Making the Apple Watch more ‘glancable’

One of the biggest annoyances I find with the Apple Watch is that despite being billed as a 'smart watch', it's often not very smart at all. Take for example complications (widgets that go on the watch-face). Currently you have to manually choose what goes where, like so:

The weather is set to show at the bottom

 

This one shows that I have just over 2 minutes remaining on that timer (very useful when cooking, or when you've paid for park for a fixed amount of time):

I could also configure it to show the remaining battery percentage, my favourite stock price, sunset time or various other tidbits of information. So what's the problem? The problem is i need to configure it every time. It's not just a case of setting a timer, and the watch automatically replacing the weather with the timer, I have to manually edit the settings each time (unless I save a different watch-face with each combination, in which case finding the right one would take just as long).

Instead I should be able to say 'show me one of these things, depending on what's happening'. So if I've set a timer, show that. If it's going to rain, show the weather. If my battery is low, show the percentage. This would be a really cool addition in my view, and as far as I know it's not been announced for watchOS 2.

 

The moment I realised I’m not a geek

I was attending a local meet-up of technology enthusiasts, and one of the people presenting was an experienced game developer. He had worked for a big games company in the US for years, and was now starting his own business as an independent developer. He preceded to talk about how games are made from first principles and about his experience as a games developer.

What was the first question from the audience? ‘What source control system do you use?’. The conversation then turned to favourite text editors. Really?? That’s when I felt out of place. I wanted to know how he would go about trying to integrate Unity with a native iOS UIKit Interface, what platform constraints the Xbox One has, the differences between developing for PS4 and Xbox One, but everyone seemed to want to ask trivial questions about infrastructure.

It made me think: There's a difference between someone who is interested in technology for the sake of technology, and this is why we see 15 year old games being ported to JavaScript, and someone like me who is fascinated by what technology can do that’s new. How it’s done interests me of course, but that’s not what matters. The world undoubtedly needs both types of people, but it did make me think: I’m not a geek.

 

Apple Watch Battery Saving Tips

If you have the smaller version of the Apple Watch, then you may find the battery just about gets you through the day. Over the past 6 weeks of using it I've been experimenting with the various settings to find the best way to save battery life.

Note: Like with battery saving tips for phones, these tips will reduce functionality, so they're not meant for daily use. Apple Watch has a built in power save mode, but with that switched on the watch is less useful than a £10 Casio watch (at least you don't have to press a button to see the screen on one of those!). These tips are meant for those long days or weekends where you want to keep the watch going for as long as possible, while maintaining the fitness tracking and ability to receive notifications (these things are not possible in Power Save mode).

Turn off Wrist Raise

On the watch itself, under Settings > General you can turn off Wrist Raise. This makes the watch a lot less useful because you will have to press a button to see the screen, but if you are out and about on a weekend and don't particularly care about the time, but want to make sure your fitness progress still gets tracked, it's a great way to save significant battery life.

Use the X-Large watch face

If you can do without seeing the weather or other useful widgets on your watch face, the X-Large's use of lots of black and no widgets means it uses far less battery juice, in my experience at least.

Use Power Saving Mode for workouts

In the Apple Watch app on your phone, choose the settings for the 'Workout' app, and select power saving mode. This stops the watch from continuously reading your pulse during workouts – very useful if you're doing long runs or walks, as the heart rate monitor sucks battery life. It will mean however, that your calorie burn stats wont be as accurate.

Turn on Airplane Mode

This one is only slightly better than Power Save mode. You'll still be able to track your activity, receive stand notifications or notifications for appointments already synced to your watch – obviously you wont get any alerts that come from your phone (such as messages). If you're away camping for the weekend, maybe that's OK?

Stay near your phone

I've noticed the battery life is a lot worse when I spend a lot of time away from my desk at work, but leave my phone at my desk. This makes sense – when the phone is within Bluetooth range, the watch will use this connection for things like alerts. When you move away from your phone, it instead has to connect to Wi-Fi directly. Wi-Fi is much less power efficient than Bluetooth.