Tag Archive for ‘John Moltz’

John Moltz Reviews the iPhone SE ➝

John Moltz:

Literally every drawback in feature set is mitigated by being one I don’t care about. The front-facing camera isn’t as good. Don’t care. There’s one fewer row of icons on the home screen. But all that meant for me was moving some apps I don’t use that much anyway to the second page. (To paraphrase Bill Gates, 24 apps should be enough for anyone.) It doesn’t have 3D Touch, which I kind of like. But neither does my iPad and switching back and forth was annoying. I’ll rather both have it or both not. The Touch ID sensor is the slower, first generation one. Yeah, that just means it’s fast instead of insanely fast. The screen size is smaller. That’s what I wanted.

For all the hemming and hawing I did when Apple first introduced the 4.7-inch form factor, I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that the larger size is better for me.

I still love the iPhone 5s — because of its angular edges, the flush camera lense, the ability to reach all four corners of the display without straining my thumb, and more— but I use my iPhone for writing too often.

That’s not to say that you can’t write on a 4-inch display. In fact, my fiancée wrote a great deal of her master’s thesis on her iPhone 5s. But I find my iPhone 6s’ 4.7-inch display to be much more comfortable for writing than the iPhone 5s ever was.

I’m glad that Apple released the iPhone SE and hope they continue releasing 4-inch device’s indefinitely. At this point, I don’t think I’d ever go back to the smaller form factor, but I’m glad that it’s available for those who prefer it.

Additional Thoughts on Apple Watch

I wanted to make a few additional points about the Apple Watch, now having spent an extra week with the device since writing my initial thoughts. I’ve noticed some pain points that weren’t immediately apparent, but there’s also a few things that I’ve grown to truly appreciate about the device.

Complications are King

When I wrote my impressions of the Apple Watch, I noted that notifications and fashion were the two key features. But what I failed to realize was the importance of complications — they’re the real deal. I can look down at my wrist and tell you what my next calendar event is, when the sun sets this afternoon, the current temperature, and whatever else developers have managed to cram into one. With some tweaking, these little rectangles of information quickly turn the Apple Watch into a dashboard for your life. But it’s not just their glance-ability that make them useful, they’re also incredibly handy shortcuts for launching their corresponding app.

I can’t be the first person to say this, but the honeycomb app launcher is dreadful to use. Clustering all of my app icons into a big jumble makes finding the app you want extremely difficult, especially given that none of the icons are labeled with the app’s name. The ability to double click the Digital Crown to jump back to your most recent app helps, but my suggestion to developers is to build a glance and a complication for every app you build — don’t assume that users are willing to open it from the app launcher.

Over the past week I’ve had a little bit more time to curate my Apple Watch experience — configuring glances, complications, notifications, etc. — to the point where most of the apps I use can be launched from either a glance or a complication. There’s still a couple of exceptions to the rule — I open Clicker from the app launcher and Maps using Siri.

There isn’t much need for launching Maps by any other means, I only ever use it for navigation and Siri is more than capable of handling the task. Though, I would really encourage Craig Hockenberry and Iconfactory to consider adding a glance for Clicker. This is an app that I use several times a week and would love to have an easier way to launch it. The app already includes a complication, but it only displays the current count and doesn’t offer enough visual distinction from the weather complication that it would share a screen with. Iconfactory, either add a visual cue to the complication or add a glance — preferably both.

Which Watch Face

With my newfound love of complications, I’ve settled into using the Modular watch face. I started out with the Utility face — which I still think is the most attractive option, but it just doesn’t offer enough space for complications. Modular is the face with the largest number of complications — five — and I still find myself wishing I could split its large rectangular complication into two smaller ones. Or better yet, put the time in the center and allow for three square complications on the top and bottom of the display.

I’m not the first person to come to this conclusion about the Modular face and complications. John Moltz, wrote about this back in September:

I can read the date now because this face’s complications are larger and I get more information with this face than any other. It does kind of scream “SMARTWATCH!” which at first I was uncomfortable with, but I’m coming around to the fact that maybe that’s OK or even as it should be. I do actually own a smartwatch and it’s not like a round face is fooling anyone. Also, I want to be able to get all the utility out of it I can. This face allows for the time and five complications, which is the most allowed. A few other faces will do that many, too, such as Simple and Chronograph, but you can get more out of Modular.

