Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Apple Watch - Part Two: Unboxing the Sport Edition

After going through all of the pre-Watch hoopla of waking up early in the morning to order and then try on a Watch at a local Apple Store, and a seemingly unbearable two week period of waiting, my Apple Watch Sport Edition finally arrived.

This is the second part of my Apple Watch coverage.  If you haven't already done so, you can read The Apple Watch - Part One: Announcement, Pre-Order and Try Ons.

Here are my unboxing photos of my Apple Watch.

Detail of the box top
Description of the contents
Unpacking the exterior box
Unpacking the Apple Watch Sport Edition
Apple Watch Sport Edition on interior felt lined box case top

Unpacking the information and resize band sleeve
Booting up the Apple Watch
Language selection screen
Beginning the iPhone paring process
Pairing is done by "scanning" the pattern with the iPhone Watch app
iPhone and Watch Paring process is complete
All synced up and ready to go
Now that my Apple Watch Sport Edition has been paired with my iPhone 6, it's time to start using it day-to-day.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Apple Watch - Part One: Announcement, Pre-Order and Try Ons

The Apple Watch is unlike any other device you've used from Apple.  When you look at the hardware and software that makes up the Apple Watch, you can clearly see the family resemblance, but there is something wonderful, yet mysterious about it.  And so begins my journey with the Apple Watch.

The Announcement

My Watch was delivered late on Friday evening, much later than most UPS deliveries.  I started using it this weekend, but a family event kept me from diving head first into the wrist worn personal computer.  Rather than racing to try and write a traditional review of Apple Watch as quickly as I can, I would rather spend the necessary time getting to know the new device and then write about it.  The rest of this post will be devoted to the journey from placing my order to my first, raw impressions of Apple Watch.

We all learned about the Apple Watch on September 9, 2014 during the iPhone 6 event.  At about half way through the event, Apple CEO Tim Cook, borrowing a line from the late Steve Jobs dropped a now famous "One more thing..." slide.  I was wearing a Nike+ FuelBand at the time.  I was super excited about the Apple Watch.  It was not only light years a head of what was on my wrist at the time, but what I guessed it might be.

Six months later, on March 9, 2015, that we learned of the final details about the Watch during a special Apple keynote event.  My Jawbone UP, which had more features packed into it than the FuelBand, suddenly felt old and outdated.

Despite the initial positive reaction to Apple Watch, it wouldn't be until April 10, that we could pre-order and try on the Watch.  Early adopters, willing to stay up late at night to pre-order, would have to wait at least another two weeks before they can slip theirs on for the first time.

To me, this seamed like an unbelievably long lead up to Apple Watch: seven months from announcement to pre-order and another two weeks for Watches to start shipping.  Not event the original iPhone had as long a lead time from announcement to shipping to customers.

Placing My Pre-order

Fast forward to April 10 - the day that Apple would begin taking pre-orders for the Watch at 12:00am PDT (3:00am EDT for me) and welcoming customers into Apple Stores to try on Apple Watch before placing their online order.

Apple had been warning that supplies of the Watch would be constrained at launch.  Anyone who has ordered an iPhone in the last seven years knows that Apple always says that the latest new shiny toy (or business tool) would be in short supply during the first few weeks of availability.  But this time was different.  For whatever reason, this time, supplies of the new wrist-worn computers really where in tight supply.  So much so, Apple tried to get out ahead of the public's expectations encouraging customers to place their orders online.

I woke up at 2:50am that Friday morning.  Not to head out to the Apple Store to stand in line.  Apple made it clear that there would be no long lines wrapped around the block for the Apple Watch.  This time, I was up to make sure that I was going to be in the first wave of the people would have Apple Watch.

After suffering long delays trying to buy the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 from Apple's website, which gets completely overwhelmed on pre-order day, I chose to use the Apple Store iOS app to order my Watch.  Heading Apple's recommendation, I chose to "favorite" the Apple Watch I wanted to buy.

