Category Archives: Apple Watch

It shouldn’t be so hard to fall in love. An expert’s review of the Apple Watch.

Apple_Watch_OmniFocus

Late last year I let one of my friends borrow my Apple Watch and take it for a test drive.

His wife was contemplating buying him one for his birthday, but he wasn’t quite sure he wanted her to drop that kind of cash for what I had already told him was an expensive toy.

The basic issue (beyond cost) was whether the utility of the Apple Watch justified being perpetually monitored.

For him, unless the Apple Watch did something materially better than the iPhone, he wasn’t interested in having Apple (or anyone for that matter) knowing exactly where he was at all times.

And he wasn’t one of those always-on-his-phone types, so I knew that not being tracked (or trackable) was not some conspiracy theorist type objection, but a very real objection he had to this always-on culture of today.

So it was not without a bit of excitement that I handed over my watch, knowing that dude was about to go in on the Apple Watch.

You see, I’m a casual user of my Apple Watch.

I’ve never been so impressed with it that I took a deep dive to uncover the little kernels of goodness that would covert me into a fan.

My initial critiques weren’t positive.

The watch face is small.

Navigation isn’t terribly intuitive.

Doesn’t have a heck of a whole lot of utility beyond glances.

And as a casual user, I felt that my perspective was uninformed.

But now I had someone who was willing to apply a very scientific approach and take the Apple Watch through it’s paces.

Mark Hines aka “Yoda” aka “He Who Sees the Future” aka “The Brain” was going to go completely desconstruct the Apple Watch and share his feedback with me.

A bit of background on his testing is in order.

There are three (3) primary apps Mark rocks on his iPhone in order of importance: OmniFocus, Remote and Wink.

OmniFocus (which I’ve written about before) is a personal task manager that lets you capture thoughts and ideas into lists which you can then parse and organize.

Remote is the iOS app which allows you to control you iOS devices via your iPhone.

Wink is a smart home app that lets you control connected home appliances from your iPhone.

Combined with apps like Shazam, these apps were the apps that factored significantly in Mark’s daily flow and the ones he wanted to test on the Apple Watch.

One month later, he felt he had arrived at a place where he could report back.

It was not good.

His initial impression was that as another iOS device, it should have been plug-and-play right out of the box.

But it was anything but that.

It was – inelegant.

He went into excruciating detail about the level of effort required to get OmniFocus to work on the Apple Watch (similar to how he had set it up on the iPhone) and the workflow hacks he needed to have Wink work in a more streamlined fashion than was possible out-the-box.

One of his biggest hurdles was having Siri send reminders not to the default To-Do list or calendar, but to OmniFocus instead, which involved working with the cats at Omni (big ups to The Omni Group) who took Mark’s feedback and incorporated them into subsequent builds, which enabled him to hit that ‘sweet spot’.

Besides the limitations of the Watch version os most apps, the one thing that drove Mark absolutely bonkers was the fact that if you were outside the range of your iPhone, the Apple Watch was rendered – essentially – useless.

Mind you, Mark lives in a modestly sized apartment.

So you can imagine his chagrin being in another room, less than 30 feet away from his iPhone, and finding that the watch was no longer connected.

Having to be cognizant of where the phone was, relative to the location of the watch, felt counterintuitive, especially considering the Apple Watch’s promise to free the user from their phones.

The reality is that you’ve still got an invisible tether, requiring you to stay close to your phone or lose functionality.

Sure, some things still work, but none of the basic things you’d probably want like messaging, Mail, the phone, Maps, Camera Remote, Weather, and Stocks.

These features rely on an active data connections or GPS signals, neither of which an Apple Watch can do without an iPhone.

Siri also won’t work as it requires a data connection to process commands.

I could give you a watered down version of his assessment, but I’ll just share his actual written report.

Report to Stephen:

I been keeping a journal. Really hated it the 1st week. Took DUMB troubleshooting and tech support to get OmniFocus working. Then further calibration to make it behave the way I wanted…Yesterday was the 1st full day having it actually do the things I envisioned.

I don’t hate it now, but need to exercise it. OmniFocus, Remote and Wink (home automation) are the sweet spot for me. Without those, I definitely wouldn’t care for this at all. With them, I may be on the brink of something special.