In my opinion, Modular is the absolute best watch face available. It offers more information at a glance than any other face available. And isn’t that the whole point of a smartwatch?

Turn by Turn Directions

My fiancée and I took a trip this past weekend up to the Waterloo outlets for some holiday shopping. We know our way there for the most part — we usually take a trip or two each year — but I decided to try out the Apple Watch’s navigation features in the Maps app.

It was surprisingly helpful. I didn’t need to have my iPhone secured in a dashboard mount, I could leave it in the cup holder where it usually sits while still getting reminders of upcoming turns. I did find it difficult to discern between the “turn left” and “turn right” haptic feedback which Apple claims are distinct enough to notice, but I didn’t have any trouble getting where I needed to go.

Having my music quiet down for Siri to tell me where to turn next was obviously helpful, but I think I could have just gotten by with wrist taps and glances at my Watch’s display to see which direction I needed to head in — the Watch displays large, easy to read icons and text that indicate your next turn. I also found glancing at my wrist while driving to be much less distracting than having a smartphone strapped to my dashboard. The Apple Watch is likely going to become an important part of our navigation strategy in future road trips.

Odds and Ends

It goes without saying at this point, but the Apple Watch’s battery life is a non-issue. In the month that I’ve used the Watch, it’s never been below 30%. If you’re have trouble getting through a day on the Watch’s battery life, I have no idea what you’re doing.

I have found the haptic feedback to be a little weak at times. I’m not going to say I got a defective unit, but I’ll often miss notifications for hours when I’m busy at work. My best guess is that I’m moving my arms just enough that I simply don’t notice the taps. It’s unfortunate, but it’s far better than only having my iPhone in my pocket — I rarely noticed notifications on my iPhone when I had the ringer off.

I still haven’t dug too deep into the health and fitness features. I keep the Activity complication on my watch face and open the app from time to time, but I’m not making much of an effort to close all my rings each day. Maybe when things slow down after the holidays I’ll have the opportunity to be more conscious of it, for now I’m just collecting data.

The Apple Watch has a few flaws here and there, but the overall experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I continue to wear the Watch everyday and still think the platform has a bright future. I’ve spent the first twenty seven years of my life as someone who never wore watches, but I guess that’s no longer the case.

The Watch Face Wars ➝

John Moltz, on the fetishization of circular watches:

The reason most analog watches were round is not because round watches are better or because square watches can’t be stylish. It’s simply because the motion of the hands describes a circle. That’s all the space that was ever needed for the device to fulfill its most basic function. Because that shape is so tightly suited to that particular function, it’s decidedly at odds with adding functionality to it. Thus we have the date being blocked by the hands once every hour. A tricked-out watch like a chronograph watches suffer from almost all of those added features being blocked by the hands.

He’s decided to switch from analog faces to the Modular face in order to make better use of the Apple Watch’s screen. I’ll have to keep this in mind when I eventually purchase an Apple Watch.

Stagefright Vulnerability ➝

Aarti Shahani, reporting for NPR:

In this attack, the target would not need to goof up — open an attachment or download a file that’s corrupt. The malicious code would take over instantly, the moment you receive a text message.

“This happens even before the sound that you’ve received a message has even occurred,” says Joshua Drake, security researcher with Zimperium and co-author of Android Hacker’s Handbook. “That’s what makes it so dangerous. [It] could be absolutely silent. You may not even see anything.”

And we all thought the iOS text message vulnerability was bad. But this is a serious exploit, especially considering how long it takes for most Android devices to receive OS updates.

(Via John Moltz.)

Apple Watch, a Cook’s Best Friend ➝

John Moltz makes the case for the Apple Watch as a cooking companion. He points out that Siri isn’t perfect, but the ability to set timers and add things to his grocery list with messy hands is what pushes it over the top. When I eventually purchase a Watch of my own I expect I’ll use it nearly every time I cook.

