The charger, which is made of space gray aluminum and retails for $44.99 in the US, has a USB-C connector that plugs directly into devices with USB-C ports. Attached to an iPad Pro while using a Smart Keyboard Folio, you can charge your Watch and conveniently see the time thanks to the Watch’s Nightstand Mode. Satechi includes a short USB-C male to female cable in the box for situations where you don’t want the charger connected directly to a device, such as a MacBook Pro where it would block other USB-C ports.
I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but this charger looks like it would have been perfect when I was traveling last week, so I ordered one immediately. During that trip, I worked on my iPad Pro on and off throughout the day, and Satechi’s charger would have been an excellent way to charge my Watch and had a minimal impact on the iPad Pro’s large battery.
It’s time for Apple Watch apps to grow up, and Chirp for Twitter is leading the charge.
Chirp 2.0 debuted today, offering a full-featured Twitter experience on the Apple Watch. Chirp was already the prime Twitter client on watchOS, but with version 2 the app becomes something truly special: an iPhone-quality app on the Watch. Thanks to SwiftUI and other new developer tools Apple has built for watchOS, Chirp can do all the things you would expect from a full-featured iOS app, such as load your whole timeline, with liking and retweeting functionality, display videos and open links embedded in tweets, offer tweet composition, full user profiles, DMs, and much, much more.
Watch developer Will Bishop has been shipping impressiveapps for a while, but Chirp 2.0 undoubtedly represents his best work yet.
“Today marks an important moment as we embark on research initiatives that may offer incredible learnings in areas long sought after by the medical community,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “Participants on the Research app have the opportunity to make a tremendous impact that could lead to new discoveries and help millions lead healthier lives.”
Users can enroll in one or more of the new studies: the Women’s Health Study, Heart and Movement Study, and Hearing Study. Each of these uses an iPhone and Apple Watch to collect certain data for the purpose of aiding medical advancements.
Anything health-related can come with plenty of privacy concerns, so the Research app’s on-boarding flow includes a very clear privacy commitment, stated in four points:
Your data will not be sold.
You decide which studies you join, and you can leave the study at any time.
You control which types of data you share, and you can stop sharing your data at anytime.
Studies must tell you how your data supports their research.
Tim Cook on multiple occasions has sought to emphasize how important the issue of health is to Apple. Far from a mere hobby, he’s said he believes health will end up being Apple’s most significant area of contribution to mankind. Studies like these are one way to help push the needle on that goal.
Browsing custom icons in HomeRun’s iPhone companion.
Customization options have never hurt an app, and in many cases they make apps far more functional and endearing. Today HomeRun, the Apple Watch app for running HomeKit scenes, has expanded its customization options immensely by adding over 4,400 new icons that can be used for configuring the app’s grid of HomeKit scenes, and also for adorning your watch face via HomeRun’s complications.
HomeRun debuted last November as the best option for running HomeKit scenes from your Apple Watch. Unlike Apple’s own Home app, which only displays two scene triggers on-screen at once, with HomeRun you can fit up to 12 on-screen with a 44mm Watch, plus create complications for those scenes that run on a user-set schedule, so the right scene complication is always present at the right time.
HomeRun’s scene grid (left) and custom complication (right).
Previous releases enabled customizing HomeRun’s scene grid, which makes up the app’s main UI, by choosing from different colors and glyphs for each of your HomeKit scenes. The number of options was fine before, but now it’s much more than fine. Developer Aaron Pearce has added thousands of new icons by including the full set of Apple’s SF Symbols, the full set of Simpaticons, plus emoji options. The over 4,400 icons can be browsed inside HomeRun’s companion iPhone app, where a search option has thankfully been included.
I love that these new options work not only inside HomeRun’s grid, but also for configured complications. The sole exception is emoji, since they don’t fit watchOS’ design standards for complications. That slight drawback aside, this is a fantastic release for HomeRun that ensures I have no reason to ever look elsewhere for HomeKit scene control on the Apple Watch.
Sleep tracking is an area of health that Apple hasn’t yet formally moved into, but all signs point to that changing soon. iOS 13 saw the company build more advanced wellness tracking features into the Health app, Beddit was acquired by Apple a couple years ago, and very recently the App Store leaked evidence of a Sleep app that is (or was) in development for Apple Watch. But for the time being, anyone interested in sleep tracking with a Watch or iPhone needs a third-party app.
NapBot is one such app, a new debut from the maker of CardioBot that launched in recent weeks. NapBot applies CoreML to perform automatic sleep tracking when you’re wearing an Apple Watch to bed, the results of which you can then view in either the iPhone or Watch apps.
