Categories
Apple WWDC

WWDC Prediction Results and Thoughts on WWDC 2020

As has become a tradition, I make predictions about what Apple will announced at their World Wide Developer Conference. You can see those predictions on this post. Along with the prediction results, I do have some thoughts about the new format for this all virtual conference. But first, here are the results of those predictions.

Messages on Mac same as iOS — 95%

I was right on this prediction. Messages on macOS is now a Mac Catalyst app. This means that they are the same application with the same features across iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.

New health-related task on watchOS — 75%

This is also correct. There is sleep tracking available on watchOS 7. I am sure this has been the most requested feature for watchOS.

App List view on iPadOS — 70%/App List view on iPhone — 60%

This was not announced. There is a new App Library option, but it is not a list view, instead it is a grid of your applications that are grouped together.

macOS being one of the names listed — 65%

The macOS name has indeed named one of my guesses. In fact it is named macOS Big Sur. I guess Apple’s marketing team ‘drug-fueled minibus-driven vision quests’.

Transition to ARM being announced — 50%

Yes, Apple did indeed announce the transition to their own Apple Silicon, which is based on ARM.

Improvement to Controls on Mac Catalyst — 50%

There were improvements with controls on Mac Catalyst, so this on is correct as well.

Third-party Watch Faces — 25%

This was not announced. There is the ability to share watch faces, but you cannot have full third-party watch faces.

ARM Dev Kit available for order — 5%

Despite giving it a low possibility, there is a Developer Transition Kit available for developers. This Developer Transition Kit is not representative of what Apple will release with its Apple Silicon. The specifications for this transition kit are:

  • Apple A12Z Bionic Processor
  • 16GB of Memory
  • 512GB of SSD Storage
  • Two USB-C ports (up to 10Gbps)
  • Two USB-A ports (up to 5Gbps)
  • HDMI 2.0
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Gigabit Ethernet

You are able to apply for the Developer Transition Kit. However, one thing to remember is that you are renting this transition kit in order to develop your apps on Apple Silicon. You are not allowed to keep the device. There is a fee for the transition kit, $500 USD. You can apply on the Developer website. To quote the Apple developer website:

As part of the program, you’ll have limited access to a Developer Transition Kit (DTK), which will be shipped to you, for developing and testing your Universal apps. The DTK is owned by Apple and must be returned.

Double base iCloud Storage — 5%

I was incorrect about this one. There has been no change to iCloud Storage, although I still think there should be.

Prediction Recap

I only got 60% correct, which is not too bad for only having 10 predictions. I do have some thoughts about the WWDC format, so let us dive into that next.

Thoughts on WWDC 2020 Format

When Apple announced an online-only WWDC for this year, due to Covid 19. No one was 100% sure what to expect, myself included. We were expecting a Keynote, State of the Union session, and session videos. Due to Covid-19, we could not expect an audience and I think Apple did a pretty good job for the videos.

While the Keynote and State of the Union sessions were streamed, the remaining days of videos have been released at 10 am. Pacific Time on each day. While this worked for me, being in the US Central Time, I am sure it did not work for others, who may be on the other side of the world. I understand Apple’s choice here. To maintain some semblance of an in-person conference, they chose a time close to the usual time of starting the conference. It might be good if they either changed the time to earlier, say maybe 8 am Pacific Time, or released a couple of batches of videos throughout the day.

Last year with the conference being in-person, many of the sessions needed to be between 35 minutes and an hour. This is because you had people to move between sessions and they needed enough time to get to the next session. With a completely virtual conference, this is not necessary. Instead, Apple is able to have a video be just as long as it needs to. There are some videos that are still 45 minutes, or longer. A couple of these are Introduction to SwiftUI, Port your Mac app to Apple Silicon, and What’s new with in-app purchase. However, most videos are around 30 minutes, with some being as short as 8 or 9 minutes. Furthermore, the various lengths have also allowed the extraneous things that would have been required in years past to not be included, like coding demos. There are still some coding demos in some of the videos, but it is significantly fewer videos that have full coding sessions.

