was neat, maybe even nice, but not necessary. Yet Apple has evolved the watch over time, improving features in two main areas: fitness and smartness. So now I see the watch as helpful enough to use in my daily life.

Along with all the advancements, the introduction of the Apple Watch SE at a lower price point in particular compels me to buy further into Apple’s ecosystem. Plus, the adage, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” is apt here. The Apple Watch will be an excellent addition to my iPhone and AirPods. The synergy is smart.


For example, the idea that I can simply dial in the volume on my AirPods by rotating the Digital Crown on Apple Watch – it’s a physical volume knob! Love it!

Or, I’m driving down the road with my hands on the wheel at 10 and 2 and can respond to texts hands free with Siri.

Working all day at my sit/stand desk, Apple Watch will remind me – with a tap on my wrist – to get up off my butt and will track my progress away from being sedentary.

Apple Pay, which I like on my iPhone, can be more easily used via Apple Watch. No need to pull the wallet or the phone out at the register.

The Camera Remote feature will let me use the back camera on the iPhone (the better one) to take selfies or group shots using the watch as a viewfinder and as a shutter button!

These examples are small but solid aids to my modern daily life that Apple Watch can bring. And they represent much more.


Being a tech nerd, the smart stuff of Apple Watch is easy for me to gush over. Yet it’s the health and fitness part of the watch that will be truly valuable.

I’ve posted about this before, saying that if Apple Watch grew stronger with overwhelming wellness advancements, then I’d buy the watch. Well it’s smart enough and strong enough now.

Since I have persistent tinnitus and mild hearing loss, the Noise app sounds great to me. It debuted in WatchOS 6. And it gained improvements in WatchOS 7.

The Activty app is now the Fitness app. And Fitness+ launched this week. Close those rings!

The Heart Rate app tracks real-time cardio rhythm and alerts to irregularity. Since I’m over 4 decades old and heart disease runs in my family, this is important.

Reaching my early 40’s, my body is slowly succumbing to years of sedentary office work and natural aging. Slower metabolism, longer recovery times, reduced energy, etc. I think Apple’s fitness tracking will give me vital stats and motivation to stay in good shape.

Okay, I need to burn calories to shed fat off my belly. #thestruggleisreal

Of all that the watch is designed to do, I think the fact that it’s wearable – small, convenient, always with you – is its greatest strength and the epitome of mobile computing, which Apple excels at.

So at long last, the Apple Watch has won me over. My dumb-watch is about to get a serious upgrade. That’s smart.


What About You?

Since I’ll be late to the Apple Watch game, let me ask you about it.

  • What do you like most about your Apple Watch?
  • Is it more about the smart computery stuff, like iMessage notifications, or is it more about the fitness tracking for you?
  • Do you wear a FitBit instead of an Apple Watch? Would you recommend a FitBit with an iPhone for someone looking for health and wellness features?
  • Is Sleep Tracking important to you?
  • Is your wrist sporting a “dumb” watch?
  • Are your wrists…naked!?

Thanks for your feedback below!


What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!

Subscriptions To Escapism

Enter Escapism

Entertainment abounds. It’s so prolific, you can’t escape from Escapism; it’s everywhere! We unplug so much, we may need to unplug from unplugging. As I considered the options for a monthly subscription service, I was reminded how inundated we are with endless entertainment.


Escape Below

There is now a subscription for all forms of entertainment.

Watch

For movies and TV shows, there’s streaming Video: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, YouTube Premium, Apple TV+, and more. Binge on binging.

Listen

For music, streaming audio: Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, and Amazon Music to name a few. Millions of songs!

Read

Like to read books? There’s kindle unlimited. How about news articles or magazines? Apple News+ and more.

Play

Are you into games? Now there’s Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass.

For a small recurring fee, you can be fed a limitless supply of consumable content, like an all-you-can-eat-buffet. Binge much? To stand out, the creators, aggregators, and distributors must up the ante, making entertainment more delicious than ever.

Stories Of Other Worlds

There’s one thing all forms of entertainment have in common: story. It has universal appeal. Whichever way you like, a tale is ready for the telling.

A single 3-minute song often tells a simple story. An epic novel is the longest form of story-telling. In between those extremes, a 2-hour movie portrays story as does a 40-hour role-playing-game. The different forms of amusement engage our brains, both thoughts and emotions, in various ways.