No, dude, I literally hated it.

I hit an ill stride today where I can spit into it and I’m catching OmniFocus gems I have lost many times before ‘cuz I was looking around for my phone and when I found it, I forgot what I was gonna put in.

Getting stuff in my head, out and into Omni, path of least resistance, is pure gold. I’ll know in like a week what’s really hood. I know they average cat ain’t jumping thru all these hoops I am so, the thing out the box is under impressive.

You gave a totally accurate review.

Omni’s support was solid but they didn’t have the solution. I created one and shared it back with them. I couldn’t even install that shit onto the watch till Tuesday.

I don’t think a nigga should have to try so hard to fall in love.

A nigga shouldn’t have to try so hard to fall in love.

Deep.

 

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Apple Watch, mobile, technology

Top Tech Trends of 2015. A top 5 list.

homer

As 2015 draws to a close, we’re inundated with lists.

Best of lists.

Epic fails lists.

Prediction lists.

Everyone’s trying to get in on that end of year metrics booster as people search for reports, studies and stats on how well we did this year or how well we’re predicted to do next year.

I am no different.

But I’m not particularly interested in offering any scientific or metrics-based opinions.

I’ve read no studies to support any of what I’m about to say.

No reports inform my perspective.

In fact, I’ve been told by at least one person, that my list is bunk.

Kick rocks.

I know what the fuck I’m talkimbout’.

Anywho, I think we can all agree that 2015 was a banner year for tech.

This year, we saw curved screens, wearables, virtual reality, and streaming music explode.

Everyone had skin in the game and we (consumers) benefited from all of it.

Everywhere you looked, technology was changing the way we did things, the way we saw things and the way we interacted with the world around us.

And that trend is likely to continue unabated.

So here are my top 5 tech trends of 2015 (in no particular order).

Wearables are a thing.

wearables_tech

Without question, 2015 was the year of wearables. Anyone who was anyone wanted to create a wearable device, demonstrating that they ‘got it’ when it came to wearable technology. While brands like Tag Heuer had their head turning high end $1,800 Android watch, one wearable stood out among the rest: The Apple Watch. Heralded as the device that would ‘free people from their phones’ (considering the fact that it’s a tethered device – that’s a bit of an overstatement, but nonetheless) Apple sold more than 4.2 million watches in the second quarter of this year, making it the most successful wearable device ever. I’m not a fan (be on the look out for my expert’s review) of the Apple Watch, but I’ve got to give props where they are due and the Apple set the bar for wearable lifestyle integration.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

the-cloud

2015 was the year that Cloud came into it’s own. Principally, in the form of highly publicized hacks. Who can forget last year’s infamous Apple iCloud hack. Seeing Jennifer Lawrence’s naughty bits brought the issue squarely into – ahem – focus. Ashley Madison’s subsequent hack once again showed the vulnerability of data in the cloud. But where many see problems, cloud providers and security experts see opportunity. The demand for cloud services will invariably increase due to the advantages of high computing power, low costs, high performance, scalability, accessibility and availability, and cloud vendors are reaping the benefits with 50% annual growth rates. Data breaches will continually be the bane of virtual data storage, but cloud is definitely the future and the trend clearly got a foothold this year.

Drones, drones everywhere!

amazon drone

In 2013, when Jeff Bezos introduced the planned delivery drones of Amazon Prime Air on 60 Minutes to the befuddlement of Charlie Rose, it was a fantastic and futuristic moment. Two years later, drones are an every day part of our lives. Whether it’s the small toys for kids, the more advanced camera toting variety or Amazon’s delivery drones, drones have become a defining element of 2015. Drone were so prolific this year they prompted legislators to draft bills prohibiting them and the FAA to issue regulations regarding flight ceilings to prevent their unfettered use in airspace by the general population. Drone technology continues to advance as innovative applications are constantly being developed.

