Archive for Apple

Why Buying The Apple Watch Series 3 Is A Waste Of Your Money

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 6, 2020 by itnerd

I’ll just get straight to the point. Apple has three Apple Watches on offer:

  • The Apple Watch Series 6
  • The Apple Watch SE
  • The Apple Watch Series 3

Buying the Apple Watch Series 3 is a complete waste of your money if you are in the market for an Apple Watch. Why you ask? Well, it’s pretty simple. The core reason is the processor. It has an S3 processor which is a 32-bit processor. It’s also the last 32-bit processor that Apple supports. Which means it’s not long for this world. It is entirely likely that in the next year or two that Apple will drop support for it when they come out with watchOS 8 or watchOS 9. After all, they dropped support for anything below the Series 3 in watchOS 7.

The next reason is that the Apple Watch doesn’t support Apple’s new Family Sharing feature in iOS 14/watchOS 7. That’s the feature that allows you to activate and manage an Apple Watch without the person on the receiving end of that Apple Watch needing an iPhone. That likely has something to do with the fact that the Series 3 no longer has a cellular option. My guess is that this was removed so that Apple could take another shot at Fitbit and steal some market share from them.

The bottom line is that if you want your Apple Watch to last more than a year or two, you should look at the Apple Watch SE which has the design of the Series 6 with a slower 64 bit processor at a lower price point versus the Series 6. Sure it lacks some of the health features like the ECG and blood oxygen functions. And it also doesn’t have an always on display. But the target market for the SE won’t care. Just ignore the Series 3 entirely and spend your money in a way that gives you a fair amount of value.

Apple Sleep Tracking In watchOS 7/iOS 14: A Good Start, But It Needs Some Improvements

Posted in Products with tags on September 30, 2020 by itnerd

One of the things that showed up as part of watchOS 7 is sleep tracking. There have been third party apps that have done this in the Apple ecosystem for years, but to have something built into the Apple ecosystem would make many users very happy.

Sleep tracking works by having your Apple Watch detect movement and using that to determine if you are asleep or awake. The Apple Watch will also track your heart rate while you are asleep as well. The onboarding process is mostly straightforward and once you set it you can forget it. Let me walk you through the setup process via the Health app on the iPhone.

First you set a sleep goal. As in how many hours you’d like to sleep. And you have to define how much time you want to wind down before you get to bed, and when wind down should start. During the wind down process, the iPhone and the Apple Watch become more difficult to use as you’re not supposed to be using your digital devices before you go to bed. For example, The phone becomes increasingly more difficult to unlock and open. This is to allow you to create a routine before bed that allows you to get the best sleep possible. I should note that you can set up some wind down shortcuts to help you to wind down before going to bed. Here’s what you have to choose from:

In my case, I set a sleep goal of 8 hours. And I set a wind down time of 30 minutes. Then I set up my bedtime and wake up time:

In my case I set a bedtime of 10:30PM (which is the time that the lights go out) and my wake up time of 7AM. I can also set this schedule to be 7 days a week, or weekdays only, or weekends only for example.

I can also set up an alarm at my wake up time, though I can only choose between 9 rather gentle musical routines to wake up to. Or put another way, if I wanted to wake up to Gun’s And Roses “Welcome To The Jungle”, I couldn’t. Now these musical routines are played through the Apple Watch with some haptic feedback. And from my testing, they do a good job of waking you up. One thing that I should note, you can set up charging alerts to let you know to charge your Apple Watch if it has a battery life is below 30%. Though strangely, you have to leave the Health app and go to the Watch app to do that a shown here:

You might be wondering how much battery life that sleep tracking on the Apple Watch uses. On my wife’s Series 4, she uses about 15% of her battery life consistently. In my case, my Series 6 uses between 15% and 20%. I am guessing the difference is in how much movement one makes. In her case, her head hits the pillow and she’s out. I tend to be a bit of a restless sleeper.

Now I just walked through how to set this up on the iPhone using the Health app. But there are other ways to do this from the watch as well.

