Archive for Apple

Apple Appears To Have Deleted Its Tweets From Twitter

Posted in Commentary with tags , on November 29, 2022 by itnerd

If you go to Apple’s Twitter page, you’ll see something interesting. Which is nothing:

Apple appears to have deleted everything from their Twitter page. There is literally nothing left. I also checked Apple Podcasts and Apple Music and the same thing hasn’t happened on those two twitter accounts. But you have to wonder if that’s going to happen shortly. This has to part of what set Elon off yesterday when he went on multiple Twitter rants about Apple. Then there’s likely the fact that Apple not advertising on Twitter will cost him about $100 million. Either way, Apple is expressing its displeasure with Elon as only Apple can.

The next few days should be interesting to watch.

Elon Musk Goes Off The Deep End By Accusing Apple Of Censorship And “Hating” Free Speech

Posted in Commentary with tags , on November 28, 2022 by itnerd

From the “You can’t make this stuff up” department comes Elon Musk putting out a series of Tweets that accuses Apple of “hating” free speech and practising censorship. Here’s the start of Elon’s Tweetstorm:

Gee, perhaps Apple has joined the large number of Twitter advertisers who have paused advertising on Twitter because:

  1. Elon fired a lot of people. And a significant number of people who were left quit.
  2. Because of #1, there’s no moderation on the platform any longer. Which of course scares advertisers.
  3. Elon’s behaviour is, erratic to say the least.
  4. Twitter has seen hate speech skyrocket since Elon took over.
  5. Twitter needs advertisers more than advertisers need Twitter.

And by the way, like I said earlier today. Berating advertisers for pausing advertising Twitter is not a good business development strategy. But clearly Elon doesn’t see it that way.

But Elon wasn’t done there. He then said this:

Really? I am thinking that he’s conflating things. But without a context to work from, it’s hard to say. But if I had to guess, Apple was asking LBRY to do this to fight COVID misinformation.

Oh, you’ll note that Twitter automatically added a link to see the latest COVID info to the bottom of that Tweet.

Elon has clearly lost his mind as advertisers pausing ads on Twitter is costing him money and he doesn’t know how to solve that problem. And picking a fight with Apple is not a smart thing to do because Apple will likely win that fight. So perhaps Elon needs to take a chill pill and think about how he addresses this in a sane and rational manner. Just a thought.

UPDATE: This who thing has become a farce based on this:

Really? Perhaps Twitter should publish the rationale for who the ban or un-ban? After all, fair is fair right?

Apple’s iCloud Private Relay Facilitating A Multi-Million Dollar Scam Says Ad Tech Firm

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 28, 2022 by itnerd

Well, Apple isn’t having a good time. After this and this came to light, a report from Gizmodo has Apple under new scrutiny over the iCloud Private Relay feature and how it facilitates a massive scam:

As you read this, there’s an army of bots pretending to be Apple users surfing the web and looking at ads, according to new research shared exclusively with Gizmodo. The ad fraud scheme is weaponizing a privacy feature called Private Relay, coopting a vast swath of traffic to show ads to robots and costing advertisers tens of millions of dollars in the process, researchers’ tests found. Apple has promised that the tool has “built-in fraud detection” and that advertising platforms can trust it, but the researchers say the fraud has only gotten worse in the months since they first reported it to the company.

The new report finds that criminals are exploiting Apple’s Private Relay tool, a feature available on on Apple devices for users who subscribe to iCloud+. Turn it on, and Private Relay will hide your web browsing and assign you a dummy IP address to help stop companies from tracking you. Pixalate, the ad tech firm that authored the study, released Tuesday, says the problem will cost US advertisers an estimated $65 million in 2022 alone. The study finds that 90% of web traffic that looks like it’s coming from Private Relay is actually fraudulent.

That’s not a good look for Apple. Here’s why:

“Apple says you can trust that connections through Private Relay are secure and free of fraud, so scammers are just presenting their traffic as coming from Apple,” said Amit Shetty, vice president of product at Pixalate. “It seems like they’re just hoping people are going to put the traffic on ‘allow lists’ because it’s considered to be safe.”

And:

Apple promised in several public statements that apps, websites, and ad tech companies can trust that iCPR addresses represent real people.The company says Private Relay has “built-in fraud protection,” and it’s “designed to ensure only valid Apple devices and accounts in good standing are allowed to use the service.” Apple goes even further, proclaiming that “Websites that use IP addresses to enforce fraud prevention and anti-abuse measures can trust that connections through Private Relay have been validated at the account and device level by Apple.”

