Category Archives: Wearable

Oh no! My wife’s Apple Watch fell apart.

My wife's Apple Watch fell apart
My wife’s Apple Watch fell apart

Yikes! Recently, I came down for breakfast and found my wife looking upset . The back cover (which contains the heart beat sensor) on her Apple Watch had popped off when she removed the watch from its magnetic charger.

With a hand-held magnifying glass I carefully checked out the thin band of glue that encircled the sensor. The incredibly thin, flat -ribbon cable was still attached to the sensor and the back of the watch. 

My next step was to search “sensor popped off Apple Watch” using Google and I immediately found that we were not alone with this problem. One of my search links led to the Apple Watch customer support site on the apple.com web site. Over 490 people had reported to Apple that they had had this problem.

Most of the support messages said that we ought to simply take the watch to an Apple Store, and a Genius Bar representative would make things right. Sure.

My wife’s Apple Watch was one of the first groups manufactured and is almost two years old. In other words, it’s definitely out of warranty. Even with an Apple Care warranty, it would be out of the coverage dates. The watch is a stainless steel model and retailed for around $500 when we purchased it. “This can’t be good” I fretted.

For our family the nearest Apple Store is located in East Lansing, Michigan – about an hour away from where we live. Upon arriving the Apple Genius looked at the watch and stated that this was a known problem and that Apple had a program to take care of it. 

It seems that using body lotion or sun tan lotion causes the seal to weaken. Within a few minutes he had collected all the important information from me and said that a replacement watch would arrive within 3-5 business days. Since the watch was out of warranty, the price for the replacement was $249 – half the price of the original watch. But wait! Glancing to the right side of the work order/invoice I read what the customer was expected to pay. Obviously I was expecting to pay $249, but the amount showing what the customer was to pay was $0.00: Fantastic.

Five days later we received the replacement watch via FedEx. It was a “Like new” factory re-manufactured watch that was scratch-free and contained a new battery. I simply “paired” the watch with my wife’s iPhone and restored her data from a previous backup. It took less than a half-hour and all went well.

This experience is yet another reason that I’m a solid Apple customer and shareholder. To use that overworked term, Apple “gets it”. They understand that so-called “early adapters” are important to the long- term success of a product and the company that made it and sold it.

Kudos Apple!

EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! APPLE INTRODUCES NEW “EVERYTHING” (…AND MAYBE EVEN THE KITCHEN SINK!)

 

Apple logo
Apple logo
 
I’ve been a loyal Apple “FanBoy” for many years.  Each year I either sit in front of the nearest Apple store – waiting for the store to open, or in front of my Apple TV and watch with excitement all about the new products from my favorite brand of technology.

Since I’m also a “Geezer” being almost 70 years old, and the writter of this blog, how do I look at the product introductions from the standpoint of being a senior?

Here is a simple overview of the new products Apple introduced today and how they might appeal to seniors…

  • New Apple iPhone 6s and 6s Plus:  Although they “look” the same there are several enhancements to both hardware and software. A 50% higher resolution back camera – can now record 4K video for extreme clarity.  New 3D Touch screen that provides additional commands with a firm push on the screen (saves steps going from one menu to another.) You will be able to summon Siri by simply saying “Hey Siri” out loud without pushing any buttons. Higher resolution front camera will provide a crisper clearer FaceTime and selfie experience. Gotta love those 4.7″ and 5.5″ screens that make it easy for seniors to read. New rose gold color available.
  • New Apple iPad “Pro” and iPad Mini:  Seniors will love the ease of reading on the new 12.9″ iPad Pro. It has all the same features as the iPad Air 2 along with a new more sensitive touch screen.  New Apple brand keyboards – one that is stand-alone, and one that is built into a portfolio type case for easy carrying, and typing.  New Apple Pencil stylus for on screen drawing is optional. New IOS 9.1 software allows for split screen multi-tasking.  The iPad Mini 4 comes with the same software and an even thinner design.
  • New Apple TV video streamer: Looking for a way to “cut the cord” on cable TV?  The new Apple TV (now in its fourth-generation) has new hardware and software that almost gets you there!  New voice operated “Siri” hardware and software lets you control your TV experience by voice – or totally new and improved remote control.  Apple is also adding an App Store for the Apple TV with games and home control software. 
  • New Apple Watch Accessories and model: Apple is introducing several new colors of Apple Watch Sport watchbands and also a new yellow gold and rose gold finish that is reasonbly priced (considering that the “real Gold” Apple Watch prices begins at $10,000).
  • New Apple Operating System Upgrades: Pretty much all Apple devices will receive FREE software upgrades – Apple Mac computers, iPhones, iPod Touches, iPads and the Apple Watch will get upgrades. Some applications like Photos and Safari will get minor upgrades also.