At this point, you can now just follow the prompts to go to sleep. Which is that if your Apple Watch needs a charge, you’ll get a prompt for that. Then 30 minutes or whatever time you have it set for, wind down begins. Then you get into bed and hit the bed icon on your Apple Watch by swiping up from the bottom to bring up control center:

This stops the display on your Apple Watch from lighting up, and it forces you to spin the digital crown to get out of this mode. If you do want to see the time however, simply tapping the display will show it to you. But it is very dim. At this point, you go to sleep. The next morning you wake up and you can see what kind of sleep that you got:

This is the results that I got over the last week. The green sections are where I was sleeping. The gaps between the green sections where I was awake or restless. This is where Apple’s sleep tracking starts to show the need for improvement. In terms of digging into the data that you’ve collected, this is pretty much all that you can do. You can see the time that you started sleeping to the time you woke up:

The problem with this view is that it doesn’t show the time you actually slept unless you scroll down to this point:

And you can only see the last couple of days. You can’t see anything beyond that unless you click “Show More Sleep Data”:

While you can view the last week or last month, it’s kind of light on information. Speaking of being light on information. You can track your heart rate during sleep as evidenced here:

But you can only see that for your last sleep session. If you want to go back over a few days to compare, you can’t. Another thing that I noted is that the sleep tracking doesn’t track blood oxygen levels while you are asleep, even though for Apple Watch Series 6 tracks that as I can see the data that it grabs while I am asleep. My guess is that this is a deliberate choice by Apple as blood oxygen in the Apple Watch Series 6 is marketed as a “wellness” feature. Which means that Apple can’t say how accurate it is, nor can they use it for diagnostic purposes like they do with the ECG functionality in Apple Watch Series 4 and up.

Another thing that I noted is that if you use the Apple Watch to turn off the alarm, it will display the weather, battery status and date as well as wishing you good morning. But I also notice that I often have two to three stand goal hours credited to me in the Activity app on the watch. That doesn’t make sense as if I get up once during the night, I should have only one hour credited to me. But I will have two or three hours credited to me. And some nights I haven’t gotten up at all and I still have an hour or two credited to me. Thus I am pretty sure that this is a bug that Apple needs to figure out.

Finally, here’s the big thing that Apple’s sleep tracking is missing. It can’t figure out the states of sleep like some Fitbit products claim to do for example. I have always questioned the accuracy of what Fitbit does as a sleep lab uses things like mattress pads with position sensors and having you connected to a EEG amplifier to read your brain state to figure out your sleep state accurately. Now it should be possible to do the first half of this using a wearable, which presumably is what Fitbit and other are doing. But how can you tell if whatever movement it’s detecting is due to a nightmare rather than you tossing and turning because you can’t get to sleep as that would indicate what sleep state that you might be in? That’s likely why Apple doesn’t have that functionality here as it likely isn’t something that would bring meaningful value to their users.

So in short, the sleep tracking functionality is usable but it is also pretty basic. And Apple has a few areas where they can improve upon to make sleep tracking way more functional and coherent. And hopefully they do that within iOS 14 rather than wait for next year for iOS 15. But if they do that, I think they have the start of something good that will benefit Apple users who want to better manage their sleep.

A Follow Up On My Apple Watch Series 6 Review

Posted in Products with tags on September 29, 2020 by itnerd

After posting my review of the Apple Watch Series 6, I got requests to do a follow up on that review because apparently, I didn’t cover all the bases when it came to the Apple Watch Series 6. I also got requests to do a story on the sleep tracking functionality. That will happen later this week. But for now, I’m going to take the questions that I got and answer them as best as I can:

Is the Apple Watch Series 6 physically different than the Series 5?: At first glance it isn’t. But I have since discovered that the Series 6 is slightly thinner than the Series 5. But it’s really not noticeable as I really couldn’t tell when I had a Series 6 and Series 5 side by side. Whatever thinness that exists is likely due to the removal of the Force Touch hardware. But it’s essentially the same.

