Thoughts & Impressions on Apple Event

In order of appearance:

Steve Jobs Tribute – Easily best part of the keynote. I had goosebumps when Job’s voice came over the speakers in that dark, intimate setting. Tim Cook was understandably, emotionally shaken. He delivered a well structured tribute for a well deserved man. Again, easily the best part of the keynote.

Apple Park Video – Very impressive. Very awkward. Don’t get me wrong, Apple Park is amazing. Every inch of the place looks like an Apple product. Obviously no money was left on the table here, Apple spared no expense in building this. So, in that instance, sure the video was great. Unfortunately it ran long for me. And by the end, it felt more like a “look what we did and you can’t have” video. Maybe thats just me, but after the first couple minutes, I’m thinking… “Are you guys just showing off at this point?” To which I’m pretty sure they would have answered: “yes and your welcome.”

Apple Retail Update – I like Angela Ahrendts a lot. I really do and I think shes doing great work…. But Apple Townsquares? Just stop. Its a place we go to give you money..

Apple Watch Series 3Solid upgrade in the Apple Watch line. I don’t love the price bump, but its Apple. Now we have an LTE enabled watch which I think makes sense, but the other side of me can’t quite connect the dots yet. Especially when cellular companies are selling me ‘air.’ Or more specifically charging me 10 extra dollars for use of the Watch on their network. A great reminder that I loath cell companies. All in all, same design, awesome new bands (sport loop) and good on Apple for pushing the line forward. If cellular means the world to you then update. If you have a series 2 and don’t care much about LTE, then sit this one out. Even if you have a Series 1 or 0, (like myself) I think unless cellular is something you’ve been waiting for for a while, then jump, if not. No worries and wait for next year’s redesign. (My opinion)

Apple TV – 4K, HDR, chip bump and SAME remote. Apple really? That remote is without a doubt one of the worst designed pieces of hardware to ever creep out of Apple. How in the world was this not redesigned and let out a 2nd time. 4k is great if you have a TV that supports it, HDR is the real winner here. Again, your TV has to support it, but HDR alone would make me upgrade if I had a TV capable. I’m holding off, but considering our Apple TV is our main way we watch our television, I’m happy to see Apple pushing their TV agenda forward.

iPhone 8’s – Its been the popular thing to bash these phones all because iPhone X was announced at the same event. Sure, the 8’s are less desirable for tech enthusiasts. But not only tech obsessed people buy iPhones. Apple knows this, and the truth is the 8’s are unbelievably great products. I really love the way the aluminum mixes with the new glass back. Also, the new gold color looks fantastic. I wouldn’t write off these phones just yet. I’m sure the demand will be a whole lot less compared to iPhone X, but these are solid upgrades which Apple should be commended for. Not to mention they feature almost every software upgrade that iPhone X does. iPhone X trumps 8 in hardware, sure. But there’s something to be said for tried and true, and the 8 is exactly that to the core: tried and true. I’m still heavily considering purchasing one.

iPhone X – The main event. I felt a very odd merging of emotions watching the unveil of iPhone X. Sure, I have been waiting for over a year for this phone, even published why I was passing on the 7 to wait on this very model. But as Phil Schiller was proudly announcing iPhone X I felt a sense of dread mixed in with my excitement. The lack of home button is really bothering me. I love my home button, specifically because I think its easily the best feature ever implemented on any tech product. And now Apple is ditching it. There is no denying how good iPhone X looks though. Its everything I thought it would be a year ago and in some ways more. I was little worried about Face ID and how well it would execute, but the hands on videos and trusted tech reporters cleared any doubt on that front. But one more gripe… That notch at the top of the display literally offends me. I don’t know how else to say it. It looks so out of place and so un-Apple. I get that Apple had no choice. That’s obvious. Internally, they can’t be thrilled with it either. But man, its rough to look at. Maybe using in real life changes things, but that notch. Anyways, bottom line for me is I’m excited to use it. As far as iPhone X as an over all product: Its obvious they believe in the design language and clearly is the future moving forward. Very impressive work for Apple.