I think these various length for videos makes it easier for developers to be able to find what they are looking for instead of having to search through an entire session to find one snippet. For myself, I think I have gotten through watching more videos in a shorter amount of time, which means I can get started on my books that much sooner.

The last tidbit I will mention about the WWDC videos is that I do enjoy seeing the different areas of Apple Park. It is entirely possible that everything was done with green screens and that we are not actually seeing places where these videos were recorded. Even if that is the case, it is nice to see different areas of Apple Park, particularly since many of us will never be able to see them for ourselves.

Closing Thoughts

Even though I likely would not have gone to WWDC myself, the change to the videos is quite nice. I hope that Apple is willing to either move the entire conference to be virtual, which does create a consistent experience for all developers. If they were to go back to an in-person conference, it would be good to see some sort of hybrid, maybe fewer sessions, or more pre-recorded videos. I really do enjoy having the various length videos, it has helped me get to exactly what I need to watch instead of watching an entire session’s video.

Categories
blog Review Thoughts

Thoughts on Man in the High Castle

One of the upsides to the way that many shows are released these days is that you are able to consume an entire season/series of a show without having to wait for a new episode to be released every week. One of the downsides to this method is that it is as lot easier to not pick up a show after you have consumed it. For me, this has happened with a few shows.

  • Lilyhammer – stopped after season 1
  • Newsroom – stopped after season 2.
  • The Walking Dead – stopped after season 5.
  • Fear the Walking Dead – stopped after season 1.
  • House of Cards – stopped after season 3, episode 10.
  • Game of Thrones – stopped after season 3.
  • Orange is the New Black – stopped after episode 3.
  • House
  • Grey’s Anatomy
  • Lost
  • Sopranos

Contrast the list above with the list of TV shows that I have seen in their entirety more than once:

  • West Wing
  • M*A*S*H
  • Life
  • Alcatraz
  • Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
  • Planet Earth

There are likely more shows, but I cannot think of any more at the moment. Given the popularity of the shows above, you would think that I would finish them. However, this has not been the case. So it may be surprising to learn that I have completely finished Season 1 and Season 2 of Amazon’s Man in the High Castle. I have some thoughts and questions about the show.

NOTE: There will be spoilers. Consider yourself warned.

The Background

The series is based on the novel Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick.

Man in the High Castle is an alternate reality story. One that is based on the United States losing World War II. The country was divided up between Germany in the East, with the “Greater Reich” and Japan in the West with the “Pacific States”. There is a neutral zone that stretches between the two regions. This is where a portion of the story takes place, in particular Canon City.

No, Seriously, beyond this is spoiler territory. This is your last chance to turn back

Frank Frink

The story arc of Frank is an interesting one. In the first episode, he insists on bringing Juliana to the Police Station to turn in the film that Trudy had given her, and that she needs to tell them that she’s a loyal citizen. However, by the end of the second season Frank is right in the thick of the resistance, planning and offering to go cause major destruction to the Pacific States headquarters.

Trudy

One of the plots throughout the series is how Juliana is carrying forth what her half-sister Trudy started. Early in the series, Trudy is killed by the Japanese for trying to evade the Kempeitai and for trafficking the films. The last shocker of Season 2 is that Trudy is not actually dead. This bombshell leads to so many questions.

  1. When Juliana’s Mom says that Trudy is not dead, because she can feel that she is not. Was she right?
  2. From the ending of Season 2, it is presume that she is correct that Trudy is not dead.

  3. Did Juliana actually see Trudy in the market?
  4. Again, from the end of the Second Season, it may be that she actually did see Trudy in the market.

Joe Blake

One of the primary characters is Joe Blake. Joe is also one of the first characters introduced. The character of Joe Blake is an interesting one. Joe’s allegiances vary throughout the show. At first he is working for Obergruppenführer John Smith. His first assignment was to bring a shipment of coffee makers to the neutral zone, from New York City. During this long haul, Joe get suspicious and begins looking at the truck and realizes that something does not seem right. So, right from the start, Joe questions his loyalty.

