What is Apple doing with the Apple Watch? Not a lot…

The Apple Watch series 8 brings not much to a line of smartwatches which is dominating the sector, and potentially the traditional budget watch sector as well.

The S8 chip has the same CPU as the S7
Crash detection is included (you will hopefully never use this)
Wrist temperature sensing during sleep and cycle tracking with retrospective ovulation estimates
A more powerful gyroscope and high dynamic range accelerometer

That’s it. In reality it is effectively the same as the series 7 in almost every way.

The series 7 added the following from the series 6-

Slightly bigger case size
20% bigger screen area
70% brighter display indoors
Tougher crystal
Fast charging (up to 80% in 45 mins)
IP6X dust resistance
S7 chip

That was a better upgrade, but I personally did not go near it because it felt too similar to the series 6. It has only been in the past few days that I starting testing the series 7 for freelance purposes and I have to say that it feels very (!) close to my series 6.

The large display is nice, but for every other real world activity it feels the same and it works the same. It is to my mind somewhat disappointing.

And it is even more disappointing that the last few Apple Watch upgrades have added little to the overall experience. It feels as if Apple has stalled and that there are very few areas that can be improved to make things feel different to the user.

The Ultra is different in terms of the case, how it looks and in functionality, but it could be somewhat niche regarding who it is aimed at. The consumer Apple Watch is effectively the same as it was three years ago and I can’t be the only one who is not impressed by this. And I also cannot figure out why I am not so disappointed that the iPhone is following a similar trajectory.

Would you wear a toilet seat on your wrist?

See that Apple Watch fastened to your wrist? Well, it may well be a masterful piece of technology that tracks your steps, buzzes you notifications and locates that missing iPhone you drunkenly left in that bar. But according to Dr Lotti Tajouri, Associate Professor of Genomics and Molecular Biology at Bond University on the Gold Coast, your smartwatch is also a potential “biosecurity issue” that is likely to be “more dirty than a toilet seat.” More here.

😳

Apple Knows We’re All Going To Die

But something was very different this time, something sort of, uh, unsettling. Instead of suggesting a gleaming world where everything is only getting better, instead, today we saw Apple’s vision of a future where everything is literally trying to murder us, and death lurks around every ring-closing outdoor jog. And frankly, it’s turning me into an iPrepper… More here.

In some ways it is all that Apple has left given lesser scope for truly new features. Look at the Apple Watch Series 8 compared to the Series 7- same Bluetooth 5.0 (the Ultra has 5.3) and the same processor with a couple of new features thrown in to make it look new. Maybe a marketing person twigged that people are feeling more fragile these days and that this is a good area to target?

When Apple commentators go blind…

Garmin posted the above to highlight the battery life of the Enduro 2. It is a valid comparison to the Apple Watch Ultra because that offers up to 36 hours of battery (1.5 days- not sure under 2 deserves to be a plural?) and the Enduro offers 150 hours (+6 days). In reality the battery is as follows-

Get up to 34 days of battery life in smartwatch mode — with an additional 12 days when solar charging2 — for an uninterrupted picture of your health and fitness, and up to 150 hours in GPS mode with solar charging1 to track your performance in training and races.

That is a massive gap when compared to the Ultra and for Apple to be boasting about 36 hours is close to embarrassing.

This did not stop John Gruber linking to the above and writing ‘Bye-bye Garmin.’ which highlights a complete ignorance of what a high-end Garmin device is and an overt bias towards his overlords.

This is not a Steve Ballmer or a BlackBerry moment when the first iPhone was launched. It would be easy to believe it is if you have no real experience of dedicated smartwatches, but the reality is that if you go to a track or the start of a marathon you will not see Apple Watches on people’s wrists. 36 hours of battery will help of course, but it is nowhere near what is offered elsewhere and the real-world experience of having days and days of power per charge is positive indeed.

