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Apple Apple Watch watchOS

Developer Changes for In-App Purchases

When Apple introduced the ability to publish apps to the iOS App Store in 2008, it was a very different landscape from what we have now. Back then you had either apps that you published for free or ones that were paid up front. Now, free apps are far more common than paid up-front apps.

In 2010, Apple introduced a new product, the iPad, which allowed for more opportunities within the App Store. With the introduction of the iPad you had two options, create a universal app, one that would work on both the iPhone and the iPad, or create two separate apps; one built for each platform.

While the possibility to build two distinct apps remained for a while, the introduction of the Apple Watch and the Apple TV have made the idea of creating distinct apps for each platform a bit harder to accomplish. The interfaces should be tailored for each platform, but the app itself would likely be shared amongst iOS and iPadOS.

Last year with the introduction of macOS Catalina, there was a new way to distribute your existing iOS apps, to macOS, through a project called Catalyst.

With free apps there are a number of different strategies for supporting free apps. These can be, ad-based, subscriptions, or in-app purchase. It has become more and more common for the latter two of these to be used. With in-app purchases, if you built an application for both iOS and macOS, using Catalyst or native frameworks, you would have to create two different in-app purchases, because they could not be shared between the platforms.

With the introduction of iOS 13.4 and macOS Catalina 10.15.4 you will

be allowing customers to enjoy your app and in‑app purchases across platforms by purchasing only once. You can choose to create a new app for these platforms using a single app record in App Store Connect or add platforms to your existing app record.

This is a huge change for the App Store and the distribution of apps in general. Users have been requesting the ability to purchase an app once and have it work on all of their devices. While this works for users, this can have some implications for developers.

Developer Implications

While the option to distribute a single application to all of the platforms is optional, it is likely something that users will quickly come to expect from developers. Yes, there are tools like Catalyst for macOS, it is still not at its full maturity in terms of having iOS apps ported to the Mac look and behave like native macOS apps that use AppKit.

This can have some ramifications for the developer. The first being that this can easily cut into profits for a developer. For larger companies, this may not be a big problem, but for the smaller independent developers this can have a huge impact.

With the pressure to make your application available on all platforms, and in-app purchases being good across all platforms, this will likely reduce the income for developers.

There are some developers who have wanted to have universal in-app purchases available because they want their users to be able to have the same experience on all platforms, plus users also question why they have to make the same purchase on multiple platforms. Therefore, this will be a great addition for both users and developers.

In-App Purchases on watchOS

Starting with watchOS 6.2, developers will be able to provide in-app purchases directly from watchOS. This will have a huge benefit to the watchOS platform as developers will not need to have users use their paired iPhone to perform in-app purchases, but instead have it possible to purchase them directly on the Apple Watch. This should provide a better experience for Apple Watch users and the in-app purchase workflow.

Closing Thoughts

While the addition of universal apps as well as universal in-app purchase will create a better experience for users, it could have some ramifications for developers in that they will be expected to support universal in-app purchase, which developers may want to do, as well as supporting universal app purchase, which may reduce their income.

I cannot say that this is not altogether unexpected, because it is something that both users and developers have been asking for for a while. It may take some time for applications to come to support universal in-app purchases as well as universal app purchases. This should be available starting with iOS 13.4, macOS 10.15.,4, tvOS 13.4, and watchOS 6.2.

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Apple Apple Watch

Apple Watch Series 5: A Review

It is strange to think that only five years ago Apple introduced a whole new product line, the Apple Watch. While it was introduced in September of 2014, it was not actually available for purchase until April of 2015.

In the past almost five years, both the Apple Watch hardware, as well the accompanying software, watchOS, has seen some significant upgrades. If you owned an original Apple Watch, retroactively dubbed the Series 0, you knew that it was not exactly the fastest piece of hardware around. Besides the hardware being slow, all of the interactions relied upon the paired iPhone for communications.