In Episode One, Joe states “I want my country back”, when he getting the job from Mr. Warren, and insists he is not a spy. However, as the series progresses, it turns out that he is indeed working for the Greater Reich. He is a spy for the Greater Reich. It is not entirely clear where his actually allegiances lies.

A fact that comes in Season 2, is that Joe is actually leibensborn, or part of a German program to create a superior race of germans.

The Films

The biggest thread through the series is the films. These films, as one can surmise, show a different world. Some of these films are ones that depict what actually occurred in World War II. Within the Pacific States of America and the Greater Reich, owing a film is considered treasonous and punishable by instant death, as Frank tries to tell Juliana in episode one.

The entire story behind the films is not fully flushed out. The theory is that the Man in the High Castle is the one manufacturing these films, but very little is know about the Man in the High Castle.

The Man in the High Castle indicated that all of the films end up with San Francisco being annihilated by a bomb, except for the one that Julianna gave to Joe Blake, that was subsequently given to Adolf Hitler. It can be presumed that this is the most important film of them all since it may show the only way to not have the entire world destroyed.

Obviously Hitler wants the films destroyed, as is stated in episode one. However, obviously there is a huge cache of them as discovered by Obergruppenfuhrer Smith at the end of Season 2.

The Trade Minister

One of the main Japanese characters is Trade Minister Nobusuke Tagomi. One of the ways that the Japanese divine answers to things, and anticipate what will occur, is through a 5,000 year old book, called the “Oracle”.

You may not understand this. I live by a 5,000 year old book. I ask it questions as if it were alive. It is alive. It tells me you have a purpose. It says superior person in an inferior position, accepting a task graciously brings good fortune to all.

One aspect to Tagomi’s story is that he goes back to the house that he and his deceased wife owned, or would have owned that part is unclear. When he returns his wife is on her way out, and he finds that she has filed for divorce; or one presumes that. As I do not read Japanese I cannot say for sure.

At this point, Tagomi’s story takes us into an alternate reality. Tagomi’s alternate history takes place in the timeline where the United States wins the War. During these sequences he sees his son. In this version, his son marries Juliana, and they have a child. It is presumed that in this timeline that there is a strain within his family. He is still on decent speaking terms with his son, and Juliana, but less so with his wife. With this timeline, I am presuming that he is an alcoholic because his son mentions his father’s “benders”. It is presumed that in this alternate timeline, Tagomi is an alcoholic.

Upon the second viewing, when Tagomi is repairing the broken cup, it symbolizes his attempt to repair his relationship with his family; at least in the alternate timeline. It may seem like a small gesture, but Nori does put it in the baby’s room and allow Tagomi to enter the room and hold his grandchild, so it is a powerful gesture. This, I believe, allows Tagomi to do what comes next.

In this timeline, Juliana is having a get together at Tagomi’s house where they are creating “Ban the Bomb” signs to protest the Nuclear bomb. During this time, she shows a video of a Hydrogen Bomb test that was conducted on the Pacific Atoll. After showing this film, Tagomi tells his wife: “There is something that I must do.” Her reply, “Safe Journey.” Right after this, Tagomi asks Juliana for the film. The following dialog takes place amongst some Cherry Blossoms.

Juliana: “Why do you want this?”
Tagomi: “Proof, that something like this should never happen again.”
Juliana: “I don’t understand.”
Tagomi: “You have all made me happy. Happier than nI have been in a very long time. There are somethings that are more important than happiness. I have duties elsewhere tat I can no longer neglect.”
Juliana: “Are you leaving?”
Tagomi: “We will see each other again. Of that, I am sure.”
Juliana: “Ok, don’t go, I’ll be right back.”

Here is where Juliana begins to leave, she pauses, and when she turns around Tagomi is gone. In the next scene we see Tagomi back at his desk. This is the location where my questions begin.

  1. Was that whole sub-plot just wishful thinking on Tagomi’s part?
  2. We can presume that he thinks of Juliana as a daughter figure, first by providing her a job when she refuses to “perform special tasks” for the general, but through this sub-plot. In particular, when Tagomi tells his son that he is proud to call her his daughter.