Apple has been silent about this and their other issues. However as these sort of issues continue to come to light, Apple will have less ability to pretend that they don’t exist and they will have to say something. Because their use of the “reality distortion field” isn’t working. Especially when Apple markets itself as the privacy and security company.

My Apple Watch Band Collection – The 2022 “Ultra” Edition

Posted in Products with tags on November 26, 2022 by itnerd

Since getting the Apple Watch Ultra I have done a bit of a revamp of my watch band collection to match the vibe of the Ultra. And I’ve now got longer term storage for my bands:

I found this case on Etsy. It says that it is designed for Apple Watch bands, but I think it’s more of a generic case that they advertise as an Apple Watch case. It’s made of leather and it holds my complete collection just fine.

Now that things are starting to get back to normal, I will be travelling again. And when I do, the Twelve South TimePorter will go into my bag. The big plus to the TimePorter is that you can put an Apple Watch charger in it along with a slim battery pack to allow you to charge on the go. You can even fold it up to a 45 degree angle to use it as a display stand which is a great use case for a hotel room.

Now let’s talk about the bands. But before I do, let me answer a question that I get asked a lot. Which is can you use older Apple Watch bands. The answer is yes if the bands in question are for 42mm, 44mm or 45mm Apple Watches. And there’s a bit of a catch:

As you can see here, the lugs for the bands do not fit flush with the Apple Watch Ultra. This only happens on one side and is only noticeable if you are looking for it. I thought I would point that out because the bands specifically designed for the Ultra don’t do that. Another thing to point out is that I note that some third party bands are tighter than normal to get on and off the Ultra. I am guessing that the cause for that is that Apple slightly tightened up the tolerance for the lugs on the lugs. Likely to make sure that they didn’t pull out of the watch if you were doing something “extreme” with the Ultra.

Speaking of bands for the Ultra, let’s start with the band it came with:

I got the Alpine Loop as I didn’t like the Trail Loop nor did I like the Ocean Band. Once it’s on you, it will not come off because of the titanium hook on the band. I wear this occasionally as it is very comfortable. Typically when I am doing something athletic. It does dry quickly if you sweat a lot.

I have a pair of sport loops. One is the Nike Sport Loop that has reflective thread, and the other one is the Canada Sport Loop that Apple did for the Tokyo Olympics. Much like the Alpine loop, I use them for things like workouts and anytime I need a band that will be comfortable and dry quickly.

I also have an Apple Black Unity Braided Solo Loop which I also wear for workouts. It’s pretty comfortable but I have noticed that it fits slightly on the loose side. I am not sure why that is as this is a bigger watch and the opposite should be true. But it’s not a dealbreaker for me.

The UAG Active Watch Strap is one of my go to bands for workouts it will stay on my wrist no matter what I do, but it will feel comfortable the entire time that I wear it. After all, if my wife was able to use this band to do an extreme trail running race and have the watch stay on her wrist, anything that I do should be a non-issue. It also matches the vibe of the Apple Watch as it is big and bulky.

I have a couple of Apple Sport Bands lying around from previous Apple Watches. Thus I put them into the rotation in case I need a band that could be used for going out or for athletic activities.

The Nike Sport Band from Apple as of late is my go to watch band I am doing something athletic like hiking or working out in the gym. One big plus is that it also fits my Road ID for Apple Watch which gives me a bit of extra safety should I feel the need to use it when I am out for a ride on my bike or doing a hike solo. Because it is made of rubber and has holes in it, it stays dry on your wrist.

The UAG Nato Strap is a band that I really like as it adds a bit of style to the Apple Watch Ultra. During our last road trip to PEI in 2019, it was the only band that I wore as I could hike or cycle with it in the day, and go out to dinner with it at night. And it’s machine washable as well. It also fits my Road ID for Apple Watch which gives me a bit of extra safety when I ride my bike for example. Plus it is super comfortable.

UAG also makes a Leather Watch band as well which I find to be very comfortable and stylish. Plus it includes a snap that locks everything into place so that there’s no way the watch will come off your wrist. It is starting to show some wear but I am fine with that as it adds some character.

The Watch Strap Company Link Bracelet has the look and feel of the Apple Link Bracelet without the Apple price. It’s a very premium feeling product and goes great with everything from suits or business causal clothing. I have had the black one for years, but I recently added the silver one to my collection as it almost matches the casing of the Apple Watch Ultra.

I also have The Watch Strap Company Mesh Loop (The Watch Strap Company’s term for the Milanese Loop) in my collection. It uses stainless steel that is very soft and comfortable to wear. And it is very premium feeling and durable. Again, the black one I have had for years, but I got the silver one to match the Apple Watch Ultra.

