Apple Watch… 5 years on

5 years ago, Apple launched its first smartwatch to the world, dubbed the Apple Watch. In my opinion, the original Apple Watch (now called as Series 1) was pretty flop as a device itself, I remembered looking at it and I was like “there’s no way I’m gonna buy this”. As many have rightly pointed out, the Series 1 was hoarded down by a lot of shortcomings on performance and selling features that appeal to people. It nailed the design, but not the experience… just yet. Although I have dismissed the Series 1, a part of me realized that there’s true potential in it to become great, and oh boy did it became great.

Fast forward to present, the Apple Watch Series 5 has waterproofing, sound level detection, built-in ECG, built-in GPS and compass, cellular network onboard, edge-to-edge screen, always-on display… it is indeed the perfect companion and the most personal computer device Apple has ever built. In just 5 years, Apple has moved the needle of smartwatches so much that made other competitors scrambling to play catch-up. Stories about how Apple Watch has changed lives (and even saved lives) have been circulating across the internet. In fact, Apple has even surpassed most of the traditional watches to become one of the highest selling watches in the world.

Personally, I have been using the Apple Watch Series 3 for more than 2 years now. I’ll admit I was a skeptic initially. Who charges their watch on daily basis! It’s an expensive gadget to upgrade on yearly basis! But once you get over it (you are charging your phone on daily basis anyway?), you will start to enjoy it, like really. After 2 years of usage, I have been enjoying wearing it day in and day out. It tracks my workout, alerted me on abnormal heart rate once which prompted me to went for a health check (everything turns out to be fine and will continue to monitor my status), get me moving throughout the day and get me notified on all the important alerts that I wish to see. And after 2 years it is still working flawlessly, and hopefully maybe it will last me through the third year as well before I even consider to upgrade.

Can I go back to live a life without one? I wonder.

Of course it is not all rosy. Sleep tracking is not available, tracking could be more accurate, the aluminium used could be of better grade to withstand more abuse, more monitoring features are always welcome and so on. So it will be interesting to see what’s next from Apple for the coming generation of Apple Watches. Should everyone buy one? Absolutely not, even if you are iPhone user. It really depends on what you need, some active users might better off getting themselves a dedicated and rugged watches from Garmin or Polar, which are built for outdoor adventure and runners. Those who just want something super simple and cheap that work across multiple platforms will find themselves happy with a Fitbit.

For me and a couple of others, Apple Watch has been the best product from Apple for the past decade. I’m looking forward to see what else Apple has planned for this personal computer that sit on my wrist all day, and let’s see what will the future look like in the next 5 years. Till then.

Ecosystem… Good or Bad?

 

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I am rooted into Apple’s ecosystem, though I wouldn’t say I’m deeply rooted in it. I don’t have Apple TV, I don’t use Siri, but I do have the “basics” of iMac, Apple Watch and iPhone (I still have an iPad but I don’t use it that often anymore).

I enjoyed using them, they may not be the best device individually (and there will never be “the best”), but the fact that all devices I use on daily basis can interact and linked with each other closely, work seamlessly across each other really makes a whole lot of difference. Apple has refined and pushed the envelope on ecosystem more than anyone else, and that is something which I valued, and I understand not everyone will value the same.

Being able to send a message from my iMac without the need to grab my phone, opening a tab on my iPad and have the same tab shown on my iPhone if I want to, copy from one device and paste your from your clipboard to another device are just a few of the features proved useful when you are being tied down to an ecosystem. Not to mention the seamless connectivity of AirPods to any Apple devices has shown what kind of efficiency a locked down ecosystem can actually deliver.

Well, depends on how you look at it, it could be a curse or a blessing. There was once I felt concern for tying myself down and be in the mercy of one company. I made a switch back to Android, I was waiting patiently for the Surface Phone to arrive (which promised Apple-like integration with Windows), but in the end, none of them turned out to be a viable option or materialized. Ever since Surface Phone was dead, Microsoft promised better integration with Android will arrive, but we have yet to see it until today.