My Verdict – I really enjoyed this event. A lot of it has to do with the Steve Jobs tribute in the new building. It just felt like an old school Apple event again. Maybe it was Steve’s voice. I don’t know. All the devices announced were impressive to say the least. The more interesting aspect of this event was wasn’t said though. No HomePod talk, no iMac Pro talk. Actually no Macintosh talk at all. Nothing ever mentioned. Thats kind of amazing to me. Amazing in a sad way. All in all, I’d say a solid day for Apple. They delivered on some heavy rumored products and high expectations of millions. But that notch though. Oh and by the way where in the world is dark mode?

Advertisements

Apple Report Card

Great insight from top tech commentators regarding Apple’s 2015 performance. Honest and Fair.

Judging by our panel’s responses, Apple had a good year when it came to its hardware, but software and cloud services were more of a mixed bag, and developer relations and home-tech initiatives were not so great. Among the key product categories, the panel generally thought it was a good year for iOS, an okay year for the Mac and the new Apple TV, and a rough start for the Apple Watch.

Read the full report on Six Colors

Me & Apple Watch

At the beginning of all this, I confessed my history of Apple products and my pending “issue.” In the past I have had some problems with keeping devices for a variety of my own reasons, but mainly caused by my personal indecisiveness. To be sure this wouldn’t happen again, I documented and held myself accountable for the research that went into my decision to purchase an Apple Watch. Well, I said all that to say I returned my Apple Watch after the 14 day grace period. Largely in part of another project I am committed to that needed some expensive software from Apple and that situation very quickly became a need vs. want thing. Need being the software and want being an Apple Watch. Although I enjoyed my time with Apple Watch, there were some bumps in the road. All in all, Apple Watch and I didn’t sail into the sunset together, but made a few lasting memories that certainly weren’t all bad. Below is my ramblings of what the 14 day experience for ME was like.

This is I guess you can say, my review. But really the word “review” would be setting this up for failure. I’ve tried really hard to not be biased (because I am huge Apple fan) and give a fair account of my opinions on Apple Watch. It is important to keep in mind that all these words are indeed opinions. Meaning no one can have a “right” opinion or a “wrong” opinion. It is also equally important to note that I only used the Watch for 14 days. So in no way is this meant to be an in depth review or even really a valid one. Just one guy’s thoughts, that’s all.

THE PREORDER

I guess its fair to start with my situation since we last spoke. I was on the fence regarding Apple Watch. So, update time: I did indeed preorder a 42mm Space Grey Sport, but not at 3am like my usual practice. I actually showed some resilience and waited until I was dead set on the size. I’ve never worn a watch before and was completely unfamiliar with the sizing. I didn’t know what a 38mm or 42mm watch felt like. Once I went to the Apple store to try on the Watch, I settled on 42mm and was ready to preorder. The issue was, by this time (4 days after preordering started) the watch was pushed back till June. That didn’t matter to me. And the preorder was executed.

I received the watch on June 3. I was excited! There was so much possibility of fresh and new ways to interact with people. I reminisced of the iPhone’s release and how I could never have known the impact that device would inevitably have. I looked at the watch similarly which maybe was my first problem. I thought the watch could be a revolutionary thing that changed the way I personally communicated.

So the Watch arrived! I was psyched, like a kid on Christmas morning. I strapped it on. Immediately it felt odd. Not anything of Apple’s doing, but because the realization hit me that i’ve never worn a watch before. Funny, I was looking forward to the Watch, even convinced myself it had a place in my life, but I forgot it was indeed a watch. It was like being really excited for cheese and then when you eat it you realize you’ve never ate cheese before. Anyways….

HARDWARE

First things first, I don’t mind saying without hesitation this is bar none the best physical product Apple has ever made. I purchased the “cheap” model and it still was “take your breath away” stunning. Apple never ceases to amaze me. I can spend months staring at promotional pictures of a product and when I finally see it in person, it’s still amazing.