That’s my Apple Watch band collection. One thing that I have to say to those who have Apple Watches and want to have good quality upscale bands is that you should skip the really cheap bands on Amazon. Those ones from personal experience don’t have good quality materials and typically will not last all that long. Bands from companies like Apple, The Watch Strap Company, and Urban Armor Gear are examples of good quality watch bands that should be part of your collection.

What Apple Watch bands do you use? I’d be interested in hearing from women with Apple Watches as seeing as I have put forward a collection for men. Thus I figure that many women would be interested in what women use. But male users should join in on the conversation as well by leaving a comment and sharing their thoughts.

Apple’s Privacy Claims Now Under Further Scrutiny As Researcher Claims That Personally Identifiable Information Is Sent To Apple

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 21, 2022 by itnerd

Last week a class action lawsuit was filed when a researcher discovered that Apple’s own apps were sending information about you to Apple regardless of whether or not you had your iPhone set up to allow such communications to take place. Today the same researcher Tommy Mysk along with Talal Haj Bakry have discovered that the info that is being sent to Apple also contains personally identifiable information:

If this is true, it directly contradicts Apple’s device analytics and privacy legal page where it says that nothing identifies you. It also shoots down any moral high ground that Apple has when it comes to privacy. Apple hasn’t commented yet. But seeing as this keeps getting worse and worse for Apple, at some point they will have to come out and say something. Because if you trade on being a privacy centric company, and people start putting forward that you’re lying, you need to answer that or you look guilty by default.

It Now Looks Like India Will Force Apple To Adopt USB-C On The iPhone

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 17, 2022 by itnerd

Hot of the heels of the EU forcing Apple to use USB-C, a press release from the Indian Government shows that they are looking to force Apple to use USB-C as well:

During the meeting, a broad consensus emerged among stakeholders on adoption of USB Type – C as a charging port for electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops etc. Further, it was deliberated that a different charging port may be adopted for feature phones.

The Department has also decided to form a sub-group to examine the feasibility of uniform charging port for wearables. The sub-group will include representatives from industry bodies, educational institutions etc.

It was also felt that an impact study may be conducted by the MoEFCC to assess and examine the possible impact of uniform charging port in electronic devices with regard to e-waste.

Stakeholders agreed that a phased roll-out of the common charging port is may be conducted so that the same can be applied by the industry and adopted by consumers harmoniously.

Now some of you might read this and say that Apple’s name isn’t anywhere on this press release. But the fact is that pretty much everything phone or headphone related has switched to USB-C ages ago. That effectively leaves Apple as the odd man out. At this point, Apple might as well just resign themselves to putting out a USB-C iPhone next year and make it available across the planet. Because other countries will copy the EU now that they have forced Apple’s hand. Of course Apple will find some way to make it “special” in some way, or to make something like fast charging or fast transfer speeds a “Pro” feature so that they can make a few extra bucks. But it looks like USB-C is gaining traction and Apple can’t stop it.

Your move Apple.

Not A Good Look For Apple: Analytics Data Sent From iPhones With Or Without Your Consent… And A Lawsuit Has Been Filed

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 14, 2022 by itnerd

Many people, yours truly included use iPhones because we want our data to remain private. Well that appears that it isn’t the case. A security researcher named Tommy Mysk has discovered that regardless of whether you allowed your iPhone to send analytics data to Apple or not, iPhones and specifically Apple apps were sending that data anyway. Gizmodo broke this news over the weekend and their story is very much worth reading as it goes deep into the weeds about this. But the bottom line is that it blows up Apple’s privacy argument in epic fashion.

Gizmodo also reports that a class action lawsuit has been filed in California. Which is understandable because Apple trades on the privacy mantra and it appears that it doesn’t actually follow through on that. Now Apple hasn’t commented on this, but this has got to be a 9-1-1 event for the company. I would not at all be surprised if a bunch of software updates come out in the next couple of weeks or so to address everything that has been discovered. Then I would not at all be surprised if Apple makes some comment to suggest it was an oversight and there’s nothing to see here. Finally I fully expect that Apple’s iLawyers will try to get this lawsuit to go away as quickly as possible. Because Apple as a company that is under a lot of scrutiny from a variety of sources. Thus is is a problem that they do not need right now.

This is not a good look at all for Apple.

Review: Apple Watch Ultra

Posted in Products with tags on October 31, 2022 by itnerd

I’m going to start this review of the Apple Watch Ultra in a different manner by starting with the battery life that this watch has.