For more information on all the new hardware and software click on the following link: Apple, Inc. web site home page

There is a reason I’ve stuck with Apple since 1978.  Continuity in hardware and software and the Apple ecosystem.  Apple products are designed to work together and represent good values in design, construction and after-the-sale support.

Am I an Apple share-holder?  You bet!

Apple Watch watchOS 2, beta 4. First impressions…

Custom Apple Watch face
Custom Apple Watch face

By now everyone from Jeb Bush to 50 cent has told you and me what they liked or disliked about the new Apple wearable – the Apple Watch.  Half of those that reported say it is great, the other half say it is a failure.  Somewhere between those two extremes lies the truth.

If history is any indicator, and in MHO it is, in the case of Apple products sucess – then there is much hope for in the Apple Watch.  The first iPhone, iPod, Mac and iPad were all pretty rough in “Version 1.0” of the hardware and the software. A few years later each of these devices were polished, perfected and leaders in their respective class.

Apple announced at the recent World Wide Developers Conference a new “OS” – operating system for the Apple Watch – watch0S 2.  There are well over a dozen new features which are being added to the free software upgrade to be released sometime in September.  These changes add smoothness, stability, speed and usuable features to the Apple Watch.

As an Apple Developer I have first crack at the betas of the new watchOS 2.  Here are a few of my favorite features of the new OS (based on the beta 4 release):

  • New Watch Faces: There are several new watch faces. Cool animated sunrise to sunset videos of London, New York and other top world class cities.  My favorite is the new “photos” face which is comprised of my favorite family and vacation photos.  Each time you look at the face of the watch a different photo appears.  For the first time my wife, who was not originally an Apple Watch fan, felt that maybe this was a good reason to get one.
  • Time Travel: Scroll the crown forward and see what’s on your schedule for tommorow – including what the weather will be like during that event.  Scroll the crown backward and see what happened yesterday. Even news events in the past show up. Awesome!
  • Nightstand Mode: When you retire for the evening attach the charging pod and place your watch on the side.  Now you get a great little alarm clock that gently glows and then disappears until you touch it or your watch alarm goes off.  The Digital Crown and side button are used to “snooze” and turn off alarms.
  • “Native” Apps: Although I cannot test this new feature during the beta phase I have experience in what this feature will do.  The first Apple iPhone used “web apps” which were slow to load and clumsey in execution.  A year later Apple added the ability to the iPhone to use apps that were completely stored on the device allowing them to run much faster and take full advantage of the hardware.  This is what’s about to happen to the Apple Watch. Yea!
  • Reply to eMail:  This will add more usability to the watch.  The reply feature is already enabled in text messages of the current watch.  You can dictate a reply, send an emoji, or pick one of a dozen or more “stock” replies – or add your own.
  • Many more: Other new and imoproved features include the ability of Siri to understand and do more things, activation lock to secure your watch if it gets lost or stolen, more credit/debit cards and store cards (like Kohl’s) in Apple Pay.

Will the changes make a difference in the sale of Apple Watches? Definitely.  Is this the final solution to sluggish sales? Absolutely not.  But looking at a 8 year history for iPhones, a 15 year history for iPods and a 4 year history of iPad’s I would not hesitate to “bet the ranch” on the future of Apple, and the Apple Watch.

Apple Pay – Is it good for seniors?

  

The day of cashless payment is pretty much here.  Gone are the days of a billfold stuffed with bills and credit cards or debit cards.  Is this a good idea?  Is it safe and secure? Is it easy to use?  Here are my observations after six months of using Apple’s new Apple Pay system.

What is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay is Apple, Inc.’s new payment system that lets you use your Visa, MasterCard, and American Express as a way of paying for goods and services without actually using a physical credit card or debit card.

Most larger banks and regional bands are now providing credit and debit cards that work with Apple Pay. Hundreds of thousands of stores and service providers (both physical locations and on-line services) accept Apple Pay in the United States and soon in foreign countries.

What does it cost, and how easy is it to use?

It does not cost the consumer anything.  The merchant gets the sale, and pays the bank a small percentage for the transaction.  The bank gives Apple an even smaller percentage of the transaction.  If the store has the proper POS (point-of-sale) machine – where you usually swipe your card or “tap” your card to complete the transaction they will most likely accept Apple Pay now or in the near future.

I’ve used it at Panera Bread, McDonalds, Subway, Wesco, Meijer (regional supermarkets and gas stations) and many other locations.  It even works with newer vending machines for pop, snacks or sandwiches.

