How to Sync, View, and Use Photos on the Apple Watch

With the arrival of the Series 4 Apple Watch, and its larger display, viewing photos on your wrist is a lot more interesting. You can sync photos from your iPhone to your watch; you can view them and show them to others using your wrist computer; and you can use them to create personalized watch faces. In this article, I’m going to tell you everything you can do with photos and the Apple Watch.

Read the rest of the article (and see the bonus cat photos) on The Mac Security Blog.

Apple Watch Series 4 Review: Bigger, Bolder, Better

It has been interesting following the Apple Watch over the last three and a half years. From a device that seemed like it was looking for a reason to exist, the Apple Watch has now become, as Tim Cook has said, the most personal device that Apple has ever made. With steady evolution through its iterations – adding such features as GPS and LTE – the Series 4 marks the first change in the form factor of the device.

Compared to last year’s model, the Series 4 is larger (from 38mm and 42mm the device has moved to 40mm and 44mm), and a tad thinner (.7mm). That tiny difference in size masks a huge difference in the size of the display. By shaving off the edges of the bezels around the screen, Apple has been able to increase the display sizes by 32% and 35% respectively for the 40mm and 44mm models. (Don’t worry if you have any existing bands: the 38mm bands will fit the 40mm watch and the 42mm bands fit the new 44mm model.)

Read the rest of the review on The Mac Security Blog.

Apple Watch: Hello New Faces, Goodbye Old Faces

With the Apple Watch Series 4, Apple has introduced two new information-rich faces that take advantage of the new device’s larger display. The Infograph and Infograph Modular faces offer lots of complications, in an attractive multi-color layout.

As Jason Snell wrote recently on Macworld, Apple Watch faces are a mess. None of the older faces have been updated for watchOS 5 and the new watches, and the new faces are missing some key complications, as I wrote last week. It really surprises me that you can’t add the Phone, Messages, or Home complications to the new faces. And I’m even more surprised that the old faces have been completely ignored.

One point that Jason makes, which I’ve been thinking about last year, is that the Explorer face is still the only one that shows your cellular connection, with a complication that shows from one to four dots.

Why not build that feature as a complication? Why not let other faces display that information? A year later, the Explorer face remains unchanged, and remains the only place you can view connection status on a watch face.

It seems important to have the possibility to see your signal strength if you have a cellular Apple Watch, and this omission is puzzling.

I’ve settled on the following three faces on my watch for now: two “analog” Infograph faces, and one Infograph Modular.

Face1 Face2 Face3

I would really like to use the Home complication on at least one of these faces, and I’m surprised that it’s not available. I’m also surprised by some of the complications that are offered, which are nothing more than eye candy. Here’s the Infograph Modular face with the Earth, Moon, and Solar complications at the bottom.

Face4

I think these are available simply as filler, since many people want to use all the complications inside the dial of the Infograph face. I don’t see how the Earth complication is very useful; I do understand that a moon phase complication is something found on many watches, but in a more stylized manner; and the Solar System complication is probably only useful for people on the International Space Station, and, perhaps, Elon Musk.

I’m also surprised that many popular third-party apps have not been updated for these new complications. For example, I use the Dark Sky app for weather, and it’s complication hasn’t been updated, even though the app itself has been updated since the release of watchOS 5. I don’t know what’s taking developers so long.

(I’m sure some of you will ask about some of the complications above, which are not in watchOS. The orange one on each of the faces is the Pedometer app, which is a step counter; and the one with the date on the face on the right above is Fantastical, the calendar app I use on all my devices.)

The Apple Watch’s Best New Faces Are Missing Key Complications

InfographThe Series 4 Apple Watch has two great new watch faces that allow you to have a high amount of information on the small screen of your wrist computer. These faces, Infograph and Infograph Modular offer a high number of complications, respectively nine and six.

But there some of the most useful complications are missing. Why can’t you add the Phone, Messages, or Home complications, as you can on other faces? You also can’t add Find My Friends, Now Playing, Remote, or lots of the other complications that let you launch apps with a single tap.

That’s probably the reason; they expect users to launch them in other ways: via the Dock (which I’ve never found practical), or from the apps hive or list, or via Siri. But people may want to be able to launch these complications more quickly. I use different watch faces for different activities, and it would be great to have some of these complications on these attractive new faces; instead, I need to fall back on the older ones, which offer fewer options.

It’s a bit surprising that the newest faces, the ones that Apple has been featuring when they show off the latest model Apple Watch, are hobbled by this. Especially since Apple Watch users have been using these complications, some for many years.

Audible’s Apple Watch App Highlights One of the Device’s Biggest Flaws

Audible has updated their iOS app, and now includes an Apple Watch app, so you can sync audiobooks from your iPhone to the Apple Watch. This allows you to listen to audiobooks on the go, using Bluetooth headphones, even if you don’t have your iPhone handy.

In theory.

In practice, this highlights one of the biggest flaws of the Apple Watch. While Apple’s wrist computer has storage that can hold its operating system, apps, music, and more, it’s extremely difficult to get anything onto the device. You’ll have seen this when you wait for an update to get copied to the Apple Watch, or if you have ever tried to put music on the device. It is slow. Glacially slow. If you want, for example, to copy a couple of gigabytes to the Apple Watch – after all, it comes with either 8 or 16 GB storage – the cellular Apple Watch 3 offered 16 GB, the GPS-only had 8, and the Series 4 comes with 16 GB for all models – you were best off doing it overnight. Copies to the Apple Watch seem to only go over Bluetooth, even though the device uses wifi for connectivity.

