the [Apple] watch use case

When Jobs talked about PDAs at AllThingsD 2004, he talked about how 90% of people want to get information out of the device instead of putting information into the device and cell phones would do that [referring to the impending iPhone]. He talked about PC as being the digital hub for doing host of things iPhones/iPods as companion.

And with Apple Watch, Ben Thompson at Stratechery talks about that hub moving to Phone taking over PC as watch evolves into what phone once was i.e. a device for getting information out.

In my experience, this couldn’t be more true.

Apple watch has two distinct roles.

  • Data Aggregator;
    in the form of a fitness tracker
  • Doing little things efficiently;
    notifications, complications, glances, interactions

WatchApps

There are only a few categories which offer unique use cases to watch. And the most important categories are Fitness & Health, Business and Productivity.

My favorite is Things, a to do list app. I hate taking out and scrolling through iPhone while shopping for groceries. Quick access to list and  mark things as completed individually is so convenient while doing it right off the wrist. I hope Google Keep soon has it’s own WatchOS app so I can work across multiple platforms.

Aggregator

As data aggregator, apple watch is as good as you would expect a fitness tracker to be. Combined with your phone, it does pretty good job of satisfying your fitness and health needs. I’m not a fitness freak, so I’d let others review this part like Tech Radar or host of other internet reviews.

little things

That’s where I like my watch, really love the watch. Apple watch allows you to do tiny tasks with such an ease at times when it would really be inconvenient to do them on the phone like turn up temperature of your digitally connected thermostat.

Notifications

I love how I can set my bus stop notifications on the phone, be reminded of arrival times while getting myself ready for work all the while phone is out of my way. I can keep the phone in pocket while watch notification tells me when my stop is near.

I spent some time to declutter the notifications sent to watch. It is important as otherwise, constant notifications would really be irritating. I made sure that only important notifications come through and prevent watch from buzzing all the time. This really helps me filter the noise and stay up to date with important information, for instance weather warnings, hipchat notifications from work only when my name is mentioned, amazon delivery notifications, banking transactions.

Interactions with phone

Turning off my alarm while cooking if I wake up earlier is really convenient; replying to text messages is easy with Siri and custom responses. A very scenario is to reply while driving or on bus or whenever I don’t have or don’t want to access phone is to reply to a phone call or message to say that I can’t talk right now.

Reading messages while in a meeting is really really convenient without being seriously distracted is also very convenient.

Complications

Complications are simple yet effective. One look at watch face, and I know if it is raining outside and current temperature. It’s important to me as I live in portland and it rains very often and interferes with day planning. And of course, it tells time.

Time Travel

This is a very convenient feature. Using the crown, I can move time, typically forward, to see weather conditions and calendar meetings for my work. I typically use this feature to see weather conditions and plan ahead.

Glances

For starters, there are too many glances. Just like notifications, I decluttered by only selecting ones which were important for me. Here again, I only opt for truly important glances. My favorites are my financial apps to know how much I have spent and what’s my current financial situation.

Other important glances are; all day weather forecast and music glance.

Navigation

This is perhaps the most interesting use case and takes some time getting used to. You can set navigation on watch or phone, and watch will direct you with Taptic engine which way to turn. Three pairs of discreet  taps means turn left, while consistent 4 or 5 taps would be turn right. A vibratory tap usually means keep straight. I am still trying to distinguish U turn from keep straight. The only issue I felt so far is that, taps are usually after the turn lane has started so you can be a little late in taking turns if you drive fast.

Others

Apple pay isn’t a very common use case yet since not many big retailers accept it yet. I have used it twice at Apple Store. It’s pretty easy to setup and works well. So even if you have older iPhone that doesn’t support Apple Pay, you can still use watch for it.

The only fitness thing I do with my watch is to measure my sleep quality. So I have to sleep with my watch which means the charging cycle for my watch is from evening to evening.

A few Quirks

One of the things that can annoying is slow communication between watch and apps on the phone. There are times, rare but they do exist, when information on watch can be outdated or out of synced with phone.

The watch can itself be slow at times, especially moving from Glance to Glance if you have to many glances. I really don’t think WatchOS 2 should have been meant for first generation of Apple Watch, but some would argue in favor of it.

Battery

The battery has been surprisingly good, it last more than a day for me. As I said I don’t do any fitness tracking except the regular tracking that Activity app does. My notifications are custom, therefore, watch isn’t always buzzing. I don’t do too much on watch, as I think this is more of a passive device for information extraction instead of input. I do charge once a day though.