What about battery life?: This is a difficult question for me to answer because I use it for sleep tracking, which means I recharge when I wake up, and again when I go to bed. But battery life is longer than what I was used to with the Series 5. For example, I charged the Series 6 to 100% this morning, I and have worn it for 2.5 hours thus far and the battery is at 98% as I type this. The Series 5 would be into the low 90% range by now. So clearly there’s an improvement. Another data point is that by the time I get to 5PM, I am at 50% or more on the battery gauge. So battery life is clearly better. Of note, iFixit tore down the Apple Watch Series 6 and found that the battery is a bit bigger. That combined with the new S6 processor which is apparently more power efficient likely accounts for what I am seeing. When it comes to recharging, it is faster than I am used to as I can get from 50% to 100% charge in under an hour. That’s well within what that Apple advertises. Which is 0% – 80% in about an hour, and 80% to 100% in 30 minutes after that. That’s a total of 90 minutes to fully charge your Apple Watch Series 6. That convenience is a total win.

Something that I didn’t expect is that the haptics are far more pronounced on the Series 6 making next to impossible to miss. That is likely due to the new Taptic Engine that iFixit found when they tore down the Series 6.

One other thing. Blood oxygen measurements became a whole lot more reliable after a day or so. After being a bit finicky when I first got it, it became very reliable as I can always get a reading when I ask for one via the blood oxygen app. While it does measure blood oxygen in the background at a rate of roughly once an hour, I found that it also doesn’t measure blood oxygen in the background while you work out or you are moving. That’s a bit disappointing as I would like to know what my blood oxygen is during a bike ride without having to manually having to do it. It would also be nice to tie blood oxygen to sleep tracking as I think that would be useful. But it doesn’t do that either. More on that when I do my story on sleep tracking.

What did you think Apple could improve on?: They could have pushed the envelope on battery life. It is marginally better, but there are wearables out there that get days of battery life. Though those wearables don’t do as much as the Apple Watch does. Apple could have also figured out how to make the Apple Watch roam on LTE. That would be a game changer. Qi wireless charging is one other thing that Apple could have done something about as it would make charging more convenient as there are Qi wireless chargers everywhere now. Oh, and finally there’s the fact that Apple only makes the Apple Watch work with iPhones. Meaning that Android users have to switch to get their Apple Watch fix. While it would expand Apple’s base of customers if they did deliver Android support, much like Android Wear watches have iOS support, I honestly don’t see that happening.

My bottom line hasn’t changed. The Series 6 an iterative upgrade. Which isn’t really a liability as we haven’t reached peak saturation of the smart watch market yet. Also the Apple Watch SE is going to provide it some competition. And existing Apple Watch users may have to think long and hard about whether an upgrade is worth it. But it’s hard to deny that Apple is likely to continue to lead the smart watch market with the Series 6.

Epic V Apple Will Go To A Jury…. Though That May Not Go Well For Epic

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 28, 2020 by itnerd

Epic V Apple has yet another plot twist in it. A judge has heard each company’s cases before making initial rulings and trial dates. And this happened:

A federal judge in California on Monday urged Apple Inc and “Fortnite” creator Epic Games to take their antitrust dispute before a jury, saying the higher courts would be less likely to overturn the result.

“I know I’m just a stepping stone for all of you,” District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said during a virtual hearing from Oakland, California.

Any trial wouldn’t happen until next July according to AppleInsider. That may not go well for Epic as a jury may be less favorable to their arguments. Then there’s the fact that the judge overseeing this hearing wasn’t exactly receptive to Epic’s arguments:

The judge repeatedly highlighted that the matter was of Epic’s own doing, at times when Epic’s lawyers urged there was harm. Epic forced Apple’s hand in the matter, and it also has the opportunity to agree to Apple’s rules for “Fortnite” to be readmitted to the App Store. 

There was also some pushback on Epic’s repeated declarations that Apple was a monopolist, as well as Epic’s disregarding of rules and not being “forthright” with Apple itself. The judge also highlights the oddity of Epic’s arguments against Apple comparing a smartphone to a game console due to size reasons, by referencing the existence of the Nintendo Switch.

This perhaps would be a really good time for Epic to reconsider their position. While things can change, and it’s early days in this process, it doesn’t look promising for Epic. And maybe they want to think about taking this in a very different direction.

Which To Choose? Apple Watch Series 6 Or Apple Watch SE?

