Posts tagged with "apple watch"

The Beauty of the Apple Watch’s Solar Dial Face

Jack Forster at Hodinkee has a wonderful deep-dive essay on the Solar Dial face on Apple Watch, which was added last year in watchOS 6:

Tapping the Solar Dial watch face will allow you to see whether it’s day, or night, or one of the various phases of twilight. You can also see how many hours of daylight there are. The color of the sky also changes depending on the time of day, and during the twilight hours, you get a very pretty transition from blue, to a deeper blue, to a lovely pale pink as the solar disk begins to sink below the horizon. You can rotate the crown to show you what time sunset takes place, as well as the various phases of twilight. You’ll also see, in yellow numbers in the sub-dial, how many hours it is from the current time to sunset, or other solar astronomical events.

[…]

I give the Apple Watch Solar Dial a lot of credit for taking the properties of the smartwatch and using them to create a very captivating experience. The luminosity of the display and its ability, as night falls or sunrise dawns, to display different colors, as well as the general composition of the dial, makes for something much richer and far more emotionally evocative than the mere delivery of information. And too, it gives us a chance to reflect on what darkness and light have meant, and continue to mean, culturally and historically. There is something irresistibly compelling about having a little model universe on your wrist.

It’s remarkable how much attention to detail Apple gave to this watch face, including the intricate nuances of the different phases of twilight. I’ve never used the Solar Dial face before, but Forster’s piece has changed that, and I’m eager to see how the face transforms throughout the remainder of today.

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Watchsmith Review: Create Your Own Apple Watch Complications

Watchsmith, the latest app from David Smith, was birthed from the inability to create third-party watch faces on the Apple Watch. As Smith has previously explained, while third-party faces may never be possible, several first-party faces already offer significant room for customization. The Infograph face, for example, contains eight different complication slots; if a rich array of third-party complications were available, you could build a highly customized watch face using the existing faces provided by Apple.

Watchsmith exists to provide that rich set of complications. The app offers 37 types of complications, each adaptable to different watch faces and complication slots, and all fully customizable so they can look exactly the way you prefer. Additionally, Watchsmith offers scheduling functionality to cause different complications to appear on your Watch at different times throughout the day.

Custom complications made with Watchsmith.

Custom complications made with Watchsmith.

In the absence of third-party watch faces, Watchsmith offers the next best thing: third-party complications that are highly customizable and can be optimized to your daily schedule.

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HeartWatch 4: A Streamlined Dashboard for Your Health

HeartWatch 4 released today on the App Store as a major redesign of the health dashboard app from David Walsh, creator of the popular AutoSleep app.

HeartWatch takes the existing heart and activity data captured by your Apple Watch and presents it in a different way than Apple’s own Health app. The app has long offered fresh approaches to visualizing your data, but the sheer amount of information, and how it’s organized, can easily feel overwhelming. The main goal of HeartWatch 4 was to simplify everything, making it easier to navigate and thus more approachable. Spend just a couple minutes with this update and it’s clear that it succeeded.

I’m not going to re-hash all of the functionality of HeartWatch, since we’ve covered that in the past. You still have access to important metrics like your heart’s average daily bpm, sedentary bpm, sleep data, movement stats, and more, accompanied by charts, graphs, and comparisons over time. But the way everything’s organized has been drastically improved.

In the last version of HeartWatch, a navigation bar divided the app into four main sections: Vitals, Dashboard, Activity, and More. The difference between each of these screens wasn’t immediately obvious, so until you spent significant time getting situated in the app, it felt like work trying to find what you wanted. All of that’s changed now thanks to a design that puts everything in a single scrolling view.

The new HeartWatch design is broken into Wellness, Activity, and Workout sections that are stacked vertically in the new one-stop dashboard. Inside each section is a collection of tiles for different data points, not unlike what Walsh did with the Today dashboard in AutoSleep last year. The tile design provides a great overview of data, and it’s entirely customizable so you can, from the Settings screen, disable any tiles you don’t want to see.

All of HeartWatch's great graphs and charts are just a swipe or tap behind its tiles.

All of HeartWatch’s great graphs and charts are just a swipe or tap behind its tiles.

At first glance, HeartWatch’s tile design may seem like it’s eliminated much of the valuable data comparisons and visualizations previously found in the app, but all of that is actually just hidden behind each tile. You can swipe on a tile to flip it over and get more info, or tap, or even tap and hold to view more details; personally I think loading different screens depending on whether you tap or tap and hold is overly complicated, but regardless the whole system remains a major improvement. The simple data is kept front and center, and when you want more, you can easily get to it in an intuitive way.

HeartWatch 4 includes other improvements too – like its custom activity metrics as an alternative to Apple’s rings, support for automatic system switching between light and dark modes, and an upgraded Watch app – but the highlight here is definitely the redesigned iPhone app. If you ever found HeartWatch and all of its data overwhelming, version 4 is a compelling reason to give the app another try. It’s strong evidence of the power of iteration and simplicity.

