Watch.

I’m still proudly rockin’ an Apple Series 3 Watch. This is my second Apple Watch, my husband still wears my first, and I purchased this right after the Series 3 was introduced to mix. For the most part it has been a flawless experience.

Earlier this month (or was it at the end of last month?) Apple release Watch OS 7. Ever since upgrading to Watch OS 7 my watch has been sporadically rebooting. This experience hasn’t been limited to my Series 3 watch, plenty of other users have voiced their concerns with the same behavior. I found the glitch to be very frustrating, as it seems my watch especially enjoyed rebooting when I went to pay for something with Apple Pay. I don’t like holding up checkout lines.

Apple released Watch OS 7.0.1 but it didn’t address the rebooting issue. I was a bit surprised by this, especially since Apple is still selling this exact model watch as their low end offering. Plenty of other users were experiencing the same thing. After the update to 7.0.1 I futzed around with the watch a bit and figured out that the rebooting seemed to be related to displaying the city of the weather app on the watch face. If I used a watch face that didn’t show “Chicago” (or wherever I was) next to the forecast, it didn’t reboot as much.

Until the release last week.

Over the weekend my watch was rebooting like crazy again. This pushed me to the point of frustration, so I wiped the watch out and set it up as a brand new watch.

This fixed the rebooting issue. It also significantly extended the battery life. My watch is snappy and happy again.

Of course, Apple released Watch OS 7.0.2 to address the rebooting issue. I updated to it and it’s still purring along like a contented kitty.

I feel like I still have plenty of life in this watch. It does everything I want it to do and now that the rebooting issue has been resolved I’m feeling confident with its functionality again.

I’ll upgrade when this one completely gives up the ghost.

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Mini.

I have to admit I’m rather excited about the HomePod Mini. At an affordable price point, we’re going to be able to put one or two of these around our home to supplement our existing HomePods.

I know folks like to gripe about Siri but we rarely have an issue using Siri to play music, set alarms, or control our smart devices. We have Alexa in da house as well, and she seems to get more confused than Siri on a regular basis. Maybe I’m just wired to be more Apple friendly or something.

I’m also excited about the new iPhone 12 lineup. My iPhone X is going on three years old and I’m in the mood for an upgrade. I believe the iPhone 12 will fit the bill. I’ll probably sell my Canon camera to help offset the cost. I haven’t used it in quite a while.

Gamification.

When Apple release Watch OS 7 a week or two ago, all eligible Apple Watches were introduced to many new features. One of the highlights of this release is improved sleep tracking. Apple now encourages you to wear your watch to bed so you know how well you slept.

I’ve been using this since the day of release. Tonight will be the first night that I will not be participating in this latest gamification of life.

I don’t sleep well. I know this. I haven’t slept well in the past several years. Much of it is from feeling the weight of the country on my shoulders, but I also hear things in the big city or once in a while a neighbor, who we usually never hear, will make some startling noise in the middle of the night and then I’ll be in bed all wide-eyed thinking about random thoughts. Occasionally my brain will not shift out of overdrive and I’ll get into this light sleep. The way it really works is I instantly fall asleep but it doesn’t last long enough. As I’m falling asleep I jerk and bob in bed. My husband should probably have a seat belt for his side of the bed. I’ll save the sleep walking tales for another blog entry.

The last thing I need is watch on my arm and my mind grinding on the thoughts of what my “sleep score” will be in the morning.

There’s also another thing to think about with this sleep tracking. Apple doesn’t have a great track record with reliably sounding alarms for waking in the morning. The slightest disruption in the atmospheric continuum, like a time change or a tidal assault from the moon or something, and Apple can’t remember to sound the alarm. So I start waking up about 30 minutes before I should to see if I’ve missed the alarm.

The last thing that was bothering me about this sleep tracking is there’s really one schedule unless you get into full tinkering mode with the clunky app and Apple tries really hard to lock you into that schedule. But! It doesn’t turn the alarm on for the next day unless you manually turn it on before bed.

This is not a good UI design.

I don’t need to track my sleep to make rings close and harps whine when I wake up in the morning. If I want to track my sleep I can check the security cams to see if I’ve walked around or if I’m being over restless I’ll know because my husband rolled me over or something.

I know Apple wants us to be as healthy as possible and I feel like they’re mostly genuine in their intent, but I’m not as big a fan of the gamification of health as I thought I would be. It’s bad enough that the Fitness app never gives you a rest day without scolding you for not closing your rings in successive days. I don’t need reminders on how to sleep.