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 23, 2020 by itnerd

Apple came out with two new Apple Watches last week. The brand new Apple Watch Series 6, and the lower cost Apple Watch SE. And after my review of the Apple Watch 6, I got a number of questions about which one of these two watches that one should choose. And why did I pick the Apple Watch Series 6 over the Apple Watch SE. Hopefully, this story will answer both questions.

In terms of the differences between the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE, here’s the key differences:

Apple Watch Series 6Apple Watch SE
ProcessorS6 S5
Blood Oxygen SensorYesNo
Always-on altimeterYesYes
International SOSYesYes
Supports Family SetupYesYes
Always On DisplayYesNo
Fall Detection YesYes
Cellular ConnectivityLTE + UMTS LTE + UMTS
WiFi802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz
BluetoothBluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 5.0
Case Materials Aluminum, Stainless Steel, TitaniumAluminum
Display MaterialsAluminum models have Ion-X
glass displays. Stainless steel
and titanium models have
sapphire crystal displays.
Ion-X glass display.

So you can see that if you buy the Apple Watch SE, you give up the always on display, the ECG and blood oxygen sensors. You also give up WiFi on the 5GHz band and some of the fancy case and display materials. You also get the processor that was in the Series 5 (and Series 4 for that matter as there was no speed difference between the two) which is about 20% slower than the S6 processor. But in the grand scheme of things, the Apple Watch SE on the surface still seems to be a tremendous value as you get most of the Apple Watch experience at a lower price point. But that depends on your use case. Which is why I’ll get into the weeds now.

In my opinion, the Apple Watch SE is aimed at the following people:

  • Kids who’s parents want to give them an Apple Watch to keep in touch and keep tabs on them as they can be set up via Family Setup as long as you have a cellular model. One thing to keep in mind that the cellular model of the Apple Watch SE is cheaper than the iPhone SE and plans for the Apple Watch are far cheaper than iPhone plans.
  • A senior who’s kids want to keep tabs on them and leverage features like Fall Detection as they can be set up via Family Setup as long as you have a cellular model. One thing to keep in mind that the cellular model of the Apple Watch SE is cheaper than the iPhone SE and plans for the Apple Watch are far cheaper than iPhone plans.
  • Someone who wants the basic Apple Watch experience. Meaning that they aren’t going to be using it for marathons or anything that can be considered to be high levels of fitness tracking. Nor do they care about having the fancy case materials or the always on display.

The last point is a key one. The Apple Watch SE has two issues when it comes to fitness. This was uncovered by DC Rainmaker who is well known YouTuber who reviews fitness technology in high amount of detail. Specifically by directly comparing devices with each other and taking a deep dive into the data they generate.

The first issue is the heart rate monitor. Apple claims that the heart rate monitor is a 2nd generation optical HR sensor. Except that’s not true. Apple has had three generations of heart rate monitors. From DC Rainmaker’s review of the Apple Watch SE:

Apple Watch 1/2/3: This is a 2xLED, and 2xPhotodiode arrangement
Apple Watch 4/5/SE: This is a center LED (which technically has 4xLED’s in it), 8xPhotodiode arrangement
Apple Watch 6: This is a 4x LED (with each LED also having two colors in it, green for HR, red for SpO2), 4xPhotodiode

And this according to him shows up in his tests of the heart rate monitor of the Apple Watch SE:

Starting with the heart rate. This run was mostly evenly paced, but I threw in some solid sprints to check out responsiveness, and unfortunately, the SE failed on one of them – spiking the heart rate considerably higher than my viable max HR (and certainly higher than my effort) – nearly 190BPM:

This was something that he could not replicate with the Apple Watch Series 6. Which means that if you want absolutely accurate heart rate measurements, you want the Apple Watch Series 6.