Curtailing expectations

Using the watch as an information output device has really helped me curtail my expectations as hyped across internet. I have come to adore Apple Watch for all the little convenient things I can do. I had been looking to update my iPhone 5S for a while as it felt slow. But, with Apple watch, I no longer feel the need for upgrade for now. This is really the most interesting aspect of owning the watch.

Don’t expect the watch to do some magical thing for you, it won’t do that. Don’t expect you wouldn’t have to pull out your phone, because at times you’d have to.

the use case

There are two important use cases for me;

the collective ability of the Watch to do things quickly, effectively and most importantly, conveniently from right off the wrist at those times when it really is inconvenient or really unnecessary to use your phone.

Filtering out the digital noise, and keeping you  up-to-date with information that truly matters.

What’s your favorite use case ?

The Ballmer Baggage

Microsoft has been pretty vibrant and heading in an entirely different direction since Satya Nadella took over. They’ve been creating some good products, establishing cross-platform services, better platforms and a great ecosystem across all devices [wearable, phones, tablets, desktops].

All this is promising for the industry in general and for Microsoft in particular. The potential all these new products and strategies have is high. However, this potential is severely undermined by the entire last decade under the leadership of Ballmer.

The weight of what could’ve been done and what would have been now, is too large. Ballmer’s leadership has not only kept Microsoft in past but also created a void that must be fulfilled in order to compete in today’s modern world.

It seems to be an uphill battle and Satya seems to be doing pretty well.

For better or worse

In the last few years, I have observed a lot of things being copied across mobile platforms by Google, Microsoft and Apple shamelessly while adding a few unique tweaks here and there. And not just from each other, but also from third party apps and other companies.

For example, Microsoft’s redesign of the OS into flatter colors led to Jony Ive’s epiphany for iOS minimalistic redesign although entirely different from Microsoft. iOS redesign triggered Android material design next year, again entirely different from iOS yet each having the same essence.

Microsoft following in the footsteps of Apple in creating an ecosystem across desktops, mobile and wearable devices yet different in running universal apps. Even the presentation, ads and rhetoric in #Windows10Devices event were completely borrowed/inspired from Apple’s events. Even product branding. Surface Book, sound familiar ? From keyboard to trackpad to design to the name.

While Apple, on the other hand, introduced iPad Pro much like Microsoft Surface, Apple Pencil like the Surface Pen and Apple TV in the footsteps of XBOX One and yet innovates its phones by introducing 3D touch and TV with an all new intuitive remote.

Google Marshmallow, steals so much from the iOS silently like do not disturb, app permissions, and so many other things while iOS borrowed custom keyboards and widgets yet with a different kind of integration for each.

The list goes on.

I see this phenomenon of inspiration more like implicit knowledge sharing where innovation by each company permeates across every platform. Users get what they envy and get it without having to leave their existing ecosystem.

Working with Legacy Engineers

I have moved to Portland, OR in USA recently. I’ve been busy; adjusting to new environment, settling in, and getting hands on with the iOS app being developed at my new job.

The app’s a protoduction. A rapidly developed prototype, with extensive year of development with the help of various unlike minded contractors, that now happens to be in production. The code isn’t a legacy code of course but it’s so brittle, coupled and hacked around with that I came to pulling my hair several times. Perhaps I did pull quite a few.

But that’s not the most interesting part of my job.

Working with bad code can be challenging but it can be refactored at some point. Legacy code can be rewritten given enough time. Working with a legacy engineer, however, is entirely another story.

Every single idea that you’ve held onto, no matter how simple that is, is challenged to its roots. Whether you understand SRP, Law of Demeter, loose coupling with interface, composition vs inheritance or even separation of concerns, you’ll be challenged to its benefits, use cases and comparisons to when not following them.

Even the most basic of the ideas that I came to believe in just because they felt intuitive, had to be explained to a point where I never bothered to understand. It makes for a fun conversation but not always.

Things get rough at two different levels. First, in team meetings where you are pushing for TDD or BDD, Higher Test Coverage, Automation Testing, continuous integration and deployment etc. You’ll have to face resistance to these ideas, new tools and technologies.

Second, when you have to work on a feature together. Every new method you’ll write will need to be explained why it couldn’t have been done inline, every dependency you’d inject needs to be explained, every responsibility that you craft out into a separate class would be challenged as unnecessary and CoreData will almost always be deemed as an overhead.

You’d have to explain every choice you make or approach you take. But that’s okay, because you read all about it right?

Well, not that easy. It can become increasingly difficult and intense at times, and you won’t be able to explain everything in a way that’d be good enough for them. Sometimes, stubbornness gets in the way as they are unwilling to get out of their 90s shell and sometimes you realized you just accepted that practice because that’s all you saw people doing and nobody ever questioned. But very few times, they just might accept.