You use it with either an iPhone 6 or 6 plus smartphone, or with the new Apple Watch.  To use it with the iPhone touch the home button/finger print scanner to approve the transaction and then “touch” the phone to the POS machine.  To use with the Apple Watch simply touch the side button twice and then “touch” your watch to the POS machine.  Some POS machines still require a signature (credit card) or a PIN number (debit card) to finish the transaction.

Think of it… no more fishing in your pocket, bag, or purse for your wallet, then finding the debit card or credit card you want to use and then handing that card over to a perfect stranger who may or may not use it improperly.

But, is it safe to use?

The Apple Pay system is tied to the hardware and software on your iPhone or Apple Watch.  Apple has cleverly set up a secure system that does not actually use your credit card or debit card number.  The system kind of goes like this:  Tom’s MasterCard is issued by Chase Bank and has the card number of XXX (and so on).  The iPhone and Apple Watch convert that card number to a on-device chip that generates a number that Chase Bank knows belongs to Tom.  If the phone or watch are stolen they can’t be used to make purchase because…

  • The iPhone requires the users finger print and body warmth to activate the approval system.
  • The Apple Watch requires the iPhone to pair the two devices, and if the watch is taken off the users arm it won’t activate the approval system without entering a PIN associated with the watch.
  • Neither the iPhone nor the Apple Watch use the card holders actual account number, nor is that information sent to Apple. 

The bottom line

Apple Pay is the payment system of the future.  A system that has bank and credit union support by hundreds of banks from coast to coast and hundreds of thousands of retail and service providers.  It is easy to use, safe, and convenient.

If you want to find out more about Apple Pay click here: Apple Pay Web Site.  If you want to find out if your bank or credit union supports it click here: Apple Pay Bank List   If you want to find out the current retail and service providers who support it click here:  Apple Pay Retail and Service List

Apple Watch: Real Pirates Ship! 

  

In late 1983 Steve Jobs told his Macintosh team that “Real Pirates Ship,” as the launch date for the new Apple Macintosh got closer and closer.  In fact the pirate flag shown above flew over the Apple “skunk works” building as Steve and his crew worked day and night to introduce the first Mac.  Steve’s point was that it’s great to imagine, design, and produce great computer hardware and software.  But it doesn’t really “count” if you never ship the final product to the end consumer.

I’m sure that Tim Cook and his Apple Watch team basically felt the same way as they pushed development, manufacturing, and testing of the first personal wearable computing device from Apple.

I’ve now had an Apple Watch strapped to my wrist for one month and two days.  What do I think?  Well to be honest (and I always am) it is a “good” device – one that can only get better with software updates and future hardware versions.  Am I glad that I bought a first edition Apple Watch.  You bet I am.  Are there problems with it? Yes.   Do I believe Apple will address those problems and “make it right?”  Absolutely.

I did not own the VERY first Apple iPhone in 2007.  I owned the second generation that was released in 2008 (and pretty much every generation since then.)  Even the second edition was pretty “rough” around the edges.  Apple has a solid record in improving the hardware and software of each of their devices on a once a year (or more often in the case of software) basis.

The current version of the Apple Watch is, IMHO, very usable and will get better over the next few months as Apple and developers release updates to their core software and “App’s.”  Apple WILL get it right.  I’m confident that there WILL be a second, third and other versions/editions in the futue.

It will be faster, thinner, lighter and have additional senors and hardware that we have not even “imagined” yet.  I can see the possibilities that the Apple Watch holds.

As the old sage saying goes… “Every journey begins with the first step…”  My thanks go out to Tim Cook, Jony Ives and all the Apple engineers who brought us the first – of many – Apple Watches to come.

Well done Pirates of Apple!

Is The Apple Watch Really For Seniors?

  
As a “senior” who specifically loves technology I have been struggling with this question for the past few months.  It has come to the forefront this week when I received my new Apple Watch.

My wife (who is ten years younger than I am) likes technology also, but from a practical “need” basis, rather than a more passionate “want” basis like I do.

First of all let’s cut out all the marketing hype and say that for seniors a smartwatch is really a want more than a need. I “need” a smartphone to make and receive phone calls, text messages, email, check my bank account, and more.  If it were not for the phone aspect of a smart phone I could live with a tablet that does all the same things on a larger screen. The tablet also allows me to read books, surf the web, watch videos and read magazines with much more ease because of the additional screen real estate.  If I still need a computer device that is more powerful, has more storage space and can do everything a smartphone, smartwatch or tablet does I could buy a lightweight laptop computer.  There are dozens of really good choices in mobile computing devices.