I got this watch last Wednesday and as part of the setup process, I had to put it on the charger so that it could update to watchOS 9.1 and then transfer my data from my Series 6. Once that was done, it was 7:51 PM and I put it on my wrist for the first time. I went about doing some house work, did a workout for 45 minutes, had dinner and went to bed leaving the watch on for sleep tracking.

I then woke up at 7 AM on Thursday and the battery had a charge level of 89%. I went about my day and got to noon where it was at 72%. By the way, my day was going to the dentist at 8 AM, then working at home for the rest of the day. Though I had to go out once for about 10 minutes where I left my iPhone 14 Pro at home. Meaning the Apple Watch Ultra was on cellular which uses a bit more battery. By 8 PM which was just over 24 hours into this experiment, it had a 57% charge when I checked it during dinner. I then did a 1 hour workout and did some chores. When I went to bed that night at 11:27 PM it had a 50% charge. Again I left it on for sleep tracking.

Friday was a day where I was in and out the house a few times for 10 to 15 minutes at a time without my phone, but otherwise still working from home. In the morning at 7 AM I had a 42% charge. And I posted this on Twitter when I hit hour 37 which exceeded Apple’s claim of 36 hour battery life for the Apple Watch:

By 1:15 PM I was doing to 28%. Then by 6:15 PM when my wife and I went out to dinner after I did a 30 minute workout, I was down to 20%. And by 8:40 PM I was down to 13%. That’s when I ended this battery drain experiment as my wife and I were going hiking the next day to test the GPS functionality as well as the emergency siren. Thus I need the battery to have a full charge for that. But I think you get the point here. Apple says that you’re going to get 36 hours of battery life during “normal use” and I got just under 49 hours. That implies that with my use case, I would have been into the mid to high 50 hour range if I continued the experiment and ran the watch down to zero. This is impressive battery life for an Apple Watch. Key words being “for an Apple Watch.” I say that because there are dedicated sports watches from Garmin and Coros for example that promise weeks or months of battery life. Something that Garmin decided to point out on Twitter when the Apple Watch Ultra was first launched:

While it is true that their smart watch functions aren’t anywhere near as good as what Apple offers, Apple has positioned this watch directly against watches like those. Thus this comparison will be made. And Apple starts that comparison with the unboxing experience.

You get a more compact box with the same opening experience with the pull tabs on each side. Any branding on the front of the box is embossed.

Opening up the box you get a book that details how to put the watch bands on and how to charge it among other things. The mountain graphic on the book reinforces the fact that Apple is marketing this towards people like triathletes, hikers, ultra runners, etc. By the way, this is a lot of paper that Apple is using. For a company that claims to care about the environment, isn’t that a bit wasteful?

The box with the Apple Watch Ultra is underneath the book. We’ll put this aside for a moment.

Your watch band is next and I opted for the orange alpine loop. I normally go for black bands, but Apple doesn’t have a black alpine loop. The other options were the trail loop which looks like a hopped up sport loop, and the ocean loop which is a rubber watch strap designed for divers and people who do watersports. Neither of those appealed to me. Thus I chose this one. We’ll circle back to this band in a bit.

Opening the box with the watch gives you two things. The Apple Watch Ultra on the left, and the charging puck on the right in a package that has the co-ordinates of Apple Park. That’s reinforces Apple’s marketing of this watch towards triathletes, hikers, ultra runners, etc.

Let’s look at the charging puck. It has a braided cable and it’s really upscale. It also has fast charging abilities which we will get back to later.

And here’s the new Apple Watch Ultra which looks like something that was designed to accompany you into the zombie apocalypse. It’s got a flat screen and unlike other Apple Watches, the screen does not flow over the sides of the watch. The screen is made of sapphire crystal which is durable, measures 49mm diagonally and has 2000 nits of brightness which makes it insanely bright outdoors. It’s also a very sharp and detailed display. Text and graphics are extremely readable as well. On the right you can see the enlarged Digital Crown which is covered by a crown guard. The Digital Crown is easy to use with gloves, but the size of the crown can sometimes create a situation where the crown rubs against your skin.

On the right is the crown as well as the side button, along with a microphone between the two. To the right of the Digital Crown is a depth gauge for the diving functions that this watch is capable of, and to the left of the side button is another microphone.

You get a pair of speakers on the left and the new Action Button on the right. You can map the Action Button to do a handful of functions. Specifically these functions:

Third party apps need not apply apparently. Though you could create a shortcut that starts a third party app. But that’s a lot harder than Apple simply giving you the ability to pick any app that you want to start and going from there. Thus I would suggest to Apple that they need to address the ability to use third party apps with the action button in a future software update. Though to be fair, the action button is good for one other thing:

You can also turn on the emergency siren by holding the action button as per the setting at the bottom of this screenshot. More on the siren later in this review.

