I Bought an Apple Watch but My Pebble Still Has a Spot on My Wrist

PebbleInSand750

PebbleInSand750I grew up watching a lot of Sci Fi.  The type of Sci Fi where people had communication devices and computers as watches, and every new variation on that theme sparked my envy.  Thus it should comes as no big surprise that I bought an Apple Watch.

My Apple Watch however was not my first foray in the world of smartwatches. I’ve had a Pebble for about a year and a half and I have to say I still love it.

Before I delve any further I think it’s important to point out that smartwatches exist on a sliding scale.  On one end you have watches that simply tell time.  On the other you have computers (for the sake of argument let’s consider an iPhone a “computer”).  The Apple Watch with a touch display that’s not always on is more of a computer.  The original Pebble with an always-on screen is more of a watch.  They can both run apps.  They can both tell time.  Yet there is still plenty of differentiation between the two.

So despite having the much-hyped Apple Watch, I’m still a huge fan of my Pebble.  Let me explain why.

 Reason 1: Ruggedness

First I find Pebbles to be a bit more rugged.  I’m a Lifeproof kind of guy.  My phone has a waterproof drop proof case that graces it’s presence on the weekends.  I’ve found it a virtual requirement of an active life style.  I hop on my bike, I hop on a jet ski, and my phone is protected.  Recently I’ve begun training for a triathlon and since my Apple Watch isn’t waterproof I swap it out for my Pebble any/every time I go in the pool.  My Pebble is water resistant to 5 ATM (50 Meters) from the factory (As a reference point most open water SCUBA dives are 30 Meters or less).  No case, no fuss, just shower with out worry.  In fact I intentionally use my Pebble in the shower so I can control the music I stream to a Bluetooth speaker.  It’s also worth noting that the Pebbles screen is covered in plastic not glass.  While this means it will scratch easier, it also means I don’t have to worry about shattering it.  Let’s not forget that time Apple made the back of an iPhone out of glass.

Reason 2: Battery Life

Secondly the Pebble Classic has up to 5 days of battery life.  I can attest this is easily obtainable.  The benefit of which is if you go away for the weekend somewhere, you don’t have to worry about bringing yet another charging cable and wall plug.  It also means you don’t have to charge your watch every night.

In fairness I should point out that all of the Pebbles do have a more limited feature both in terms of software and hardware.

Reason 3: Price

It’s hard to argue with the Pebble Classic’s price point.  At a penny shy of $100 you get a very durable smartwatch with great battery life.  It has most of the feature set of the newer Pebbles and recently received a software upgrade that bring its features even more inline.  There’s still some nice apps and watch faces out there for it, and it’s extremely easy to put new bands on it to customize however you like.

Rebuttal: The Weaknesses

There are many arguments to be made on the differences between touch screen UIs vs hardware driven UIs.  But for now let’s just pretend that a touch UI is better.  In that case none of the Pebble models offer a touch screen in contrast to all of the Apple Watches models featuring them standard.  However, the App icons on the Apple Watch do seem to have smaller tap area’s then what Apple originally recommended in their Human Interface Guidelines for smartphones.  Which does make the touch UI a lot harder to use.

In terms of voice control even the new Pebbles with some voice capabilities don’t stack up to Siri on the Apple Watch.  Siri let’s you start apps, reply to messages, control your music.  With that said Siri still has a way to go in terms of accurately knowing what you’re telling it to do.

Conclusion

This post isn’t meant to be an absolute argument for or against either platform.  Just a comparison of reasons why the Pebble is still a great device.  If you’re looking for a watch that will also give you alerts and keep you connected, take a look at the Pebbles.  If you want a little more computer functionality and don’t mind waiting a second or two to see what time it Is then check out the Apple Watch.  Or spoil yourself like I do and have both.

The iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch

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iphone6 apple watch

So Apple just announced quite a few new products. While the tech blogs did a great job of covering the event I just wanted to provide a quick summary.

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

Apple just announced two phones, the 6 and the 6 Plus both of which are larger then the current 5S and 5C.
The 6 will feature a 4.7 inch screen at 1334×750 pixels.
The 6 Plus will feature a 5.5 inch screen at 1920×1080 pixels (1080p).
Both receive a bump in camera specs with the 6 Plus receiving optical image stabilization.

Under the hood they will both have a more powerful processor dubbed the A8 and an updated motion processor.