At 3:00am I started refreshing the App Store waiting from the online store to go live again.  (Apple routinely takes their online store down when a new product is about to go live to update the CND servers around the world.) 3:01am...refresh...3:02am...refresh...3:03am...the page loads!

I purchase my Apple Watch in two minutes without issue.  My friends and family who also tried to order Apple Watch via the Apple Store at tell me that the web servers where overloaded and not serving up pages properly.  Let this be a lesson to you...if you want to get in and out quickly on pre-order day, use the iOS Apple Store app with Apple Pay.

A few minutes later, I received my order confirmation email.  Just for fun, at 3:18am, I went back into the Apple Store iOS app to see what the lead time for the Apple Watch Sport edition watch with a blue fluoroelastomer band. 

I was surprised to see that in just 15 minutes, the watch I just ordered was back ordered 4-6 weeks!  It looks like the Apple Watch Sport Edition will be popular and that supplies really are constrained.

The Try On

With my pre-order placed, it was time to schedule an appointment at the Apple Store Trumbull for a try on to make sure that the 42mm Watch wasn't going to be too big for my wrist or the band too loose or otherwise uncomfortable.

I stopped wearing watches a long time ago, because I started to think that I have a weird wrist size.  The watches I wore as a kit fit fine with their plastic or leather straps.  When I started buying adult watches in my mid-twenties, the metal bands just didn't seem to fit right.  With that in mind, I was a little bit hesitant to go back to wearing a watch, even one made by Apple, daily again.

Since Apple had already indicated that all orders for Watch would be done online and that there would be no in store pickups on launch day the try on date was going to be the trip to the Apple Store that my father and I would take together.  (You might recall my father and I stood in long lines together for both the iPhone 6 launch and the grand opening of the Apple Store Trumbull.)

On Friday afternoon, I used the iOS Apple Store app, the one I had used hours before to place my Watch order, to book two appointments for my father and I to go try on my Apple Watch Sport Edition and his Apple Watch Edition.  We also decided that we would wear the Apple shirts that we got from the Trumbull store's grand opening - just for added effect, because, really, where else are you going to wear your Apple t-shirt?

Upon arriving to the Apple Store, you quickly notice that the front tables have been changed out and now there are new tables specifically designed for showing off and having customers try on the new Apple Watch.

When we arrived, we were quickly checked in by the Apple Store staff who also noticed our Apple shirts can called out "Original members are in the house!"  It was a nice touch can throw back to that crazy Saturday morning when the store opened and pictures where taken for us by the staff.  A few of them snapped a few pictures too - presumably for some internal use.
And no trip to the Apple Store for a major product launch just wouldn't be complete without an Apple Store selfie!
The Apple Watch has a really nice fit on my wrist and I'm no longer worried about a poor fit like I had on my $80-120 dollar "big boy" watches that I used to wear.  The Sport band fit well and didn't feel cheap.  Far and away, my favorite watch has to be the Apple Watch, the stainless steel version, with the Milanese loop band.  Having looked at my traditional watches, I was a little concerned about the scratches, so I chose to buy the less expensive aluminum Sport Edition.  My dad did order the Apple Watch Stainless Steel with the classic leather band.
 Before out try on session was over, I did try on the Stainless Steel version with the Milanese loop band.  The Stainless Steel version looks great and, as you would expect, the Milanese loop fits prety comfortably too.

Like a few of the other bands, the Milanese loop band uses a special magnet to clasp close. The magnet holds pretty firmly and does not easily nudge or slide off, but it is still easy to open when you are ready to take it off.  That should make a lot of people who are a little worried about the band coming unfastened during the day at ease.

Even without a big splashy, lines around the block launch for Apple Watch, my dad and I still managed to get our new toys Apple Store tip in and even got to show off our Apple fan boy stripes too boot!

Now, it's time to get down to saving pennies for the September iPhone launch!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Flexibits Launches Fantastical 2 for Mac

The calendar mavens over at Flexibits have released a major update to their popular calendaring app, Fantastical 2 for Mac!