At this time the Apple Watch is for everyone. From Karens who drop off their kids at school in a blinged out Range Rover to incredibly unfit people who feel that wearing an Apple Watch somehow magically makes them fitter to, well, most normal people. It is not for serious fitness people, adventurers or athletes and it feels to me that Apple will have a few more years to go to truly compete in this area.

The current size is ridiculous for anything other than exercising and potentially only for those with large wrists (men). A 49mm square watch is BIG because my 47mm round Garmin is a big thing, but it is just about wearable throughout the day. A square 49mm watch is not and the shape alone will prohibit regular wear.

Apple wins with cellular functionality compared to Garmin and the ability to seamlessly integrate music and podcasts, but Garmin can catch up quickly in both areas, outside of Apple’s barriers, and what remains would be a better software tracking setup and the knowledge that this is a company that truly understands fitness.

The sensors in the Apple Watch are actually very impressive and the company could eventually create a watch that works for everyone including athletes, but it does not at this time. This, however, did not stop some of the ridiculous responses to this article of which a couple are quoted below-

Apple’s response: “We measure unit sales in millions, not thousands”.

Sure since they have CASIO functions in their products, months sounds about right.

Reminds me of when Blackberry users would brag of physical keyboards.

Lol, always shots from the peanut gallery. Garmin, bye.

The inability to believe that any other company can compete with Apple on any level is still as strong as it always was. They may be proved right one day, but not today. I don’t like commentators gleefully backing a trillion dollar company to the point that they enjoy watching the competition fail, and especially when the competition is from a decent company.

The iPhone Isn’t Cool

That’s a big part of the problem in a nutshell: The system erected around annual upgrades means that many, many people buy the iPhone and then live their life quite literally indebted to Apple, which is better than its competitors at locking people into a “walled garden”—or, as the writer Cory Doctorow has called it, a “feedlot.” What was once a bold consumer choice is now more like a sad dip into the trough… More here.

The title is wrong because the iPhone does not need to be cool. It is embedded in so many lives that coolness does not matter anymore. I do, however, agree with the words about Apple’s lock-in approach. It is becoming a bit too tight for my liking.

Loss comes in many different forms

Those of us in the UK are experiencing a strange form of loss at the moment. It does not matter whether we are big fans of the monarchy, are ambivalent to a system that makes someone the head of state purely by birth or if we take little notice of day to day events. The Queen has been there for all of our lives and she has always acted in a way that affords the world stopping today to remember her.

We kind of know she is the head of state, but we are acutely aware that our politicians are the ones who decide how the country is run. What we don’t consider is the huge influence she has had on the leaders of our country. Despite a recent drop in adherence to our moral norms by Johnson, and likely Truss, there is no doubt that in the minds of the British people she is the ultimate example of what makes us British. This respect travels all around the world and in 2022 there is no person on earth whose death could have such an effect, and that has been true for many years.

For those of us who have known the Queen as our head of state all of our lives, the vast majority of us, it feels like a huge moment and the end of something much greater than the death of one person. It feels as if the one thing that bound us all together through Brexit, the recent invasion of Ukraine, Covid, the financial crisis of 2008 and so many more events has now gone. The Royal Family remains and King Charles will emerge, but for the majority it is the Queen who has kept us all together. She has always been there and is so much more important to us than we ever realised. And we know that now because of the way we feel today, all of the emotions spilling out that are normally only reserved for those of us we know and love well.

My children have now both left home and the sense of loss Joanne and I felt then was acute, and the sense remains because the house is so quiet now (and tidy!) and it feels as if we are entering a new part of our lives. We grew up and got married (part 1), we had children and raised them (part 2) and now we are entering part 3 which is easy to be scared of. Something ended, the most important part of our lives which was to bring up well-rounded children ended and what is left feels wholly unimportant in comparison. It is a genuine sense of loss.

The actual loss of family members such as my father was much harder of course and children leaving home or a 96 year old lady passing away is what should happen. It is unavoidable and you cannot experience joy without understanding that loss is just a part of life. I’m just surprised how much the death of Queen Elizabeth has affected all of us so acutely.