The bottom of the Apple Watch Ultra is made of ceramic for durability reasons. While I am sure that the screws are functional, they are a bit of a flex by Apple as it makes the watch look more rugged.

My Apple Watch Ultra came with the alpine loop which is a nylon loop with titanium hardware. You get a choice of three sizes and you should ensure that you choose the right size based on your wrist size for best results because if you get it wrong, you will have to exchange the entire watch and strap to get the right size. Once you put it on your wrist and hook it in, it is not coming off your wrist. That makes it the choice to go to if having your Apple Watch stay on your wrist is a concern. It’s also very comfortable and I’ve even slept in it. The only complaint that I have is aimed at MacBook and notebook users. The hook has a tendency to rub against the top case of the MacBook or laptop. And given that the hardware is titanium, it’s going to scratch your MacBook or laptop. The one thing that I should note is that any Apple Watch band for any 45mm, 44mm, or any other larger sized Apple Watch should work with the Apple Watch Ultra. I’ll have more on that in a future article.

Here’s a look at the Apple Watch Ultra on my wrist. It’s big, but it’s not outrageously huge.

I have the Series 6 44mm for comparison purposes. In short, if you are comfortable with a larger sized Apple Watch like a 44mm or 45mm, you can likely wear the Apple Watch Ultra. If however you have a smaller Apple Watch, I don’t think you can rock the Apple Watch Ultra. I put it on my wife’s wrist as she wears a 41mm Series 6 and it was comically huge on her slender wrist. This brings me to the fact that the Apple Watch Ultra only comes in one size which is 49mm, and one colour which is brushed titanium. The size seriously limits who can wear this watch and Apple should have made a smaller size option along with this 49mm version. Apple’s whole idea behind the Apple Watch Ultra is that you can run a marathon one day and then wear the watch the next day to work. But the 49mm size takes that off the table for someone like my wife who wants an Apple Watch Ultra, but can’t make the 49mm size work for her because it is simply too big for her to pair up with office attire. Then there’s the colour. A black option would have been cool as with a watch of this size, having the watch in black would give the watch a bit of a smaller look. Though I get why Apple went this route with having only one colour choice as black would just scratch if you used the Apple Watch Ultra as Apple intends it to be used. Having said all of that it is comfortable to wear and it is lighter than what I was expecting it to be. By that I mean that big watches tend to be heavy watches. And this watch is big, but I don’t notice the weight on my wrist at all. And while I was expecting the size to create an issue for me while wearing it for sleep tracking, I had no issues on that front.

Now while Apple’s marketing focuses on features that for the most part are part of watchOS 9 and are available on any other Apple Watch for the most part, or are shared features between the Ultra and Series 8 (as the guts of the Ultra are basically the guts from a Series 8), there are five features that are exclusive to the Apple Watch Ultra. Let’s start with the emergency siren.

The Apple Watch Ultra has a 86 decibel emergency siren that Apple claims can be heard up to 600 feet away. My wife and I tested that on a hike that we did and the best that we could get before the siren became too faint to hear was 337 feet. Though that was in a very open environment. Perhaps in a forest it would have been better as there would be objects for the sound to bounce off of. But I will say that the the siren sound is going to attract attention as it is clearly designed not to be confused with anything else outdoors.

Next is the dual frequency GPS that comes with the Apple Watch to improve accuracy. Especially in dense environments like cities with tall buildings or dense tree cover. We tested this on our hike by going on the Orchard Trail in the Rouge National Urban park which has a mix of tree cover and open spaces and we noticed two things. The trail is rated at 5.1KM and the Apple Watch Ultra was pretty much on the money with the recording that I got from the hike. However, the recording that my wife’s Series 6 got was 0.07KM or 7 meters longer. Not a significant difference, but a difference none the less. The second thing that we noticed is that her GPS track on her Series 6 was not nearly as smooth as mine. Meaning that it was jagged in a lot of places while mine was smooth in the same places. I am thinking that this is because Apple uses Maps data where it can to smooth things out combined with the accuracy of having two GPS frequencies to work with. More on that in a bit.

Then there’s the fact that the Apple Watch Ultra has three microphones with beam forming capabilities to improve sound quality during phone calls. In short, the microphones are supposed to help the watch filter out background noise so that the person on the other end of the call can hear you. I tested this first in an indoor environment to get a baseline:

Then I tested it in an outdoor urban environment.

I was kind of surprised about how good this was given that this recording was taken with all sorts of background noise like cars and people. I think it’s safe to say that if you take calls on your Apple Watch Ultra “Dick Tracey” style, people on the other end of the call are likely not to have any issue hearing and understanding you. And in terms of hearing them, the two speakers are loud.

