Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Two weeks and one trip with the Apple Watch

I will admit I have really been excited since the Apple Watch announcement to get a smart watch on my wrist to make my life easier. I was a little envious of my Android friends that already had smart watches. I didn't care that they looked clunky or cheesy. I just wanted access to data quickly on my wrist.

I eagerly ordered my watch on April 10th and hoped it would arrive on April 24th and to my delight it did come on Friday April 24th at 1:40 in the afternoon. By 2:15 I had it unboxed, paired to my phone and begun the task of configuring my watch.

Setup was pretty easy and after asking it to mirror my iPhone for preferences I just had to wait for apps to install and the watch to be completely ready but I could wear it in the mean time. I thought the look didn't matter but after slipping the stainless steel watch with milanese loop on my wrist I realized the look does matter.

For the most part my watch goes largely unnoticed looking like a normal but somewhat large watch. When it gets attention is when I do something that a watch doesn't do and even a Android watch still lacks. Paying for purchases at the store with Apple Pay, or answering my phone when my phone isn't in easy reach just to name a couple of examples.

So far I use my watch as a quick way to:

  • triage my notifications
  • answer my phone
  • check a recent voicemail
  • pay at stores with Apple Pay
  • find a local Starbucks and pay for my coffee
  • request an Uber car
  • scan my boarding pass at the air port
  • check into my hotel from the car so everything is ready when I arrive
  • check the weather
  • monitor my activity levels
  • keep tabs on the weather
  • turn lights off and on in my home with Hue
  • as a remote for keynote or powerpoint
  • quick email triage
  • monitor my workouts
  • use Siri to set reminders and appointments
  • check what is next on my calendar 
I'm sure there is more that I do with it but it has become so enmeshed with my daily life I am already starting to not think about it. I just put it on as soon as I get out of bed and wear it until I am ready to go to sleep. 

The battery life is even better than expected. I have gone past 18 hours of using my watch and still had 25% of my battery left to spare. I haven't needed to use the Power Reserve Mode yet after two weeks of heavy use and charging nightly. 

A few things I found surprising in the watch was the ability to Ping my phone when I leave it somewhere. Something I do quiet a bit at home and in the office. Although less now that my phone doesn't leave my pocket nearly as much during the day. The phone and watch also mirror each other in Do Not Disturb and Airplane modes. Of course once you put it in airplane mode you will need to access both devices to get them out of airplane mode. 

The watch faces are delightful and while there are not many of them, they are all customizable and all look good. Mickey faces opposite directions in the morning and in the evening. The animations for the moon and the planets are very smooth and rolling the digital crown can show where the planets will be or were on a given date.

As for the things I am not crazy about, the load times for third party apps is quiet long. I am sure it is to preserve the battery life but wouldn't it benefit battery life more to load quickly so I can get back to whatever else I might want to be doing? I wish there was a setting to allow the user to set how long the watch face stays active when it is being viewed and to be a little more lenient when I put my arm down or change position to not think I have turned away and turn off the screen immediately. I wish the sensors on the watch did more. After seeing the new Jawbone UP 3 having temperature sensors to measure both ambient and skin temperature. As well as a bioimpedance sensor which could be cool add ons for the quantified self. I want my watch to tell me when I am getting stressed and encourage me to call down a bit.   

The things we don't know yet, will it be upgradable? I would love to see an Apple watch update program which would make sense for the price point and peoples tendency to keep watches. I know as Apple develops the watches they will get thinner and they styling will be enhanced. It would be great if people who wanted the new style could just buy a new watch but people who like the style they have be able to upgrade the internals when a faster CPU, more memory, improved battery, or more sensors become available. 

The OLED display is absolutely beautiful and is easy to read in bright light. The watch fit and finish feels like a very high quality and something I could wear for a long time to come. Overall it is a beautiful watch with a lot to like. Now that it is getting into the hands of developers something that is already useful is going to go crazy with possibilities. As time goes on Apple will loosen the reigns a bit and let developers take the watch even further. 

The Apple watch was an excellent 1.0 device from Apple and I am excited to see where it goes in the future and how it will tie in with HomeKit and other future Apple technologies. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Predictions for the Apple Spring Forward Event

I love writing prediction pieces, it is fun todo and gives me a chance to imagine what I would design or like to use if it was made available. We already know Apple is going to talk about details of the Apple Watch. We will finally get pricing on the mid range and high end watches, as well as ship dates and pre-order dates. I can't wait to line up to get my Apple Watch.

