Reconsidering the Purpose of my Apple Watch

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So I've been a bit disillusioned of my 38mm Apple Watch lately. (I'd Sell My Apple Watch, But… I'm Still Dreaming of a Killer App)

This morning after writing the scathing review of the LINK I had a slight epiphany. I loved playing with the Apple Watch faces. And while the palette is somewhat limited, you can get a wide range of look and feels from the templates Apple provides. And there's something missing from my experience with my Nike Fuelband. It seems the mono-purpose fitness manager is a bit boring as well. (Apple Watch Sport Edition vs Nike Fuelband)

Today I customized a simple watch face and added a few things to my liking. My goal: see if I can fall in love with my Apple Watch again. Here's what I did.

  • I set the Activity monitor for the day in the upper left-hand corner
  • I set the outside temperature on the upper right corner
  • I changed the second-hand and date to purple
  • I used the bottom user-configurable space to show my next appt from my calendar
  • And I customized the number ring to be fairly minimal

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So it's not rocket science and I wouldn't call myself a watch face designer, it is more functional and to my taste. This is what the Apple Watch does out of the box: configure a watch face to your heart's content, within the given templates.

Here's what the Apple Watch does not do: let me really build a new "innovative" watch face. I can see the next killer Apple Watch app being a well integrated UX/UI version of the current fitness app. Today's fitness app is too rigid. It's too hard to customize your sports or goals.

My advice to Apple, outside of the V2 product, release a real developer toolkit for designing watch faces and integration data points. Let me sell my cool creations on the Apple store, just like a ringtone, for .99 cents.

Today's Apple watch is an extension of the iPhone. Everything about it screams Joni Ive. Let's give some other designers a shot at making this liquid palette into something great.

Dear Apple: FREE THE FACE of the APPLE WATCH.

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)
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I'd Sell My Apple Watch, But… I'm Still Dreaming of a Killer App

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I know what the killer app will be on my Apple Watch. Heck, Apple has gotten half-way there with the Fitness app. But it's not quite right. Here's what I think the killer app would be with this first rev of the Apple Watch. (I have the 38mm sport version.)

The real training app for your Apple Watch would

  • Shows real-time heart rate while exercising.
  • Have a great webpage interface for diving into the deep data. (Does some analytics for you.)
  • Would make recommendations on how to improve your workouts.
  • Not only promotes standing during the day, but suggests you walk up a few extra flights of stairs.
  • Have a better celebration graphics when you hit the goal.
  • Have a cooler watch face to show fitness/workout date AND time.

Today the Apple Watch has NOT lived up to some of my expectations. It's a fine watch. It's a fine text responder. It's good at letting me ask Siri questions without having to pull my phone out of my pocket. BUT, it's not essential. If I have an iPhone (and any Apple Watch user would) then the only really added feature is the Heart Rate monitor.

I want more control over how the heart rate monitor reads my data. (frequency, exports, visual display on a website where I have a big screen, integration)

And the money is ready for a newcomer to build the PAID training app, that could coach and encourage me in a way that Apple is not likely to figure out. Apple designs hardware and some pretty cool software. But the vertical uses of the iPhone were not built by Apple. Until Apple really licenses the Watch OS and allows other manufacturers to build hardware with the Apple Watch technology, we're likely to see a V2 Apple Watch that looks a lot like today's Apple Watch. Thinner, faster, with better battery life, might work for phones, but to get us V1 folks to invest in a V2 watch, Apple is going to have to think different.

Oh, and release the Watch Face developer kits. Let us fanatics get in there and build cooler designs. Apple has an army of designers, but nothing compared to the designers in the world (building cars, and buildings, and ux/ui designs) who might jump on the chance to build their own watch face. And if Apple would let me buy them for 0.99 they might have another market all together.

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)
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The 7-Month Review of the Apple Watch

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My Apple Watch is really just a watch.

Sorry to say it, I really want this to be a life changing technology. But it's still got a long way to go before it's essential. I do need a watch, but I'm considering going back to my Nike Fuelband for time telling.

What the Apple Watch does really well.

  • Tells time.
  • Beautiful pictures and interfaces.
  • Responds to text messages.
  • Tracks my fitness.
  • Heart rate monitor.

 

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What the Apple Watch needs.

  • Better integration with 3rd party apps.
  • Easier access to new Apple Watch apps.
  • More innovative uses of the heart rate monitor.
  • Glances that are powerful and interactive.
  • A killer app.

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Today the Apple watch doesn't do anything the other watches and fitness trackers don't do. If Fitbit can replicate 90% of the functionality of the Apple Watch at half the cost, Apple's got a problem.