When it comes to GPS tracking, the Apple Watch historically has had issues with mapping corners. Let me have DC Rainmaker explain:

It’s GPS that’s where the problems are. And in some ways, it’s easiest to just show Apple’s own app here, because it so easily makes things clear. With the Apple Watch Series 6, gone was what I’d dubbed ‘Mario Karting’ (or ‘Whooshing’) around the corners, where basically it ignores the laws of physics for GPS track beauty. It’d cut many corners, even when water/bridges/buildings/trees/rocks/statutes/angry geese, and others were involved. It’s been a stable of Apple Watch GPS tracks since the beginning, but the Series 6 unquestionably got rid of it. The SE though? Oh, it’s still here in force. 

That means if you want accurate tracking of your runs for example, you won’t get it with the Apple Watch SE unless you run in straight lines. Which nobody does. But you will get it with the Apple Watch Series 6. In short, people who are serious about fitness should be looking at the Apple Watch Series 6. And that’s the prime reason why I went with the Apple Watch Series 6.

Now neither of these issues are fatal. But they will impact your fitness experience if you care about having accurate data. Or if you would use your Apple Watch for fitness purposes at all as some users of the Apple Watch don’t do that. And that’s not to say the Apple Watch SE is a bad device. It isn’t. But it’s pretty clear that Apple when they came up with the Apple Watch SE made come compromises to hit a price point. Something that they didn’t do with the Apple Watch Series 6. So when choosing one over the other, you need to keep that in mind so that you choose the right Apple Watch for you.

I hope this story helps you to make the right choice. If you still need help, please leave a comment below and I will do my best to help you out.

Review: Apple Watch Series 6

Posted in Products with tags on September 21, 2020 by itnerd

I’ll get this out of the way. The Apple Watch Series 6 is an iterative upgrade that gives users some marginal gains over the Series 5. And it faces some competition from the also new Apple Watch SE which offers the key functionality at a lower price point. But depending on your use case, there is likely enough value here to entice existing Apple Watch users to upgrade and attract new Apple Watch users to buy in.

Here’s why I feel that way. Starting with the look of the Apple Watch Series 6:

This is the 44mm cellular model in Space Grey aluminum and Apple hasn’t bothered to change the design at all. So for those of you who were looking for a design update, you’re going to be disappointed. But to be fair, seeing as Apple dominates the wearables space, they don’t have to update the design I guess. However, the magic that you care about happens under the hood. Here’s all the changes that the Series 6 brings to the table:

  • An always on display that is according to Apple 2.5x brighter than before in bright sunlight.
  • A new S6 System In Package processor that is 20% faster than the S5 System In Package processor
  • A blood oxygen sensor which is part of a new sensor cluster on the bottom of the watch.
  • Always on altimeter 
  • U1 chip
  • 5GHz WiFi
  • It can be charged to full in 1.5 hours which is faster than any previous Apple Watch.
  • Battery life has been improved for tracking workouts like indoor and outdoor runs
  • The speaker is 50% louder

Now you’ll note that I didn’t mention battery life. It’s still 18 hours which Apple bills as “all day battery life”. So if you were hoping that Apple would move that needle on that front, they didn’t. The flip side is that there’s a lot more functionality in this Apple Watch with no battery life penalty. That to me is a win, but I can see why some might not see it that way. I’ll have more on battery life later.

There’s one other thing. Here’s what comes in the box:

You get a band, the watch, and under the paperwork you get the charging puck. But you do not get a charging brick. Apple is leaving this out of the Apple Watch unless you get the insanely expensive Hermès edition Apple Watch. The reason being that Apple wants to have a positive environmental impact by not including the charging brick which many people already have and may not use. They have a point about that as I went looking around my condo and found 14 5W Apple power bricks and one 12W Apple power brick without trying too hard. Clearly these came from other Apple Watches and various iPhones that my wife and I have bought or acquired over the years. So this change is a total non-issue for me. However, if you’re new to the Apple Watch, dropping an extra $25 CDN to get a charging brick might tick you off. Especially given the fact that Edition and Hermès buyers get the charging brick as part of the deal. I guess if you drop way over $1000 CDN on an Apple Watch with a uber expensive watch band and a couple of exclusive watch faces, the environment doesn’t matter to you. Or to Apple for that matter. One plus to not including the charging brick is that the Apple Watch package is slimmer than last year. Which likely means it’s cheaper to ship for Apple.