Next there’s the fact that the Apple Watch Ultra can be used as a dive computer. Out of the box it comes with the Depth app which turns on automatically when you enter a pool or a lake and measures your current depth as well as the temperature of the water. But if you want more, Apple has apparently partnered with Huish Outdoors to create the Oceanic+ app for Apple Watch Ultra which adds a full function dive computer to the Apple Watch Ultra. Now I tested the Depth app by taking a swim in my condo’s pool. In conversation with the lifeguard who was on duty at the time, I was able to verify the depths that the watch was reporting relative to what he saw in terms of how far down I was in the pool. In short, it was accurate.

Durability is the main calling card of the Apple Watch Ultra. Apple threw out these durability specs when they announced it:

  • 100m of water resistance (twice that of a “normal” Apple Watch). Though for some reason Apple says that it shouldn’t be used below a depth of 40 meters for diving if you read the fine print on the Apple website.
  • Tested to MIL-STD-810H which means that it was tested to see if it would survive in high and low temperatures: rain, wind, humidity, fungus, rust, sand and dust, explosive atmospheres, shock, gunfire vibration and more.
  • IP6X dust resistance. Meaning that no dust gets into the watch enclosure.
  • It’s designed to operate in -20° C to 55° C temperatures.
  • It’s EN13319 certified which is the international standard for dive computers.

Some YouTubers have tested some of these claims and found that while the Apple Watch Ultra isn’t indestructible, it will survive an incredible amount of punishment above and beyond any other Apple Watch. In one case, a YouTuber hit an Apple Watch Ultra with a hammer and his desk broke before the watch did. You can take that for what it is worth. But in the real world, the durability is a factor for me getting this watch. I had three scratches on the screen of my Series 6 with Apple’s tough sounding by rather useless Ion-X Glass. And I was always worried about breaking the watch if I bumped it on a door frame for example, which happens from time to time. I don’t even think about that with the Apple Watch Ultra as it’s built to handle way more than that.

One thing that Apple highlights as an exclusive feature is the Wayfinder watch face:

It gives you a lot of information to have at a glance. In my case, I have customized my complications to have 90% of the information that I need at a glance. The only thing missing is having my next appointment displayed on the watch face. But tapping on the date brings that up so I am okay with that omission. This watch face does have two party tricks:

Tapping on the dial where the hours are brings up a compass that gives you your current co-ordinates, replacing the date with a numeric readout of the direction that you’re going in. Which is handy if you are navigating your way through a hike or something like that.

And if you look under the date you will see the cellular signal strength. That’s handy when you’re out without an iPhone for it to connect to. Speaking of connections, the Apple Watch Ultra supports 5 GHz 802.11n and Bluetooth 5.3 as well as LTE.

One observation that I would like to make is that the Taptic Engine in the Apple Watch Ultra is stronger than any previous Apple Watch I have owned. When I was driving to the dentist and using CarPlay to navigate, every time it used the Apple Watch to alert me of an upcoming turn, I was shocked at how strong it was. There’s two settings for the Taptic Engine on an Apple Watch, which are default and prominent with the latter being stronger than the former. It honestly felt like I was set to prominent but I checked the setting at the dentist’s office and it set to the former. I guess that this would be handy if you want to ensure that you don’t miss some sort of notification.

I’ll highlight two other features that are not exclusive to the Apple Watch Ultra as it is available with the Series 8 as well. Both watches have a new wrist based temperature sensor. That enables insights for women’s health and advanced cycle tracking including retrospective ovulation prediction. As a side note, Apple in their presentation for the new Apple Watch models went way out of their way to say that this data is fully encrypted and not even Apple can see it which is a clear nod to the times that we currently live in. For men and women it records overnight temperature changes which you can see in the Health app. But it takes five days to surface that information in the Health app as it is trying to get a baseline of what is “normal” for you so that you can observe changes over time and use that to decide if you might be sick or not. Which is interesting as the app Athlytic surfaces this info after my first night with the watch. I also should note that there is no ability to do any sort of “on demand” temperature taking as there is no app for that on the Apple Watch. Likely because you don’t measure body temperature at your wrist normally as it would not be as accurate as doing it via your forehead or under your tongue for example.

Car crash detection is the second feature that isn’t unique to the Apple Watch Ultra as the Series 8 and the new Apple Watch SE has that as well. This is where the watch will call emergency services if you get into a car crash and don’t respond. I didn’t test this and I hope that I never need it. But I covered this in a bit more detail in my iPhone 14 Pro review as those phones have a similar feature as well.