Analysts are predicting 5 million units have been made, I think that will not cover the opening weekend demand for the new device. I bet sales will be strong and supplied constrained until summer. The entry level watch and mid tier the big sellers with just a few high end watches being sold. Estimates that the high end watch being around $5,000 is probably not far off base. For that price Apple I believe will announce the devices to be the most upgradable device ever with internal component upgrade options in the future for a substantially more modest price or the Edition and maybe the mid tier watches.

The demos will of course include some highlights from developers doing some amazing things with the watch software. I hope some of the health information rumors are just that rumors, I hope the device has the ability to monitor stress levels and remind the wearer to calm down. I know this writer could use that reminder from time to time. I will be surprised to see if it can monitor blood pressure but heart rate should be fairly simple.

I will say that accessories for the Apple Watch will also sell very well. I would bet that most owners of the mid tier and edition models will probably choose two or three band options and the price of the magnetic bands or more modern clasps will certainly be higher than what we see with traditional watch band tech.

Overall I expect that Apple watch to be a huge hit and outsell the rest of the smart watch industry and likely take the traditional watch industry by surprise. Even if a small percentage of iPhone owners buy Apple Watches it will still be a huge market.

The big surprise will come in the form of the One more thing. Apple never just rolls out one item at these events. The rumor mill has been loaded with talk of a pen, a 12" iPad, and a 12" Macbook Air. I am just seeing a flashback to the iPhone announcement when Apple announced three new products and they are all the same thing.

My prediction is the iPad Pro 12" and the Macbook Air 12" will actually be the same device. A
modified version of iOS and OS X, with better multi-tasking and enhanced UI for better touch interface. When docked with the keyboard it would behave like a Macbook Air, when undocked it would behave like an iPad. The ability to run both OS X and iOS Apps. Not with emulation but by putting both an ARM processor and Intel processor in the same machine. Toss in a high quality pressure sensitive pen and you have a strong competitor to the Microsoft Surface tablets. Which I have used and find them to be likable devices. Some elements of the UI are still too small to be effective for touch but I am sure Apple UI designers would address and correct that.

I could envision the workflow being something like quick communications and notifications coming in on the watch. Slightly longer interactions and light work, pull out the 10" iPad tablet for single tasking work and entertainment. Then the larger tablet for serious work, multi-tasking and laptop replacement when traveling for days and the large desktop machine for the heavy duty computing tasks and large amounts of data storage.

I hope to see a new announcement regarding AppleTV. Something that will give the cord cutters a reason to rejoice and some new technology around home to make home automation easier and more user friendly. They may even throw in an announcement on upgrades to iCloud for enhanced security and maybe a new feature or two.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Traveling with Tech

I wrote a piece on traveling with technology for Hosts Global this month. You can find the post here!


Please go on over and read it there. I will be back here writing again soon.

Paul "TheMacGuy" Scott

Monday, September 30, 2013

Netflix App Won't Display login screen on iOS

So you recently upgraded your iOS device or just added Netflix and want to watch a show on the go. However when launching Netflix you only see a spinning wheel and no login and now shows.

Here is a simple fix to solve the problem. 

Go to Settings and Choose Safari:

Next in Safari Change Block Cookies from Always to From third parties and advertisers
Finally click Clear Cookies and Data.

Now reopen your Netflix application, login and enjoy the show!

Trouble with iMessage, FaceTime or Push Notifications?

There have been some anecdotal reports online that have indicated issues with iMessage on iOS. Below I have a few fixes that may correct the problem. I ran into this personally with one iPad and one iPhone in the last few weeks. Both times I had to resort to deactivating and reactivating. 

Some users have reported that turning their iOS devices off and back on fixes the problem, while others indicate that the solution has not worked for them. In testing with my devices experiencing difficulties, the following steps didn't fix the issue but could and are simple: 

1. Turn off iMessage in Settings > Messages 
2. Reset networking settings in Settings > General > Reset 
3. Reenable iMessage in Settings > Messages 

iMessages do not appear to be failing back to SMS when this happens either. They just eventually appear as a failed to send in iMessage. Or if it is right after an update awaiting activation will appear in the iMessage and FaceTime System Preferences panel. 

If these procedures above don’t work. Download Red Sn0w to your computer and perform the following steps:

1.) Connect device via USB cable
2.) Open RedSn0w
3.) Click on Extras
4.) Click on Even More
5.) Click on Deactivate
6.) Phone will show activation screen again. Open iTunes on the computer
7.) iTunes should detected the device and attempt to activate it. 
8.) Device will reactivate with new tickets and Push, iMessage, and FaceTime should go back to normal. 