So, let’s dissect the new features:

  • An always on display that is according to Apple 2.5x brighter than before in bright sunlight: I tested this on a bike ride on a really sunny day over the weekend and I found the Apple Watch 6 easier to read whether the watch face was awake or in “always on” mode. Is it 2.5 brighter? I couldn’t tell you. But this addresses the number one complaint that I had about my Series 5 which was the display was sometimes hard to read in bright sunlight with and without sunglasses. The Series 6 makes this a non issue.
  • A new S6 System In Package processor that is 20% faster than the S5 System In Package processor: The only place that I noticed this is when the Apple Watch Series 6 booted up. It was significantly faster than the Apple Watch Series 5. Other than that, I couldn’t tell that it was faster because the Apple Watch Series 5 was already pretty fast.
  • Blood oxygen sensor which is part of a new sensor cluster on the bottom of the watch: Here’s a look at the new sensor cluster:

On the left is a Series 5. On the right is the Series 6. You will see on the Series the new sensor array. Four clusters of red, green, and infrared LEDs along with four photodiodes on the back of the Apple Watch 6 measure light reflected back from blood. A custom algorithm included in the new Blood Oxygen app measures blood oxygen between 70% and 100%. On-demand testing is also available through the app, and the watch also occasionally takes background measurements when a person is inactive, including during sleep. Finally, you can see the data is in the Health app. I found it to be finicky as you have to have the Apple Watch on with just the right amount of tension on the watch band to make it work right. One thing to note is that Apple markets this as a “wellness” device unlike the ECG functionality which requires approval from authorities like the FDA and Health Canada. That means that Apple can roll this out quickly to the entire planet rather than wait for each country to approve this functionality individually. That also means that you should not take the results that it gives as the absolute truth. Having said that, when I compared it to a medical grade SpO2 sensor that I borrowed from my dentist, the Apple Watch was plus or minus 1% of that sensor at worst (meaning that if the watch said 97%, the SpO2 sensor would be between 96% or 98%). More often than not they spat out exactly the same number. Now why should you care about what your blood oxygen level is? Well, if you consistently have a blood oxygen level below 90%, you may have some sort of heart issue, or lung issue, or you may have sleep apnea, or COVID-19 or some other serious illness. In fact, my dentist uses medical grade Sp02 sensors as a screening tool to see if their patients have COVID-19. If it registers below 90%, you’re not allowed into the office unless you have a clear COVID-19 test taken in the last 72 hours as there is emerging science that shows that low blood oxygen could be a sign of a COVID-19 infection. So this is a great time for Apple to roll this out.

  • Always on altimeter: Much like last year’s compass, this may be cool for people who hike for example as you can see your elevation change in real time. But it is pretty much irrelevant for everyone else. It can be added as a complication to the watch face of your choice.
  • U1 chip: Pretty much the only thing that may take advantage of this in the here and now is Apple’s CarKey functionality which allows you to unlock and start your car (currently only supported by BMW). I say that because the iPhone 11 series has this chip and that along with making AirDrop easier to use are the only things that this chip does. But perhaps there’s other functionality coming like helping to find your much rumored Apple AirTags which can best be described as a Tile Bluetooth tracker on steroids. It’s rumored to use the U1 chip to make finding lost objects easier.
  • 5GHz WiFi: This is a marginal gain as it allows the Apple Watch Series 6 to connect to WiFi in more scenarios as previous versions were limited to 2.4GHz. This should make it faster as well, though I didn’t notice that.
  • It can be charged to full in 1.5 hours which is faster than any previous Apple Watch: This is 100% true as I’ve noted that the Apple Watch charges faster than before. I’ve been using the Apple Watch sleep tracking function that popped up in watchOS 7. To really use it, you need to make sure you have at least 30% battery life remaining. So I charge it just before I go to bed and just before I wake up. I can often get to 100% in 45 minutes or less of a charge. And it the Apple Watch will send a message to my iPhone to let me know that it has been charged fully.
  • Battery life has been improved for tracking workouts like indoor and outdoor runs: I did a two hour hike with my wife using the Workout app to record GPS and heart rate. Also of note, I left my iPhone in the car which forces the Apple Watch to do this on device rather than leveraging the iPhone’s GPS. I did note a marginal improvement in how much battery this scenario would normally use versus the Apple Watch Series 5.
  • The speaker is 50% louder: I can’t say if the speaker is 50% louder, but it is louder.

