Posts tagged “smartwatch

2018 Apple iPhone Event Full Recap

Coming off of the helms of the iPhones X, 8 and 8 Plus this year it was rumored that we’d receive a new Apple Watch alongside 3 new iPhones, which exact specifications and price we wouldn’t know.

Apple’s events are always touted as being “magical” and known for being master marketers, Apple is usually poised to have their onlookers shouting, “Shut up and take my money!”.

Does this ring true with the devices debuted today?


Apple Watch

Welcome, Apple Watch Series 4 a slimmer, fuller screen smartwatch.  The Apple Watch is not only the number one smartwatch on earth, it is additionally the number one watch in terms of units sold.  The amount of features in regards to apps and health propel it, easily, past other smartwatch offerings from Android’s virtually nonexistent WearOS and Samsung’s Tizen, which powers the company’s Gear line.

Source: Apple, YouTube

In addition to the Apple watch receiving a slight facelift (don’t worry all of our Apple Watch bands from the earlier generations will work) there are new features also packed in.

First, is EKG or electrocardiogram.  Apple Watch Series 4 is the first over the counter, FDA approved device that features this technology, it’s been rumored to be included in an Apple Watch and this is a phenomenal feature to have aboard.  EKG is the process of recording electrical activity of the heart over a period of time using electrodes placed over the skin [Source: Wikipedia].  Taking an EKG on Apple Watch is as simple as holding your finger on the redesigned digital crown for 30 seconds.  Including this in a smartwatch makes this item much more than just a companion device or as some view it, “a toy” — it makes it a first class wearable that is deserving of respect.  All of the health data is saved securely to your device in case a need arises to be shown to a physician.

AppleWatchSeries4

Apple Watch Series 4 with Cellular.

Second, due to the “edge to edge” screen of the Apple Watch Series 4, it will include more dynamic watchfaces and complications that can be used on the watch while keeping the same battery life as the previous generation.

Lastly, the Series 4 watch includes fall detection.  Fall detection is vital, especially for the older demographic and thanks to the latest addition from another alerting device may be able to go the way of the Dodo.

Overall, Apple Watch Series 4 is looking to be an excellent upgrade from last years model and although it is not a must buy for all Series 3 owners, if you have Series 0 through 2 — please proceed to your closest Apple Store.


iPhone

This is likely what you’re all here for; however, after seeing the release of Apple Watch Series 4 one could wonder if they could be pleasantly delighted any more.  iPhone X was Apple’s first attempt at a radical redesign of the iPhone, ever.  Not only was the home button no more, the orientation of the cameras changed and there were additions and subtractions made inside of iOS to account for the new display, including it’s hideous display notch — yes, it’s still there in 2018 devices, get used to it.

Enter iPhones XS and XS Max.

iPhonesXSXSMax

iPhones XS and XS Max.

Gone are the days of new “Plus” models.  When it came to the Plus devices, they each offered a different experience when compared to their smaller counterparts.

  • iPhone 6S vs 6S Plus — Camera differences, iPhone 6S did not have optical image stabilzation.
  • iPhone 7/8 vs 7/8 Plus — Camera differences, iPhones 7/8 did not have dual lens camera systems capable of producing portait mode shots with enhanced depth of field.

Now that we have the “Max” model there aren’t any apparent differences other than battery size and screen size 5.8″ versus 6.5″.

Source: Apple, YouTube

The new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max devices are powered by the latest SoC from Apple, A12 Bionic, which not only provide improved overall performance of the device itself, but faster unlocking using FaceID.  FaceID, while regarded as generally stellar, was often noted as being slower than TouchID, which is notably fast and seamless.  Additionally, because of this new chip we get camera improvements and can now adjust the depth of field of a portrait mode photo after it has been captured.  While there have been third party applications that could do that because the image data is readily available, this feature is now natively available within the Photos app itself. All of these features topped with the pleasant addition of IPS 68 water and dust resistance, up to 2 meters, comparable to devices such as Samsung Galaxy S9.