Jony Ive and team completely outdid themselves. I mean I can’t say enough on the quality of the device. My best friend has the stainless steel model and a fancier band, and they are well worth the steeper price point. The craftsmanship shown on the device is breathtaking. The digital crown moves as smoothly as you would imagine, with a slight bit of resistance but enough slide to achieve a luxurious feel.

Personally I loved the feel of my sport band. It was supple, yet strong. It fit like a good glove. The actual Watch I decided on was the Space Grey model. From the get-go I really clung to the look and I stayed with it. Even seeing all in person I ended up happy. Again, it was awesome. There is so much positive I can say with absolute zero negative comments, that I’ll just end on it’s a flawless design!

To me this is even more impressive considering hey, Apple has never made a Watch before! Or any wearable for that matter! They make screens and keyboards! Amazing they were able to nail and I mean nail this on their first try.

SOFTWARE

OK, here is where things get a little hairy (for me). So let me speak on the good first. The Watch faces are fantastic. Simply put, I loved, LOVED the watch faces and the “complications” (little widgets in the corners displaying info) Some days I would sit there and just play with the faces. They were polished, well done and purposeful. Bravo Apple!

The BEST, BEST, BEST feature of the watch in my opinion was the fitness tracking. I absolutely loved it. Apple really cares about Health and it shows in how much attention they put into fitness. I constantly was checking my 3 rings and was obsessing over filling all of them. The one feature I will miss the most no question. I really think the mark of something great, whether it be film or anything is learning or discovering something new about yourself. Apple’s take on fitness really made me more aware of my situation and was a delightful feature that made my experience really special.

So the bad, (again these are opinions) if you swipe up from the Watch face you will find “Glances.” These are supposed to be quick references you can flick through to get some fast, but needed info. The idea sounds great and reciprocates the philosophy of Apple Watch. But when I started to use them problems became very apparent. Besides the little dots on the bottom of the screen, you have no navigation whatsoever. It was odd. Glances were meant to be fast and efficient , but overtime I tried to use them I would lose my place and have to swipe around to find where I was at in my list. Also, they needed to be refreshed every time you accessed them.

I will give Apple a bunch of room for error here because I’m aware it’s a first gen product. But my sports app “glance” was stuck on the Mets game from 6 days ago and just wouldn’t update. I’m unsure if this is Apple’s issue or my App. Either way it made for a bad experience for me personally.

Lastly is the App grid. Press in the digital crown and you will be introduced to an array of tiny app circles that move impressively as a grid. This also turned into an overwhelmingly frustrating. I completely understand why Apple has included this, and why Apps will be a very big deal. But it just seems it was handled somewhat clumsy. I found myself actively trying to avoid going to the screen which i’ve never done on an Apple product before.

REAL LIFE USAGE

Like I said, I loved using the Watch faces. I found myself checking them all the time just to see what time it was, which was cool. I never wore a watch before so this could have been just the new effect of having time on my wrist but either way, I enjoyed it.

Also its important to note I am a firefighter 1 day out of 3 and I learned very quickly the Watch was a no go there. The job is just too physical and wearing it just one day produced a scratch on my screen. This wasn’t a deal breaker for me, but it bummed me out seeing those activity rings being blank 1 day out of 3!

Real life usage is where I had a love-hate relationship with the Watch. I can break these down into 2 simple groups:

LOVE = The way the Watch makes me aware of my surroundings.
HATE = The way the Watch enabled me to interact with people.

Lets talk about LOVE first 🙂 There were some aspects of the Watch that really spoke to me. It sounds silly, but knowing the moon phase and current temp was super fulfilling to myself. I don’t know why but I loved being informed of my surroundings. And I admired how they updated. Apple Watch made me feel connected to the Earth in a way no other tech product has. I really enjoyed this, and will miss it severely.

OK now hate, I had high hopes for notifications. I thought the process of feeling a non invasive tap would be great. Would put my mind at ease knowing OK, when I have time I will check that. But, it never worked that way for me. Instead, just like I would check my phone when a notification came in, I would immediately lift my wrist when I felt something. To the point where I couldn’t control it and would display open rudeness to my loved ones and strangers alike. I do understand this could be a “me” problem and not a “watch” problem, but these were my experiences.