I like all forms of entertainment. No surprise there. Recently I tried out Nintendo’s new iPhone game called, Dr. Mario World. It’s a simple match-3 game like Candy Crush or Bejeweled. Despite the simple mechanics of the game, it’s supported by a story. Viruses (the antagonist) have invaded Mushroom Kingdom (setting), and everyone (protagonist), from Mario to Bowser, must unite against them to save the world. There’s “Man versus Nature” conflict in a setting with characters. Story!


Fiction Subscription

If you could choose only one subscription service to get stories, which one would you sign up for? I’ve been wondering about this for video: Netflix, Apple TV+, and Disney+ to name a few. If I could have just one, I still don’t know which it would be.

Movies are great, but it’s said that the book is always better. Lately, I’ve been immersed in reading. This form of storytelling engages the mind on the deepest level. Novels are excellent forms of escapism! But for the money, I’m not sure. An eBook is typically 10 dollars. At that price, you can get a month’s worth of movies and TV shows. It’s an issue of quality versus quantity, and it comes down to preference.

Amazon offers a kindle unlimited monthly subscription; I’ve never tried it. Yet I recommend reading stories and not just watching them. So your call to action is: go get you a good book. But also keep reading my blog too. 😉


What’s your preference? Are you overwhelmed with monthly subscriptions? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for your time!

Apple Reiterates The Smartphone

Shiny New Apple

Earlier this week, Apple had their annual iPhone event and announced some updates. So here are a few of my well-uninformed thoughts from my soft spot for new tech.


The Event

Apple did not reinvent the smartphone, they merely reiterated it.

Overall

Apple’s announcements were par for the course. No revolution. Even the “new” stuff was really just the “old” stuff updated marginally. It was great before, and now it’s as excellent as ever. That’s to be expected.

Services

Two forthcoming subscription services, Arcade and TV+, were finally priced at $5 each. That’s a good price point comparatively for the market.

For me personally, I’m not interested enough in either service to sign up. It’s not like my entertainment needs are unmet in today’s over-abundant media landscape. I’m good! And the content previewed by Apple for their new services showed nothing compelling. Okay, maybe The Morning Show.

But you know what, I bet after a season or two, Apple will outright sell older seasons and episodes of their TV+ shows in iTunes. Maybe I’ll wait for that.

Products

iPad

A new iPad was revealed! I still think the iPad is awesome (for a tablet, not for a laptop). And the newest version of the base model is a fantastic deal at $329.

New this time is a slightly bigger yet welcomed screen size, going from 9.7” to 10.2”. Also new is the added Smart Connector, so you have the option to buy the over-priced Smart Keyboard. (Honestly, it’s fine if Apple drives a high margin cost for their main products, but for accessories? Give us a break, Apple!)

I used the iPad Air 2 as my primary computer for about two years until last month when I caved for a proper clamshell laptop – Chromebook! But if I had stuck with iPad, the new one would be on the top of my to-buy list!

Watch

I once owned and enjoyed an Android Wear Moto 360 smartwatch, so I have some idea about the utility of such a device. And as iPad is to tablets, so is Apple Watch to whatever else wants to be on your wrist these days. The new Series 5 has slight updates that maintain the crown.

But one simple yet profound update is the Always On Display! This was one of the top three features I said could make me buy an Apple Watch. But I’m still not gonna. Because I still don’t need one.

I sport a $35 Timex “dumbwatch” with an Always On Display. Plus, I always carry a SmartPocketWatch – my iPhone. If I really want fitness features, I’d likely buy a FitBit since they’re more affordable, have a much longer battery life, and work great, whether you’re in the Apple or Google ecosystem.

But that now $200 Series 3 Apple Watch is tempting. Just sayin’.

iPhone 11 and Pro

Finally, the device that changed the world. iPhone. Now it says 11 instead of XR. Meaning, the updates are good but incremental. No leaps and bounds here. A solid smartphone further cements its status as Most-Bestest-Ever. Take that, Samsung Galaxy Note 10 with your fancy stylus.

Seriously, all the new iPhones focused on improved camera features and added new shnazy colors. Other than that, they’re a little faster and better. The biggest upgrade is the longer battery life – nice! That deserves a, “Finally!

Oh, let me ask one thing. Slofies?! Whatwhy?!


iGoogle

I’m still cruising along with a post-swank iPhone 7 that is now three generations old yet not obsolete. I don’t plan to upgrade to a lower-priced iPhone 8 or a refurbished iPhone 8 Plus. Instead, my eyes are set on the low to mid-range Android phone arena. Because I’m more into Google stuff now than Apple’s sauce.

So despite the new bling announced by Apple this week, I’m unswayed.