Just when we thought that all was done, there was….one…..more…..device.

Enter iPhone XR.

This is Apple’s low-cost iPhone, let’s call it like it is.  When your devices start of at $999 for iPhone XS and $1099 for iPhone XS Max, there needs to be another device for the majority of consumers and emerging markets.  Face it, in 2018 you can get a solid smartphone for $500 (eg. One Plus), we shouldn’t have to spend a grand to get a solid phone.  While one could argue about reliability, long-lasting support and other premises that take Apple’s devices from good to great — the aforementioned argument is solely based on price alone.

iPhoneXR2018

Apple iPhone XR, shown in Product Red.

iPhone XR starts at $749 (in the buying options it doesn’t appear that this device can be purchased unlocked) and features a 6.1″ LCD display that forgoes 3D touch but doesn’t lack in many other areas.  It is notable that iPhones 6/7/8 all had LCD displays but all had 3D touch — seems to be an omission for the sake of differentiation.  Although it is LCD, Apple is touting it as the most accurate LCD display on a smartphone, which is likely true as Apple’s displays are individually calibrated for accurate at the factory and lead the industry in how accurate the representation of colors are.  XR also comes in a variety of colors to spice things up, while having only a single lens camera, which differentiates it further from the XS and XS Max.  Although there is only one lens here, the camera is still capable of producing portrait mode shots through the Google coined, computational photography, which Phil Schiller almost winced while saying.  Otherwise, the device could be confused with a X, XS or XS Max device as it features the same stylings and notch, which also houses the same True Depth camera and sensor array that is used for FaceID.

In short, Apple knocked it out of the park here, especially with pricing.  While iPhone XR could come in at an even lower pricepoint to shake up the market, $749 is a pleasant surprise, while $1099 for iPhone XS Max is as well as we are used to seeing a $150 or more markup for the larger devices year over year.  As of this event below is Apple’s new iPhone lineup:

  • iPhone 7/7 Plus
  • iPhone 8/8 Plus
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR

iPhone X is no longer in the lineup and will not be sold going forward.

Of course, there were new updates to iOS, which will be pushed out in iOS 12, Monday, September 17th.


Notable Exclusions

With all of the hype surrounding an Apple event, there are always devices and services rumored to be released and/or updated that simply do not get the attention we thought they’d get.

Most notable is Apple’s AirPower mat, which was promised last year — STILL is nowhere to be found, without as much of a mention from Apple. Not only would this be a great companion to this iPhone lineup, which has Qi “wireless” charging support, it would show users that they’ve taken this product seriously.

Then, iPads, Mac Mini and AirPods. All of these items were longshots and will ultimately receive their own event when and if they are updated this year. This was an event all about iPhone and it’s number one companion, Apple Watch. Here’s to another fall or early winter event from Apple.


Wrapping Up

It is safe to say that Apple is once again firmly in the lead in many areas after this event.  When it comes to companion devices and Apple Watch, there is no question, while the iPhone XR gives premium features at a reasonable cost.

Good game, Apple — good game.

Apple iPhone Event 2017 Recap

This has been a long year of leaks and speculation about Apple’s latest iPhone and other devices that are released in the fall.  As usual, whether you have them or love them, the world has been on edge for what our friends in Cupertino are going to do and what all will be released.

Will it have a bezel?  Will there be a mac Mini?  Will it have wireless charging?  How much is it going to cost?

Your questions and more were answered on September 12th 2017 — and let’s hope that all of the leaks didn’t spoil all of the goodies Apple had planned for us.


Steve Jobs Theater

Apple’s latest campus is one of the last things that Steve Jobs worked on, from detailing the type of trees that were needed and more.  The Steve Jobs Theater was the place in which this fall Apple Event was to occur and as Tim Cook noted, “It was only fitting that Steve should open his theater” as we watched a very heartfelt video, seen below:

Source: cnet

This marks a great point in the history of Apple and it was no other way to start this event by words from a true visionary.