Mobile became a gateway.

mobile gateway

Mobile is the gateway to everything. The explosion in social media, wearables, IoT, streaming, cloud all owe their origin to mobile. Mobile has become one of the largest contributors to retail, providing a cushion to waning brick and mortal sales. The use of mobile in stores, to scan barcodes, search for comparable items, and pay all from the same device has increased the frequency and number of touch points that can be exploited by brands to help influence consumer behavior. The sheer amount of data generated by mobile users is a treasure trove for brands interested in harnessing the value of that data. As users become device agnostic, opting to use the device appropriate for the moment, mobile will become synonymous with ‘mobility’ and not devices.

Social Media

social media

Photograph: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Social media has become a disruptive element to virtually every space. From finance to politics to the reporting of world events, social media has helped spread information light years faster than traditional media. Breaking news is no longer coming from news outlets, but from people on-the-ground broadcasting events in real time to online followers and members of their digital social networks. Nowadays media outlets are piggybacking on stories sourced from social media, with the more savvy media outlets devoting entire units to social media listening. Social media has also grown niche audiences, speaking to its power to engage both mainstream and previously less engaged or insular communities.

The items that didn’t make this list (because I was lazy or harangued by my more critical peeps – you know who you are) include: machine to machine, 3D printing, digital pay – I could go on.

Suffice it to say, this is just an entré for a deeper discussion for 2015’s top trends.

What other trend stood out for you in 2015? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Leave a comment

Filed under Apple Watch, iPhone, mobile, social media, technology

I’m sorry Apple Watch. I miss you.

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 12.28.30 PM

It’s been exactly one week since I let my business partner, Mark, borrow my Apple Watch and my feelings of withdrawal are palpable.

His wife wanted to get him an Apple Watch for his birthday, and he asked if he could take mine for a test drive before she dropped coin.

He’d previously heard me complain that the Apple Watch wasn’t all that, and he wanted to assess it for himself.

So I unpaired it from my iPhone and let him rock out.

What did I care, it was just a stupid toy, right?

One week later, as I reflect on how much I’ve maligned the Apple Watch, as being an expensive and glorified toy, I’m starting to realize the error of my ways.

Dare I say, I miss my watch?

I no longer have the convenience of doing the simple things like glancing at my watch for the time, or more sophisticated tasks like getting turn-by-turn directions.

I’ve been reduced to pulling out my phone for these tasks, which I thought were mere trifles when performed on my watch, but I now see were much more than that.

They were convenience.

How could I have been so wrong?

You’re probably asking yourself, “what is this fool talkimbout?”

I’ll tell you what I’m talkimbout.

Ever since I got the Apple Watch as a birthday gift from my wife, I’ve been fairly consistent in my characterization of it as a glorified – and expensive – toy.

Sure, it’s cute.

Sure, it’s got a nice design.

Sure, it’s baked with apps and loads of ‘cool’ features.

But so friggin’ what?

It’s not all that!

Whenever anyone noticed my watch and asked me what I thought, I’d give them the following rundown:

“The Apple Watch is a nice toy. But that’s all it is – a toy. Since I’ve had it, I use it mostly for the alerts: new emails, text messages, incoming phone calls, the activity monitor. It’s got other features, like the ability to make and receive phone calls, but what am I? Dick Tracy? Making phone calls from your wrist is just awkward. You can also control other iOS devices, using the Remote app on the watch, but that’s also not the best user experience. Or taking photos. Unless you remember to use the time delay mode, all your shots will have you pressing your wrist. Texting? Talk to text. You can send either a voice message or the text version of your message from your watch. And you can also ask Siri to perform certain tasks, but invariably, you’ll probably use your iPhone instead. All in all, it’s cute, but I wouldn’t spend money for it.”

One week without my watch, and I’m truly starting to appreciate that I derived significant utility from my watch.

For all the things I claimed I wasn’t or wouldn’t use it for, there were a host of things that I was using it for.

Like those damn alerts.

I’ve always got my phone on silent.

No vibrate.

Not low.

Silent.

So whenever any alert came to my phone, invariably unless I was using it at the time, I missed it.

Phone calls, text messages, emails, breaking news, whatever – I’d receive well after they were delivered.

It wouldn’t be like an hour later – usually a few minutes or so.

But my response time was usually unintentionally delayed because of this gap.

With my watch, I could intentionally delay my responses or not, because I knew when the notification arrived.

The other day, a friend of mine from high school hit me up on Facebook asking if she should get the Apple Watch for her son for Christmas.