The Audible Apple Watch app explains what you need to do:

Audible1     Audible2

So I went ahead and tried.

First, the Audible app says that it is “preparing your content.” It’s not clear what this is doing, but it might be downsampling the file so it takes up less space. I hope not; standard Audible files are 32 kbps, which is adequate for spoken word, but if shrinks them to 16 kbps, that’s not great.

Audible3

Then it begins syncing. After about 10 minutes, I checked, and this was its progress:

Audible4

17 minutes later – note the time on my iPhone in the screenshot – it had made more progress.

Audible5

And when I checked back about 50 minutes later, it said it had finished syncing.

Audible6

Alas, it hadn’t actually synced anything. When I checked on my Apple Watch, there was nothing. (You can’t get a screenshot of the playback screen showing that there is no content, because the bit on the bottom below, explaining how to transfer audiobooks, slides up as soon as you open it.)

Audible7

The app does note that the transfer will be quicker if you put your watch on the “Magnetic Charger;” that really makes no difference.

Audible8

However, when it’s not on the charger, nothing syncs, and the Audible app informs you of this.

Audible9

This (most likely) is not Audible’s fault. Syncing content to the Apple Watch, as I said above, is a very slow process.

Marco Arment, developer of the Overcast podcast player, added syncing to the Apple Watch in the latest version of his app has. He says:

Sending podcasts to the Watch is slow. Overcast shrinks them to reduce the transfer time, but when (and how quickly) podcasts transfer is tightly controlled by watchOS to preserve battery life. Transfers still sometimes wait forever or silently fail.

So it seems like this is an Apple problem. If the Apple Watch contains storage for audio files, then Apple needs to make this process work. What’s the point of shipping the new Apple Watch with 16 GB storage if you can’t put anything on it? There aren’t enough apps for the Apple Watch to fill up all that space.

Is the Apple Watch the New iPhone?

In last week’s presentation of new products, Apple covered only two items, the Apple Watch and the iPhone. And they led with the Apple Watch, which meant they were prioritizing the iPhone; save the best for last.

But the opinions of many tech journalists, and, apparently, consumers, suggest that the Apple Watch is the new, hot gadget. Many journalists have pointed out that there are no real innovations in this year’s iPhones. This is, of course, an “s” year, that Apple has gotten us used to; years when iPhone models add an “s” to their names, and feature only incremental updates. (However, some key technologies have been introduced in “s” years.) The iPhone XS and XS Max are extensions of last year’s iPhone X, and the iPhone XR is a “budget” version of the more expensive model.

But the Apple Watch caught the attention of many people. Apparently, pre-orders have been “above expectations,” while iPhone sales are tepid. One reason may be the new, large size of the Apple Watch, converting what has been a fairly small display to one that will be much more readable. And there’s the glitzy new Infograph watch face with multiple complications. And the stainless steel model now comes in gold.

Some are suggesting that the addition of an ECG feature may be swaying consumers, but I find that unlikely; while this is a useful medical tool, it’s hard to imagine that everyone wants to run ECGs on themselves (and I worry about what happens when people try to understand them). Fall detection is a very interesting feature, and, while it’s mostly for the elderly, there are other cases when it can be useful: epilepsy, perhaps car accidents, and more. It could be that consumers are seeing the potential of a wearable as a medical device, and that these limited features have convinced them to invest in one, in part because of existing technologies, but also because of the potential of the Apple Watch to change the way they look at their health with other technologies in the future.

This comes at a good time for Apple. The smartphone market has been mature for years, and is limping along on incremental upgrades. It’s good for manufacturers that many smartphones take a beating, so even if people keep them longer, they eventually need to upgrade. But it’s hard to imagine many interesting new features being added to this technology. Other than the new size, and the improved display and internals, there’s nothing in the new iPhone that sets it apart from last year’s model. (And that “groundbreaking” dual-camera system is neither new nor truly groundbreaking.)

Apple knows this, and will be pushing much of its innovation to the Apple Watch in the coming years. The company has already drastically increased the price of the device, in order to turn it into a cash cow, and there’s one big change they can make that could increase sales exponentially: make it a standalone device. The Apple Watch still requires an iPhone to set it up, but there’s no reason why it couldn’t exist on its own, so Android users can have Apple Watches too. While this wouldn’t offer full functionality, since there wouldn’t be the same tight integration with apps, notifications, etc. – an app on Android could manage the actual setup, and everything would function over cellular access, and all data could be stored in the cloud. The Apple Watch can already work without the iPhone after the initial setup, using cellular access, but it’s only a question of time before Apple makes it an independent device.

Of course, this is only a temporary solution; there are so many limits to the Apple Watch that it will never be able to do too much, but Apple’s focusing on health (they barely mentioned fitness in presenting this new model) shows how they want to make this device essential.

The iPhone will continue to sell by the tens of millions, but as sales become flat, Apple is poised to have another success on its hands with the Apple Watch. It will be interesting to see how far this device goes.