The best thing about the event is that it showcased the industry progress Apple is known to herald. Mobile device technology has been pushed forward again, ever so slightly. And that means other players and contributors will echo the effects.

Plus, what’s hot today will soon descend lower on the ladder to us mere mortals with only enough cash on hand to invest in good-enough tech. I see that as a win for everyone.

But that Midnight-Green iPhone 11 Pro Max suuuuuure looks special.


What are your thoughts? Did Apple’s Reality Distortion Field envelope you? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Three Things To Buy Apple Watch

Apple makes a nice ecosystem of gadgets, but the Apple Watch is one that I haven’t been compelled to buy. I just don’t find it that interesting or necessary. But there are three things that would likely cause me to wear Apple’s Wrist Computer.


Always On Display

This one is super simple. Just keep the watch-face display always on. Because that’s what watches have been able to do since forever.

When it comes to fashion, Apple Watch looks like a blank canvas on your arm with its solid black face. Plain. Bland. Boring. Worse, since it’s a tech device, it looks dead or off, like wearing the watch is a waste of time!1 It’s just bad in my chronographical opinion.

And when it comes to function, the Watch-o-Apple should be like, you know, an actual watch! The number one feature and function of a watch, something I’ve worn since I was a kid, is to show you the time simply by looking at it.

You’ll note that I didn’t mention raising your arm to look at the watch. As I sit and type this post with my arm resting on the table, I just look at my wristwatch and see the time and date without moving my arm or hand at all. The display is constantly present in time!

And speaking from experience, when I owned a Moto 360 Android Wear Smartwatch, I know how annoying it is to raise your arm or rotate your wrist in order to make the display turn on. After being accustomed to years of a simple glance giving me knowledge of the time, these additional required gestures are a step backward. This doesn’t seem so smart.

What about this feature killing the battery? I think by now Apple has the engineering resources to solve this, making ample battery life and an always on display just work.

There’s something to be said about simple watches just working. The only watch certified to work on the Moon by NASA is the Omega Speedmaster Professional, a mechanical watch.

In a timely piece2, John Gruber, a long time Apple blogger at Daring Fireball, commenting on an Atlantic story about the enduring functionality of the “Moonwatch” watch said this:

This is, to me, exactly the appeal of mechanical watches.

I’m not asking for Apple to make the Apple Watch certifiable by NASA for Lunar excursions. I’m only asking for the display to remain on all-the-time. Simple.

Overwhelming Health Features

As of now, the health features of Apple Watch have started to make me think I might want one on my wrist all the time. Naturally as I age, health is a growing priority.

If Apple Watch continues to grow its health feature focus, adding new capabilities for monitoring health or improving ones it already has, that would compel me further to consider not just wanting the watch but needing one.

Key areas where Apple Watch could aid my health now are:

  1. The tap to stand reminder, because I sit at a desk computer all day long for my job.
  2. The new Noise level detection app, because I have Tinnitus and am careful to protect my hearing.
  3. The active heart monitor because heart disease runs in my family, and my sedentary desk job doesn’t help.
  4. Sleep tracking…I’m not sure about this one, but it adds to the pile.

On top of that, the overall fitness tracking is an attractive set of features. And now Apple has improved those with Activity Trends, so you can track your fitness levels over time.

If Apple keeps ramping up these health and fitness features, it may be in my best interest, that of self-preservation, to buy one.

FaceTime Calling

This feature would require the addition of a front facing camera in the watch, like the ones found on iPhone. Its sole purpose would be for impromptu or quick and casual FaceTime calls from favorites in your contacts.

It’s futuristic and compelling to think that simply raising your wrist up and looking at your watch could answer or initiate a hands-free FaceTime video call with someone. This is what I call the Dick Tracy watch feature.

In fact, the phone calling feature (and the walkie-talkie app), without the video part, is already a realization of the Dick Tracy watch 2-way radio dream come true. All that’s missing is the FaceTime camera.

If Apple finds a way to squeeze the camera into the watch-face – I believe they can and likely already have a working prototype – then this feature alone would probably be the signal to strap this communicator to my arm.


It’s A Matter Of Chronology

These three things together would most certainly open my wallet wide to buy Apple Watch. But just one of the above features could be enough to push me over the edge.

Until such a time, I bide my time with my good ole fashioned Timex dumb-watch that always shows me the ”when” of now in the-moment-that-is-this. I don’t need to flick my wrist, raise my arm, tap my watch, or perform any other overt gesture. I just glance; there’s the date and time. That’s the bottom line.