In the end, I’m back to the Apple’s ecosystem and been happy to stay there ever since. One may argue you don’t need to have your phone to be in-sync with your other devices, well, it may not mean anything to you, but it meant a lot for those who are really using it. I value the convenience, and I’m willing to even pay a premium for it.

Of course it’s not all good and rosy for the Apple ecosystem at the moment. There are many other things they can do to improve further. Apple Watch still requires an iPhone to work, app experience across platform (iOS, iPadOS and macOS) could still be better and so on. But I believe some of this will sure get iron out in the future.

So is ecosystem a good thing or a bad thing? You be your own judge.

iPhone 11 Pro… so?

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Another year, another iPhone.

Another year, another round of memes, pundits comments, claiming “Apple is dead without Steve Jobs”, “Apple has no innovation”, “Apple is just playing catch up on Android” and so on.

Is the camera bump and arrangement ugly?
Well, yes. But once you understood the reason behind why such arrangement was necessary, I can live with that.

Is the asymmetrical design of the phone bugs me?
Hell yes. I do felt industrial design on the iPhone has gone downhill for the past few years.

The iPhone 11 Pro is the same as iPhone X and iPhone XS!
Well, aren’t the iPhone 4, 4s, 5, 5s looked the same? Aren’t the Galaxy Note all look the same with just very minor tweak?

Okay, enough of rambling. So yes, I got myself the new iPhone 11 Pro in Midnight Green and 256GB storage. Well, it’s not like I want to upgrade from my iPhone 8 Plus, it’s more of like I need to upgrade because my telco contract has expired and I need to renew it this year, so… ya, here I am, holding on to this new iPhone.

Is it any good?
Of course it’s good.

Is it well worth the upgrade?
On the camera side, yes. Swapping from Touch ID to Face ID? Yes. Moving from home button to swiping gesture? Not bad. Other than that… nothing much to be honest, and that doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing.

My already-2-years-old iPhone 8 Plus is already a great phone in terms of sheer performance, the new one is faster and more efficient of course, but to be that significant for you to notice a difference? Well, not so. Anyway, Apple’s A-series chip has been leading the industry for quite awhile now, it’s not fair to expect them to defy the law of physics and come up with processors with quantum leap on a yearly basis.

How about Android?
Well, after going back and forth between Android and iOS for the past couple of years… I have decided to stay with iOS for the completeness of the ecosystem. I’m not a fan of Google and I am trying my best to distance myself from their services as much as possible. It’s just my personal preference, not like I’m against Android in total.

Sorry, this isn’t really a review of the iPhone 11 Pro as one might expect, you can easily search for a tons of them from the internet anyway. If you like it, just search for all the positive reviews and look at it, feel good about it and go spend your money. If you hate it, just search for all the videos that tell you “don’t buy the new iPhone” and you will be a happy person thereafter.

Why isn’t there a review? Is it because there really isn’t much to talk about? Well, maybe. Whatever the differences between my iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 11 Pro are good to have. But honestly, I can live another year without them too. The only problem I have with my older iPhone is the battery has started to age, oh and did I mentioned the battery life on the new iPhone is pretty amazing? Plus the need to renew my Telco contract and hence… here I am with my new phone.

I’m not telling you to buy or not to buy the new iPhone. In fact I think none of the reviewers should. One should just share the usage experience and let you make the judgement call. If any of the improvements are significant enough for you, just go ahead and upgrade even on a yearly basis. If you just want to use an iPhone, honestly the iPhone 11, even the iPhone 8 series are still extremely capable and a hell of a phone in 2019.

Is this the best iPhone? Well, I can tell you straight the answer: The best iPhone is the iPhone that Apple will announce next year 🙂 There’s really no point in looking for the best. If you are happy with iOS, just look for one that fits within your budget and get it. Be it iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11, iPhone 8 or even iPhone SE… till then.

There’s an app for that!

