Connected: Nose Scrolling: I Do Not Condone This

This week the Europeans are joined by Sam Soffes to follow up on Redacted for Mac, before discussing Federico's thoughts on the Apple Watch.

If you're curious to hear my first impressions about the Apple Watch after six days with the device, this week's Connected is the episode you're looking for. You can listen here.

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Apple Releases Watch OS 1.0.1

Apple has released the first update for Watch OS today, bringing a variety of improvements for Siri, third-party apps, and fitness features on Apple Watch.

In the first update since the device's launch, Apple highlights improved performance for measuring stand activity and calculating calories for indoor cycling and rowing workouts, three of the Apple Watch's fitness-oriented functionalities. The update also notes that Siri and third-party apps should have better performance now – notably, a number of initial reviews of the Apple Watch noted how apps (based on the WatchKit framework) were slow to load and prone to errors.

Watch OS 1.0.1 is available now in the Software Update section of the Apple Watch app for iPhone. You can find the full changelog in the screenshot above.

PCalc for Apple Watch

For a few months now, I've been using PCalc as my only calculator and currency converter on iOS. As I wrote last year after the release of the app's iOS 8 update, the ability to customize layouts and have fast access from Notification Center lets me launch PCalc quickly from anywhere and come up with my own custom buttons for frequent calculations and conversions.

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The Accessibility of Apple Watch Bands

Last summer, I wrote an article for iMore in which I stress the importance of looking at hardware in accessibility terms. I wrote, in part:

Assessing the kinesthetic, tactile value of using an iPhone or iPad is just as important as assessing the software it runs. Speaking from personal experience, not only am I visually impaired but I also suffer from a mild form of cerebral palsy. What this means is, for me, the strength in my hands and fingers are substantially less than that of a fully-abled person. Hence, it takes much more effort to hold things — in this case, my iOS devices — as well as do things on my devices, like typing. Because of this, my approach to buying a new iPhone or iPad depends not only on 64-bit systems-on-a-chip and improved cameras, but also how the device feels in my hands: the weight, width, thinness, etc.

What applies to iPhones and iPads also applies to Apple Watch. In the context of the Watch, the hardware that is most crucial, accessibility-wise, are the bands. To folks like me who suffer from motor delays, the ability to successfully get the Apple Watch on and off is as key to a positive user experience as the quality of the software it runs.

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Apple Refreshes 15-inch MacBook Pro with Force Touch Trackpad & Introduces Lower Priced Retina iMac

Apple today refreshed the 15-inch MacBook Pro, bringing the Force Touch trackpad, faster flash storage, longer battery life and more powerful graphics performance to the product line. The changes come after the 13-inch MacBook Pro was upgraded earlier this year alongside the debut of the new MacBook, both of which included the new Force Touch trackpad.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pros start at $1,999 and come with a 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB memory, 256GB flash storage and Intel Iris Pro graphics.

Apple also released a new configuration of the iMac with Retina 5K display. The new configuration comes in at a lower starting price of $1,999 and includes a 3.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, 1TB storage and AMD Radeon R9 M290 graphics.

“The response to the new MacBook and updated 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display has been amazing, and today we are thrilled to bring the new Force Touch trackpad, faster flash storage and longer battery life to the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Customers love the groundbreaking iMac with Retina 5K display, and now with a new lower starting price, even more people can experience the best desktop we’ve ever made.”

Virtual: I Don’t Know How to Play This Game Anymore

This week Federico and Myke discuss Oculus Rift hardware requirements, Pokemon characters in Minecraft, the Volume level editor, Lifeline for iOS, and the Mario Kart 8 DLC.

Plenty of links in last week's episode of Virtual. I'll have more about the interesting Lifeline soon. You can listen here.

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“For the Apple Watch, There’s No Place Like Home”

Imagine trying to explain this to your grandmother: if you want to get back home, press this button, unless you’re reading an email or listening to a voicemail, in which case you should press the same button three times, but slowly. (But not so slowly that you accidentally launch Siri, which is triggered by pressing and holding the Digital Crown button.) My hunch is that most of the confusion navigating the Watch comes from Apple’s decision to overload the Digital Crown with too much functionality. You press it if you want to check the time, launch an app, re-orient the app view, or go back in a nested set of screens. Once you get the hang of it, there is some logic to each action on its own, but as a group it’s far too muddied. The side button, by contrast, is the very picture of consistency: no matter where you are in the Watch interface, if you press it you launch the “friends view” where you can call or text your favorite contacts.

Good piece by Steven Johnson on the somewhat confusing Digital Crown options available on Apple Watch.

I was initially confused by the behavior of double-clicks and zooming to launch apps, but I got the hang of it relatively quickly. It's undeniable, though, that the combination of click and zoom input in a single knob can be tricky to explain.

Compare that with the beautiful simplicity of the side button: it always brings up the Friends UI, even in views such as Notification Center and Glances. When these types of modal views are shown on the iPhone, for instance, not even the Home button can immediately go back to the Home screen (it'll dismiss Notification Center and Control Center, but it'll remain in the foreground app, requiring another click).

This says a lot about the importance of communication features in Watch OS 1.0: the hardware and software of the Friends interface can supersede everything else with a single click.


The Discreet Watch

Your Apple Watch becomes the most discreet way to stay connected when at fancy events, or anywhere really. My wife and I no longer need to check if the babysitter is trying to reach us — our Apple Watch will tap us if she is. There’s essentially no reason to use our iPhones, and no anxiety felt for fear of missing something “important”.

Ben Brooks (via Shawn Blanc) makes a good point about the discreet nature of Apple Watch. While I have a bunch of first impressions I want to let simmer before rushing to write a "review", one thing is already clear to me: not pulling out my iPhone every few minutes helps me be less rude to people around me.

It's not that I'm shutting off notifications completely; rather, I'm letting the important ones come to me on a device that doesn't block me from the outside world.