Apple Watch

Smartwatches, many of us have them; yet, many still do not.  Some view them as a necessity, while others view them as a trivial child’s play thing — needless to say, the Apple Watch is the #1 selling watch on planet earth and touts the most used heart rate sensor of any device.

Let that soak in for a minute.

The Apple Watch has changed lives from making people fitter, more aware of their surroundings and saving a life or two, watch their stories here:

Source: Apple

Today, we met Apple Watch Series 3, one that’s faster and one that has built in LTE (plus GPS) so that you can make calls while you’re away from your iPhone.  Usually phones get thicker when LTE radios and SIM cards are introduced (hello LG) — not this smartwatch.  Apple has integrated the cellular antenna directly into the watch screen itself, while incorporating a tiny eSIM on board the device.

Now that the Apple Watch is faster, featuring it’s W3 chip — we now have Siri on board, but we already had that right?  Now Siri can actually talk to you.

Source: Apple

Prices start at $329 for Series 3 with GPS and $399 with GPS + LTE


Apple TV 4K

Apple has made minor updates to the current Apple TV model and is introducing Apple TV 4K, bringing it inline with 4K content (albeit a small library) that is available today.  The new Apple TV has an upgraded CPU in the A10X Fusion (same chip that’s in the iPad Pro) that is twice as fast as the old with a graphics processesor that is four times faster that the previous model.

Additionally, Apple is bringing 4K content to iTunes and all of your previous HD content that you’ve purchased will be automatically upgraded to 4K, free.

Source: cnet


iPhone

Let’s get to the star, or shall I say, stars of the show — shall we?  For the past 10 years the iPhone has been an icon in the mobile space that has truly changed the world, from the way we interact, to the pictures we take, from the way we authenticate, how we consume apps, media and more — it is a truly iconic device.  Today, Apple built upon that with 3 brand new smartphones to take us into the future.

iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus (yup, skipped S this year) are our successors to iPhones 7 and 7 Plus from last year and there are upgrades brought to each model.  Each device is now sandwiched between two very sturdy panes of glass, allowing for wireless charging — a first for an iPhone supporting the standard Qi, which means existing chargers made by Belkin, Spigen and others will work.  Each device is color-matched to an areospace-grade aluminum bezel and are splash, water and dust resistant IP67 certified.

Top features:

  • New Retina HD display with True Tone (if you’ve used an iPad Pro, you’ve witnessed the greatness of True Tone, shifting to tone of the colors on the display based off of your current lighting situation — this is different from Auto Brightness)
  • A11 Bionic SoC with 6 cores featuring 2 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores, integrated with the first Apple designed GPU for up to 30% faster graphics performance than on previous models.  The A11 Bionic is named “bionic” because of it’s “world tracking” and “scene recognition” abilities, making this vital for AR Kit, which is instantly the world’s largest augmented reality platform.
  • Updated Portrait Mode with new Portrait Lighting, which dynamically changes the lighting on the subject and provide a completely different feel to the photo all done while in the camera app itself
  • Updated speakers to be louder and deliver more bass
  • Bluetooth 5.0 enabling pairing of multiple devices at once
  • LTE Advanced

Source: Apple

Starting at $699 for iPhone 8 and $799 for iPhone 8 Plus at the 64 GB configuration, available for pre-order on 9/15 and available on 9/22.


But wait, there was one more thing…..

Meet iPhone X (ten), the future of the smartphone.

Source: Apple

The screen on the iPhone X stretches from top to bottom and features the same glass on the front and back as the iPhone 8 devices with the surrounding band made of surgical grade stainless steel, meeting the glass in immaculate fashion.  Retina, move aside, iPhone X has an all new Super Retina Display that is 5.8″ diagonally with over 2.7 million pixels and has 458 PPI, the highest resolution ever put in an iPhone and it’s OLED.  This is the first OLED display that has met Apple’s high standards to be placed into a device.  Additionally notes is that the display features HDR, Dolby Vision, one million-to-one contrast ratio, color accuracy, 3D touch and True Tone.