  3. Did Tagomi actually travel to the alternative timeline?
  4. It is easy for one to infer that this may be the case, since we see Tagomi back at his desk with the film in hand. Maybe I missed it, but I do not recall him getting this by any other means. At least not that film.

    I have some theories about it all.

The Smiths

Of the entire Smith family, the one character that we are exposed to most is Obergruppenführer John Smith. The Smiths are based in New York City. With the Reich taking over the Eastern United States, it appears that John Smith is the most powerful person in the Reich

The plot with Thomas, which includes Obergruppenfuhrer John Smith, is an intriguing one. In Episode 6 of Season 1, Thomas reveals that he wants to make his country proud, and that there are many places that he would like to go. The statement of wanting to make his country proud. In his eyes, this is exactly what he does at the end of Season 2 in one of the last scenes of the season. In this scene Thomas turns himself into the Greater Reich Hospital because he is a “degenerate” due to his neurological condition.

It should be no surprise that Smith would take the doctor out of the equation, given that there are only three people who actually know of Thomas’ condition. The doctor, Smith, and his wife Helen. The means of which he kills the doctor was one that some could predict. It does show two different sides to Smith. The first being a father that would do anything for his family. Yet, Smith is willing to do what it takes to protect the Reich, and has no problem using people for his own personal reasons, like Joe Blake.

In order to save Thomas, or so they think, John decides to make a ruse and had a letter sent to Thomas indicating that he was picked to go on an expedition. At first Helen is reluctant, since she knows about his condition. She confronts John, at work, and John informs Helen of the entire plan. Ultimately, she decides it is for the best and informs Thomas that he will be going to South America.

Thomas: So you’re letting me go?
Helen: We’re letting you go.

This double meaning has so many implications for the Smiths, and Helen in particular. The way that Helen states it, most would pick up on; but Thomas, both being excited, and only a teenager, does not pick up on the subtly and double-meaning of the sentence.

Even though John Smith is a loyal Senior Officer for the Reich, he disobeys a direct order by acting Chancellor Heusmann and leaves New York to unveil a conspiracy that killed the Crown Prince of Japan a well as Adolf Hitler. Also, he hides all evidence of Thomas’ illness. This includes killing Dr. Adler, as well as confiscating the tapes that implicate that his son has a defect.

It is clear that when John is at the Reich Headquarter in Berlin, and is being praised within the volkshalle for his heroism in saving the Reich, that he is quite uncomfortable. Short of Himmler, John is probably the second most powerful person in the Reich, after Heusmann and his co-conspirtors are removed. This is likely due to his betrayal with his son and hiding his defect.

The Bombing

One of the main plot points is that there is a resistance that is trying to actively work against the Japanese in the Pacific States of America. The bombing happened late in Season 2, and was intended to cause confusion. One question I have is whether Sara and Frank made it out, just like the Inspector Kido managed to. My gut is no, but it would not be surprising if they did, given the unveiling at the end of Season 2. More on this a little later.

Theories

This is my theory on the whole story; thus far anyway. It involves the ability for certain individuals; Those who study the 5000 year old book, and follow what it says, have the ability to enter into, and bring items back with them, from the alternate reality. This theory fits quite well with how the Reich was obsessed with the occult. This would also mean that the Man in the High Castle follows what the 5,000 year old book says as well; hence how he is able to bring Trudy back from the dead. This is similar to how Tagomi can bring the film back with him when he leaves the alternate 1962.

The ability for certain individuals to travel between the timelines is why Hitler wants the films. Given that there are so few individuals who can do this traveling, it is imperative that Hitler gets the films.

This is reaffirmed when Tagomi is talking to Kotomichi, and realizes that Kotomichi is not of the 1962 that exists within the story, but from the alternate 1962. Kotomichi has burns from the bomb dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

Furthermore, It is possible that Abendsen is able to travel between the two worlds, at will. This is how he is able to get the films, destroy them whenever he wants, and yet can always end up having more films, even after they are burned.

The films complicate any rational idea behind the storyline. The best theory that I have is that there are multiple simultaneous timelines. The evidence for this is that how the Trade Minister obtains the film with the bomb testing on the atoll. In particular, since he disappeared when Juliana turned around, after giving him the film.

