Thursday, July 29, 2021

Weekend With Just the Apple Watch: It Is My Smart Feature Phone And Mostly Happy With It

My last feature phone was a Sony flip phone.  It was light and had decent Internet features for 3G connectivity and even lets me add books via text files so I did actually read a couple of classics on the go.  But it could not do was a lot of what my Apple Watch with cellular connection can do like iMessages, monitor my sleep/health/workouts, and listen to podcasts/music. In a way, I think Apple has created a perfect smart feature phone that just sits on the wrist.

My epiphany of Apple Watch is a smart feature phone just so happened over the weekend when I left my iPhone at work and I did not want to go back to the office. After all, I do have my iPad mini when I needed to play games, writing, and some some work.  Oh, and I have my MacBook as well.  When I went out this weekend, it was only me and my watch.

This is how the Apple Watch came in handy:

  • Messaging. Short chats with my brother and a couple of friends.  
    • Tried to view photos sent to me.  It's not easy to see in such a small screen.  I'll get to that later.
  • Checked email. I mostly deleted emails and glanced at a couple that I would review later on the mini after I get home.
  • Received a call but it was from a number I did not recognize. If it had been from someone I know, well, then I would have been able answer it.  I did make a call to order dinner.
  • Bought grocery, meals, and ice cream with Apple Pay on the watch.
    • Entered the Huntington Library using Apple Wallet
  • Jotted down a few words.  This was the difficult part and I'll get to it.
  • Checked on crypto. I wonder like $25 worth.  Less now.  But a couple of my friends are into it and it's a source of conversation.
  • I listen to podcasts, radio, and audiobooks.
  • I tried to upgrade my WatchOS unsuccessfully.  I'll get to that below.
  • Went for two mile-runs each day.
  • Used the new Mindfulness app.
The watch performed as expected - speed, the functions I performed on it was flawless, and the battery life was adequate for what I was doing.  In terms of battery life, I charged it after my workout while having breakfast and by the time I left my home, it was nearly at full charge.  By the time I got home, it varied - 50% on Saturday and about 40% on Sunday.

I do have one major gripe during my weekend with the just the watch.  While I was trying to update the WatchOS, I was unable to proceed after it appears that the update has been downloaded onto my watch because I was required to go to my iPhone to view and accept to the terms from Apple.  

First of all, I don't read the terms at all.  This is Apple.  It's a corporation and we all know when it comes to terms and agreements, it's stacked against the consumers, which means the terms simply says that Apple owns me and if I don't accept, my Apple devices will all just self-destruct, figuratively.  So, I agree and I would have agreed without reading the whole agreement if the Apple Watch had an option for me to just sign my life away with an "ACCEPT" option.  

As you can see, Apple still requires that we go to our iPhone for such things.  I think we are coming to a time when we will see additional decoupling of the Apple Watch from the iPhone and, hopefully, we can use the Apple Watch without the iPhone as a crutch.  I am sure in the near term, this is Apple's way of making sure we stay in the Apple ecosystem as much as possible.  It also means that Apple is working through each issue that we may not be aware of until the Watch can working independently of the iPhone. I think it is why the Apple Watch cannot be activated and used through a Mac or iPad.  It is not that it is technically impossible.  It is just that why bother letting users use their Apple Watches through the Mac or iPad when eventually it will be able to be activated and used independently of the iPhone as well.  That is just my thinking.

Still, Apple, I like to just be able to upgrade the OS without having to return to the iPhone to do that.

One major drawback is that I'm not able to take photos like I do when I have the iPhone with me. Instead, I relied upon my wife to take photos with her Android phone. 

Over all, I feel very liberated. I did not feel any anxiety - I did feel something was amiss at times as my hand instinctive felt my left front pocket of my jeans where my iPhone usually is. and instead of burying myself in the iPhone, I'm paying attention to what is going on around me - good ways and of course watching where I am going. By Sunday, I felt like I can really just leave my iPhone at home longer if I wanted to.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Macbook: The Next One May Not Be A Huge Leap But Expect Apple To Stay Ahead of Everyone Else

 Source:  Appleinsider, Macworld.

Do you compare yourself to others or just your previous self?  I'm not a fan of the former but I am fine with comparing myself harshly but fairly against myself a week ago, a month, ago, a year, ago, and even five years ago.  And sure, once in a while, I'll question what I am doing and how I am doing compared to others in similar positions.  I still favor self comparisons and evaluations.