The Apple iPhone is the most popular single phone in history. That platform of potential customers should be flocking to the Apple Watch. And while they have sold millions of watches, they have not convinced most of us, that the Apple Watch is essential.

I want to NEED my Apple Watch. Today I just like it. And I don't like it as much as my Nike Fuelband.(What I Really Wanted) Now, I'm sort of happy the Fuelband didn't sell on Craigslist.

Would I recommend anyone buy the Apple Watch? YES. Do you love your iPhone? If the answer is yes, the Apple Watch is a perfect companion device. Many times during the day I can leave my iPhone in my pocket and respond to text messages with my watch alone. But that's a one trick pony.

What does the Apple Watch do that is essential? Hmmm. In my opinion it's NADA. Nothing. Zippo.

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Apple should license the Watch iOS so other companies can take the design to better implementations. When the visualizations of the "future" Apple Watch showed a Nike Fuelband-like watch I was excited. Today, I'm not all that enthusiastic. I'm still wearing it. But I'm also charging my Fuelband again.

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

uber-applewatchlandiaAll the things I've learned about the Apple Watch.

Apple Design vs Windows Updates: One Company Simply Doesn't Care

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Today I was updating my Windows installation. And get this, there were 43 updates required to get me all fixed up. Apple would never consider this an option. Their developers have more respect for the user. MSFT just doesn't care. How else can you explain the pain of managing a Windows environment? You can't. The people developing Windows don't actually have to manage or support Windows environments. If they did, we'd see things a bit different.

I read today that Apple designers and developers are paid at least 50% more than other designers/developers. It's because they think of the entire user experience, just like the Mac vs Windows. Sure, when you have a browser open the experience is about the same. But it's the rest of the stuff you do with your computer, the filing, finding, and storing that makes the two platforms so different. Windows is like a series of folders. You store your documents in folders within folders. On the Mac you have that option too, but the visual representations of your filing system is unlimited in your ability to color, structure, and save your files in creative ways.

The Apple computer was built for creative people. Windows is built for low-cost and most efficiency. Windows literally dumbs down the options. That makes it easier to manage in large enterprise environments. Everything is in your Documents directory.

But the philosophy goes much deeper.

Today I played with a new Apple app called Music Memos. It's free. And it was made lovingly to make recording and saving musical ideas. Apple knew musicians were using voice memos to make recordings. So someone in the group decided to make a better musical sketchpad. I cannot imagine this project would ever see the light of day at Microsoft. For one, it's free. And second, as MSFT moved to a FREE distribution model for Windows 10 upgrades, the started charging money for things like Solitaire. What? That's silly. Do they charge for Mine Sweeper too?

At Apple, the teams are still focused on HUMAN INTERACTION principles. At Microsoft it's pure project management, cost containment, and ship the next version, even if it doesn't work very well. And if it needs 43 updates, that's not a problem, our users have always put up with that insanity. Why change now. Apple recompiles their updaters each time there are changes. And for the most part you can download ONE updater and it will bring your OS up-to-date.

Apple gets the user and writes program and interfaces around the user needs and requirements. Microsoft gets business and the need to crunch numbers both in development of Windows and by the users of Windows. If you're creative and you're on Windows you're limiting your options. And you won't see many people buying anything but Apple when they have to put their own money into the laptop. If you buy your own computer, rather than your company, you are likely to pay more for Apple's design and Apple's OS system that bridges from your computer, to your iPad, to you iPhone better than any Android or Windows solution.

Friends don't let their friends do Windows.

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

Other posts of interest:

Apple Watch Review: My 30-days as Dick Tracy

uber-watch-heartbeatI don't really love the shape of the Apple Watch. I got the smaller one, 38mm. I think the 42mm looks like a small iPhone attached to your wrist. But I've always been a small watch guy. And while at first I was writing off the new iDevice, I fell in love with the idea of the Apple Watch when I saw my first one, on the wrist of a friend and Apple employee. He told me what he liked about the watch.

It's great for responding to texts and alerts while you're in a meeting. The calendaring, if you use alerts and notifications is seamless and transparent to others around you. For the most part, the blips and bleeps can be silenced and turned into vibrations. The call it haptic vibrations, and apparently you can use all kinds of crazy patterns to let you know what kind of alert it is, without looking at the watch at all. But that's not really how I've used mine in the first 30-days.

I didn't buy the Apple Watch because I thought it was going to change my life. And it hasn't. I bought one because I believed the "platform" of the watch face was going to create a significant transformation of the mobile space. Sure the killer app, the reason for the Apple Watch to exist, hasn't really been invinted yet, but the interface and the swiping and poking has. So I wanted to understand, and perhaps even design, apps for the Apple Watch ahead of the masses.

Let's see how the watch has become more than a watch in my first 30-days with it.