The final thing that I will cover is charging. As I mentioned earlier, you get a charing puck that’s USB-C that enables fast charging. That’s important to keep in mind as there’s a version of the charging puck from Apple that doesn’t do fast charging. And not all third party and even first party accessories do fast charging. So keep that in mind when you buy your accessories for this watch.

In any case, Apple says that you can expect it to charge from 0% to 80% in “about” 1 hour. I tested that from 13% and got these results:

  • 13% – 50% : 42 minutes
  • 50% – 75% : 70 minutes
  • 75% – Full : 110 Minutes

My assumption is that in an effort to maximize battery health, Apple throttles back charging speed as you get more of a charge as they’ve done that with iPhones for some time. Thus I will say that this test makes Apple’s claims of 0% to 80% charge in “about” 1 hour plausible as I assume that the charge speed slowed down earlier because I started with a 13% charge. But it also means that you can put the watch on the charger for 30 minutes and get about a day’s worth of charge if you need to. Or more than that if you wait an hour or so.

While I’m on the subject of the battery, let me cover a couple of features to extend battery life more. Something that appeared with watchOS 9 is a low power mode feature that came to every Apple Watch that runs watchOS 9. That turns off the following:

  • Always On display
  • Heart rate notifications for irregular rhythm, high heart rate, and low heart rate
  • Background heart rate measurements
  • Background blood oxygen measurements
  • Start workout reminder

And if you don’t have your iPhone nearby, it turns off these features:

  • Wi-Fi and cellular connections
  • Incoming phone calls and notifications

And these features get affected:

  • Making a phone call can take longer
  • Background app refresh happens less frequently
  • Complications update less frequently
  • Siri can take longer to process a request
  • Some animations and scrolling might appear less smooth

On top of that, you also get a power saving mode that during workouts, the Apple Watch will dial back on heart rate and GPS readings. In the case of the latter, Apple uses mapping data to fill in the gaps which I discovered via my GPS testing earlier. According to Apple that will give you 60 hours of battery life on the Ultra. But from my testing, that’s at the expense of heart rate detail and GPS accuracy if you are not in a location that Apple Maps can work with. I’m likely to never turn on that feature as nothing I do would ever push the battery that hard. Also this feature only works if you use the built in workout app. Which for some of the sports that I do, I don’t use the built in workout app due to the fact that I want metrics that are specific to a sport like cross country skiing.

Now let’s go over to the elephant in the room. The question that I get asked the most is if this is a credible competitor to a Garmin or Coros watch. I would say no because of four reasons:

  • The first is battery life as I discussed earlier.
  • The second is that the Apple Watch Ultra does not natively pair to external sensors using Bluetooth or the ANT+ standard (which the Apple Watch doesn’t have) like Garmin or Coros watches do. The only exception is that a heart rate monitor will pair via Bluetooth with no issues to an Apple Watch Ultra, or any Apple Watch for that matter. Why is the lack of sensor support on the Apple Watch an issue? Triathletes for example will pair their Garmin watches for example to cadence, speed and power sensors on their bikes so that they can keep track of how fast they are going and how much effort they are putting out. Which is important in a race that lasts 8 hours or more if you’re trying to pace yourself so that you don’t blow up mid-race. If Apple is seriously aiming this watch at that crowd, the lack of native support for those sensors is a #fail.
  • Apple’s native Workout app doesn’t do mapping. By that I mean that you can create a map for say a 10K trail running race, download to your watch and follow that route and still see the metrics that interest you like speed and distance for example. This is something that Garmin and Coros watched have been doing since dinosaurs roamed the Earth. But the Apple Watch Ultra does not and is an absolute requirement for it to play in that space with Garmin and Coros.
  • Finally, the Apple Watch has always been amazing at collecting data. However it does a craptastic job of helping you to use that data to guide how you train and how you recover. Again this is something that Garmin and Coros watches have done for years.

In the those last three cases, some third party apps from the Apple App Store do fill in most those gaps which is the main strength that the Apple Watch has over those sports watches. And I will be covering some third party apps that I use to fill in the gaps that matter to me in a future article. But even with all of that, I would say this: Companies like Garmin and Coros do not have anything to worry about when it comes to the Apple Watch Ultra. At least not today. I say that because if Apple gets serious about addressing the above issues, and does so quickly, then Garmin and Coros might have something to worry about in the future. And if the battery life reaches anywhere near the same area as Garmin or Coros, then a lot of their users who have iPhones may ditch those watches for an Apple Watch Ultra. After all, life is better in the Apple ecosystem. Or so Apple would lead you to believe.