For those that enjoy the gamification of life, have at it. Love it. Take it to the next level.

I’ll sit here and nap as I tell you kids to get off my front lawn.

Settling Down.

When Apple releases a new version of iPadOS, it usually takes a couple of versions for things to settle down. This is my iPad Pro running the latest production version of iPadOS 14.

Confusion.

I have an Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular connectivity. It’s my second Apple Watch and quite frankly, I’m ready for an upgrade to the new Series 6.

However, during today’s trip to Michigan, I was a little disappointed by the latest version of Watch OS (Watch OS 7) on my Apple Watch Series 3.

When we crossed the imaginary line from Central to Eastern Time (otherwise known as the Indiana-Michigan border), my Apple Watch could no longer give me the local weather. The watch would just display “Retrieving Weather…” and nothing else would happen.

My watch also became unresponsive to touch. I would hit a side button to open an application, usually Activity so I could see how I was doing with my rings for the day, and it wouldn’t do anything. The watch would freeze for two or three minutes and then prompt me for my passcode. In fact, I must have entered my passcode into the watch a dozen times today, even though my watch never left my wrist.

I’m taking this as a sign that although my Series 3 watch supports Watch OS 7 just fine, I’m in that dead zone where it’s going to be a slightly janky experience and I should probably update my watch.

The issue here is Apple is still selling the Series 3 watch. I hope theirs behave better than mine.

I really like my Apple Watch but the platform is always slightly dicey when you get away from your home turf. But today the watch just went a little cuckoo when we got away from Chicago.

I’m hoping the upcoming .1 release to Watch OS fixes many of these bugs. I want to get back to “It Just Works”.

Offerings.

So Apple had their September event, “Time Flies”. Like the WWDC Keynote earlier this year, this was a pre-taped event with very slick presentation values. I’m always genuinely impressed with the way Apple presents their new offerings, whether it’s live or Memorex.

Ironically, I’m typing this blog entry on my MacBook Pro that’s running a portable installation of Linux.

The Apple event included the latest in their Apple Watch line and the newest iPad Air, which ends up being more like an iPad Pro instead of the lighter version of a base-line iPad.

Speaking of the iPad, I fully believe that tablet computing is the wave of the future. Ideally, our smartphones would be our main computer and we would connect them to monitors and keyboards to do our work. A intermediary option could be snapping our smartphone into the back of a “tablet shell”, where the smartphone powers the tablet or the computer. But we’d always have our main computer in our pocket.

But that idea wasn’t part of Apple’s offerings this week. I don’t think it would sell enough hardware to be viable. However, I do think that the majority of average users in the world today could get by with an iPad or, if they’re uncomfortable living in Apple’s ecosystem, a Chromebook or other non-Apple tablet like device.

The biggest takeaway from the presentation for our family’s computing needs was the announcement of “Apple One”, a tiered membership plan that allows users to pay just one price for a group of Apple’s service offerings. The most expensive plan, at $29.95 US per month, includes iCloud Drive, Apple Music, Apple News+, the new Apple Fitness+ service, Apple TV+, and Apple Arcade.

This would save us about $10 a month. Not a bad deal.

The only caveat to this is that it’s obviously geared to work best when you’re using Apple hardware and software across all of your computing needs. So, while it could be done with this current MacBook Pro-Linux setup I’m using at this very moment, it wouldn’t be very practical.

Money.

Apple reached two trillion dollars in valuation this week. The company is the first U.S. company to achieve this feat; and it achieved this, doubling its one trillion dollars in valuation in just two years.

Honestly, I don’t know a lot about what this means other than the fact that Apple has a metric ton of money.

Yet, the company continues to strong-arm developers and the like into following their “30% cut” of generated revenue from developer apps in their App Store. As a developer that has never developed an iOS app, I’m really not sure how I feel about this, as I’ve never developed anything where Apple had to take a 30% cut of the revenue simply for having the app available for iPhones and iPads.

As consumers we are stuck in a tricky place; Apple charges an exorbitant prices for their hardware and dings developers 30% of their revenue from the apps that are distributed through the Apple app store. Kinda sucky. At the same time, Google offers the Android ecosystem with their Android phones, but vacuum every scrap of data they can from the consumer and use the data to sell ads and share the information with god know who on the other end, disrupting any shred of privacy a user may expect.