But let’s talk camera…or cameras.  The iPhone X features the dual camera system, which sports Optical Image Stabilization in each lens and now, Portrait Mode can be used on the front-facing camera as well.

ipx_camera

Source: Pocketnow

Gesture Based Navigation

Since the iPhone X does away completely with the iconic home button of old, there has to be a way to get around the operating system.  The home button is replaced with a thin bar that is accessible at the bottom of the screen at any time.  With a series of swipe gestures you can get to where to need to go, quickly.

  • Swipe up — Home
  • Swipe up and hold — Multitasking

Source: cnet

Face ID

A whole new way to unlock your device, which is actually more secure than Touch ID.  Let’s clear something up here, Face ID is NOT just your ordinary “Face Unlock” seen on phones in the past that essentially compare a picture of your face to what is seen in the viewfinder of the front-facing camera.  The iPhone X features complex depth senors in Apple’s new “True Depth” camera sensor located at the top of the device’s display that actually analyze 30,000 invisible dots on your face — meaning that it really recognizes your face, really.

ipx_depthsensors

iPhone X depth sensors.

That is regardless if you change hairstyles, add glasses, add hats and more — your iPhone X still knows who you are on a new level.

ipx_FaceID1

iPhone X, Face ID — a technology that truly analyzes your face that replaces Touch ID on the latest high-end iPhone.

It’s a natural and effortless way to access your device that works even in the dark.

Features:

  • Easily setup
  • Specialized neural networks for your security
  • Face data protected by the secure enclave
  • On-device processing (not uploaded to Apple servers)
  • Requires user attention to unlock (eyes must be open and looking at the device)
  • 1 in 1,000,000 chance of another user unlocking your iPhone X
  • Works with Apple Pay
  • Adapts over time

View all features and specs of the new iPhone X that I might’ve missed, here:

Source: Apple


Key Takeaways

After watching and reading about one of the biggest announcements, since iPhone — there is nothing to be underwhelmed about here and the iPhone X dominated the show, although it was the last item to be debuted.  Apple Watch Series 3 has continued to build on the path set forth by it’s predecessor, while the Apple TV gained what the market wanted it to so badly have, 4K.

What are your thoughts on Apple’s latest announcement?  Get involved and join the conversation, tweet me @Dexter_Johnson, I’ll be there waiting.

What’s On My Wrist — An Apple Watch Review

The Apple Watch, some view it as a fashion piece, others view it as a great notification center that allows for your phone to stay in your pocket thus making you more productive.  In addition, some view it as a tool that should be used almost as a standalone device itself — either way, wearable technology is here to stay and this is one product that does a lot good while being slightly confusing at times, too.
IMG_0184