HeartWatch 4 is available on the App Store.


Things Debuts Modernized Apple Watch App

The Apple Watch has come a long way in five years, and apps are only starting to catch up. Many Watch apps received the majority of their development attention with the first or second versions of watchOS, before the days of LTE service, independence, and SwiftUI. Those early Watch apps were hamstrung by OS limitations, but in the last few years as the platform has evolved, most apps never adapted to what’s possible now.

Things 3.12, releasing today, exists for just that purpose: it addresses the task manager’s former Watch client shortcomings, making it a truly capable companion for Things on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

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FlickType Keyboard Review: Real Typing on an Apple Watch Display

The Apple Watch is steadily moving toward full independence from the iPhone. Making cellular an option, adding new apps at a healthy pace, and enabling apps to be downloaded and run independent of an iPhone are all crucial steps toward the device becoming entirely untethered. I have a cellular Apple Watch and go running with it each week without bringing my iPhone along, and it works great. I’ve even gone to a couple of doctor’s appointments with only my Watch, and the list of things I miss my phone for in those cases is now minimal.

One time the device still falls flat, however, is when I need to send a message. Scribble is too slow for more than a word or two, dictation is hit-or-miss, and canned responses aren’t good enough for most situations. FlickType Keyboard sets out to solve this problem, and entirely succeeds.

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Matt Birchler’s watchOS 7 Wish List

Matt Birchler has made a tradition of publishing a watchOS wish list every year at BirchTree that is accompanied by concept art, showing how his ideas might be implemented. This year for watchOS 7, Birchler has a long list of excellent ideas that focus on virtually every aspect of the OS, including fitness tracking, communications, and battery life.

Like Birchler, I’d love to see more flexibility built into the Activity app. For example, he expects more ring options in watchOS 7:

I think this year not only will Apple let you customize these rings more than before, but they’ll also add more rings. Want to add sleep or mindfulness: go right ahead.

As he suggests, the ability to set custom metrics for each ring and edit workouts in the Activity app on the iPhone would be fantastic additions as well.

It’s also a little hard to believe that autocomplete hasn’t been added to the scribble keyboard on the Apple Watch. Perhaps that’s a technical limitation, but like Birchler, I think it would go a long way to making text input more tolerable on the Watch.

Those are just a couple of my favorite ideas from Birchler’s story this year. Be sure to check out the full post. There are some terrific ideas here, and the concept art looks wonderful as always.

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NapBot 1.3 Adds Independent Watch App, Today Widget, Notifications, and New Awake Minutes Trend

NapBot debuted last fall as a Swift UI-powered app that makes sleep tracking easy thanks to CoreML and a clean, simple design. The app recently received a variety of improvements via a 1.3 update that enhances both the watchOS and iOS components of NapBot.

On the watchOS side, NapBot now features a fully independent Watch app, meaning it can be downloaded from the Watch’s App Store and run without needing the iOS app installed. The current Watch app only shows sleep data for the previous day, rather than the full history that’s available on the iPhone, so I hope this release is just the first step toward offering full feature parity between watchOS and iOS apps.

Timed with its upgrade to independence, NapBot’s Watch app also now has complications available for every type of watch face and every complication size, so no matter which face is your go-to, you can find a fit for your sleep data.

The iPhone app now tracks a new trend, accessed from inside the Trends tab: Awake minutes. This enables keeping a pulse on how much time you spend awake during a normal night, and if the number doesn’t look good, NapBot will recommend you try reducing caffeine consumption during the latter parts of your day. If your Awake minutes trend shows just limited awake time, you’ll receive reassurance that brief waking periods can be perfectly normal.

Finally, NapBot has added a Today widget that documents your sleep data from the previous evening, and a notification in the morning to let you know sleep has been tracked. Using one or both of these options can reduce the need to open the full NapBot app as often and enable passive use instead, which I find ideal for a sleep tracking app.

The appeal of NapBot is in combining an easy-to-understand interface and effortless sleep tracking with data analysis powered by CoreML. Version 1.3 doesn’t change anything fundamental about the app, but it brings system feature integrations that make a meaningful difference in everyday use.


Satechi Debuts Cleverly-Designed USB-C Apple Watch Charger

Source: Satechi

Source: Satechi

Satechi began selling a new MFi-certified Apple Watch charger today with a clever design that looks perfect for iPad Pro users.

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.

For a limited time you can use the coupon code GIFTSATECHI to get Satechi’s USB-C Magnetic Charging Dock for Apple Watch for 20% off.


Chirp 2.0 Offers a Remarkably Full-Featured Twitter Experience on Apple Watch

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 impressive apps for a while, but Chirp 2.0 undoubtedly represents his best work yet.

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