Do you wear an Apple Watch? If not, what would change that? Share your thoughts below or message me. Thanks for reading!

  1. If that counts as a pun, then score: One!
  2. See what I did there?

Apple Watch Keeps Eye On Your Ears

When Apple held their WWDC 2019 keynote last week, I tuned in for news on iPhone and iPad software. But it’s good to take note of all the things Apple is doing because of their ecosystem. Growth in one area affects growth in other areas. So I learned about new features in watchOS. And I’ve never considered owning an Apple Watch until now.


I still wear a dumb-watch

The things I like most from Apple’s WWDC announcements pertain to iPhone and iPad because those are the only Apple devices I own.1 But I’ve had an eye on AirPods for a long time. And with their new improvements, I think it’s only a matter of time before I pick some up at my local Best Buy and put them in my ears.

When it comes to the Apple Watch though, I have always thought of it as superfluous. To me, it does not do anything that my iPhone or iPad can’t do. In fact, I kind of deride Apple Watch sometimes – and to be fair, all smartwatches – because it can’t even keep the display always-on like traditional watches.2

That’s why I’ve never really been interested in buying an Apple Watch. But a particular announcement at WWDC started to make me consider, for the first time, maybe, possibly, owning one after all.


Now hear this

Apple revealed a new app for their Watch. It’s called the Noise app. This surprised me; so far, I like what I hear!

A little back story is in order. In January this year, I finally got my hearing checked because I’ve suffered from Tinnitus for a while and last year it became worse. After seeing the audio specialist, it turns out that I have some mild hearing loss too.

So I wrote about it in a post and even tweeted at Tim Cook3, asking Apple to make a new product called, “HearPods.” They would be like AirPods but with added hearing aid technology!

I had learned through my doctor visit about devices like ReSound and how advanced modern hearing aids have become, using Bluetooth technology and apps for your phone. So I figured AirPods combined with hearing aid tech would be a perfect fit for Apple and for hearing loss sufferers.


So when Apple announced the new Noise app for Apple Watch, I was all ears.4 It monitors – without recording or saving any audio – your environment for sound, likely utilizing some magical microphones with amazing algorithms. It will measure the noise level and do a few things to help protect your hearing from damage:

  1. It gives you a “live” or “real-time” visual indicator of the noise level. So you can see if it’s too loud.
  2. It will “tap” your wrist with haptic vibration feedback, warning you to the excessive noise.
  3. It will send a notification/warning to your phone, recording the duration and danger level of the noise, so you can see it and be advised, which will allow you to take necessary actions or precautions.

Besides the usual places you might find noise pollution, I imagine the Noise app would be handy (and fun) for telling – or better, showing – my 5 sons they’re being too noisy in the house! Believe me, with 5 young boys living in a small house, the noise levels get, uh, challenging.

From Apple’s press release:

Maintenance of hearing health positively impacts the quality of life and studies have shown that hearing loss has been associated with cognitive decline.2 With the optimal position of Apple Watch on the wrist, the Noise app helps users understand the sound levels in environments such as concerts and sporting events that could negatively impact hearing. As the sound levels change, the app’s decibel meter moves in real time. The watch can send a notification if the decibel level reaches 90 decibels, which can begin to impact hearing after four hours per week of exposure at this level, according to the World Health Organization.


As Apple has improved the health and fitness capabilities of Apple Watch over the years, I’m slowly starting to think I might want to own one for myself.

A pedometer, a heart monitor, and a decibel meter are at least three unique hardware features with capabilities that my iPhone and iPad can’t do, which make the Apple Watch less superfluous and more compelling.

Sure, if I want great fitness features, I could spend less and enjoy a FitBit of some kind. But I prefer Apple stuff over third-party stuff because of their commitments to security, privacy, simplicity, and quality in the Apple ecosystem.

Will I end up with an Apple device on my wrist? Or in my ears? It sounds like a good possibility to me.


What do you think about the new Noise app? Do you already enjoy an Apple Watch or would you consider buying one? Let me hear what you have to say in the comments below or message me. Thanks for reading!

  1. I once owned the 2009 white plastic MacBook because of Mountain Lion. It was nice. I even switched from Lightroom to Aperture (R.I.P.) with it.
  2. I owned the Moto 360 Android Wear smartwatch for a while and wore it everyday. It really bugged me how it could not consistently show me the time when I simply raised my wrist up to see it. I grew up with wristwatches always showing the time. That’s the best feature of a watch to me.
  3. I hope I did not break Twitter etiquette protocol.
  4. Pun totally intended!