That was my biggest issue. I really felt like I was making people feel unimportant. I would check out of a conversation and try to do heavy tasking with a watch the minute I was tapped. Whether that be reply to a simple text message or try and expand some notification into an action. It felt morally wrong and more so, like complete overkill with a small device. The last thing I wanted this to do was give myself another screen to manage, and at the end of 14 days, instead of being an efficient person with more free time for loved ones, I was an overly rude conversationalist with too many devices.

Honestly, I got to the point where I even asked myself: “Do I wanna be a guy who needs to know every alert as fast as possible?” And for me, that answer is no. I have a good system on my iPhone where my phone is always on silent besides phone calls. Meaning, my phone works for me, I’m not a slave to its noises. I understand everyone’s needs are different, so the idea of getting up to the second alerts on wrists may be amazingly enticing for some, for me it turned exhausting.

CONCLUSION (yes, there is one)

Looking back I should have stuck to my mind’s first thought when the keynote took place. I was puzzled. Personally I thought the Watch did too many things and it was a “confused” product. I never really got a clear message of what the watch wanted to be. Over the months of researching and podcast listening it seemed either I forgot about that or I just was really hoping I would find a use for it. After using the Watch for 14 days, I must admit I am still a tiny bit confused. But I also want to be clear, I’m sure there are thousands of people for which the Watch is great and fits perfectly into their lives. For me it was just more of jamming a puzzle piece in the wrong spot. I’m still unsure as to who’s fault that was, me or Apple Watch.

I am more than willing to admit 14 days is way too short of a timespan to make a valid opinion on any device. But like I said, this was my attempt. It’s not at all that Apple Watch is bad. It’s very, very far from that. And maybe theres a day in the future where Apple Watch and I reunite? I wouldn’t say no if history has taught me anything. I’m also extremely aware I am not great at change in general. So maybe the 14 day period was enough for me to roll Apple Watch into my life comfortably?

At some point I think we all have to realize that EVERY device is not for everyone all the time. The Watch and I clashed on many levels and were in perfect unison on many other levels. It was a tough decision to return it, but like I mentioned earlier, other factors played heavily and I had to make choice based on priorities. I feel I made that right one. I am at peace with my decision, Who knows what the future holds, but my present day status is the Apple Watch is a Phenomenal, 1st-gen device. Just not for me, just not right now.

Apple Watch & Beyond

This started out being a movie review. And it’s not. Odd, I know. I recently went to see Ex Machina, which is undoubtedly one of the best films in long time. The movie deals with A.I. and the future of technology in a great, thought provoking way. I started really thinking about what does technology really mean? And what really could be the future. I appreciate films like Ex Machina because they usher in thoughts that I would usually never be intelligent enough to carve up in my head. And by the way, for my review on the film, 1 word: Yes.

A side note: If Apple would just send me my watch already, I probably wouldn’t be stammering out 1,000 word thought pieces like a lunatic, but I digress. Here we go:

“The Watch is here” touts Apple’s slogan for its wearable computer, implying that the one and only time-piece that really matters has arrived. So much for the Rolex Cosmograph and Seiko Astron when you can buy a stylish digital Apple Watch Sport, or even a booshy Apple Watch Edition crafted with 18-karat gold.

Of its many features and functions, the Apple Watch is a music player, fitness tracker, communications device, payment token and digital key. And it also tells the time. We were surprised that no one claimed that it will also help look after our kids. But not for long. There’s an app for that. So is there anything this device cannot do?

Who would have thought that the power of an internet-enabled laptop computer, mobile phone, iPod, fitness tracker, bank card and set of keys could be neatly packaged and strapped around your wrist?

And unlike other futuristic visions of hand-held communicators, the Apple Watch won’t leave you stranded in perilous situations because it’s dropped, stolen or falls out of range because it’s literally always connected to you.

Invisible ubiquity

This raises a key question: how will we change our behavior based on the fact that we are walking around with a fully-fledged computer – one that sits in contact with our bodies and communicates wirelessly with machines around us without us being explicitly aware of it?