 

Yup, there’s an app to measure the length, an app for compass, an app to check level and so on. This has been the selling point for both Apple and Google when it comes to pushing for people to adopt their mobile platform (iOS and Android). Apps… millions of apps for people to buy, to download, to use them to enhance their daily life, to improve efficiency… the list goes on.

But I feel like there are just too many apps that does single purpose, and they are very messy, making my phone cluttered with apps. So many apps, so many storage space used, but do they really make your life better? Are there apps that are right there in you phone but yet you have never use them before?

I used to use a few apps to edit photos with my phone. I’ll use VSCO for applying colour preset as a base, then I’ll go to Snapseed to do other adjustment, then maybe to other apps for other purposes. Along the way, these apps do add in additional features borrowed from other apps, hence I’m using less apps in my workflow. Eventually, I had deleted all the other apps and only left using Lightroom CC on my mobile devices, especially after the recent update with custom preset included.

I felt that there’re certainly a lot can be done in order to streamline the user experience of using apps. For example, measuring app, level, compass, unit conversion etc. can be grouped into one app, as all of them serve literally the same purpose: to measure something. Same goes for photography related apps, a lot functions can be consolidated into the same app, hence reducing the need to hop around different apps to get things done.

Streamlining things… an approach for minimalist, and something I preferred. Hopefully one day I can have a phone with little clutter on screen, thanks to the developers for consolidating and simplify the apps.

My rant about Apple…

Source: Reddit

I wish Apple will put USB-C connector into their iOS devices. No, this is not another rant about why Apple should adopt a universal connector that’s going to be the same across the broad and in-line with other Android devices. I have nothing against the use of proprietary lightning cable for iOS devices, in fact I have enjoyed using one since it was first introduced. However, when Apple shifted all its macOS devices to USB-C, the iOS devices got left behind and things started to get… messy.

Why Apple refused to have USB-C on iOS devices? I wonder. Well, maybe it’s because they want to prevent user from using any cable and plug into their iOS devices, which runs a risk damaging it? Perhaps Apple just want to keep lightning cable so that they can earn more money by selling you their cables at inflated price? Much of the advantages for lightning cable has present in USB-C, so why can’t we make a shift?

Why am I pondering about this? Well, take a look at Apple’s website. You’ll notice Apple is selling “Lightning to USB-A” adapter, “Lightning to SD Card” adapter, “Lightning to HDMI” adapter, “Lightning to headphone jack” adapter and so on. And at the same time, guess what are they selling for the Mac? “USB-C to USB-A” adapter, “USB-C to HDMI” adapter and so on.

Imagine if I’m using MacBook Pro and iPad, I will need to have two sets of adapter for the same function that I want to use! It doesn’t fit the minimalist idea of late Steve Jobs at all, and to me, as a user, I really cannot understand this kind of logic. How good will it be if we can use the same set of adapter across all Apple devices? I will not live in such a world that’s shaped by the broken vision of Apple. That’s part of the reason why I decided not to go for the MacBook Pro when my old one was dead. I rather spend on iMac which has all the ports I need, and keeping just a set of adapters for my iPad.

Perhaps there are some limitations behind, maybe fundamental code of iOS and macOS that simply don’t allow such integration? Or hardware limitation for iOS devices to incorporate USB-C? I have no idea, but I’m really disappointed by the execution of Apple on this. The ecosystem of Apple is still the best in class, but sadly the hardwares surrounding the ecosystem are deteriorating. They took “courage” to get rid of headphone jack on iPhone, touting wireless is the future, but the same “courage” was lost in transaction on the Mac or iPad; they said USB-C is the future and shipped their MacBook Pro with only USB-C port, but ended up selling you iPhone with USB-A cable bundled in.

What a joke, Apple. What a joke.

Anyway, for the time being I will still live with them as I still need the seamless transition between my devices. I do hope someone can create an equally good, if not better ecosystem to rival Apple. I was putting my bet on Microsoft, but sadly it doesn’t materialized. Perhaps Google is the next to look into, Chrome OS + Android maybe? Who knows, we’ll see how things unfold in the future. Till then.