If it was merely a matter of having slow hardware and slow software, it may have been tolerable, given that it was a first-generation product. However, to add even more third-party applications were very limited in what they could do even on the watch. The overall experience for the first Apple Watch was, in a word, limited.

Apple recognized this limitation by creating the Series 1 Apple Watch, which was effectively a Series 0 watch, but had double the processing power. This upgrade vastly improved the functionality. At the same time, the Apple Watch Series 2 was released. The improvements with the Series 2 included water resistance, GPS, a brighter screen, and Nike+ Editions.

The next big upgrade was with the Apple Watch Series 3 when Apple introduced a cellular option for the Apple Watch, Blush Gold, and a barometric altimeter. Last year’s Series 4 Apple Watch included a new ECG sensor, with a companion digital sensor, a whole new set of sizes, 40mm and 44mm, and a gyroscope.

Series 5

The Apple Watch Series 5 does not have nearly as many new hardware specific features that the Series 4 watch did, However, there are a couple of very welcome improvements. The improvements with the Series 5 watch include an Always On Display, a Compass, and additional storage. Let us look at each of these.

Always On Display

One of the features that traditional watches have is the ability to always see the time. This has not been available on the Apple Watch, until the Series 5. The Always On Display, is, as the name states, always on. The Always On Display was definitely not possible on the original Apple Watch, the Series 1 nor the Series 2 Apple Watch. The battery life on the Series 4 could have handled it, but it likely was not ready with the Series 4.

When you have the “Always On” display enabled a few things will happen. First, the display will always be on. Secondly, any complications that have “sensitive” data will be hidden when your wrist is down. Sensitive Data is defined as health, calendar appointments, mail, and heart rate. The reason for this is to make sure that your private information is not shown to others. In the case of Activity data, all of the rings are turned black, so the data cannot be seen.

Additionally, when your wrist is down, the size of the screen will shrink a bit and the display will dim. This allows you an easy way to recognize that the display is off. Furthermore, when your wrist is down, you are not able to take screenshots. Again, this is to protect your data.

You can disable the Always On display, if you so choose to do so. To disable the Always On display perform the following steps:

  1. On the Apple Watch,, or use the Watch app on an iPhone,. open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down “Display & Brightness”.
  3. Tap on “Display & Brightness” to open the setting.
  4. Tap on “Always On” to open the Always On setting.
  5. Tap on the “Always On” toggle to disable the “Always On” display.

If you disable the Always On display, your Apple Watch will work similarly to the Series 4, and earlier models, and the display will only be turned on when you raise your wrist.

The last change with the Always On Display, while your wrist is down, is that the screen will refresh much slower than the Series 4. In fact, the screen refresh rate may be reduced to as low as 1 Hertz. This means that the screen will refresh once per second, which should, in theory, significantly improve battery life. On the topic of battery life, let us look at that next.

Battery Life

With each subsequent version of a product, it is quite likely for the battery life to improve. This is typically done by improving efficiency, increasing battery size, or both. In the case of the Series 5, the size of the battery has increased, but not for the 44mm watch, just the 40mm one.

As alluded to above, the battery life on the Series 4 Apple Watch was absolutely tremendous. I could easily go all day without needing worry about the battery running low. Most days the battery would be at above 50%. That has not my experience with the Series 5.

While I would suspect the Series 5 to have slightly worse battery life, due to the Always On Display, my battery life has been significantly worse than the Series 4. There are some days that my 44mm Series 5 Apple Watch is down to 25% when I put it on the charger. I have not been using the Series 5 in any different manner than I did with the Series 4.

To me, this is not acceptable. Yes, there is technically enough battery life to get through the day, that is only with approximately 30 minutes of exercise. If I end up doing a longer workout this results in even less battery life remaining. If I had been running a beta, I might have expected this, but this is the release version of watchOS, so it is not that. Hopefully, Apple will be able to improve the battery life with a subsequent update. Let us look at the another new feature, the Compass.