A short video of Fantastical 2 for Mac in action is available on the Flexibits website.
Designed exclusively for OS X Yosemite, Fantastical 2 for Mac includes features such as a full calendar window (with day, week, month, and year views), an intuitive parsing engine, iCloud reminders support, light theme, time zone support, birthday reminders, and much more.
Fantastical 2 has a beautiful all-new design and includes many OS X Yosemite features, including a Today Widget, Action & Share Extensions, plus Handoff support to provide continuity between Fantastical 2 for Mac, Fantastical 2 for iPhone, and Fantastical 2 for iPad.
Fantastical 2 for Mac’s natural language parsing engine has been updated to be even more friendly and flexible. The parsing engine now understands expressive repeating events such as third Thursday of every month, every weekend, last weekday of the month, and more. Plus, users can now add alerts by ending their natural language input with phrases such as "remind me tomorrow at 3PM", "alert 1 hour before", or "alarm 3PM."
"When Fantastical came out 4 years ago, our goal was to reinvent the calendar app to ease the frustrations of using calendars," said Michael Simmons, CEO & President of Flexibits. "With Fantastical 2, we challenged ourselves to reinvent Fantastical itself."

I think for me, the perfect integration with Mac OS X Yosemite with the ability to use OS X Dictation, Today view, and Handoff to/from my iPhone and iPad together with Flexibits natural language parsing engine are the killer features that make this upgrade well worth the purchase price.

In addition to the super functional Mac toolbar mini window, Flexibits has included a new very handsome looking Today widget.  But the big new visual enhancement for Fantastical for Mac is the new full calendar view.

Fantastical 2 is available now directly from the Mac App Store for $39.99.  As the name implies, this is a completely new version of Fantastical, which means if you have already purchased Fanastical 1 for Mac, you will need to purchase it again.  The enhancements found in Fantastical 2 for Mac are really well worth it.  Plus, you are helping out some great indie Mac developers in the process.

Apple To Enhance iPhone Unlock Security with iOS 8.3 [Updated]

Apple is further enhancing their iPhone unlock security with the upcoming release of iOS 8.3; which is currently in beta testing.

PIN code required when TouchID is not
used to unlock the device in 48 hours

My pal, and fellow 1SRC Palm Podcast host, Jeff Kirvin, has informed me that iOS requires a PIN or passcode if not used for 48 hours right now with iOS 8.2.

I hate it when he's right.  I still think this is a good feature.

In the future, if you have not unlocked your iPhone using Touch ID in the past 48 hours, you be required to reenter your PIN or passcode.  With iOS 8.0 up to and including iOS 8.2, Apple only required that you enter your PIN or passcode after restarting your iPhone.  

The above screen appeared after I left my iPhone 5S running a beta version of iOS 8.3 at home for two days.

I think that while this may generate a few help desk calls when iOS 8.3 is deployed to corporate iOS devices that get left at work or unused over the weekend, it is  a really good move for people who may accidentally lose their device.

Apple has not announced when iOS 8.3 will ship.  The pre-release software is being tested by registered developers (a $99 annual fee is required to join the program) and by select members of the iOS and OS X public beta testers.

Some bloggers believe that iOS 8.3 will ship next month at about the same time the Apple Watch is released.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Apple Releases iOS 8.2, Support for Apple Watch

Today, after Apple's Spring Forward event, the leading smartphone maker release iOS 8.2; which includes Apple Watch support.

The Apple Watch app in iOS 8.2 is waiting for an Apple Watch to pair with

iOS 8.2 is available now as an OTA update for current model iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches that are running or can run iOS 8.x. Here's a list of what's new and improved in iOS 8.2.

In addition to today's iOS 8.2 update, Apple also rolled out an update for Apple TV.

Apple Spring Forward Notes and First Impressions

Apple held their Spring Forward event to showcase HBO Now, the all-new MacBook, and Apple Watch.  If you haven't yet watched today's event, you can stream it from Apple's website or watch it on Apple TV.

The following are my notes and first impressions from today's event.

Apple TV + HBO Now

Apple TV gets a price cut to $69.  This says to me that the hardware refresh I've been waiting for is either late or under resourced.

