Links of Interest – Apple Stuff

Ever wonder how you’d use an iPhone if you were blind? Read about The little-known iPhone feature that helps blind people see with their fingers (David Pogue via Yahoo Finance).

Motherboard lifts the curtain on Apple’s mysterious iPhone calibration machine:

“It was a big clunky machine that honestly looked like someone built it in their backyard,” a former Apple Genius told me. “There were different ‘moulds’ that different iPhone models would go into before going in the machine, and it would take around 30 minutes … there was some weird liquid that needed to be placed in the machine that we would have to wear gloves with to fix it. Lots of gas type valves and whatnot. It literally looked like some backyard home job. Not very Apple-like at all.”

~ Motherboard

Ever use Apple Notes on your iPhone or iPad? Federico Viticci shows us how to become an Apple Notes power-user in Optimizing Apple Notes.

Apple has hired much respected security researcher Jonathan Zdziarski. While checking out Jonathan’s blog, I happened to come across his thoughts on Christianity. Turns out he is a thoughtful Christian. His defense of his faith is refreshing.

On the heels of my review of Apple Watch, The Verge explains why Apple Watch is still the best designed smartwatch.

Three Months In – My thoughts on Apple Watch

When Apple Watch was first introduced in 2015, I was still situated firmly in the middle of this xkcd:

I quit wearing a watch sometime in the oughts, and never really missed it. Besides, I had this great $600+ pocket watch also known as an iPhone. The original Apple Watch seemed like nothing more than a gadget to me. However, with the introduction of Apple Watch Series 2 in the fall of 2016, my interest was piqued by its improved water proofing and ability to track my swim workouts.

Now, over three months into owning my Apple Watch, I find that I love it. It’s on my wrist all the time. Its activity tracking has made a difference in my overall fitness, and its quick notifications help to dispense with distractions from my phone.

My Favorite Feature: Activity Tracking

When I learned that Apple Watch Series 2 would be waterproof up to 50m, that turned me from casual observer to prospective customer. What’s more, during the original announcement, they showed how the watch can track your swim workouts, counting your laps and detecting your stroke. I love my morning swims, and being able to bring my Apple Watch along sold me on its utility. What I didn’t realize until I got my watch was how much I would enjoy and benefit from its overall activity tracking.

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Completing those circles each day has gotten addictive.

Apple Watch tracks my activity across three metrics represented by three concentric circles in the Activity app. The outer, red Move ring tracks my active calories burned each day. The middle, green Exercise ring tracks how many minutes of “brisk” activity I’ve completed so far. The inner, blue Stand ring shows how many hours I’ve stood for at least one minute.

perfect-week.400x443As you can see in the screenshot above, I wasn’t consistent in completing my circles during my first full month wearing my watch. However, just before January, the Activity app presented me with the “Ring in the New Year Challenge”. All I had to do was complete all three Activity rings each day for a full week in January. A digital reward was enough of a carrot for me to start my streak.

After completing the challenge I kept going. As of this writing, I’m currently at 69 days in a row where I’ve completed all three Activity rings. In order to do this, I’ve had to make a conscious effort to get in my exercise each day. Also, after closing my circles for a week, the Activity app suggests a new Move goal for the next week. If I accept the new goal, that means I’ve increased my daily calorie burn target. Over time this means I’ve gradually raised the amount of calories I’m burning each day.

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I’m currently working on my 3rd perfect month in a row.

Quick Notifications

I’ve always known that Apple Watch provides notification of things which show up as alerts on my iPhone; however, it wasn’t until I experienced receiving these as quick glances on my wrist rather than on my phone that I saw their utility.

apple-watch-notificationI get a lot of notifications on my phone (don’t we all?). I try to be smart about them, turning off notifications for most apps. However, that still leaves a lot of notifications that I like to see: Basecamp (for projects I’m managing), Reminders (e.g. “Change your contacts” every other week on Friday), alerts from servers I manage, important emails, etc.

Before Apple Watch, whenever I received one of these alerts, I’d often grab my phone and process the alert (i.e. read it then clear it/respond to it). Going through this same process on my wrist is much quicker. With many alerts over time, the time I save adds up. Apple Watch provides a nice “best of both worlds” approach where I’m able to keep my alerts and still focus on whatever I happen to be working on.

Final Thoughts, Should you get an Apple Watch?

I’ve definitely been happy with my purchase. Health benefits alone, the metrics Apple Watch provides have been a key part of improving my overall fitness and activity levels. Its integration with my iPhone make Apple Watch a truly useful tool during my workday and beyond. If you already have an iPhone and you’re firmly planted in the “Apple products eco-system”, Apple Watch will fit in seamlessly with all your Apple gear. Is Apple Watch a must buy? No, but as far as accessories go, it has become more integrated into my life than just about any other “optional” gadget that I can think of.

Bonus: If you’re in the market for another Apple Watch band, check: Curated collection of the Best Non-Apple Watch Bands

Podcast Roundup – The Daily, Missing Richard Simmons, and more

Last fall I enjoyed listening to the New York Times’ The Run-Up podcast. It provided an “in-the-newsroom” perspective to last year’s Presidental election. Now the show’s host, Michael Barbaro, has followed that up with a new show, The Daily.

Each morning around 6am, the latest episode hits my podcatcher. The show features interviews with Times staffers reporting on the day’s stories along with interviews of the news makers themselves. It’s a facinating start to my day with a perspective straight from the people reporting the day’s news. Give it a listen, it will make a great addition to your podcast lineup.

Where is Richard Simmons?

Have you been missing Richard Simmons lately? If so (and even if you haven’t), Dan Taberski’s new podcast Missing Richard Simmons is for you.

On February 15, 2014, fitness guru Richard Simmons disappeared. He stopped teaching his regular exercise class at Slimmons, cut off his closest friends, and removed himself from the public eye after decades as one of the most accessible celebrities in the world. Nobody has heard from him – and no one knows why he left. Filmmaker Dan Taberski was a Slimmons regular and a friend of Richard’s. Missing Richard Simmons is Dan’s search for Richard – and the deeper he digs, the stranger it gets.

~ Missing Richard Simmons

Amazon Prime Members: Are you using your free Audible Channels?

There are so many cool perks that come with Amazon Prime that I can’t keep track. One that I’ve started enjoying lately are Audible Channels. Under Audible Channels you’ll find original audio series like Presidents Are People Too! which provides real-life insights into the men who’ve held the office, there are hand-crafted playlists of the day’s news, comedy, talks, and more, and my favorite are the audio books. I’m currently listening to Fighter Pilot, The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds.

If you’re an Amazon Prime member and you haven’t taken advantage of this perk yet, just download the Audible app on your mobile device. Then click on the Channels tab.