Compass

The Compass is a brand new feature of the Series 5 Apple Watch. The Compass allows you to determine your current heading; just as a handheld compass would do. The digital compass provides more than just the current heading. You can also see the current degree of inline, elevation, latitude and longitude. Even though this is a great feature, there may be some possible issues with it.

Possible Issues

The compass is not foolproof. This is because the Compass in the Apple Watch Series 5 can be affected by any magnet. This includes magnets within Watch Bands.

Per Apple’s support page for the Compass:

The presence of magnets can affect the accuracy of any compass sensor. Apple’s Leather Loop, Milanese Loop, and earlier Sport Loop watch bands use magnets or magnetic material that might interfere with the Apple Watch compass. The compass isn’t affected by Sport Loop bands introduced in September 2019, or any version of the Sport Band.

What this means is that if you have a Milanese Loop, a Leather Loop, and older Apple Watch Sport Loop, and possibly even third-party watch bands, they may interfere with the Compass on the Apple Watch. It is not guaranteed to do so, but it might cause a problem. This is something to be aware of, in case you need to rely on the Compass.

Storage

The storage for the Apple Watch has steadily increased since the original Apple Watch. For the first three generations you had 8GB of storage on the Apple Watch. If you had a Series 3 Cellular model, this was doubled to 16GB. The Series 4 made 16GB standard, and the Series 5 Apple Watch has 32GB of storage standard.

This rapid increase in storage has is great if you want to store additional media, like voice memos, music, and photos. I do not see Apple adding additional storage beyond 32GB, unless there is a significant reason to add storage. There is one last thing to cover, the included watch band.

Purchasing Experience

Apple has done something different when you purchase an Apple Watch. With the release of the Series 4 Apple Watch, you had to choose one of the pre-defined Apple Watch and Watch Band. Even if you did this, the two items would come in separate boxes. That is not the case with the Series 5. You can now pair any Apple Watch with any Apple Watch band.

This has a couple of different benefits. The first is that you can get the exact pairing that you want. This means that you can get the exact pairing of Apple Watch and band that meets your style. Additionally, this also means that you will not need to have a band that you will not end up using. This is not only good for your wallet, but also for the environment, because Apple does not have to produce an additional watch band that may just end up in the landfill. Next, let us look at the Sport Loop.

Sport Loop

I will not do a whole review of the Apple Watch Sport Loop, because I did one in 2018. Instead, I want to comment on the design of the 2019 Sport Loops.

This year Apple has gone with a two-tone color scheme for the sport loops. The sport loop that I chose this year is the Anchor Gray. In the picture this looks like a black and gray band, however when you look at it in person, it is actually two different shades of gray. The darker of the two colors is on the outside while the lighter of the two is on the inside of the band.

This is a nice look overall and I think the two-tone color scheme has a second utility, besides new colors. I think it is related to the Compass feature and allows Apple employees to easily identify the band as one that does not interfere with the Compass feature on the Series 5 Apple Watch.

Closing Thoughts

The Apple Watch Series 5 is a decent upgrade, particularly with the Always On display. While the battery life has been significantly degraded, it still does make it though the day. The battery life may improve with a software upgrade, but only time will tell on that.

The new Compass is a nice feature, particularly since it provides you with the current latitude and longitude. The new 2019 Sport Loops will not interfere with the compass, but some other bands may interfere. The additional storage that is available should come in handy if you want to load up your Apple Watch with any type of media.

If you have an original Apple Watch, a Series 1, or even a Series 2, the Apple Watch Series 5 will be a great upgrade. If you have a Series 4, it may not be necessary to upgrade, unless you absolutely must have the Always On display.

Categories
Apple Apple Watch watchOS

Apple Celebrates Heart Month 2019

Apple Watch with Activity Challenge

When you think of February it is possible that you might think of hearts. To coincide with this February is also known as Heart Month. One of the areas where Apple has set a focus on for the Apple Watch is health and fitness and in particular heart health. There are two ways that Apple is celebrating Heart Month in two different ways. The first is with the Apple Watch and the other is with Today at Apple classes.