Build Quality:
The Apple Watch comes in two sizes, 38mm and 42mm in 3 materials: aluminum for the Apple Watch Sport, stainless steel for the Apple Watch and 18-karat gold for the Apple Watch Edition.  Size and composition make no difference in performance or OS setup on the watch — these are the same across the board.  Other than that, I was concerned about the dial (dubbed by Apple as the digital crown) getting in the way and did not think that it would be useful at all; however, for creating watch-faces and manipulating the time forward or backward to view events past or present — it is useful and consequently your only choice.  In addition to creation and time travel, it also serves as the Apple Watch home button when pressed by returning you to the previous screen.
Day to day use:
Using the Apple Watch is a “once you Apple Watch, you don’t go back” feeling and I believe the same can be said about most other smart watches.  Having notifications on your wrist is always a big plus and while some find it nerdy or invasive is very forward-thinking.  In my case, I dislike constantly taking my phone out of my pocket to see every notification and text.  Responding and dismissing items from the watch is quick and easy, although it would be useful if an item could just be swiped away without the need of a confirmation.
Notifications present a very distinct vibration to your wrist without rattling your wrist off in addition to light sounds, which by default are on (you may want to disable these).  Apple Watch also fully supports phone calls on the device itself, which I’ve never tried because of my deep Google Voice integration; however, trust me when I say, “it works.”
Like some, I begin my day in the gym and for me, that means steps are being counted, calories and being tracking while being burned and my fitness-self is being pleased.  This is one feature that the Apple Watch just does well, even without a GPS, which over half of Android Wear devices don’t have either.  Next, battery life is solid with me ending my day with usually 65% or more left. One note about battery life is that it is usually constant without any major variances from day to day.
Apps:
Apps on the Apple Watch automatically sync over upon the first booting and initial setup.  Following setup, apps with a corresponding watch app appear on the apps screen after installation.  Performance of the apps is not the best, usually performing well after they load, but loading itself is the problem — apps simply load slow.  In some respect, I feel as if Apple wants us to engage in long sequences of interaction touching the watch, while I feel like the interface should be for short, quick activities.  Both can work; however, app loading time would need to be sped up and further optimized to promote users wanting to interact with apps directly on the device more.

Pros:
  • Battery life
  • Standardized watch bands (Other smartwatch OEMs take note, please)
  • Fitness and health capabilities
  • Excellent Bluetooth connectivity
Cons:
  • Costly accessories
  • Slow loading apps

Takeaways:  The Apple Watch is primed and ready to go.  With a mostly positive experience, it is difficult for me to speak against purchasing an Apple Watch, especially if you’re an iPhone user — there is simply no better all-around wearable.  Continual improvements in WatchOS will further optimize and streamline the experience.  Also, did I mention standardized watch bands?  These are phenomenal and are easy swappable, making personalizing your watch easy and fun.

Fitness should be at the forefront of my smartwatch!

Android Wear is great, it really is. But why on earth is fitness tracking an afterthought? Especially when these devices are becoming more and more expensive!

Why does a fitness band at $90-150 dollars do fitness way better than a device, which has fitness companion apps, yet costs upwards of $400?  Not only could OEMs include GPS so that runs could be triangulated, the app developers could do a better job at showing us fitness details about ourselves.  As noted on the Android Central Podcast (Ep. 254: New toys, old grievances), people that want fitness should just get a fitness band.  No.  That is where you are wrong.  Why should we accept a half-backed solution?  If there are fitness apps to go along with these devices, then naturally it should be able to track my fitness-self more accurately.  Apple Watch is a perfect example, as it is a premium device at it’s finest; however, the most expensive one (excluding the gold edition) is approximately $1049, with no GPS.  New Android Wear devices, with increasingly higher price tags also do not have GPS.

Popular smartwatches.

Popular smartwatches.

My question is: Why?  With our mobile devices becoming larger and larger, it would be great to be able to track a run with carrying around a gigantic iPhone 6 Plus, Nexus 6 or Galaxy Note 5 — it just makes sense. These bands that are supposed to do so much for us but they cannot integrate such a simple thing as fitness tracking properly.

Bottom line: OEMs, GPS should go in a wearable, period. Until then, I’ll pass on the next round of Android Wear devices.

Moto 360 STILL runs Android Wear

Is the to be released Moto 360 an aesthetically pleasing device?

You bet it is; however, is all of the hype really worth it? Especially when the device will run an operating system that we’ve seen, touched and have a wealth of experience with already.

Personally, I’ve had conversations with people waiting on this device like it will offer a drastically different experience. Sorry to crush your dreams….but it won’t.  Android Wear as an operating system for wearable devices cannot be manipulated by OEM (thankfully); so, the differences between the Moto 360, LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live will be minute.

Moto 360 shown running Android Wear.

Moto 360 shown running Android Wear.

Bottom line:  “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”  The Moto 360 is a fantastic device; however, it will not make or break Android Wear.