If I were still working (I’ve been retired for two years) I could understand and appreciate the “need” for a smartwatch.  Imagine sitting in a meeting and getting an important phone call or text message from a client or family member. It might be embarrassing to pick up your cell phone to answer/read/reply to that call or text.  With an Apple Watch (or similiar device) you can unobtrusively glance at your wrist, and touch it to simply, and automatically answer with a stock message (pre-programmed) that might say something simple like “I’m in a meeting and will get back to you in the next few minutes.”  Very cool, and the right way to handle things.

Other things like checking the ball game scores, your stock portfolio, bank balances, current and upcoming weather, your heart rate, and much much more are all just a touch and glance away on the Apple Watch.  Remember that this is a first generation device – and like all Apple devices future versions will be smarter, faster, thinner, lighter and more powerful. Sure, you can wait for the Apple Watch 2 or Apple Watch Air or whatever.  But if people didn’t buy the first generation there probably wouldn’t be a second or later generation (duh!)

Let me wrap this up and say – as a senior – you DON’T have to HAVE one.  If you love technology and gotta have the latest and greatest digital gadget (and I fall into this classification) than by all means goto The Apple Watch web site find out more, and order one.  You may have to wait a few weeks or a month or two to get the one you desire – they are pretty back ordered right now.

In just a few words I’ll say to you that my new “Apple Watch” (that’s one of three different categories) is Stainless Steel, with a black traditional leather band.  The fit and finish are perfect.  It is extremely comfortable to wear, and the software is 95% smooth and bug free.  I can answer and make phone calls from my wrist (it has a speaker and microphone), read notifications from news sources like CNN, USA Today and others on the bright, colorful and easy to read screen, get and reply to text messages, ask Siri just about anything – and she gives me the answer on the screen (she does not, however, speak (audio) to me at least in this version).

Is the Apple Watch a “looker” and conversation starter? Absolutely!  Is it interesting, useful and fun? Yup! Is it a “need” or a “want”? Definitely a “want” at this point.

And the last two things… the Apple Watch is not inexpensive $349.00 to $17,500.  And you MUST own an Apple iPhone 5 or 6 series.  Everything is set up and controlled from the Apple Watch.

If you are a senior or as I am – a senior iTechGeezer, and get an Apple Watch let me know what you think.  

What to do with your OLD smartwatch?

Watch Dog
Watch Dog

Well this is a dilemma, what do I do with my old Pebble smartwatch now that I’ve got an Apple Watch (Apple Watch web link – click here) on order?  I’ve always wanted a watch dog to protect my family and property but the fit of the Pebble smartwatch on Gracie isn’t particularly good.

I’ve had the Pebble smartwatch for about two years – and it has been a really good watch.  Very rugged, dependable, accurate, and long lasting (about 4-5 days) on a single charge.  I was one of the early Pebble supporters and bought it originally for about $150 (Pebble and others are now selling this model for $89 – $99.)  It was a little buggy at first, but Pebble has made many updates over many months and it has settled in as being a great – if limited – smartwatch.  On its easy-to-read black and white screen I can tell time, see notifications, text messages, the weather, temperature and who is calling me on the iPhone that is in my pocket and much more.  There is a good third-party market for Pebble accessories and, of course, a Pebble “App” store with thousands of apps you can add.

Pebble has just introduced (for May 2015 delivery) the “Pebble Time” a newer model with a color screen and many new features in hardware and software.  If I’ve been so happy and supportive of the Pebble over the past two years why, do you ask, did I just order (actually at 3:01 AM EDT on Friday, April 10th) an Apple Watch?

Because as an Apple “Fanboy” I bleed in six-colors (the colors found in the original Apple logo).  I’m a happy Apple stockholder and customer.  I’m looking forward to a watch that looks like a watch (not a tech toy).  I’m also excited about “possibilities.”  Steve Jobs (God rest his soul) built “possibilities” into every Apple device – and that legacy continues on with Sir Jony Ives and Tim Cook.

Apple took pre-orders for over 1.5 million Apple Watches over the past weekend.  Thousands of software developers are writing Apps for the device – even as we speak.  Hundreds of third party companies are designing and beginning to release accessories like portable chargers, watch stands, screen protectors, wrist bands that provide additional battery power and other innovative ideas.

Of course the Apple Watch is a generation 1 product.  Of course there will be an Apple Watch 2, then a 3 and so on.  Sure you can wait for the next generation that will undoubtedly be slimmer, faster, more powerful – but why? 

Do you NEED an Apple Watch, or any smartwatch – honestly the answer is no.  Do you WANT any smartwatch now?  If you love watches and technology now is a good time to invest in one.  Smartwatches are available from dozens of manufacturers like Apple, Pebble, Motorola, Samsung and others.  Some work with Apple devices, some work with Android or Microsoft.  The Apple Watch begins at $349.  Others begin at less than $100.