And I gushed.

Apple Watch praise

I couldn’t even help myself.

For all my smack talking about the Apple Watch being a toy, when asked, I offer an unabashed endorsement.

One week later without it, and I’m slowly realizing exactly how much my Apple Watch means to me…

If you’re in the market for an Apple Watch, then you should definitely check out the reviews out there for a less impassioned perspective.

Leave a comment

Filed under Apple Watch

Apple Care+ FAIL! Geniuses my arse!

cracked apple watch

Note: You can read this long ass post or skip to the end and watch my video recap instead. The choice is yours!

This post was originally going to be a rant about the Top 10 Things I hated about iOS 9 (.1, .2, etc.), but my recent trip down the Apple Genius Support rabbit hole has me too hot to poke jovial fun at them.

Why am I all hot and bothered, you ask?

Well, because a few weeks ago, after working out and sculpting my exquisite ebony physique, I opened my locker, pulled out my gym bag and heard the distinct shatter of Ion-X glass.

A chill ran up my spine as I slowly looked down to see my precious Apple Watch.

Face down on the cold granite floor.

Even before I reach down to picked it up by one of it’s delicate rubber straps, I knew.

The sound I heard was true.

A horrible crack coursing along the length of the bottom and up the watch face greeted me as I turned it over.

Running my finger over the fissures, I could feel the splintered glass.

Damn! Damn! Damn!

Although I’ve maligned the Apple Watch as a mere toy, it was an expensive toy to which I’d become accustomed.

It’s once annoying subtle haptic taps had become welcomed reminders, alerting me to meetings, calls and milestones reached.

And it told time!

But all was not lost.

You see, I had Apple Care+, so getting this fixed would be nothing but a chicken wing.

When I got back to the office, I popped open my MacBook to schedule a repair appointment.

Alas, there were no appointments anywhere local until the following day.

So I made an appointment to take my watch into the Apple Store at Grand Central at noon.

When I arrived, I was seated by one of the Geniuses, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I waited for an hour and a fucking half before I had to just grab someone and be like “What the fuck?! I’ve been here an hour and a half, is anyone going to help me?”

Befuddled, the genius (notice I’ve gone to lowercase “g”) asked me my name, my appointment time, why I was there (didn’t you have all this already when I checked in?) and scurried off.

A few minutes later (I was giving her the evil eye the entire time – lest she forget her charge) she returned to advise that someone would “be right with me.”

True to her word, two minutes later a multiple-piercing sporting, gauge-earing wearing, mohawk rocking vertically challenged genius walked over to “assist” me.

When I showed him my watch, he told me that they didn’t perform these types of repairs in-house and that my watch would have to be sent out for repair.

He further advised me that it would cost me $79 (or something in that neighborhood) when the repair was done, which I would pay when I came to pick up my watch.

Finally, he said that it would take five to seven days for the work to be done, but that I would get an email notifying me of everything we had discussed.

The entire transaction took 90 seconds.

I waited an hour and a fucking half to essentially hand over my watch.

Un-be-fucking-lievable.

Mind you, did I get a confirmation email, like I did when I scheduled my appointment?

Did I get a follow-up email five to seven days later?

Did I receive any communication whatsoever from Apple regarding my repair.

Thrice, “no”.

And I was missing my watch.

So on the one week anniversary of dropping off my watch, I called Apple Support.

I actually called the Grand Central Station Apple Store at (212) 284-1800, but once I selected ANY option, I was re-routed to their general support call center.

After running the automated attendant gauntlet, I was connected with a human who established that:

  1. I was never assigned a Repair Id typically issued with every repair
  2. The Case No + Serial number combination typically used to track repair orders in lieu of the Repair No. didn’t work

When she finally pulled up my repair status, it confirmed that my watch had, in fact, been left with Apple at Grand Central for repair.

And it further showed that it had been received by the service center, assessed and that a replacement product was ‘pending’.

To figure out why I hadn’t received any notice and resolve the hold up, the operator asked me to hold for a few minutes so that she could contact someone at the Grand Central store for some answers – and presumably reunite me and my watch.