Here are my Apple Watch Home Runs. 

  • Text messages and responding to them is easy and intuitive.
  • Incoming phone calls, when I can reach my watch, works reasonably well. It's a bit more like Dick Tracy, talking into the watch. But when you need it, the watch-as-phone is cool.
  • Find my phone functionality is cool. Ping my phone from my watch. Good.

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  • Glances for various apps are quite useful. Date/Calendar, Heart Rate Monitor, Weather, Activity. I've turned off all the other "glances."
  • Fitness and health functionality extends many of the options already available on your iPhone. Most significant is the heart rate monitor. When active, it takes a pulse every hour. A great way to understand your fitness level.
  • Siri on the Apple Watch is amazing. Not 100%. Occasionally I will get better results when I simply use the iPhone. Most of this is because of the displayed results of web searches. The small screen simply doesn't have the room to give me quick and easy selections.

And here are few of the things I've only touched on, but not fully explored.

My Apple Watch Winners

  1. The Workout App. I've used it several times, and it seems to be gathering and aggregating a lot of my workout data into useful chunks. I haven't spent the time with it to know how good or bad that information is. (Workout app review to come.)
  2. Maps and directions has been a bit hit or miss. Usually I'm using my iPhone as the GPS/mapping tool. I don't need my watch to mirror these instructions. If I had my iPhone in my pocket, I suppose these would be awesome.
  3. Apple Music and iTunes. I use my iPhone as a music player when working out. I can pop up an app on my phone to control the playback, but I haven't really needed to. Nice if your iPhone is in your backpack rather than your back pocket.
  4. Camera app. I can see and control the shutter of my iPhone's camera. Again, cool, but I haven't used it. I will try it shortly to do some remote selfies.

Overall Impressions of the Apple Watch:

I'm still not thrilled with the Apple Watch size and format. I am, however, in love with the functionality that allows me to keep my phone in my pocket or computer bag more often. I can do 75% of the things I do with my phone from my watch. The main things I don't do from the watch: make calls, write long texts or emails.

What we will be doing with the "watches" on our wrists in the next few years will seem astounding from today's perspective. Has Apple got a winner. Yes. Is it perfect? No. Should you wait until the next rev? Well, not unless you're okay with us early adopters and innovators figuring out how to make cool stuff for the Apple Watch.

I don't need an Apple Watch. But I'm not ever going back to my Nike Fuelband, that I loved. There are too many improvements. Once you have an Apple Watch you won't be able to live without it. Don't need one today, that's okay, we're going to figure out the killer app and then you won't be able to live without it.

The Future of the Apple Watch

My greatest hope is Apple will allow other manufacturers to embed the Apple hardware into other form factors. I really want an Apple Watch that looks more like my Nike Fuelband. Until Apple loosens the design grip on the watch, I think we'll see small slabs of black glass strapped to our wrists.

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 8.06.09 PM @jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)
permalink: http://uber.la/2015/07/apple-watch-review-30-days/

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Breaking: Apple Announces Watch Sales July 2015 – Business Insider Video

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My Dumb Apple Watch: A Pet Peeve

While the charging system is sort of cool on the Apple Watch, the practical matter is, you have yet one more charging system to keep track of. I'm pretty sure adding a lightning port would've worked and not killed the integrity of the watch. (It's only water-resistant as it is.) Instead Apple went all cool and invented this magnetic disc that charges the watch as if my magic. The only problem is, when you for get your charging disc…

You quickly have an Apple Dumb Watch circa 1980.

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The usage stats said I would have about 15 hours in standby mode, and 5 hours in active mode. But > 2 days in power reserve mode. So I put my watch in PR mode so I would at least have a watch for my 3 days at the beach. I should've brought my Nike Fuelband so I had a backup watch. That's one of the things you have to think about with an apple watch, what to do if it runs out of power. And in its current mode, it's really more of a status symbol, or geek badge, rather than an innovative mobile device.

And this is one of the other odd things about the Apple Watch, sometimes it is hard to know if you put the watch in a mode using the watch, or if you have to use the Apple Watch app on your phone. And when your watch is in dumb mode you're usage screen looks like this.

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Nothing. The watch is no longer communicating with the phone. And the problem with this is I have no idea how to get the watch out of dumb mode. I'd consider buying another charging system in town if I were really dependant on the watch, but I've not quite integrated it into my lifestyle. I do love the texting responses and the alerts about email and notifications. But over all, today, the Apple Watch is a nice to have, not a must have. It *IS* however much more of a utility device than my iPad. The watch is certainly a THIRD DEVICE, but there are a few kinks that need to be worked out in the Watch OS. And we still need a KILLER WATCH APP.