HBO Now will be available by April 12 for $14.99/mo.  This will get cord cutters excited and I think will help drive Apple TV sales.  I've never been an HBO subscriber but with a month-to-month subscription, I'd jump on to watch shows that I've not been able to watch before and jump out while the show is on break.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay now accepted at 49,000 Coca-Cola vending machines.  I can totally get behind that!

iPhone + Heath Apps

Health + iPhone & Research Kit look really intriguing and can become a powerful diagnostic tool for doctors and patients.

Apple is backing up their commitments to privacy by putting data sharing controls into the hands of patients. Apple does not see the data. Ever.

Google and Android are going to have a difficult time of tying to copy or buy their way into this segment.

Apple MacBook

Holy crap! This redesigned MacBook is beyond thin!

Can you name one company that spends R&D dollars on new keyboard technology?

Force Click will make the right-click obsolete on the Mac.

Next up on Apple’s hit list: vents and fans. Gone!

The new MacBook is powered by the new Intel Core M processor. It runs silently.

New battery technology will give you all-day battery life on a single charge.

802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

USB-C connector replaces all of the “old” cables and connectors. Plus it's reversible.

Will ship in silver, space grey and gold.

Prices start at $1299 and $1599

Minor spec bumps for the MacBook Air and the 13” MacBook Pro

Apple Watch

Tim shows off my Apple Watch...sorta
Digital Touch is cool if not a bit gimmicky. I'd love to use the tap-tap feature with my wife. Alas, she couldn't care less about Apple Watch.

The Activity tracking feature is all of the same stuff that other fitness bands can do, but done in a way that's light years ahead of my Nike+ FuelBand or Jawbone UP.

I also like the “you've been sitting still too long” prompt.

The new feature in most excited about for the Apple Watch? Maximizing my couch potato time controlling Apple TV without having to use the IR remote.

iOS notifications coming into iPhone can be sent to Apple Watch. Looking for granular control here.  Don't want my wrist buzzing all day with spam email.

Sports teams, Facebook, and news updates. Twitter. Instagram. American Airlines.

Apple Pay with Apple Watch looks like a killer feature.

Phone calls go between iPhone and Apple Watch over Bluetooth when you're out or on Wi-Fi when you're at home.

Watch works with iPhone.  Only.   Apple Watch iPhone app is where you go to browse, buy and download apps for Apple Watch.

iOS 8.2 features the iPhone Apple Watch app. Available for download today. (3/9/15)

Apple Watch will have all-day battery life. 18 hours of varying uses

Watch Sport starts at $349

Watch Stainless Steel starts at $549

Watch Edition starts at $10,000

Pre-orders and in-store try outs start 4/10; Apple Watch goes on sale 4/24

Launches in US, UK, China, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hing Kong, Japan

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

FREAK SSL Vulnerability Identified

Yesterday, news broke of a new Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL, vulnerability that both Google and Apple have begun working on patches for.

ZDNet described the security problem by saying:
"The FREAK bug disclosed yesterday is the latest in a series of vulnerabilities affecting the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols used to encrypt traffic between an HTTPS website and a browser."
At the root of the problem, it is possible for a hacker to compromise a website that allows their computer to be inserted into what is suppose to be a private communication between your browser and a web server for things like online banking or shopping.  In end, you don't get what you want and the hacker gets your personal information.

ZDNet goes on to say that the National Security Agency, the very same United States government agency spearheading the charge to weaken encryption security, is also vulnerable to this problem.

Here's my favorite part:

"Thousands of sites are vulnerable, including that of the US National Security Agency - the same agency that pushed for weaker export grade encryption, according to Ed Felten, director of Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy.

"There is an important lesson here about the consequences of crypto policy decisions: the NSA's actions in the '90s to weaken exportable cryptography boomeranged on the agency, undermining the security of its own site twenty years later," Felten wrote on his blog yesterday."
Apple is working on updates for Safari for both iOS and Mac OS X and are expected to be deployed as updates next week.

For more, see the full article.