Now over to the battery life. It is definitely the same “all day battery life” Apple Watch users are used to. I am left with about 35%-45% battery life at the end of the day as long as I haven’t done a workout. Related to that, when being used for sleep tracking, it only burns 20% of battery life while tracking my sleep. My wife’s Series 4 by comparison only burns 15% while sleep tracking. I am thinking that the difference between the two is the fact that the Series 6 monitors blood oxygen levels which may consume a bit more power.

Some other notes:

  • I noted that the digital crown has a more “clicky” feel to it when pressed. I am not sure if that’s haptics or it is simply more “clicky”.
  • watchOS 7 has removed Force Touch functionality from the OS, and rumor has it that the Apple Watch Series 6 doesn’t have the Force Touch hardware in it which allowed Apple to add a larger battery. But only a teardown by iFixit will confirm that.
  • The hand washing function that appeared in watchOS 7 seems to work marginally better on the Apple Watch Series 6 versus the Series 5. I believe that the new improved accelerometer is responsible for this.

You can buy the Apple Watch in aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium. I chose aluminum as I always do because the tech is more important to me than the case material. But I will admit that one reason to get the stainless steel or titanium models is that they swap the ION-X glass in the display for more durable sapphire glass. Apple has also introduced new blue and (PRODUCT)RED color options for the aluminum models. Stainless steel Apple Watch models come in silver and a dark gray graphite shade, while titanium models come in silver and space black. Apple also sells Apple Watch Nike and Apple Watch Hermès models with both featuring new band options. Nike models are available only in aluminum, while Hermès models come in stainless steel. However, the ceramic version of the Apple Watch is no more. Which means if you want to be a baller with your Apple Watch, you’ll have to live with stainless steel or titanium.

So, should you buy the Apple Watch Series 6. Well, it depends:

  • If you don’t have an Apple Watch, and you want the ECG and blood oxygen monitoring functions, and you like having the option of having a different case material or color, then the Apple Watch Series 6 is for you.
  • If you don’t have an Apple Watch, and you don’t care about the ECG and blood oxygen monitoring functions, and having the option of having a different case material or color is irrelevant to you, and you can do without the always on display, then the Apple Watch Series SE is for you seeing as you can get it at a $160 CDN discount.
  • If you have an Apple Watch Series 3 or lower, the Apple Watch Series 6 is worthy upgrade. Though if you don’t need the ECG and blood oxygen monitoring functions, and having the option of having a different case material or color is irrelevant to you, and you can do without the always on display, the Apple Watch SE is worth a look.
  • If you have a kid who you want to keep tabs on. Or you want to give an Apple Watch to a parent that you want to keep tabs on, skip the Apple Watch 6 and go for the Apple Watch SE instead. Especially since you can now pair and manage multiple Apple Watches using one iPhone using Family Setup. It only works with the cellular models of the Apple Watch SE, but those are cheaper than the iPhone SE and the plans for the Apple Watch tend to be cheaper as well.
  • If you have a Series 4 or 5, it might not be worth your while to upgrade unless the blood oxygen monitoring functions and or having the option of having a different case material or color are worth it to you.

The Apple Watch Series 6 starts at $529 CDN for the GPS (AKA WiFi) and $699 CDN for the GPS+Cellular version in aluminum. The price jumps to $929 CDN and up for stainless steel, $1599 CDN and up for the Hermès models with stainless steel, and $1109 CDN for the Edition models with titanium. Yes it is an iterative upgrade. And it faces competition from the Apple Watch SE which brings most of the Apple Watch experience at a lower price point. But it’s hard to deny that Apple will sell every copy they make. In fact, the (PRODUCT)RED and blue models are hard to come by at the moment. Proof positive that Apple may have their target audience nailed.

UPDATE: I guess Apple finally figured out how hypocritical it was that Edition and Hermès buyers get the charging brick and the rest of us didn’t with the environment being the reason as they have now removed the charging brick for buyers of those models.

