Recent 2.0 updates to two apps, Sleep++ and HeartWatch, are bright spots on a presently dim Apple Watch app horizon.
I don’t currently have a strong interest in sleep tracking, so I can’t verify the strong reviews the Sleep++ is getting. HeartWatch, however, is an app I have been using ever since I first heard about it over on MacStories. The 2.0 release is a huge update that not only improves heart rate tracking but also provides a substantial upgrade in the visual representation of your heart data. I love going into the app every day to see how I’m doing in the three basic heart rate zones.
The Apple Watch is not yet a mainstream must have, but it is shaping up to be a compelling health tracking platform and these are just two apps that can give you a peek into a healthier lifestyle.
Having trouble keeping the magnetic charger attached to your Apple Watch while charging on the go? Well here’s a clever solution from Tom Gerhardt and Dan Provost over at Studio Neat. Even better than the idea itself is the story behind it.
In my five or so weeks with Apple Watch, the quote-unquote obvious feature that I most frequently pine for is a simple iPhone battery indicator, either as a glance or, most usefully as a complication for one of the compatible watch faces. Apple’s argument against such a feature is indirectly reflected in one of their most consistent talking points – iPhone hardware and software is designed to get you through the day, so why do you need this?
Apple’s scores of iPhone users undoubtedly have varying definitions of “all-day”, and who knows how many different ways you can define typical usage. Enter Power for iOS. Power is an iOS/Watch app that brings at-a-glance battery information to your Apple Watch. A simple problem and an even simpler solution. Sometimes that’s all you need for something great. And now, with Power 1.1, just released today, you can receive notifications when your battery reaches certain thresholds as it drains or charges. On paper that doesn’t seem like much, but in practice this is great for those “watched pot never boils” moments when you’re waiting for your iPhone to charge before leaving the house for a run or an errand; or if you’re super neurotic about charge percentages like I am.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple eventually implements a native version of this, but in the meantime we have Power for iOS to bridge the gap until then. I hope the developers of Power are already looking into the third-party complications capabilities of watchOS 2. I guess we’ll find out this fall.
Friday, May 22
“Those notifications don’t always need a response, but they are important to glance at, just like the time.”
Despite protests from my closest friends, family, and advisors I joined the herd of Apple sheep who have been obsessing over the Apple Watch the last few weeks. While I didn’t go so far as to pre-order or purchase one I did schedule a try-on appointment at a local Apple Store just to get a feel for what this thing is like to behold, or more accurately, to be beholden by it.
It’s not as big as the pictures make it seem and it’s not as heavy as you’d expect. I’ve read this many times in other people’s first impressions, but I never fully trusted them. I don’t expect you to trust me either.
The digital crown is way cool. I’m still trying to decide if I’d prefer for it to have really subtle clicks (more like bumps) or if I prefer the silky smoothness of it as it exists today. It’s hard to choose between what exists and what doesn’t, but the execution of what Apple chose is superb.
Stainless steel looks awesome, Space Gray aluminum looks less like a downgrade than I expected. Still looks like a downgrade, but the degree is lower.
I left with this basic sentiment: the try-on experience was great from a service perspective (quick but relaxed, no real pressure, just gentle questions). In terms of the impact on my decision it mostly just confirmed everything I was already thinking after months of following the commentary and two weeks worth of reviews. Trying on the demo unit neither heightened or lowered my desire to get one. I still want one, almost purely for the sake of having one. Only time will tell if reason triumphs over wistful abandonment.
One consequence of the try-on experience did catch me by surprise though. On the way out of the store I spent a little time with the new MacBook and that experience made the choice for next computer purchase a little less obvious than I expected. I was wowed by the new design and features of the new MacBook, but the price and power combo scared me a bit because I expected my next computer to be a desktop-level workhorse1. The shine of the new MacBook introduced some doubt – maybe I don’t really need computing power as much as I need a combination of non-battery hindered storage hub (lower-spec, cheap new or used Mac mini) plus cutting edge ultraportable.
I define desktop-level as iMac 27“, top spec Mac mini or close to it, or high-spec 13” MacBook Pro with Retina display. ↩
This is undoubtedly the one that I want, but I’m fairly certain it’s not the one I can reasonably afford. For now, I plan to resist the temptation to even get the Apple Watch Sport; but man if that thing ever gets GPS, watch out, wallet.
Bravo, Google. I didn’t expect it, but I’m also not surprised by it. They’ve always been more open to cross-platform compatibility, a position enabled by their ad-revenue based business model. It will be interesting to see if this strategy works against the expected luxury pricing of the Apple Watch.
I don’t know everything there is to know about the Apple Watch, but we’ll all know a lot more after Apple finishes telling the story they started last September at next week’s Spring Forward event. If you have even an ounce of interest in what they might announce next week, but you haven’t been following along as bits, pieces, and theories1 emerge from the tech blogosphere, then there is something very important you need to understand in order to temper the sticker shock you’ll undoubtedly experience: the Apple Watch is not Apple’s entry into the wearables and smartwatch space, it is their entry into the luxury watch space and that entry just happens to include a heavy dose of smartwatch features. So much more could be written, but if you haven’t been reading up to this point then you probably don’t care.
The key take away is this – selecting among the various versions of the Apple Watch will be akin to selecting among a Timex, a Citizen, and a Rolex, except all contained within a single line of watches made by the same manufacturer. All three versions of the Apple Watch will have the same basic function – and nothing substantially more technologically advanced than anything that has preceded it – but they will vary widely in their materials and craftsmanship required to produce them. Accept that notion and let it sink in and it will help you absorb the impending shock that’s headed your way.
I included this one mostly for fun. Kudos to him if he’s right. Shame on him if he’s wrong for failing to realize that Apple just has to sell an Apple Watch to 1% of the people who bought an iPhone in the most recent holiday quarter in order to (supposedly) match all of 2014 Android Wear sales. ↩