The Best iPhone ➝

John Moltz on the 4.7-inch screen of the iPhone 6:

I like my iPhone 6 well enough, but having used it for six months am I ready to fully submit to our large screen overlords? Not in the least. The large screen is the one thing I don’t like about it. It frustrates me daily. Reachability does not work consistently enough to be reliable and I can’t reach the upper right corner without that thumb-extension surgery which my health plan doesn’t cover. […]

I want an iPhone with a 4-inch screen, but in the end I’m going to buy what I think is the best iPhone. That’s what I did before the iPhone 6 and that’s what I’ll continue to do. I can’t say that one feature is a deal breaker without knowing what all the options are. I hope there will be a 4-inch iPhone this year in metal with the majority of the new features, but I doubt that will happen.

I occasionally bring up the “larger than 4-inch phone” topic with my fiancée and she couldn’t be more adamant about her dislike of them. She still uses an iPhone 5s, but plans to upgrade this fall when Apple announces their new iPhone lineup. And, she’s very worried that Apple won’t announce an iPhone that’s best for her.

The 5s is just small enough to fit comfortably in her back pocket — anything larger simply wouldn’t fit and she’d be stuck keeping it in her purse or carrying it around by hand everywhere she goes. Neither of which are ideal as it would make interacting with and keeping track of her iPhone incredibly cumbersome and would prevent her from using her iPhone as a pedometer (which has quickly become an essential feature for her). She also prefers the physical dimensions of the 5s over the 6 and 6 Plus as it fits better in her hand and is therefore easier for her to use.

She really doesn’t like the idea of using an iPhone that doesn’t feel comfortable to use. But, she still feels compelled to purchase the best device she can in order to ensure it will still feel snappy toward the end of our typical two year upgrade cycle. Like John, she truly hopes Apple will release a 4-inch version of “the best iPhone” that’s built with the same quality materials and has a similar feature-set as their higher end models. But, she’s unfortunately prepared to be disappointed.

John Moltz Buys a PC ➝

John Moltz recently purchased a gaming laptop for his son and documented the experience. I’ve never actually purchased a PC myself — when I was using PCs they were either purchased by my parents, provided by my school, or I built them myself. But, that was nearly a decade ago and based on John’s experience it looks like things have only gotten worse.

What I don’t understand is why there’s no PC OEM that takes the user experience as seriously as Apple does. Why isn’t there one with a rationalized product lineup, aimed at a broad swath of customers (Razer’s is rationalized, but only focuses on high-end gaming), that all come with a clean Windows install?

Every few years I’ll get questions from a friend or family member about what computer I think they should buy. And after doing a little research on my own I always end up giving them the same advice: I have no idea what PC you should buy, but if you think you want to switch to OS X, I recommend a MacBook Air or an iMac.

I don’t give them this advice because I don’t think they should buy a PC, in fact I’d rather they buy a PC because it’s what they’re most comfortable with and it’ll prevent me from become their lifeline when something goes wrong (as I expect I’d be if they bought a mac, since I’m the “mac guy”). The reason I don’t know what PC to recommend is because the whole market looks like a sea of poorly built hardware filled with bloatware and bad user experiences.

Like John, I’ll never understand why there isn’t one PC OEM that actually seems to care about the customer. Not one with a simple product line, with limited options in order to prevent their customers from being overwhelmed. Whenever I take a look at the PC market it feels like every OEM is trying to dump all the components that Intel and AMD couldn’t convince Apple to put in their latest MacBook Air. It’s not good at all.

A Tale of Two Restores ➝

I have a few people in my life that own 16GB iPhones and they are constantly running out of storage space. John Moltz was able to save 6-7GB of storage space on his wife’s iPhone and about 3GB on his own by performing a restore in iTunes and then restoring the most recent backup.

I’m not sure if I’ll suggest this to others — I’m always concerned that someone might make a mistake in the process and end up losing data. But, this is something I’d like to try on my and my girlfriend’s iPhone. It’s worth a shot and has to be better than continuing to delete music in order to make room for new photos and apps.