A few minutes on hold became five minutes, then ten, then fifteen before she rejoined to ask me if I wouldn’t mind waiting a little longer while she attempted to get someone at the store.

At this point, I had been on the call for over 30 minutes and wasn’t keen on holding longer.

“I gave you my number at the start of the call in the event we got disconnected, can’t you just call me back when you reach someone?”

“Oh no! We can’t call you back. You’ve got to stay on the line.”

“Well what would you have done if we had been disconnected?”

Silence.

“You know what, I’m going to go.”

By this point, I had learned that the store should have had my watch on premises and decided it made more sense to go to Grand Central and handle it personally than wait on hold for the operator to talk to someone at Grand Central.

Which is what I was originally trying to do before being re-routed to their call center.

But I digress.

Not looking for a repeat of my previous trip, I accosted the first person I encountered with a genius shirt and iPad and asked where my watch was.

Befuddled (they’re always befuddled), the genius asked for my repair id and serial number, plugged them into her iPad and reported that the repair center had determined that the watch could not be repaired and my watch was going to be replaced.

Duh!

She then traipsed off to the back to see if my watch was in stock.

Returning five minutes later, she told me that there was no inventory, but that I’d receive an email when they had more inventory.

I wasn’t going to be so easily put off.

“Can you see if another store has the watch?”

Connecticut.

“Can you ask them to send it?”

Apparently just because it showed up on her iPad as being in their inventory didn’t necessarily mean that they had it in store, and “no” they couldn’t ship it to me.

Satisfied that I was one step closer, I left on her promise that I would be notified when my watch was in stock.

That was one week ago.

Have I been notified?

Do I have my watch?

Negatory.

Oh, it’s on!

New tactic: chat.

I wanted to make sure I had a record of the tom foolery that Apple was putting me through, so I hit them up via chat.

Surprisingly, “Kathleen” was on-point.

She found my repair record, reviewed the notes, and listened to my experience with a sympathetic ear (or eye rather, since it was all being communicated via text – but you get my meaning).

Per Kathleen:

According to our Dispatch, due to a recent update in our system, the store should be providing you a replacement, directly from their stock, which is what Dispatch thought they were doing. It appears the store wasn’t aware of this, which is why I’d like to have a Phone Advisor contact the store with you on the line, to set it up so you can get it right away.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

True to her word, someone was called me while we were still on our chat.

Gratified, I thanked her profusely, let her go and continued my saga with the “Phone Advisor” who was going to get results!

Or so I thought.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

This little hussie wanted to argue with me about what they were telling her at the store.

Why hussie, you ask?

Well because I was on hold for an HOUR only to have her come back and tell me the same shit they initially told me when I called a week prior.

Every time I tried to explain why what she was telling me was pure crap, she starting taking on top of me Apple-splaining why “product replacement pending” meant “repair in progress.”

I was too through.

Too. Through.

I told her that I needed her to put someone else on the phone who could help me, and that’s when I received the coup de grace – Marlene Caldera, Apple Care iOS Senior Advisor.

Now we’re getting somewhere, right?

Wrong!

She got on the call, all official-like, promising that she would own this issue through resolution.

Impressive sounding indeed.

But it was all downhill from there.

She explained that “product replacement pending” actually meant that my Apple Watch could not be repaired, so the store had ordered a replacement watch, and that replacement was not yet in.

Confused, I advised Marlene that this was contrary to what Kathleen had explained about the store replacing my watch from inventory, as well as what the (so-called) genius at Grand Central had represented.

And then our call was promptly dropped.

Yes. You heard me correctly.

Our call was dropped.

As in dial-tone.

Luckily, Marlene had provided me with her direct contact details for just such an event.

So I called her back.

And got her voicemail.

And called her again an hour later.

And got her voicemail again.

And called her a third time an hour later.

And got her voicemail thrice (it’s my word o’ the day).

Way to own this issue, Marlene.

Did Marlene call me back.

Am I pissed as hell?

Well lets just say…

f you guys

Apple is making me very angry, and as Bill Bixby used to say…

I’ve got a few takeaways from my recent experience:

1. Apple Care+ is not the service it’s positioned to be. The service I received makes me wonder why I even paid for it.

2. Never, I repeat never go to the Apple Store at Grand Central Station. It’s one of the nine circles of hell from Dante’s Inferno.