Both of these phones will also feature Apple Pay. Apple Pay works in conjunction with Touch ID and a new NFC (Near Field Communications) chip/antenna for contactless payments.

The iPhone 6 starts at $199 and the 6S starts at $299 with both available on September 19th (preorders September 12th) coinciding with the release of iOS 8.

Apple Watch

Many believe this was the bigger announcement of the event, and they may be right. As speculated Apple is indeed coming out with a watch, and it’s called simply The Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch features a touch screen and a “Digital Crown”

What I consider to be extremely important is the inclusion of NFC for Apple Pay. I’m very curious to see if NFC will be opened up for developers, there was mention of the Watch being able to open your room at a Starwood hotel, not sure if that’s NFC or BLE however.

The Apple Watch is very fitness focused, taking on a lot of the duties of todays wearables while still having some pretty sweet watch faces and capabilities. There’s also the ability to make a friends watch vibrate and send them doodles.

The Apple Watch will be available in 2015 and is broken down into 3 different classes of style based on your personal tastes. The current price is listed as $349.

What else should I know?

Well go to iTunes NOW because U2′s latest album is being given away exclusively and for free until October 13.
Also the 5C and the 5S aren’t going away, there are however receiving a price cut with the 5C at 8GB being offered for free (2 year contract) and the 5S starting at $99 (2 year contract).

How to Improve your iCloud Apple ID Security

Apple ID Icons

Before I provide my summary of this weekends cracking of celebrity iCloud accounts let me just say this, go to the Apple ID site (https://appleid.apple.com) and setup up Two-Factor Authentication. What is Two-Factor authentication you ask? Well think of your password as one factor. It’s not bad but isn’t two better then one? So we add another way to identify you are who you say you are. So like I said right now go to the Apple ID site here https://appleid.apple.com and Click on Manage your Apple ID –> Click on Password and Security –> Then Click on Getting Started under Two-Factor Authentication. That’s right go do that now. I’ll wait…

Ok good you’re back. To provide a slightly longer walk through of my experience:

Once I clicked on that Apple actually first asked me to update to a more secure password.
Then I was able to click on Password And Security and was asked to add 2 security questions which I did.
Then once I clicked back into Password and Security there was a section for Two-Step Verification.

Once enabled, the only way to make changes to your account will be to sign in with two-step verification.

The site will then explain to you that only you, using Two-Steps of Verification will be able to make changes to your account, and that Apple will no longer be able to reset your password with out them.
Then you click forward and realize there is a 3 day waiting period to activate Two-Step Verification after you make “significant” changes to your account(ie password changes and/or new security questions). This annoys me to no end but Apple is trying to claim that it’s a necessary thing to make sure someone else isn’t hijacking your account. They do however provide a mechanism to create a Calendar reminder to come back.

Some other useful links while we are on the topic:
Apples FAQ about account security http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4232
Apples FAQ about two-step verification http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5570

So why are we doing this?

Well over Labor Day Weekend 2014 a nice sized “hack” exposed a number of celebrity’s iCloud stored photo’s. Details are still being investigated into the how so many accounts were compromised and where the photo’s were stored, ie iCloud or Photo Stream. I want to point out that the correct term for this is actually a “crack” since passwords were cracked, not code or something being hacked together. We’ll excuse the media yet again for using these terms incorrectly.

Thus far Apple claims there was no serious flaw or crack/hack to iCloud. Instead Apple believes there was “a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions,”. Basically someone was somehow getting or guessing celebrity Apple ID user names and their passwords. There is still the question of where the photo’s were stored, photo stream or iCloud back up. There are even some claims that the photo’s were deleted some time ago, meaning that either the cracks/hacks have occurred over a long period of time, or that simply deleting them isn’t enough to destroy them.

Also worth noting however was a security flaw in Find My iPhone that allowed a “Brute Force” attack on passwords. Basically someone could constantly try new passwords on some ones account with out being locked out. AMEX allows me 3 attempts to remember my new password before they lock me out. This flaw has been/is being addressed by Apple and it now looks like you have 5 attempts before it locks you out. Apple does not believe this was involved in these attacks. Digression – This raises the question, are our selfies and smart phone content now as valuable as our banking info? A topic for another post.

“This raises the question, are our selfies and smart phone content now as valuable as our banking info?”