Hopefully this should resolve any issues you may have with iMessage or FaceTime. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Using an iMac as a display for other Macs

There is a feature on modern Macs known as Target Display Mode (TDM). Users who have an iMac and a Macbook Pro and may want to use their iMac as a large external display can follow these few short steps to use the iMac as an external display.

First make sure your iMac and Macbook Pro supports Target Display Mode by checking the chart below and make sure you have the support cable type.

Target Display Mode Compatibility List

iMac (27-inch Late 2009)
Mini DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort
Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt
iMac (27-inch Mid 2010)
Mini DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort
Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt
iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2011)
Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt
iMac (27-inch, Mid 2011)
Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt
iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2012)
Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt
iMac (27-inch, Late 2012)
Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt

Plug your Macbook Pro into the iMac with a MiniDisplay cable to Thunderbolt cable and press ⌘-F2 on the display machines keyboard it will become a monitor for your laptop. 

Note: Both machines must be on and you must have both computer on 10.6.1 or higher. The machine running in TDM will continue to run all programs in the background and will stay awake as long as it is in Target Display Mode.

To get out of target display mode press the ⌘-F2 keys again on the machine keyboard acting as a display.

The camera, USB, Firewire, or other Thunderbolt devices are not available to the computer connecting in Target Display Mode. Just the display is accessed and used as an external monitor.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sending Group Emails from iPad Quick Tip

Something that has been missing from the iPad since the beginning has been the ability to send email to groups from the Mail app. There are a number of apps in the app store like MailShot or MailShot Pro that will help you create lists to send group emails from your iOS device.

However, with this quick tip I will show you a way to do it on your own. 

1.) Create a new Contact with the name of the group you wish to have. You can do this in Contacts on your Mac, in Outlook on your PC, or on your iPhone directly.

2.) Under the new Contact Name you created enter the email addresses you want in your group in a single email field with a comma separating the addresses. For example email.1@domain.com, paultscott@gmail.com, email2@domain.org, email3@domain.net, and on through your entire list. 

3.) Open your mail client and type in the group name you select. your recipients will all get the email. 

To ask Apple to add this as a formal feature please goto http://www.apple.com/feedback/ and ask apple to add group mail lists to iOS.

Fitbit Flex Review

I have had a few weeks now to spend with my Fitbit flex and for those that know me I love these high tech pedometers. I started with the Nike+ shoes and app and have steadily upgraded as new devices have come to market.

The new Fitbit flex is smaller than its predecessors and slides inside a wrist band. No more forgetting to clip your Fitbit to your belt or put it in your pocket and virtually no chance of loosing it during the day. Wrist bands come in multiple colors and sizes plus are adjustable so users can make sure they get the color they like with a  comfortable fit.

The new Fitbit flex is water resistant and according to the company is ok it take it in the shower. I still take it off when I swim laps in the pool just in case it isn't truly that waterproof yet.

The Flex seems to suffer from a shorter battery life than its older cousins that are still for sale. Flex also now has a different charging cradle than previous models so if a user finds they have a dead battery on a trip they are out of luck unless users bring along the special charger.

Flex has dropped showing how many floors the user has climbed in the course of the day. That is a huge disappointment, I used to skip elevators so I could take the stairs to get my floor climbing count higher for the day. Once climbing 14 flights of stairs twice to get a 25 floors in a day badge.

All of these devices the Fitbit, Up, Nike Fuel, and others use a ramification element to keep the wearer engaged and make the device fun to wear and use. Also with historical tracking and a social aspect users can track what they did and compete against friends. Fitbit has also found the key to keeping people engaged also lies in integrating with other applications. Tying Fitbit into scale applications, blood pressure apps, diet applications so entering data in one place pulls everything together. Users can in the Fitbit dashboard see how many calories they consumed and how many they should burn. Allowing users to make better food and exercise choices. For me when I pay attention to these apps and log the food I eat I tend to loose weight and be healthier myself.

While wearing the Flex I have noticed I record more footsteps when wearing it on my non-dominate hand like the company recommends. While walking with a  Fitbit One and a Flex the Flex did read fewer footsteps over the course of a day.

I haven't been using it much lately since I lost the charger and have to order a replacement since every Fitbit I have ever had has a different charger. I still like the device and I like the social aspect. It encourages me to walk more.

Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband, Black

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Air Display Review

AirDisplay is a great app if you are looking for an extra screen while you are working on your laptop.  AirDisplay can even turn a users Macbook into an extra display for an iMac. However if you are running an older Macbook Pro with Nvidia graphics there are some known issues with the graphics driver that can cause the device to not be able to drag and drop files etc. until the user has disabled Air Display.

