Apple AirPods Review – day 5

Thank Apple again! Many of us get our long-awaited AirPods this week! It is said that many receive early deliveries of their online orders too. Cheers!

General feedbacks about AirPods are very positive. Fortune says AirPods are Perfect!  Forbes believes AirPods is a bigger business than Apple Watch. They maybe the most physically resilient Apple product too!

After using it for five days, I observe a few things and have some comments:
1.AirPods does not support multi-point (connecting the headset to two devices simultaneously) which is a common feature of modern Bluetooth headphones. (One iPhone is better than many non-iPhones. Then why we need this? Because it is strange to speak to the Apple Watch when the digital crown is pressed while AirPods are in the ears.)

2.When remove the AirPods from the case, AirPods will by default try connecting to the last connected device. It requires manual connection on another device if your want to switch the AirPods to the that device.

3.If you switch on another Bluetooth headset/speaker then your iPhone will connect to it and switch the audio source to it.

4.By default double-tap triggers Siri. It can be changed to Play/Pause or Off at iOS Settings > Bluetooth. It is not configurable in Sierra and hence always Siri. Different iOS devices can have different configurations. Say double-tap to trigger Play/Pause when AirPods connect to iPhone, and to trigger Siri when AirPods connect to iPad.

5.AirPods works with non-Apple devices such as Android tablets and Nokia phones. Double-tap can trigger Play/Pause only. Take an AirPod out from ear will pause audio.

6.AirPods connectivity is very very good! They work even if the iPhone is a  different room ten of meter away!

7.AirPods stay firm and comfortable in ears. At least my ears. It is fine to wear it/them the whole day, no matter you are sitting, walking, running, typing, eating or sleeping! It is always on. It is private. We can expect more applications using audio communication and interaction. And yes, it changes behavior!

My wish list items for the next generation:

-Apple Watch complication for Now Playing, to allow one click control of sound volume via Apple Watch. This requires no hardware update and should be easy:)

customisable equaliser Update: from iPhone User Guide: Go to Settings > Music > EQ. EQ settings generally apply only to music played from the Music app, but they affect all sound output. Thank AppleInsider.

body temperature measurement

-optional noise cancellation or reduction

-a physical hole or something on the case. It will be convenient if the case can be connected to keychain. One drawback is will sketch the case surface…

Merry Christmas! Happy Holiday! And I want to share this song with you – Hallelujah by Killard House Special School choir:

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Anker PowerPort 4 Review

You’re looking for a more powerful portable USB wall charger for your coming travel, aren’t you?

My use case for a portable USB wall charger with four USB ports is to charge at once my smartphone, tablet, Bluetooth headphone and Apple Watch. It helps me to have my most-frequently-used gadgets working all the time, especially when I am travelling and I don’t want to have multiple chargers in my luggage.

Anker PowerPort 4 | iAnker.com

Anker is the one the most popular USB wall charger manufacturers on Amazon. I bought an Anker PowerPort 4 early this month and have been using it since then. I am glad to use it. It is my pleasure to share my review with you.

Pros:

  1. It is powerful! It can output up to 8A and 40W! Each port can output up to 2.4A. iPhone 6(s) (plus) can draw up to 2.1A while iPad Air 1/2 draws 2.4A. So even if you plug in two iPhone 6 and one iPad Air, the charger is able to output another 7W, large enough for Apple Watch or typical Bluetooth headset. It meets my use case.
  2. It is small and light weight. The plug is foldable.
  3. It is Smart and charges faster. By Anker’s PowerIQ technology, Anker PowerPort 4 can communicate with the device being charged and provide it with the highest current it can take. For example, if an iPhone 6 is plugged in any one of the four USB ports, the port will charge it at 2.1A which is the maximum current iPhone 6 can take. If it is an iPad Air, it will charge it at 2.4A. Charging at maximum current reduces charging time and minimises the expense of unnecessary power. Doing so will make the best use of the maximum 40W power throughput the device can support. Because it charges fast, it can charges more devices (e.g. portable battery) in the same time span when compared to other wall chargers.
  4. It is Smart and user-friendly. Some wall chargers (e.g. Arctic Charger Pro 4) require user to plug power hungry device into the right “fast charge” port. Otherwise if you plug a power hungry device into a standard port, it will be charged at 500mA only and hence takes more time. Anker PowerPort 4 does not require this.
  5. It is Smart and works with devices which require non-standard USB chargers. A device being charged can detect what type of charger is being used through specific voltages on the USB data pins. Because of this, some devices only work with their own special chargers. An example is Nokia E6 which does not support charging by “dump” charger via its micro USB port. Anker PowerPort 4 is smart and can manage the voltages at the two data pins in each of the four USB ports.
  6. It provides visibility of charging status. When the PowerPort 4 is “slowly charging” or in standby mode (at an output current of less than 500mA), the LED will illuminate in blue. When the PowerPort 4 is “fast charging”(at an output current of higher than 500mA), the LED will illuminate in green. When you see the blue light, it implies your iPhone or iPad is fully charged. You can then charge something else.
  7. It is safe. Built-in surge protection.
  8. It can be used in many countries. It is Type A plug which is used in China, Taiwan, Japan and US, etc.
  9. It is joyful to use. It is beautiful. Its USB ports align. It shows commitment.