When you think of February it is possible that you might think of hearts. To coincide with this February is also known as Heart Month. One of the areas where Apple has set a focus on for the Apple Watch is health and fitness and in particular heart health. There are two ways that Apple is celebrating Heart Month in two different ways. The first is with the Apple Watch and the other is with Today at Apple classes.

Apple Watch

Last February Apple offered a challenge for Apple Watch Activity Challenge. You were able to earn this badge by closing your exercise ring, which is 30 minutes, each day for seven days in a row. This ran from February 8th to February 14th.

This year Apple will be offering another Apple Watch Activity Challenge. It is the same challenge and runs for the same time frame, February 8th to the 14th. If you complete the challenge you will get a special badge in the Activity app. Along with the badge you will also get some stickers for Messages.

In order to receive the Activity Challenge and possibly get the stickers, you will need to be running at least iOS 12.1.3 on your iPhone and watchOS 5.1.3 on your Apple Watch.

Today at Apple

Besides the Apple Watch activity challenge with its badge and stickers. Apple will be hosting three different “Heart Health with Apple sessions at three different stores across the United States.

In recognition of Heart Month, Apple will host special Today at Apple sessions, “Heart Health with Apple,” in stores in New York, Chicago and San Francisco with celebrity fitness trainer Jeanette Jenkins, Sumbul Desai, MD, Apple’s vice president of Health, Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, Jay Blahnik, senior director of fitness for health technologies, and Julz Arney and Craig Bolton from the Apple Fitness Technologies team. Attendees will hear a discussion about heart health and participate in a new Health & Fitness Walk, which was co-created with Jeanette for participants to take a brisk walk with Apple Watch around their community.
  • San Francisco: Apple Union Square, February 11, 2019, 6 p.m.: Dr. Sumbul Desai, Jeanette Jenkins, Julz Arney
  • New York: Apple Williamsburg, February 21, 2019, 4:30 p.m.: Dr. Sumbul Desai, Jeanette Jenkins, Jay Blahnik
  • Chicago: Apple Michigan Avenue, February 27, 2019, 6 p.m.: Dr. Sumbul Desai, Nancy Brown, Jeanette Jenkins, Craig Bolton

It is not surprise that Apple is promoting health, given that one of the Apple Watch is fitness. Regardless, it is good to see Apple hosting sessions at their stores to promote heart health.

Source: Apple

Categories
Apple Apple Watch

Apple’s ECG watchOS App In-depth

At their September event Apple announced a new health-focused watchOS app, an Electrocardiogram, or ECG, detection app. At the time Apple indicated that it would be available “later this year” and would be available only in the United States, at launch. With the release of watchOS 5.1.2, the ECG app is now available. I thought I would go through the setup and features of the ECG app.

Before we dive into the features and set, there are some requirements in order to use the app. The first requirement is that you have a Series 4 Apple Watch. This is because the sensors are only available on the latest Apple Watch. The second requirement is that the Apple Watch is running 5.1.2. This is the version that has the ECG app. The last requirement is that the iPhone paired with the Apple Watch must be running iOS 12.1.1, build 16C50.

Once you have met all of these requirements, you should have the ECG app available on the Apple Watch. When you tap on app you will be presented with an image like the one below, that indicates to do setup in the Health app on the iPhone. If you open the Watch app on the iPhone, and tap on the “Heart” app, you will see something similar to the screen below. This provides a quick link to open up the Health app.

Once you open the Health App you will be presented with a popup that asks if you want to setup the ECG app. If you press “Set Up ECG app”, you will be prompted for your birthdate. This is needed because the ECG app is not designed to work for anyone under 22. This is because it is the ECG app is not considered a pediatric app. 

After you set your birthdate and click on the “Continue” button. The next set of screens will provide information about what an ECG is and how the app works, the results you will see, and what the app cannot tell you. Let us start with what the test cannot tell you.