According to the marketing spiel, we’ll have a lot more convenience at our fingertips. But, in actuality, we may find ourselves reaching for the mute button, longing to be disconnected, and fed up with all the notifications interrupting us. That’s when the novelty effect wears off.

We have probably witnessed people who cannot resist the urge of pulling out their mobile phone to interact with it at the most inopportune times or who pass their idle time simply looking down at a screen.

Most do not realize they are even interacting with their personal computer devices for hours each day. The repetitive behavior has almost become a type of tic disorder which is neurobehavioural.

We get a message, it makes us feel important. We reply and get a buzz the very next time it happens again. It’s kind of like digital ping pong. And the game can get tangible fast. The main reason this repetitive behavior remains hidden is that the majority of smartphone users suffer from this, so it looks normal.

You can see people in public spaces immersed in virtual places. These Wi-Fi-enabled mobile contraptions can also trigger a host of internet-related addictions, whether used for gaming, answering mail, web surfing, online transactions, social media, we-chatting, or taking a tonne of photographs.

According to experts, internet addiction disorder (IAD) can ruin lives by causing neurological complications, psychological disturbances and social problems. This is not to mention the potential for accidents when people are not looking where they are going or not paying attention to what they should be doing. In short, our need to be always online and connected has become a kind of cybernarcotic drug.

Little device, big data

Very few of us are immune to this yearning for “feedback loops”, so telecommunications operators and service providers pounce on this response. Information is money. And while we are busy interacting with our device, the companies are busy pocketing big money using our big data.

We are fast becoming a piece of digital information ourselves, sold to the highest bidder. And while we are busy rating ourselves and one another, the technology companies are not only using our ratings to learn more about our preferences and sentiments, but rating us as humans. In sociological terms it’s called social sorting, and in policing terms it’s called proactive profiling.

In days gone by, mobile communications could tell data collectors about our identity, location, even our condition. This is not new. But the real-time access and precision of this level of granularity of data gathered is something we should be all aware of as potentially impinging on our fundamental human rights.

Because they interface directly with the human body, watches have the capacity to tell a third party much more about you than just where you’ve been and where you are likely to be going. They can:

  • Detect physiological characteristics like your pulse rate, heart rate, temperature which can say a lot about your home/work/life habits
  • Determine time, distance, speed and altitude information derived from onboard sensors
  • Identify which apps you are using and how and why you are using them, minute by minute
  • Oversee the kinds of questions you are asking via search engines and text-based messages you are sending via social media.

Apple watcher

These watches will become integral to the fulfillment of the Internet of Things phenomenon: the ability to be connected to everyone and everything.

All in all, private corporations can glean what you are thinking, the problems you are facing, and they know your personal context. What is disturbing is that they can divulge some of your innermost personal thoughts, intentions and actions, and have evidence for the reasons we do things.

Many people immersed in the virtual world are too busy to be thinking about the very act of inputting information onto the internet. People value a life of convenience over privacy too much to be genuinely concerned what information is being logged by a company and shared with hundreds of other potential partners and affiliates.

And consumers are often oblivious to the fact that, even if they are doing nothing at all, the smart device they are carrying or wearing is creating a type of digital DNA about their uniqueness.

Today, we are asking to be monitored and are partying in the prison. We have fallen in love with the idea of being told about ourselves and don’t discern that we have become like prison inmates who are being tracked with electronic bracelets.

By the time we wake up to this technological trajectory, it may be all too late. Our health insurance provider might be Samsung, our telecoms provider may be Google, and our unique lifetime identifier could come from Apple. At present, these are the archetypal tech providers. But tomorrow, who knows?

There is no shortage of wearable devices these days that can track and log vast amounts of data about your activities.

And by that time, we will likely be heralding in the age of discontentment where we posit that cellphones and wristwatches are not enough, that the human-computer interface should go deeper, penetrating the skin and into the body.

The new slogan might read “The Mark is Here”, herald the iPlant, that which gives birth to life, the one and only passport to access your forever services.

“You can’t live without it”, may soon no longer be just figurative, but a reality. If you believe the bible, you’ve already known this.