So, when Apple's latest M1 chip currently powering its lower end MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and 2021 iPad Pro was released late 2020, there were benchmarks after benchmarks that compared Intel-based MacBooks and Windows laptops against the M1 Macs.  And Apple was the clear winner in many if not most of the tests. However, time for those comparisons are over and we should be focusing on the next chip from Apple and how they match up to the M1.  It'll be faster, running cooler, and maybe even smaller but how will it compare to the M1?  That's the comparison we like to see.

And with Apple Germany accidentally unveil a 16" MacBook Pro, we know the time for that comparison, rumors not withstanding, is close.  And while the accidental unveiling was for a MacBook Pro with M1, I think it's likely that we will see the next generation M-chip powering it rather than the nearly year old M1 chip.  

Unfortunately, Apple has been quite tight-lipped about its next CPU update.  There is no short supply of speculation about what the next ship will be called and how many cores it will have or what it will be capable of.  Whether you fall into the M1X or M2 camp, we know it'll be faster.  We do not know if it'll be 10%, 20%, or 50% faster.  100%?  One can only hope but it probably does not work like this.  Apple is continuing to migrate away from Intel and Apple professional class CPU will have to be 2x or more in terms of computing power than what is powering the consumer Macs.  Otherwise, there is no need for professionals to purchase vastly more expensive and more profitable Mac from Apple.

Foe the rest of us, incremental increase in computing power will depend on other factors such as chip design as well as designs to the Mac itself. New memory with greater speed, storage, as well as increased efficiency of MacOS itself. All of these are a factor into why the current M1 Macs are so much faster than their Intel counterparts not to mention even better battery life, all the while using up much less power.

There is also speculation on how Apple will make the next chips faster and more efficient  one way is to increase speed without having to use more power. Apple will also increase the memory which currently limited to 16 GB to 32 or even 64 GB. Again, Apple will do this if it can somehow avoid increasing power usage. Then there is also something others have been hoping Apple will do which is increase the number of cores on the chip.  

We will know in the details in the coming weeks as I expect Apple to begin testing benchmarks or through leaks to the media. We are likely going to see a refresh of the Macs around October when Apple traditionally refresh its products foe the coming Holidays seasons.  

So, if you’re in the market for a new Mac, I suggest you wait unless you find a really great deal on the M1 MacBook Air.  Expectations will be very high as tech fans want to know if the surprises Apple unveil with the M1 was not just a one time event but that it can continue to exceed expectations and deliver and not only stay ahead of the competition but pull even further ahead.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Tracking Naps on Apple Watch Would Be A Welcomed Feature

 As someone who can easily fall asleep, I do not have an understanding of people who have difficulty falling asleep are unable to get a good night’s sleep.  I was not always like this.  When I was young, falling asleep did not come easy for me.  Now that Apple Watch has had sleep tracking since WatchOS 7, it is perhaps one of the most undervalued features that I think most users ignore.  On weekends, I do like to nap and maybe it is a feature Apple should add in future OS upgrades.

As I said above, sleeping comes easy for me.  I keep pretty much alert as anyone else during the day.  I prep for bed around 10 and hit the pillow by 11.  I set my watch to wake up around 6 AM but I tend to get up around 4:30.  It’s not a full 7-8 hours of sleep.  During COVID, I did not sleep longer because I do not save time commuting since my work is within a 10 minute walk.

As you can see here, my sleep is quite consistent.  Oh yeah, the Apple Watch mentioned as much.  On weekends, I like to nap if I happen to be at home with nothing to do.  During this July 4th weekend, my Saturday was very free.  I had gone for a run in the morning, the house was cleaned last week, and I did not have a lot of chores.  Sitting on the couch after lunch, I dozed off for a good two hours.  

If I can go back and add some sleep minutes, that would be a nice feature to have on the Apple Watch or have it automatically ask if I had been napping based on my heart rate and lack of movements of my body.  

It’s too late for WatchOS 8 to have a napping feature.  However, Apple has gone step further with sleep tracking in the upcoming OS.  Now, sleep tracking includes respiratory tracking through the Apple Watch 6’s ability to track movement and oxygen rate in the blood.  

I’m still trying to understand now sleep tracking helps people get a better night’s sleep.  It’s a subject I would like to study a bit more in-depth.  As someone who would like to get the most out of my waking hours, if I can use the sleep metrics to help me do that, I would be very interested.  

I would appreciate any suggestions.

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