This is further evidenced by the fact that the Trade Minister has the visions of his deceased wife as well as his son. We know that his wife is deceased since Juliana brought it up during one of her meetings with Tagomi.

The idea of being able to bring the films back, may also extend to being able to bring individuals between the two timelines as well. This may be how Abendsen was able to bring show Juliana that Trudy was not in-fact dead. This is how Juliana’s mother felt that Trudy was not dead and why Juliana saw Trudy in the market; because while the “true” 1962 Trudy was indeed dead, the alternate timeline Trudy was brought back.

Season 3 Plot Ideas

I do not think that both Frank and Sara are dead, even though they appear to be so. It is possible that one of them was killed in the blast. If I had to put money on it, it would be that Sarah is dead. However, a more unforeseen option would be to have Sara survive and Frank not.

If Frank is indeed dead, it would not be surprising if Ed and Juliana ended up getting together. This theory is based upon Season 2, Episode 9, where there is the flashback to when Ed first meets Juliana. It is clear that she is flirting, at least to some extent, with Ed while Frank is off getting the glasses.

I think in Season 3, Juliana will learn that she also has the power to travel between the timelines, or at least the existence of the ability to travel between the timelines.

Other Thoughts

  • I love the little touches that show the alternate reality, like “Ranger Reich” instead of Ranger Rick. Along this, the signs like “U-Bahn” for Subway, while within the Greater Reich.
  • While Stephen Root (Milton from Office Space) does a really good job as the Man in the High Castle. If he were still alive I think Phillip Seymour Hoffman would have made an even better Man in the High Castle.
  • Given that the year is 1962, the Concorde is still flying and super fast travel is still attainable. Having the capability of fast travel like that would be nice to have, even today, but only if it were financially practical for people.
  • I do like the quasi refrigerator that the Smiths have. I honestly would not mind having one similar myself.
  • Can I have a few of the cars that are shown in the show?

Final Thoughts

It is not often that I end up watching an entire series of a show. I have now watched the entire series twice and enjoyed it even more the second time around. You may miss things the first time you watch it, but that is typically how things happen when you watch any sort of media.

There are a breadth of characters, both primary characters and secondary characters. It is easy to get lost within the story, which is why it is best to really pay attention to everything. It is too bad that Season 3 will not premiere until the end of 2017. It would be nice to have it sooner, but I like the quality thus far.

If you enjoy alternative-reality stories, then Man in the High Castle would be right up your alley. It may start off slow, but it will be well worth seeing it in the end.

Categories
Technology Thoughts

Thoughts on 2016

I have been trying to determine how to sum up 2016. I think the most accurate term would be “shit show”. Regardless of how you feel as though 2016 turned out, it was undeniably a surprising year. There were many unexpected aspects to 2016. The most surprising, to many, was the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States; followed closely by the exiting of Britain from the European Union, often called “Brexit” for short.

Whether it be from being able to sail across and ocean, to flying across the same ocean, or even taking a train across a vast country, there is one thing that the march of progress has done, it has made the world a smaller place. This is even more abundantly true with the rise of the internet, and most particularly social media sites. Social media is a double-edged sword. This has occurred by allowing us to communicate with those anywhere on the planet. This allows us to be exposed to ideas and people would never have another instance to engage in. One of the ways that people learn about news that they may not normally hear, is through Social Media.

There have been many people who will say “Good Riddance to 2016”. Even though they are consciously aware of the fact that a year cannot cause problems, they do look towards something as a scape goat. Sometimes this is due to the death of celebrities and those known by a significant number of people around the world.

As with any year, a plethora of household names have passed away during 2016. Some of these include Alan Rickman, Alan Thicke, Anton Scalia, Anton Yelchin, Arnold Palmer, Carrie Fisher, David Bowie, Debbie Reynolds, Elie Wiesel, Fidel Castro, Florence Henderson, Gary Shandling, Gene Wilder, George Michael, Harper Lee, Janet Reno, John Glenn, Kenny Baker, Leonard Cohen, Merle Haggard, Muhammed Ali, Nancy Reagan, Pat Conroy, Prince, Umberto Eco, William Christopher and many many more; in fact too many to list. This includes those that are not as well known, but none-the-less have impacted people across the world.

