I've Taken My Watch Off

Chris Hannah, on the Apple Watch:

I haven’t worn my Apple Watch in about two weeks. There was no big decision when I stopped wearing it, but I’ve noticed that over the past month or so, I would just be less bothered about wearing it.

No music/podcasts are being controlled on the watch anymore, because I have AirPods that can do that. I don’t track workouts because they were never real workouts anyway. I don’t play Field Day or Pokémon GO anymore. And if I want to check anything like the weather, football scores, text messages, I just take my phone out of my pocket.

I’ve started to actually like not having my wrist being the interface between myself and the internet. And I’ve grown tired about being notified about things that I just don’t care about.

It’s interesting to see how people use the Watch in their day to day. Chris has worn a watch for a number of years and is beginning to find it less useful in recent times.

Since the Watch launched I was always a bit skeptical of some of the features, particularly ones related to notifications. I’m far too addicted to my phone as it is, so having a device physically attached to me that opens up more possibilities of staring into a screen never really appealed to me.

I recently picked up a Fitbit Charge 3 to help me track my fitness and heart rate 1. Having this information has renewed my interest in the Apple Watch, but I have to remind myself that there is a big difference between a fitness tracker and a smartwatch. Matt Gemmell wrote a piece a few years back on moving away from the Apple Watch and back to a Fitbit. Similarly, David Smith wrote this article on his hopes for a more fitness focused Apple Watch.

I’m going to see just how useful I find the Fitbit in the coming months and whether or not I like wearing a watch full time. If I find myself wanting a bit more from it I may look into the Apple Watch or more functional Fitbits.

  1. So far I’m really liking it. Great iOS application and excellent battery life. 



Must-have iOS apps, 2019 edition

In keeping with tradition, here are my must have iOS apps that match Federicos.

Overcast

A daily podcast driver for me and an app that I rarely even notice I’m using with the advent of Siri Shortcuts. It’s been rock solid since I started using it, and I’ve no intention of switching from it any time soon.

Instagram

I’m not a heavy user of Instagram, but I like the app and it’s one of far too few that has embraced dark mode. Still waiting on iPad support though..

Twitter

Same as above. I’d imagine I’d have more complaints about it if I wrote more than one tweet a year.

WhatsApp

Even if I was lost in Antarctica I’d still be confident that I’d be able to send and receive WhatsApp messages. It’s yet to let me down since I started using it.

1Password

I’m getting a strong sense of deja vu while writing these entries. The fact that 1Password is still on this list shows how good it is. If you aren’t using a password manager yet then look no further.

Netflix

Netflix have gotten this app just right. The interface looks great and is easy to navigate. Progress syncs well between devices, and the ability to download makes it essential. Zero complaints.

YouTube

Much like the Netflix app, the YouTube app is solid. Picture in picture is something I would love, but I’m guessing Apple isn’t too keen to give too much power to Google on that one..

Google Maps

This needs no introduction. Still the king of navigation.


Decade in Review

With this post, there has been at least one post per month on this website since the first in December 2015.

Some numbers at the close of the decade:

  • 149 posts in total
  • 99 linked posts
  • 50 non-linked posts
  • The most popular day for posting is Wednesday
  • The least popular is Sunday
  • The most popular month for posting is January
  • The least popular month for posting is August

iPhone 11 Pro

I’ve had the iPhone 11 Pro for about three weeks now which I think is a reasonable amount of time to form a decent opinion on the phone. I upgraded from my two year old iPhone 8, which to be fair owes me nothing and is still a great phone for any reasonable person who doesn’t feel the need to upgrade on a regular basis.

The headline feature of the 11 Pro is the camera. All reviews I’ve read so far have had a lot of praise for it, and rightly so. It’s an excellent camera. The Ultra Wide lens allows you to take photos that you wouldn’t think were possible, capturing a full scene as opposed to just a frame. Night Mode is seriously impressive. Even in an almost pitch dark room it will find a way of lighting up a photo. Deep Fusion helps create incredible detail in close up photos. There is now also the ability to record 4K video, which takes up a lot of memory but looks excellent. So no surprises here, but the level of improvement over any iPhone before this is worth noting.

Coming from an iPhone 8, this is my first time using a phone with no home button or top and bottom bezels. The 11 Pro finds a nice balance in that it’s just small enough that it fits well in my hand, while offering a much larger screen than before. It’s noticeably smaller than last years XR and the standard 11 this year. The difference between the LCD screen of the 8 and the OLED screen of the 11 Pro can only really be appreciated when they are side by side. Black levels are pitch black on an OLED screen, so much so you could be forgiven for thinking the screen is actually off in low light.

So far the battery has been a good improvement on the iPhone 8, not an absolute night and day improvement, but a welcome one. Speaking of power, the USB-C 18W charger that’s included in the box can charge the phone seriously fast 1, and completely removes the need to charge the phone overnight (not that you should ever really do that).