Apple's insistence on being innovative over practical is a Apple Watch Killer. I am surrounded by iPhones and lightning chargers with no way to charge my Apple Watch.

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John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)
permalink: http://uber.la/2015/07/my-dumb-apple-watch/

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Apple Watch: Finding Glances and Crashing Apps

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I've been spending some time with the Apple Watch. And I've been scattering my experiences along the way.

Today I'm going to show you one of the design fails of the Apple Watch as I show you how to access Glances. And why they should've made the "swipe up for glances" gesture more universally available, like on the iPhone. Today it's only available from the watch face. But a new Watch OS was announced a few weeks ago, so we'll see if they update the Glances access from the apps screen as well.

And I'm going to show you what it looks like when an app crashes. My Fitness app is dead. I suppose I have to reset or reboot the apple watch to force quit the app. But at the moment I can't use one of the best features of the apple watch, the fitness tracking based on activity and goals.

Here's my quick video on Glances and what a crashed app looks like on an Apple Watch.

How to force quit a crashed app:

  • Press and hold the side button in (the button just below the Digital Crown) until the shut down screen appears.
  • Let go of the side button, then press and hold it again.
  • That's it. You'll be returned to the apps screen and the pesky crashed app can be relaunched.

Stay tuned and get in step with my other posts about the Apple Watch.

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)
permalink: http://uber.la/2015/06/apple-watch-finding-glances/

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Apple Watch: Reboot Day One; Starting Over

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The other day, Apple replaced my bricked Apple Watch. No hassles, just a new watch to reconfigure and pair with my phone. Nice.

I'm still amazed by a few of the tasks that are hard to accomplish. For example:

  1. I'm always tapping to open an app, the icon bumps and should open but it doesn't. I know it's not the pressure. Maybe my fat fingers, but… The icon jumps as if I had selected it, but the app does not open. Frustrating.
  2. Glances are hard to find. You'd think they'd make it easier to find certain features on your watch. One of the "Glances" I am constantly trying to open is the Heart Beat Monitor. But I can't find it. I should be able to swipe one direction or another to bring up Glances. (I'm going to have to watch a damn video to learn how to access the most common "glances" on my Apple Watch? #FAIL
    UPDATE: To Uber.la How to access Glances on the Apple Watch you swipe up when the clock face is showing. Why not when the damn apps are showing too! UX fail!
  3. Some security setting between my phone and my Apple Watch says it cannot sync the health data. I keep going back to the phone, the Apple Watch App settings, the iPhone settings, and I still can't figure out what is no set to ALLOW.
  4. Phone calls on the watch are awful. If you think looking like Dick Tracy is cool, and you're in a very quiet environment, maybe… But to me the phone alert is not an opportunity to answer it through the watch. Maybe if I hook up my bluetooth headphones, I'd think differently.
  5. Why aren't there more apps ready for Apple Watch integration? What's the hold up on a Facebook App?
  6. Asking Siri for help provides ZERO help. I have tried in every way to get her to help me open Glances or the Heart Monitor. She refuses. Saying I don't have an app called Glances or an app called Heart Rate Monitor.

All in all, the watch is still cool and very useful in telling time and responding to texts. And the health data it's going to be able to provide, once I figure out how to get it all talking and syncing correctly… That's going to be cool.

But right now I can't figure out how to open the Heartrate monitor glance so I can watch my resting rate go up as I'm more and more frustrated with my Apple Watch.

Several Meta-Apple-Watch Observations:

  1. The watch IS an amazing feat of engineering.
  2. Health and Wellness information on our phones is a big deal, the Apple Watch adds ongoing heart rate monitoring so you can watch your physical improvements even if you're not specifically trying to use it for that.
  3. Responding to our daily mobile communications is a lot of texts and emails. The Apple Watch is great for texts, fair for emails and awful for phone calls.
  4. The Apple Watch as a platform for developing the next killer mobile app is defacto. They have sold more than all other smart-watches combined in less than 3 months.

Apple's engineering has pulled another rabbit out of it's hat. The smart-watch will be ubiquitous in a few years, like the fitness bands are today. But with the Apple Watch you've got everything else AND a fitness band, with a heart rate monitor. What we are going to do with it, that's another story. One I am hoping to have a hand in as well. The watch is a new platform, like the iPhone and the iPad before it. Everything is changing in the mobile space with the development and adoption of this new device.

It's not MORE intrusion and MORE tethering. The Apple Watch allows the same amount of connectivity with less interruptions. I love being able to ignore an incoming call or email without having to pull out my phone.

Next up: THE ESSENTIAL APPLE WATCH GUIDE (All the things I've learned to love and hate about the Apple Watch.)

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)
permalink: http://uber.la/2015/06/apple-watch-reboot-day-one/

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