The only way I’ve found to cope with such situations, is to think more carefully and deeply about my design choices. I read more about the practices that I am unable to convey clearly. This helps me get a better understanding of my design and not only helps me convince them but also helps in making more logical design choices next time boosting my confidence.

Although many of my such encounters happen to be annoying (cuz I assume people coding for so many years should just know about them), these interactions have been quite insightful.

Just like there have been books on ‘Working with Legacy Code’, there should be books on working with Legacy Engineers. Will you write one?

The iPad Pro | AppleEvent 2015

A lot of people seem to be comparing the new iPad Pro with Wacom touch devices or even with Microsoft Surface. And the biggest antagonistic argument is the lack of creative apps and delay in Pencil touch response.

You simply cannot gauge iPad Pro for not having creative apps like Adobe Photoshop. Did we forget that App Store is the cornerstone of iOS experience?

Photoshop will come to iOS and so will the rest of the creative app suites. And as we’ve seen in the past, apps for Mac and iOS have always invariably been better than Android or Windows due to inherent availability of great SDK (Thanks to Apple’s Past Work in Creative Industry), Development Tools, top of the line Hardware but most importantly Apple’s profound insistence for great user experience above all to its developers.

The pencil will improve too, as did the iPhone from first generation and other Apple products, making it eventually better than most competitors and a competitive advantage through 3D touch in next few generations. Because Apple would be doing the hardware and software themselves.

The best part of iPad Pro would actually be running a Touch Optimized OS unlike Surface Pro where apps have to be optimized for both point and click and touch.

iOS Animation Resources

One of the great pleasures of working in iOS is the availability of fantastic support for Animations & Multimedia content. Unlike other platforms, Apple has really strived & excelled at making working with multimedia content like images, audios, videos as well as animations quite a breeze. Continue reading

Apple September 2014 event | Video

Here’s to those who have always seen things differently,
the ones who follow vision, not a Path.

Where others perceive first as valuable,
you value the first thing that actually matters.

While others are distracted by the ‘new’,
you focus on the significance of ‘a whole new take’.

Even before you could see how you doubted we’d never change things. And then we did change things, Together.
Again and again, and again.

Relentless optimism is what motivates the world forward.
So keep seeing things differently.

Keep trusting there’s always another way, a better way, a bigger way.
One that lifts up humanity, breaks down our barriers and heals the landscape.

You are the difference between the world as it was and the better place it will become.

And different is the one thing about us, that’ll always remain the same.

iOS app localization : string inheritance

We love object oriented programming. And let’s admit it, we try to fit it in everywhere. So, when it came to localization of an ios application that had multiple targets for same codebase, I wanted a hierarchal structure for the strings where I could generalize common ones in one base file and put specific ones somewhere else.
Continue reading

Installing Laravel on PagodaBox with Composer

I have been searching for cloud php hosting with good laravel support for testing purposes. The best option I found was FortRabbit that I absolutely fell in love with. However, they have this timer thingy after which app would freeze if timer was not reset. But the real issue was not freezing but unfreezing because unfreezing the app often caused the servers to change & I had to modify my git remotes, ssh & mysql hosts accordingly. Moving on I came across OpenShift which was quite good although not as great as FortRabbit. However, I struggled fiercely with deploying my local laravel installation to it. After, couple of days of Googling & trying I decided to move on to Pagodabox free account. Unfortunately, setting up laravel here wasn’t that easy either. Although, they offered a quick-start laravel installation (that worked like a charm), I couldn’t get my local deployment to work online that easily. However, I was able to deploy my installation after hit & trials in two days. I’ll enumerate the steps for the deployment process quickly below. Continue reading

Google & Future [TED 2014]

To quote Mr. Page from TED 2014 appearance.

“The main thing that has caused companies to fail, in my view, is that they missed the future,”

One thing is for sure, the PCs are going to relegate & become more specialized devices contrary to their previous status of general computing devices & mobile devices will become ever more ubiquitous & computationally intensive. In fact they have been sold more in number than PCs. [the post was made on feb 2011, imagine now]

I guess Google ‘has‘ seen this future & has seen itself struggling in the Post-PC era as Facebook share of Mobile Ads Revenue soars & Google’s Mobile slump continues. Although, Google still dominates the mobile revenue, however, it’s not like the PC days when AdSense had no competitor. Today, facebook, twitter & other mobile ads companies are growing faster & posing a serious threat to its Ads stream.

Apparently, Google appears to be in a frenzy. With all the moonshots & other acquisitions, Google is desperate to diversify its revenue stream. However, be it Chrome OS, Chrome Cast, Project Glass, Android [to no avail] or Android Wear, the revenue just isn’t diversifying as they would like to.

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