The only regression with the 11 Pro I’m seeing is Face ID. The second generation Touch ID on the iPhone 8 worked instantly every time I used it. Going from that to Face ID, where you have to be facing the phone square to unlock just doesn’t feel as natural to me, especially when using Apple Pay. Ideally I’d like both, but that’s probably quite a bit away.

There are of course other less noticeable improvements across the board. The processor is more than capable of handling whatever you throw at it, the speakers are as loud and clear as ever and the phone is more water resistant than ever before.

It’s only when all these improvements add up over time that you can really see how good these phones have become. If you’re coming from an iPhone XS then you might be less impressed, but we’ve got to a point now where upgrades every year are really not necessary. The iPhone 11 Pro is a worthy upgrade for photography lovers and anyone still tapping that home button.

  1. Apple claim 50% charge in 30 minutes. That matches what I’m seeing. 


The Living Daylights - Vienna Locations

While on a recent weekend away in Vienna, I visited some of the locations from the 1987 Bond film “The Living Daylights”.

First up was the Volksoper Opera House, which was the location used for the early part of the film where Bond has been sent to take out a sniper, during the defection of Georgi Koskov. In the film this is set in Bratislava, but Vienna was used for filming due to Bratislava being off limits, as it was part of Czechoslovakia at the time.

Volksoper Opera House
Vienna Volksoper

Across the road from the Volksoper is a sweet shop, which in the film was used by Bond and his Vienna counterpart Saunders as a stake-out for the shooting. Unfortunately it was closed when I was there so I couldn’t have a look inside.

Bond's stakeout, third floor window

Once Bond and Kara make it to Vienna, there is a short montage of them in a few locations around the city. Two of these that I wanted to visit were the Maria-Theresien-Platz and the Schönbrunn Palace (which also appears in the end credits). Both of these are part of the hop on hop off bus tour of Vienna, so no issue finding them.

Maria-Theresien-Platz
Schönbrunn Palace

The next location was the one I was probably most excited about - the Prater. The Prater is a permanent amusement park in Vienna that is well worth a visit. In the film, Bond and Kara spend some time here on the various amusements, eventually taking a trip on the big ferris wheel called “Wiener Riesenrad”. In the film they were in cabin 10 - we just missed it! The park has changed a lot since 1987, but the ghost train is still there and looks familiar.

Prater
Cabin 10 on the Wiener Riesenrad

Other Vienna locations include Karas apartment, the tram station and the gasworks. Some of the older trams still roam the city, and look similar to the ones seen in the film.



iOS/iPadOS 13 impressions

iOS 13

The Good:

  • Dark Mode - finally!
  • Controller support - finally!
  • Shortcuts Automations
  • Better use of the iPad home screen
  • Apple Arcade look promising
  • Photos.app revamp is great

The Bad:

  • App Updates are hidden in the App Store
  • Haptic Touch is replacing 3D Touch

Tiger Woods

The career of Tiger Woods has to be one of the most interesting sporting stories of all time.

Written by Jeff Benjamin and Armen Keteyian, Tiger Woods is a biography of the golfer from when he was born until the end of 2018, when he had come back from numerous scandals and injuries to win again on the PGA Tour. 1

What surprised me most was Woods early life, where he was effectively brainwashed into golf from the age of two, watching his father his shots for hours on end. Not only was he learning his craft from an extremely young age, he was also learning how to play like an ‘assassin’, to not only beat his opponents but to beat them by as much as he could. It’s clear to see how he became so dominant in the sport.

The cost of that level of success at such a young age was that he never really had a normal life, which was a big factor in the scandal that broke in 2009.

Any sport fan would enjoy this book, whether or not they follow golf. Well worth a read.

Highlight: The period of 2000-2007 when Woods was untouchable on the tour.

  1. It’s a shame that the book came out not long before Woods won the 2019 Masters. 


An Alternate ‘View’ on the Most Hated Bond Movie Ever

A View to a Kill

The most disagreement off my list — the movie that the most readers argued should have been included — was 1985’s “A View to a Kill,” the seventh and final Bond adventure featuring Roger Moore as 007. This did not surprise me at all. “A View to a Kill” is routinely ranked around or at the absolute bottom of every other list of the worst Bond films. It’s been that way for decades.

I’m probably a bit biased, seeing as Roger Moore is my favourite Bond, but I agree that A View to a Kill doesn’t deserve to be at the bottom of the list of Bond films.

I don’t see Moore’s age as being much of an issue here 1, nor do I find it too far fetched, which many argue Moore’s later films tend to be.

The film has two of the most memorable villains in the series in Zorin and Mayday. It has some great action sequences, (snowboarding, parachuting off the Eiffel Tower, a car getting cut in half, a fire truck chase, a blimp exploding above the Golden Gate Bridge. Am I missing anything?). It even has the whole MI6 gang at the races.

There’s a lot to love in this film.

  1. Well…maybe aside from that Mayday scene.