3. Don’t drop your watch. They break and replacing them is a bitch.

For those of you who don’t like to read, here’s my video rant.

2 Comments

Filed under Apple Watch

Resistance is futile. Confessions of an Apple Watch owner.

Stephen's Apple Watch

A few days ago, I got the email I’d been waiting for months to receive.

It said, “your apple watch has arrived.”

I was in Bermuda at the time, installing a music library in Marcus Samuelsson’s eponymous restaurant, Marcus‘ at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, so my glee was tempered by distance.

But over the next few days, I fantasized non-stop about how amazing my life was about to become.

My watch and I were about to become the best of friends.

I knew, I just knew, that my Apple Watch was a game changer and my life was going to be infinitely richer as a result.

But as I headed into Manhattan on a dreary Monday morning, I started to have misgivings.

Would I become one of those people constantly checking their wrist, desperate to see the source of the latest ping or buzz?

Was I trading up to yet another useless gadget full of sound and fury, yet signifying nothing?

My Shakespeare folks will appreciate that.

I digress.

We’re already a tethered society.

We can’t seem to put our phones down.

Every ten seconds we’re reading our emails, responding to texts, checking Facebook or engaged in some other inane activity involving a mobile device.

And that’s with a device we can put down.

What happens with that device is inextricably tied to our person?

What then?

I can’t help but think of the Borg.

The cybernetic beings from the Delta Quadrant that assimilated their victims, making them part of a collective or hive mind.

You know, the big cube thing from Star Trek, The Next Generation.

the-borg

Each cyborg (hence “Borg”) was a undifferentiated part of the whole, sharing their thoughts and sensory input with them.

When you were captured by the Borg, they didn’t kill you.

Mechanical components were added to your anatomy, stripping you of your humanity and making you a part of the collective.

Hence “assimilated.”

I know I’m probably being dramatic, but this thought keeps popping into my head: “Resistance is futile.You will be assimilated.”

I mean, sure, the Apple Watch can collect data on its wearer.

And it can share that data with Apple or the app developer, which then knows information about the wearer, but that’s not so bad. Is it?

Wait a minute…

Am I being assimilated?

Is resistance futile?

Once I put on the watch, is there no turning back?

Only time will tell.

Four days in, and I’m fighting the good fight.

I do not automatically look at my wrist whenever a haptic alert beckons.

I shall not fall prey to your Siren song Apple Watch! Damn you to hell!

But resist as I may, I can already feel the endorphin rush whenever my wrist buzzes.

Each vibration draws me further down the rabbit hole.

And once I glance at her, even for a moment, I’m infatuated.

“Her?” It’s a fucking watch! WTF is the matter with me?!!

I mean really. I’ve only really checked out a few functions.

Like the activity monitor, which I clowned, is actually quite useful.

activity monitor

After plugging in your gender, age, height and weight, you can set daily fitness goals, and the watch will prompt you to stand, or exercise in order to keep you on track.

Yesterday, I hit my fitness goal of burning 720 calories. I actually burned 932 by walking 7.5 miles, exercising for 75 minutes and standing for sixty seconds once every hour for twelve hours.

I’m pretty awesome, says my watch.

Or the Remote app, which lets you control your other iOS devices when you’re on the same wi-fi network.

Last night, I got in four episodes of Game of Thrones on HBO Go on Apple TV, all controlled through my handy dandy Apple Watch.

game-of-thrones-hbo-go

Or Chat, which lets you read and respond to text messages right from your wrist.

I’ve had numerous chat conversations without typing a single character.

I just speak into my watch, Dick Tracy style, and my words magically appear on the screen.

And I can choose to send my voice memo or the text equivalent.

dick-tracy

I can even send emojis to spice things up a bit.

Wait…have I already been assimilated?

Nah!

Just taking it for a test drive so that I can tell all of you.

Yeah. That’s the ticket!

Anywho, I have not (yet) been assimilated, although I suspect it’s not far off….

Damn Apple!

Haven’t had enough of my ramblings? Check out my video review of the Apple Watch below!

Leave a comment

Filed under Apple Watch, iPhone