You may be asking ”So what’s this Two-Factor or Multi-Factor Authentication you made me sign up for?” Multi-Factor Authentication basically employs more then one method of you proving you are who you say you are. If you consider simply using a password as a single factor, multi-factor typically add’s things like a code that gets sent via text, or a something like an RSA token or Google Authenticator that gives you a code to type in. In the case of Apple they will send you a 4 digit code that you have to enter when you try to access or make changes to you account. From the looks of the FAQ this is also used when you go to make iTunes and App Store purchases on new devices. It doesn’t sound like you have to enter in the second factor on current devices though. On some systems you need to use Two-Factors/Multi-Factor at any login. Just something to keep in mind, I’ll update this post once my 3 day waiting period is over.

WWDC 2014 – What I am Most Excited About

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Last week’s WWDC keynote contained an immense amount of information. It essentially summarizes an entire week’s worth of presentations into two hours. I won’t summarize it all here as Engadget, The Verge, and the many other sites out there already have, however I did want to provide some of my thoughts.

What I am most excited about is the underlying theme everything working together. It seems Apple has continued to think about ways to further tie their eco-system together, a genius business move all around but also an innovative one. I am constantly frustrated by the segregation of devices and the sheer fact that they just seem to exist on their own with now knowledge of the other.

The announcements of Continuity, Handoff, Extensibility, and a hand full of others mean we’ll be experiencing a more integrated experience soon.

Bridging OS’s

While the Mac and the iPhone still won’t share a completely common code base(akin to some of the direction Window’s is going in), there’s already a lot that they share at their core. However iOS 8 and OSX Yosemite will include what Apple is calling “Continuity”. One dictionary definition of continuity is –“a continuous or connected whole.” Great I love when they use the root of the word in the definition so let’s go with a “connected whole” which is what Apple’s been converging towards for a while. It’s a single Apple eco system that allows all of your devices to function as a connected whole.

The biggest feature here is Handoff, which allows one device to hand off what you’re working on to another device with a similar app. The best example here is email, if you start typing an email on your iPhone and walk up to your Mac you’ll see an Icon in the corner of your Mac that allows you to open that email up in the Mac Mail app and finish typing it.

Apple’s also the ability to answer an incoming call from your iPhone on your Mac or iPad, as well as allowing you to originate a phone call from them. Other features of note in this category are the ability allow your iPad to automatically data tether off of your iPhone, and iMessage’s gaining the ability to SMS from your Mac/iPad.

Bridging Apps

Remember the day’s of Blackberry when an App could add it’s capabilities to the system menus and even other apps? Well Apple’s finally bringing that to iOS with Extensibility. Instead of just development time SDKs and APIs apps can now share each others abilities, and as well apps can add themselves to Action Sheets and define what happens when you use them from there. This is huge for developers and I think we’ll see some really cool app interactions in the future.

Bridging Your Family

Family Sharing allows you to define a group of Apple ID’s that all use the same credit card. And every Apple ID in that group are able to share iTunes and App purchases.

That’s right Apple’s acknowledge that your 9 year old now has an iPod Touch and wants to play the Smurfs game. After taking some heat for In App purchase Apple, in true Apple fashion, has come up with a pretty elegant solution. When a sub user (your kid) tries to purchase something it prompts the main account owner (that’s you Mom or Dad) and asks them to approve it.

Family Sharing also creates a family photo stream where an entire family can share photos and videos, a shared calendar and the ability to access your families Find My IPhone.

The Business of an Eco-System

Apple’s experienced an interesting product halo; people came to them for the phones, but stayed for the laptops. By adding these interconnected abilities they are creating not only a stronger eco-system but as well are increasing the switching cost to leave. Family share alone can have a huge impact on reducing a families app and media costs making it more expensive to leave (i.e. you would have to buy the apps all over again for each user on Android) but also makes it cheaper to join (you only have to purchase Angry Birds once on iOS).

What’s Missing?

Well notably they didn’t show anything about Apple TV. Sure we have Air Play already, and it works pretty well, but I am curious how Continuity and Handoffs could improve it.

What Am I Really Most Excited about?

Honestly out of everything above Ia m most excited about the raw power of Continuity and Handoff’s to tightly integrate my activities across all of the Apple Platforms. It’s been a long time coming and I am excited about the groundwork that’s been laid out for developers.