Technology’s ability to expose people to more than they could have in the past, does mean that more people have the capability of becoming more well known. This social ability of Social Media also means that collectively we can grieve for those that have died. Even with the coming together that Social Media allows, it can also cause some to be very derisive. Compounding this downside to is that some individuals do not always recognize that there are actual human beings on the other side of the wire. This means that when people interact with others, they say and do things that they would not say or do if they were in physical proximity of others.

This cognitive dissidence has lead to some of the most contentious stories of the year. Besides the aforementioned election of Donald Trump as the 46th President of the United States and the British exit of the European Union, there have been many other stories that have caused some rancor. The biggest has been the issues with race between minorities and various Police Departments. These stories do not just minorities being shot by Police, although a majority of them are just this type of story. Some of the cities that have had these stories are Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota.

One of the biggest stories has been the leaking of emails between some Democratic National Committee members. While the emails themselves were mostly innocuous, the leak itself was, and still is, the more worrisome part. It has been determined that Russia is behind the hack. Whilst the hack itself is definitely problematic, the influence of the hack on the United States election is the bigger of the issues.

As I write this, we are entering the waning hours of 2016. With 2017, we are entering a contentious time with nuclear powers threatening each other. A defector from North Korea, now in South Korea, has indicated that North Korea may have full nuclear capabilities by the end of 2017. With the Russian hacking of the United States Election, and the unknown ties between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and President Elect Donald Trump, we are entering a very unstable time. The progress that has been made within the United States is possibly in peril due to the incoming Congress of the United States and the aims of President Elect Trump.

Despite how bad 2016 has been, it is my hope that 2017 will be better; not just for race relations, but for everything that is happening throughout the world. We, as humans, are the only ones who are capable of being kinder to one another, and we are the only ones who are able to come together and come to some consensus and compromise and learn to live with each other. Here is to hoping that 2017 is better than we all expect and some of the regression that has been experienced in 2016 is reversed and we all get back into making progress.

Categories
Apple Apple Watch

Seven Months with the Apple Watch

Writing my thoughts/a review for any product can have its challenges. What makes it even harder is when you do not have a specific aspect to the product that you want to review. This is what I have been struggling with for the last couple of months in regards to the Apple Watch. Most of my other reviews are broken down in sections, but I opted to go with a slightly different route with this review.

The Apple Watch is the newest product line released by Apple. While some could argue that the iPad Pro is a new product line, it was built off of an existing product line, the iPad. While the iPad Pro has some very distinct features, yet it is not an entirely new product. However, the Apple Watch is a new product line. The Apple Watch includes a very custom processor that is encased in resin, in order to protect as much of the product against water as possible.

Initially when the Apple Watch was announced, I was skeptical as to whether I would actually end up using one. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that I had not worn a watch for over a decade. The second issue is that if I did order one, I was not sure if I would continue to use it. However, neither of these have ended up being an issue.

With the Apple Watch being a new product, its function and utility was initially unknown. When the Apple Watch was released in April, it came with Watch OS 1.0, which limited the type of applications available on the Watch to using WatchKit. WatchKit allowed only glances, and application that required the use of a companion iPhone application in order to function.

When you first get a new device, you poke and prod at each little corner of the item. This is exactly what happened when I got the Apple Watch, since its entire interface is a mere 38mm or 42mm, depending on which model you have, on each side, there is not a whole lot to poke and prod.

Apple.Watch.Apps

When I first got the Apple Watch in May, I added a few glances. Those included WWDC and Overcast being the only glances added that are not built-in. Along with the glances I also installed a couple of WatchKit applications, including the Apple TV Remote app, WWDC, and deliveries. These were chosen since those were the only apps that I thought I would end up using on the Watch.

After seven months of usage, I have definitely come into a pattern of usage for the Apple Watch. The primary usage that I have for the watch is filling in the activity rings. In the last 220 days, there have only been two days where I missed reaching the goals, both of these were in May. Every day since June, I have hit all three of the ring goals. Those three goals are active calories, minutes of exercise, and the standing goal.