What it can detect

The ECG app can provide a few different types of results. These results include the Sinus Rhythm results, Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), Low, or High, heart rate, or an inconclusive result. A Sinus Rhythm result indicates that the heart rate is consistent. 

If Atrial Fibrillation is detected, it means that your heart is beating with an irregular rhythm. 

If you receive a High or Low heart rate result, it means that the ECG app cannot do proper detection and the test should be re-done at a later time after your heart rate has come back into normal range.

An inconclusive result means that something went wrong with the detection, typically the Apple Watch is too lose or you moved your arms too much during the testing.

What it CANNOT detect

The ECG app is limited in what it can tell you. It cannot tell you if you are having a heart attack. The ECG app cannot detect a blood clot or stroke. Additionally, the app cannot detect other heart issues, like high cholesterol, congestive heart failure, or other forms of arrhythmia. If you are experiencing any symptoms, you should see your doctor.

Limitations of the ECG app

How the app works

The ECG app works by using a pair of sensors. These sensors are  the electrical heart sensor on the back and the digital crown. To use the actual app, you open the app on the Apple Watch you are presented with an animated heart icon. The text below the heart says “Hold your finger on the crown.”, meaning the Digital Crown.

When you place you finger on the digital crown it creates an electrical circuit between the back of the Apple Watch and the digital crown, with your body as the conductor between the two. When you place your finger on the Digital Crown you will need to keep it in place for 30 seconds. During this time it is best to not move your arms so that an accurate reading can be obtained.

Once the test is concluded you will receive results on the Apple Watch. The results will be one of the ones mentioned above. If it is a Sinus Rhythm result, your heart rate for during the test will be displayed on screen. 

After the results are shown on the screen you can add some additional information, like symptoms you may be experiencing. This is a nice addition to be able to add any symptoms so that you can later look at it to recall how you were feeling when you took the ECG reading. When your results are finished they will be added into the Health app. Here you can see all of your past results as well as export the results into a PDF to provide to your health care provider. 

Closing Thoughts

The ECG app on the Apple Watch is a great addition to add to the health aspects of the Apple Watch. While the ECG is currently only available on Series 4 Apple Watches that have been purchased in the United States, it is possible it will be available in more countries after they get regulatory approval in those countries. 

The fact that a device on your wrist can detect a heart condition that you may not have been previous aware of, means that you may become aware of an issue before it becomes a serious problem. There has been one reddit user who has already experienced this and the doctors indicated that it was a good thing that the user came in when they did, otherwise they might not be around to tell the tale.

Categories
Apple Apple Watch iOS watchOS

watchOS 5.1.2 and the ECG App Released

Today Apple released watchOS 5.1.2. watchOS 5.1.2 contains a few bug fixes as well as some features. Some of the fixes and other changes include:
  • Enables direct access to supported movie tickets, coupons, and rewards cards in Wallet when tapped to a contactless reader
  • Receive notifications and animated celebrations when you achieve daily maximum points in a day during an Activity competition
  • New Infograph complications for Mail, Maps, Messages, Find My Friends, Home, News, Phone, Remote
  • Manage your availability for Walkie-Talkie from Control Center
Each of these updates are nice improvements. The biggest change with watchOS 5.1.2 is the inclusion of a feature that was announced at Apple’s September event. At the event Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 4, and they pre-announced the electrocardiogram, or ECG, app. The app is capable of the following:
  • Allows you to take an electrocardiogram similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram
  • Can indicate whether your heart rhythm shows signs of atrial fibrillation—a serious form of irregular heart rhythm—or sinus rhythm, which means your heart is beating in a normal pattern
  • Saves ECG waveform, classification and any noted symptoms in a PDF on the Health app on iPhone to share with your doctor
  • Adds the ability to receive an alert if an irregular heart rhythm that appears to be atrial fibrillation is detected (US and US territories only)

In order to use the ECG app, you must be running both iOS 12.1.1 and watchOS 5.1.2. This cannot be the beta version, but the release version. iOS 12.1.1 and watchOS 5.1.2 are available now.