Tag Archives: Remote

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.

 

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Filed under Apple Watch, mobile, 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.

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Lift. I wanted to be inspired, but now I hate you. An App review.

lift logo

Live long and prosper?

Last week, I was having one of those days that started off as a drag and I just need a boost.

Some inspiration to get me going.

I may have been raggin’ on Facebook or something, and someone (seeing my plight) recommended Lift to me.

If you’re not up on Lift, no worries. Neither was I.

Apparently, Lift is a platform that is supposed to “help you succeed at everything.”

According to their website, Lift “employs coaching, community and data, to help you be your best.”

Sort of like a cheerleader in your pocket, inspiring and motivating you.

Happy for the recommendation, I  Googled “Lift” on my iPhone.

Sure enough, it came up.

I followed the link the App Store and eagerly downloaded the app, confident that I had found the thing to put the (missing) pep back into my step.

And then…nothing.

The app was open on my phone but that was all.

No “Welcome to Lift.”

No “Let’s get started.”

No video or animation to guide me.

Nada.

Not one to be daunted by poor UX, I searched for clues for how the app was supposed to work.

There were three buttons in the footer: “Goals,” “Activity,” and “Me.”

Hit each one in succession.

Nada.

Nada.

Nada.

Hmmmm…

Maybe there’s a FAQs link around here somewhere?

Nope.

Perhaps there’s additional info in “Settings.”

Wrong.

I started to have serious misgivings about my people’s recommendation.

I finally realized that I had to set up an account online, which would then ‘unlock’ all of the app’s magical features.

Duh. It would have been nice if they had said that somewhere.

But rather than go on an exhaustive profanity-laced rant about all the things I found wrong with Lift, I decided to give it a good old fashioned review.

So without further adieu…Lift.

Pros

Simple, easy to remember name. Lift. How can you go wrong with that?

Basic UI. Many apps go wrong by trying to cram too much content in a small space. Banners, buttons, drop downs, arrows and menus all vying for some attention from your fat fingers.  Lift doesn’t suffer from button overload. The three buttons in the footer (Goals, Activity and Me) are widely spaced and easy to access.

Singular objective. Lift isn’t trying to be all things to all people. It’s goal is to provide its users with a clear path to success, by helping them to establish habits that, if followed, will improve health, focus and productivity.

Reminder alerts. If you’ve got Lift set up on your iPhone’s notification center, you’ll get a daily reminder to perform your task or tasks for the day.

Cons

Indistinguishable logo. The first time I saw the Lift logo on my phone, I thought I was looking at the Telegram logo. But I could have been looking at Remote. More than once, I’ve opened Telegram, when I intended to open Lift. Lift you should fire your designer.

One of these things is just like the other.

One of these things is just like the other.

Too few options. One of the main criticisms I have of Lift is that you can’t set your own goals. I wanted to be able to establish unique goals and milestones instead of using Lift’s narrow predefined ones. But Lift doesn’t let you customize goals.

Fixed frequency. Lift lets you establish “streaks” – consecutive days of accomplishing your goals. But you can’t set the frequency of when you’ve accomplished goals. If your goal is to work out three times a week, and you work out every other day, Lift won’t acknowledge that you’ve achieved your goal since you didn’t work out on three consecutive days.

No privacy settings. Lift is community based, so everyone can see the goals you’ve set. But I don’t necessarily want to share all of my goals with everyone. I want the ability to create groups (like Google Plus) or define which people see which goals. Unfortunately, with Lift, it’s all or nothing. So if I want to stop flatulating as a goal, everyone will know that I have gastrointestinal issues. No bueno.

‘Discussions’ are flat. Too few of the discussions offer anything meaningful, aside from individual reflections or impressions of the particular goal or exercise.  I don’t know about you, but I can read this type of mindless drivel only so often. Perhaps I’m too jaded, but reading the discussions for “Setting Priorities for Your Day” or “Meditate” made me want to kill myself.

No “how to’s.” When you’re launching something new, it’s typically best practice to assume that your user knows nothing and provide them the tools with which to get started. Otherwise, you get this

Zoolander

All in all, Lift is just okay.

After almost two weeks of Lift, I’m not convinced that it the app for me.

And (unlike my friend) I couldn’t in good conscience, recommend this app (in it’s present state) to anyone.

I’m not gonna be able to do.

Lift, if you’re interested in my opinion, I’d suggest you take a look at the reviews in iTunes.

I’m not talking about the glowing ones that you had your friends write when you first released the app.

I’m referring to the ones where people are complaining that your app sucks, like this one:

App review

Sure, it’s blurry.

But you get the point.

Lift, you’ve got some work to do.

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