Geneva Moon exists mainly to provide a complication which displays an astronomically accurate representation of the moon. It takes advantage of the new ability in watchOS 6 for Watch apps to be offered independently of iOS counterparts, so you can download Geneva Moon directly from the Watch’s App Store and then install its complication on your watch face. Smith’s experience with this app inspired him to shift his focus from the aspects of watch faces that Apple doesn’t let developers customize, to the extensive areas that they can. He writes:
The Infograph face’s customizable areas. (Source: david-smith.org)
I have extensive control over what is shown here and for many of the watch faces, this area makes up the vast majority of the screen. Other than the design of the watch hands or appearance of the digital time numerals, I can do a whole lot with the complication tools I already have.
To that end, I’m starting a journey I’m calling Project Geneva, in which I’m going to see just how far I can push customizability and design of complications for the Apple Watch.
Though Apple doesn’t permit the distribution of third-party watch faces, by focusing on creating new complications that can be used across a variety of different first-party faces, Smith will provide users more flexibility in crafting each existing face to their own preferences and needs.
To a degree, third-party faces are already here. An entire watch face can’t be customized, but for those faces which are largely populated by complications – which many are – there exists enormous freedom for developers and users alike to craft their ideal watch face.
I can’t wait to see what new complications are spawned by Project Geneva, and hope other developers may take inspiration from Smith’s new initiative themselves.
The general expectation leading up to this year’s iPhone and Apple Watch debuts was that “boring” updates were in store. The iPhone, it was reported, would have an unattractive triple-camera system and little else in the way of improvements; some thought the Apple Watch might not get an update at all.
When Apple officially introduced its newdevices to the world, my own reactions were largely positive, though a little mixed. On paper, the latest iPhone and Apple Watch models offer less year-over-year improvements in quantity than Apple usually treats us to. But the advancements that are here – cameras and battery for the iPhone, always-on display for the Watch – are qualitatively huge.
Apple is really good at making two key things: revolutionary products and iterative ones. Every now and then the company creates something that’s truly transformative, a product with undeniable cultural impact. The iPod, iPhone, and iPad are classic picks, but more recently AirPods and the iPhone X deserve similar recognition. However, in-between these giants sit a lot of iterative updates, where existing products get a little bit better. Stacked against the culture-shakers these iterative updates are comparatively less exciting, but they’re almost always objectively better products than their predecessors.
The iPhone 11 and Apple Watch Series 5 lines aren’t revolutionary, but they may well be remembered as some of the best iterative products Apple has ever shipped.
My early impression, after just a few days with the iPhone 11 Pro and Watch Series 5, is that this year’s updates have the potential to stand out over time for one main reason: they give users what we’ve all been asking for.
With last year’s release of the Apple Watch Series 4, it felt as though Apple had finally reached a point of equilibrium on the hardware side of the device. The Series 4 brought the first physical redesign, thinning the Watch out and stretching its slightly larger screen to the corners. It packed a processor that finally felt overpowered rather than underpowered, and it kept the Apple Watch’s all-day battery life going strong. The update rounded out with added health sensors for ECGs, background heart monitoring, Bluetooth 5 support, and a new speaker system. Those advancements joined the cellular capabilities from the Series 3, and have now been joined by the always-on display of the Series 5. I’m running out of feature requests for the Apple Watch.
The hardware may now be in place, but as we all know hardware is only part of the story. On the software side, the Apple Watch found its footing two years ago, but had a lot of catching up to do to reach the level of maturity of its hardware. Iteration is Apple’s specialty, and their increasingly strong understanding of the Apple Watch’s purpose has made the software path clear. Last year’s watchOS 5 brought significant fitness and audio improvements, the addition of web content and more interactive notifications. This year’s update brings us even more.
watchOS 6 flew under the radar at the packed and exciting WWDC keynote this June. It isn’t the most flashy update, but the Apple Watch had enough flashy updates in its early years to last a while longer. This is a year for iteration, and Apple has been iterating on all cylinders. watchOS 6 is a quiet giant, adding or redesigning more first-party apps at once than we’ve seen in years, dropping the largest batch of new watch faces since watchOS 1, providing a new way to track fitness over time, and kicking off a nascent foray into Apple Watch independence. Let’s see how Apple did.
The Apple Watch Series 5 will go on sale this Friday, and the first reviews for the product are now being published. This year’s Watch update comes with a far shorter feature list than usual: it includes an always-on display, built-in compass, and expanded LTE bands that enable Emergency SOS even when traveling internationally. The prime focus of early reviews is, as expected, the Watch’s always-on display.