A CANADIAN Support Document Has Been Found Referencing The Apple Card…. A Sign Of Things To Come?

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 21, 2020 by itnerd

The folks at iPhone In Canada posted an article on the Apple Card yesterday and whether it is coming to Canada or not. In that story they referenced a support document that is on Apple Canada site that details how to apply for the card. Here’s a picture of the document in case Apple nukes it:

You’ll note that I circled the URL bar. Here’s a closer look:

Okay… So this is coming from the Apple Canada website. Interesting. But this could simply be a mistake rather than a sign that the Apple Card is coming to Canada. After all, I was tracking a story about Apple Cash coming to Canada where I saw signs of it on my Apple Watch back in 2018. But that didn’t pan out. So I decided to try and debunk this. I decided to go to the UK Apple site as well as a few other geographies. I could not find this document on anything other than the US and Canadian websites.

That’s interesting.

Now this could be mistake by Apple as they have been known to make mistakes like this. And if Apple deletes it, then we’ll know that this is the case. But it is possible that iPhone In Canada is on to something. We’ll just have to watch this space to find out more.

Apple Just Shot Itself In The Foot By Cutting Epic Games Off From Apple’s Developer Tools

Posted in Commentary with tags , on August 18, 2020 by itnerd

This battle between Epic Games and Apple has been interesting to watch. However, yesterday’s move by Apple to cut Epic off from using Apple’s developer tools is a major mistake by Apple. One that will bite Apple in the rear end.

Here’s why.

By targeting Epic Game’s access to Apple’s developers tools, Apple by extension is targeting the maintenance of the Epic Unreal Engine that is used many third party game makers to allow them to create the visuals behind a lot of really popular games. All these third party developers have nothing to do with this fight. Yet they’ve now been sucked into this fight. Because if Epic Games cannot make updates to the Unreal Engine, third party game makers can’t create or update their games. And that will create the perception that Apple has way too much power. And all this latest move by Apple does is to take the argument that Apple has way too much power, wrap it up in pretty wrapping paper, put a bow on it, and presents it Congress for them to slap Apple with an anti-trust investigation.

I’m not sure if this is what Apple intended. But the die has been cast. And Apple is going to need to think long and hard about whether this is really such a good idea, and if they want to change course to deal with Epic Games so that all these third party game aren’t collateral damage.

Over to you Apple.

Apple Threatens To Kill Epic Games Access To Developer Accounts….. Epic Games Goes To Court To Stop That

Posted in Commentary with tags , on August 17, 2020 by itnerd

Well, this escalated quickly.

Epic Games via a tweet dropped this news:

The tweet links to a court filing [Warning: PDF] which asks a Northern California court to stop Apple from removing Epic’s ‌App Store‌ access. That would include app development tools including the tools that Epic uses to work on their Unreal Engine that allows others to create games. That would seriously screw over Epic Games. Perhaps even cripple or kill them. Epic is asking the court to prevent Apple from taking “any adverse action” against it, including restricting, suspending, or terminating Epic’s access to the Apple Developer program. Epic also asks that the court restrain Apple from removing, de-listing, refusing to list, or otherwise making the Fortnite app unavailable, or modifying the Fortnite code.

Apparently Apple sees a number of violations of Apple Developer Program. And all they have to do to get it back is follow Apple’s ‌App Store‌ guidelines. And they have until August 28 to dance to Apple’s tune. Which I can’t see Epic doing.

Get your popcorn ready. Things are about to get really interesting .

Apple Has Apparently Expanded Its Third Party Repair Program To Macs

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 17, 2020 by itnerd

Reuters is reporting that Apple is expanding its third party repair program to cover Macs as well as iPhones. I’ve been covering this topic for a while now. And while this is a good move on one hand, I continue to question Apple’s motives on this. For example, the terms and conditions that they place on repair shops are shady. And it would likely help if Apple makes products that are actually repairable to the degree that they should be. So I have to wonder if this is a PR stunt to blunt any attempt by Congress to force Apple to allow third parties to repair their products.

I for one am not impressed by this.