AirDisplay costs $19.99 and is available on the iTunes store for iPad and iPhone. The software that installs locally on your Mac is free and instructions for where to get the software and how to install it are included in the AirDisplay app.

Once the app is installed on the iOS device and on the Mac they auto detect one another as long as they are on the same network and connect. Once that is completed users can open Display Preferences to decide which side to place the extra display on. The touch screen still reacts like normal on the iOS device. If the user has an application with tool bars like Photoshop it is a convienent control surface. Reach over tap the tool you want and return to work without having to move the mouse to the other screen.

I recommend using the AirDisplay app while plugged into external power to preserve the battery on the iOS device. This is a great application that grants road warriors a second screen while on the go or a convenient extra screen while working on a desktop.

With AirDisplay and Mavericks in the future a user could have a multi screen laptop completely wirelessly. The main laptop screen, a second iOS device screen with control surface and an AirPlay Display hanging on the wall. The flexibility becomes limitless.

For the $19.99 price tag AirDisplay is the best among the remote screen applications and well worth the investment.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Review

While eagerly awaiting the release of iOS 7 so I can review it and publicly discuss it I decided to see what life was like on other other side of the fence. So I have spent the last week with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 to see how it really stacks up against the iOS universe I have lived in for many years. First the device itself feels nice until you spend a lot of time holding it. The 16:9 aspect screen is awkward for typing and holding for long periods of time.

This device is not running the latest Jelly Bean version of Android and is using the Samsung TouchWiz UI which seems to make the device harder to use than the competition. After installing quiet a few apps it seems hard to find applications easily without going into the search.

The Samsung keyboard was laid out so badly I immediately had to install the generic Google Keyboard to make it useable though the reach on that wide a screen is still a little awkward.

Speech recognition is fast and accurate reducing the need to use the keyboard as long as the user is in a quiet environment to use it.

Samsung seems to be canabalizing their own lines and competing with themselves. When I went to purchase the unit I asked for a Galaxy Tab 2 and the salesman who worked for Samsung not Best Buy tried to steer me into the Note 2 which is apparently very close in specs to the Tab. The note got a quad core 1.4 Ghz processor vs the Tabs 2 core 1Ghz. Otherwise they have the same screen, battery, and software.

The device is not running Jelly Bean at the time of this writing and according to sources Samsung will support Jelly Bean on this device but that is the end of the road. Just over one year after being released Samsung will abandon future software updates for the Galaxy Tab 2 and  apparently focus on other devices like the recently announced Tab 3 and Note 2.

The Play Store itself supports so many devices with different specs it is sometimes frustrating to find the right app. Users choose an app only to be told the device is incompatible with the app the user is trying to install.

 To date I haven't had any luck with setting up streaming to another device using DLNA or ShareAll features. This may be another limitation on TouchWiz like not supporting multiple user logins to a single device. Airplay requires no configuration and just works. Samsung will happily sell you yet another $99 puck to attach to your TV to stream content and mirror screens that only work with their tablet.

Third party apps do exist that should allow the device to use Roku Mirroring or DLNA. Some apps one would think should be available on the Galaxy Tab 2 are amazingly not available. Amazon Video Streaming reports as incompatible with the Tab.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 requires a lot of fiddling and customization to make it a half way comfortable product to use. The stock Android experience would be far better on this device. I believe the device is too complicated for the average non technical user if they wish to stream video to TV's or do more than surf the web and check email it seems to require a lot more effort than the iPad or even the Google Nexus Tablets.

Using both my iPad and Galaxy Tab 2 together there is a lot to like about both devies. Some elements of the UI are pleasant to use while others need to be baked a little longer. Spacing of apps needs to be expanded and probably fewer per page to make apps easier to find.

Most of the things I liked about The Galaxy Tab are features that are generic Jelly Bean. I enjoy using Google Now, I like the speech recognition on the device and easy of accessing Speech Recognition.

I even spent a little time online with Samsung tech support to try and figure out a few of the features I couldn't get to work. Support just kept telling me the feature I wanted wasn't available on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. Maybe in the future the feature will become available.

It seems as though Samsung is slow to update their devies and not all devices even get updates even when they are only about a year old. If you want the real Android  experience users are better off sticking with other devices like the Google Nexus Tablet.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 is probably fun for geeks that like to fiddle with their gear but if you just want it to work reliably and not have apps maybe work and maybe not then you may be best to stick with an iPad or at least a stock Android device.

For me I will be sticking with my iPad and iOS devices. I like the Google Apps on it  and still get access to Google Now cards. I might take another look at the Nexus as a second tablet. But if you are not getting the pure Android experience on the tablet you are not getting the most out your tablet.