Apple.Watch.Move.Goal

One of the bugs with the Apple Watch is the standing goal. There have been many times that I have been standing, for longer than an hour as well as moving around, and it is not registered as part of the standing goal. Normally, this is not a problem since I reach the goals, but it is rather bothersome when you do not get credit towards the standing goal.

Reaching the activity and exercise goals during the summer was not an issue. However, now that it has gotten colder here in the northern hemisphere, meeting the calorie goals has become more difficult, so I have adjusted it to be a lower amount than before. Some might consider this to be “cheating”, but it is more exercise than I was getting before getting the watch. Even with reducing the amount, even on days like today, I am able to hit 400% of my move goal. I would have hit 300% if I had not adjusted it down to its current setting.

Along with the activity and standing goals, As one might expect with a smart watch, notifications are a huge aspect to the functionality. I do use my Apple Watch for notifications, mostly for SMS, Nuzzel, and NYT Now. It is quite nice to be notified of something, but not have to immediately interact with the notifications is one of the nicest features.

With having notifications enabled, and particularly with both Nuzzel and NYT Now, I am able to stay up to date on the latest news that is occurring. The notifications are especially nice when I am not able to get to my phone, or if I end up leaving my phone in another room.

One of the capabilities of the Apple Watch is the ability to take phone calls. I have done this just once. It is novel, but it is not really something that I do often. To be fair, I do not get that many phone calls, but I prefer to take phone calls on my phone, with my EarPods in.

One of the biggest concerns that many people had regarding the Apple Watch, before its general availability, was the capacity of the battery. During all of my usage, the battery has never been below 20% at the end of the day. The average amount of battery left has been about 45%. Sine I have the 42MM Space Gray Sport watch, the battery is a bit larger, so that could account for some of the ability for the Apple Watch to only get to around 50%.

One of the things that I would very much like to see in an updated version of the Apple Watch is not a hardware difference, but a software one. The Apple Watch only has two buttons, the Digital Crown, and the “Friends”/Power button. I do not have any friends that own an Apple Watch, so this button is one useful for screenshots, Apple Pay, and powering off the Apple Watch. I would really love to be able to customize what function single-clicking the button will do. If I could I would prefer to have the singe-clicking bring up glances. This would make the Apple Watch that much easier to use. I will admit, this is not my idea, and while I cannot remember who came up with this idea, but I truly have to agree with them.

One of the main interaction methods with Apple Watch is Siri. While Siri does not have any auditory response, the responsiveness and accuracy of Siri is remarkable. The accuracy is better than one might expect. I do not use Siri on my Apple Watch that often, but the most common thing I do is actually to play a particular song while driving. It’s easy enough to press down the digital crown for a couple seconds and then tell Siri what I want to hear.

Despite the great improvement with Siri, one of the issues that I do have is the glass. I have the Apple Watch Sport model, so the glass is not the sapphire glass, but the Ion glass. Within approximately three weeks of getting my Apple Watch, I managed to put a decent scratch into the face of my Apple Watch. This was done while moving some items around at work. It is not noticeable when when the screen is on, but it noticeable when the screen is off and when you look at just the right angle. I always get AppleCare on my Apple products, so I will likely get it fixed before giving it to somebody else, but it slightly annoying.

Overall, I am happy with the Apple Watch. AS with many of Apple’s other iOS-based devices, it is quite likely that I will end up getting a new Apple Watch, when the next one is related. Even though I end up using only a fraction of the capabilities, I still think the Apple Watch is a solid product. In terms of hardware, it is rock-solid. I have never had an issue with the hardware acting up. Even though Watch OS 1.0 was not ideal, Watch OS 2.0 allows independent applications, which make the Apple Watch even more functional than it was previously. If you have an iPhone 5, 5s, 5c, 6, 6s, 6 Plus or 6s Plus and you are in the market for a smart watch, the Apple Watch may be one that you want to look at getting.