Honestly, as consumers we have no great choice. Spend an unreasonable amount of money or whore out our privacy to god knows who.

This is not how technology was suppose to evolve. Devices were suppose to get cheaper and we weren’t suppose to give up our privacy. Why does a company need a two trillion dollar valuation? What purpose does that serve?

Big Sur.

So I went ahead and installed Mac OS Big Sur on my mid-2015, 15-inch MacBook Pro. I’ve been messing around with it a bit here and there and while the new UI elements taking some getting used to, it feels more stable than I thought it would. I’m also surprised at the responsiveness, this beta version is running faster than the latest production version on Mac OS Catalina.

I’ve run across a couple of bugs here and there; the label for my clock widget says “City” instead of “Chicago” and the weather widget keeps defaulting back to Cupertino. I was able to reproduce an issue another blogger is seeing, but otherwise it’s a new coat of paint on the status quo. While users will instantly notice the new look and feel, they should still feel comfortable and confident when Big Sur is realized in the Fall.

I sold the Mac Mini I was using as a “BYOD”, or “Bring Your Own Device”, machine at work. Work has completely gone down the Microsoft path and have done their best to lock non-Windows machines out of the network. While my work as a developer that uses Linux (or other Unix platforms) all day long is still entrenched in a decidedly non-Windows environment, the work desktop team feels everyone in the company should be using Windows laptops. So I make do. I can deal and it’ll be nice to use the money from the sale of the Mac mini toward my next computer. I’m trying to decide if I want to try the full-time Linux leap or just embrace this aging MacBook Pro and iPad Pro combo I currently have going on.

Oh well, there’s no need to rush while everything is working just fine.

In the meanwhile, I’ll see what other bugs in Big Sur I can find and provide feedback to Apple. If you’re not filling out bug reports, you’re doing the whole “beta software” thing wrong.

Rest.

App developer, graphic artist, and The Icon Factory co-founder Ged Maheux recently wrote a blog entry about the Activity app on the Apple Watch and how it never accounts for rest days.

You can read the blog entry here.

Ged is absolutely correct; Apple Watch will prompt you to work out and close your rings every single day of the week. When I decide to work my own rest day into the mix I’m prompted several times by my watch, made to feel quite guilty about being fairly lazy for the day, and then I’ll either relent and work out or “mute for today”.

Our bodies need recovery days to maintain balance and prime functionality. Apple needs to build some rest days functionality.

Now, time for a burger.

Return.

Everyone can relax, I have my MacBook Pro back in my possession. While Earl and I were out for lunch I received a voicemail from the local Apple store and they said I could c’mon down and pick up my repaired MacBook Pro whenever I was ready to do so, but I had to do it within a week.

We were there within the hour.

For those just catching up with the story, my mid-2015 15-inch MacBook Pro was part of the recent battery recall due to fire and explosion concerns. Some airlines were not allowing this model on flights (though my MBP has flown thousands of miles over the years). I took advantage of the recall and Apple told me it would be two weeks to get it repaired.

My computer was repaired in one week, and that was including Labor Day occurring in the mix.

The computer is over four years old, so the battery was getting rather aged. When I was chatting with the Apple Genius during the intake process, they told me a new battery might make things run faster on my computer, and I can tell you, that is absolutely true. Since getting the computer back interactions are much more responsive. My computer feels new again.

All of the work was fully covered under the recall program.

While my MBP was in the shop I was using my iPad Pro as my full-time computer. I mentioned earlier this week that it was a 100% one-for-one experience and I still maintain that feeling to absolutely be the case. While my iPad Pro is great for most things, it’s not great for all things. There are times where I just want a full-sized keyboard and a full web-browser experience. While the upcoming iPadOS 13 (which I’m running on my iPad Pro) promises a full Safari experience, there was something still just ‘off’ for me. I don’t know if it’s the smaller screen or the reduced keyboard on the Smart Folio or just the way of interacting with the computer itself, but I don’t feel like I’m ready to move to an iPad Pro for 100% of my computing needs.

Suffice it to say I’m really happy to have my MacBook Pro back. Because I bought a fully-tricked out version of what was available back in 2015, I’m confident I can still squeeze a few more years out of this laptop. It still may be my last laptop, and I’m still going to see what I can do with my iPad Pro to move to it 100% someday, but …

I’m happy to have my Mac back.