Let’s get to the price. The Apple Watch Ultra is $1099 Canadian with your choice of band. It only comes with cellular but you don’t have to activate it if you don’t want to. But to put that price in perspective, a stainless steel Series 8 starts at $899 Canadian which also only comes with cellular. Which means for “only” $200 more, you get a better screen, significantly better battery life, more durability along with some unique features. At that point it starts to look somewhat compelling from as Obi Wan Kenobi would say, a certain point of view.

But here’s the reason question: Should you get one? Let’s face facts. This watch is total overkill for 95% of people out there. And those people would be served just fine by a Series 8 or even an SE. And that includes yours truly. But if you do want the better battery life, or more durability, or you simply want your next Apple Watch to look different than the way Apple Watches have looked for years, then the Apple Watch Ultra is the watch for you. As long as you have the wrist to make it work for you.

UPDATE: A reader asked me for a picture of the Wayfinder watch face in night mode.

You enable and disable night mode by spinning crown until you either enter or exit night mode. Also, I should note that the inner bezel can be configured for elevation/incline as well.

Kayne West Punted From Apple Music

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 28, 2022 by itnerd

It seems that the anti-semite Kayne West has more issues than being dropped by a whole lot of companies. Now it seems that he’s been quietly pulled from Apple Music:

While West’s discography remains intact, a search for the platform-generated playlist — which features a comprehensive, career-spanning collection of an artist’s music — garners no results beyond a blank loading screen. A search for the separate visual playlist, Kanye West Video Essentials, yields the same results. 

A rep for Apple Music did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone’s request for comment. 

That’s going to ratchet up pressure on Spotify to do the same thing. But I am not holding my breath because if they didn’t pull Joe Rogan over COVID vaccine misinformation, there’s zero chance that they will do so with Kayne West. In fact their CEO said as much. Which if you care about making racism of all forms completely unacceptable, that should guide you as to which streaming platform that you should be paying on a monthly basis.

Apple Exec Confirms That Apple Will Go USB-C On The iPhone… Why You Should Not Get Excited Just Yet

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 27, 2022 by itnerd

In the last few days, the EU confirmed that any mobile device such as a mobile phone needs to have USB-C. Since pretty much every mobile phone out there has USB-C already, this means that Apple will have to ditch the 12 year old Lightning standard and go to USB-C. Yesterday, Greg Joswiak, also known as “Joz” confirmed in a Wall Street Journal interview that Apple would be complying with this law. I have the video posted below and I encourage you to watch the whole video as a whole number of topics were covered and it makes for interesting viewing:

Now. Apple finally ditching Lightning after 12 years is a good thing. I am all for that as that’s one less cable that I have to remember to carry on my next trip. But before you stop traffic and hold a parade, consider this. The European Union only addressed the physical connection. And that’s where the potential problems start. USB-C can be used for everything from USB 2.0, which would make the transfer speeds no faster than they are, to Thunderbolt 4. The latter would be a massive boost for transfer speeds and make a lot of people who use iPhones to shoot Pro Res video in 4K very happy. But only if Apple goes that route.

Consider these scenarios:

  • Apple ditches ports entirely, which would in theory comply with the EU law the way I read it. Now there have been rumours of Apple going this route for years to avoid being forced to use USB-C. But I don’t see them doing that. At least not yet.
  • Apple switches to USB-C but they also keep the USB 2.0 speeds that Lightning has. That way they can plausibly say that they comply with the new EU law. Plus for bonus points they may also introduce their own “feature” for fast data transfers off iPhones.
  • Apple switches to USB-C but they also keep the USB 2.0 speeds that Lightning has for the “regular” iPhones. And they go to Thunderbolt 3 or 4 for the “Pro” iPhones. That way they force people who care about fast data transfer speeds to spend more money.
  • Apple switches to USB-C but they go to Thunderbolt 3 or 4 for the all the iPhones. I don’t see them doing that as that would not be the Apple way of doing things since they couldn’t make extra money by doing so. But I am free to be surprised.

Beyond that, USB-C also opens up the possibility of faster charging speeds. So the iPhone could be like many Android phones that do 40W, 50W or even 100W or more of charging. But would Apple go that route or would they stick to the 20W charging that has been on iPhones for a while now? That’s a good question. My guess is no they won’t because Apple really cares about battery health. But again, I am free to be surprised.

These are all things that I suspect will not be addressed until this time next year when the new iPhone appears because Apple isn’t the sort of company to put their cards on the table so to speak. Thus while this move to USB-C is a good thing, you may have to temper your enthusiasm until more details surface in regards to what that means for iPhone users.