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Apple iPad Pro

Initial Thoughts on the iPad Pro

When Apple unveiled the original iPad in 2010, many people were immediately dismissive of the iPad as a device claiming “it is just a larger iPhone”. Were they wrong, no, they were not. It was a larger iPhone. But that is the whole point, it was a larger iPhone. Until that point, iPhones were only 3.5-inches diagonally. It was quite a leap to jump to a 9.7-inch screen.

As time has gone on, the function of the iPad began a slow refinement. Being based on many of the same aspects as its smaller brethren, it did not mimick it entirely. Instead it began to create its own distinct place in the iOS lineup.

The ability to use a larger screen made some tasks, like watching a movie, playing a game, or even doing some administrative tasks. Even with the excitement of a new product, it had become primarily for most individuals, a consumption device. Apple decided to make a change.

At their Fall event in September, Apple unveiled their latest product, the iPad Pro. For this article, I will not go into my full thoughts on the iPad Pro, because I have only had it for three days. Along with this, I do not yet have one of the crucial aspects to the iPad Pro, the Apple Pencil. In leiu of being able to provide a full review, I thought I would provide my initial thoughts on the product. So here they are.

Size

When you first look at the 12.9-inch iPad Pro one word comes to mind BIG. It really is a large device. The screen resolution of 2732 pixels tall by 2048 wide makes it the largest iPad Apple has created. There are almost 5.6 million pixels on the screen. That is a huge number of pixels. The resolution of the screen means that if you use two applications in split-screen mode you will be able to use two iPad applications as if they were full size.

Productivity

One of my own aspirations of owning an iPad has always been the ability to have it be a portable workstation. Despite every intention to have it be so, the iPad Air 2 just was not the right device for me to be able to do this. However, the iPad Pro appears to be capable of this. As far as I can surmise, the differential between the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Pro is the split screen capability. While it is available on the iPad Air 2, the ability to effecitvely have two iPad Air 2’s side-by-side makes all of the difference.

Sound

There is one aspect to the iPad that I do not normally utilize, the speakers. I normally have headphones in my ears all the time, and typically the headphones are connected to my iPhone since that is entirely portable and can go with me everywhere. I have used the iPad Pro speakers a bit, and they are definitely louder than both my iPhone 6s Plus as well as the iPad Air 2. In order to get the same level of audio I have to turn the iPhone 6s Plus and iPad Air 2 volumes up much higher than the iPad Pro.

Issues

Despite all that is good that I have experienced thus far with the iPad Pro, there have been a couple of issues that I have encountered as well.

Screen

One of the changes that must have been made in order to accomodate the Apple Pencil means that something on the coating has been changed. Unlike other iOS devices, including the 6th Generation iPod Touch, all have an oloeophobic coating. This means that it should be resistant to fingerprints. With the iPad Pro, however, the screen seems to attract fingerprints more than the other iOS devices. It is not necessarily a huge problem, but something that I noticed.

Icon Layout

Earlier I mentioned that some thought the original iPad was just a larger iPhone. The same can be applied with the iPad Pro and it would be more accurate. The iPad Pro has the same layout as other iPads, meaning that the grid layout is five icons wide with four rows. With the larger resolution, one would think that Apple could increaes the number of icons in the grid, but they have not. It is entirely possible that this will change with a future release of iOS, but as of right now it has not.

Keyboard

One of the things I have done since I initially got the original iPad was to have a bluetooth keyboard connected, again in the vain of getting some productive work accomplished. With the iPad Pro I have connected my Magic Keyboard and have actually been able to accomplish some work; including typing this entire post using the iPad Pro. The issue I seem to be having though has been with some key presses not being recognized. If it were happening in only one area, I would say it was that application, but it happens quite a bit in Safari. It does not seem to be a consistent issue either. I am sure it will get fixed in a future version of iOS, but for now it is an issue.

Overall

Overall I am enjoying the iPad Pro. The split view that allows two iPad Air 2 applications appear side-by-side has been a productivity boost. The only real downside now is that if I’ve been using my iPad Pro for a while and go back to my iPhone 6s Plus, the iPhone 6s Plus looks really small. I am going to continue to use the iPad Pro and provide a full review at some point in the future.