Cons:

  • It is not available in the retail 3C shops in Hong Kong.
  • It does not support Type G plug used in Hong Kong.

References:

 

 

(The following video is for testing purpose.)


Six months with Apple Watch: 10km run at Xihu (West Lake), Hangzhou.

I ran more in the last six months. Apple Watch, is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition, but it does motivate me to move more. I use Apple Watch when I run – to track the distance and heart beat rate, and to control podcast/audiobook/music. Apple Watch becomes an anchor reminding me to run more. More frequently: from 2 runs per week to 3. More distance: from average 4km run to 7km. More different routes.

Xihu (西湖)

Xihu (西湖)

I was in Hangzhou last week attending an cloud computing conference. It was a big event and there were twenty thousand attendance. The air was highly polluted as reported by the app Plume Air Report. It was lucky that the air pollution was improved after the two-day busy conference and I could spend an early morning to run. My plan was to run 7km across Xihu (West Lake) – to run around the Beili Lake and from the northern end of Sudi to the southern end. Sudi is 2.8km in length. It was build in year 1090.

Sudi (苏堤)

Sudi (苏堤)

I started at 7:21am. The weather was nice and the temperature was about 16c. The scene was very beautiful. Willows in the sky. Lotus on the water. Many people were doing exercise. It was a fabulous morning.

Xihu(西湖)

Xihu(西湖)

Mind and body are connected, and these two are connected to the surrounding environment. Things are intertwined, interacting with each other. It was a graceful morning. I was at natural beauty. I saw many happy and smiling faces. I was full of energy when Apple Watch showed I ran 7km. Then I decided to run more – to run from the southern end to the northern end of Sudi. I stopped at 8:20am and I ran a total 10km. It was my first 10km in many years. I felt great. Thank God!

Nike+ Running record of my 10km run

Nike+ Running record of my 10km run

I was wearing Asics GT-1000 3 running shoes, Apple Watch Sport, Jaybird X2 and iPhone 6s Plus in the armband. The iOS apps I was using:
-activity: Workout, Argus, Runkeeper, Nike+ Running,
-podcast: Overcast
-weather: Plume Air Report

Enjoy the solitude of running. You’ll never walk alone.


When Space was Gray and Rose was Gold

Try to remember the kind of Septermber.

September 2015 was a busy month.

iPhone preorder was better

We had the annual Apple product launch event  on 9th Sep. Then we had the iPhone preordering a few days later. This time the process start at 3pm on 12th Sep in Hong Kong. Last time it was difficult to get an iPhone 6 Plus in Hong Kong and the preorder stock was sold out in two hours. Then at the launch day we had the iReserve process which opened each day at 8am to allow people to register and buy iPhone in store the same day. In order to buy it successfully, many people (including me) used their laptop and iPhone and iPad concurrently to try to access the system. It was one the most popular annual MMOG, worldwide! The iPhone stock was sold out in minutes each day consecutively for a few weeks. Only professional typists, BOTs, lucky and hardworking people could order successfully at iReserve!

This time I didn’t want the new iPhone much because I didn’t want to do much hard-work to get it initially. I might even skip this S upgrade and wait for iPhone 7. 12th Sep was a sunny Saturday afternoon and I was calm and well prepared. Sharp at 3pm I tired to access store.apple.com/hk using my computer, repeatedly pressing command+R to reload the website but failed to do so. The online store was too busy to be accessed, as expected. Unexpectedly I could access the iPhone preorder section of the Apple Store app on my iPad. And I was surprised that I made it! My new iPhone delivery was scheduled sometime between 8th and 15th October. Good. I am happy waiting my new gadget in a couple of weeks.

This preorder process (and success) was a great experience. Many other people also said that they made the preorders via their iOS devices too. I was thinking if this time Apple made a new arrangement: there were more dedicated server resources to support preorders from Apple customers (which are not likely iPhone smugglers) using iOS devices. PC users using browsers and BOTs are competing for another set of online store server resources. It was easier for iOS users to get connected. If so it was a great CRM implementation! Help your loyal customers to do businesses with you!

Next? iPhone Upgrade Program rollout to other markets.

Software update, update and update

iOS 9 was available on 16th Sep, a week after the Apple event. iOS 9 is better, especially the new Slide Over feature which turn iPad a more productive device! We don’t have to switch frequently among apps to do certain tasks (especially writing). A picture tells more than a thousand words:

The new Notifications Center is better too. Sort by time makes much more sense. Search feature in Settings is very useful. We can disconnect connected Bluetooth devices individually at by Settings > Bluetooth. Thanks!

It seems there are changes in VPN and some VPN apps are not working. VyprVPN v2.6.6.2456 works. Thanks!

WatchOS  2.0 was late but available on 21st Sep. I had to turn my Apple Watch off/on to download the new OS. As Ben Thompson said in Exponent podcast episode #53, Third-party Complications should be the most useful and important feature. However, not many watch apps support the new feature. Sleep++ supports it. It was developed by David Smith who also develope Pedometer++, which supports Glances and is very handy and useful.

And, El Capitan is now available!

iPhone 6s Plus is very fast

Surprisingly, in a good sense, my iPhone 6s Plus was delivered today 30th September! Five days after the global launch! Great!

Why Rose Gold? Because it is new. Blink.

The device is very and there are a few reviews. Some more detailed reviews will arrive in the coming weeks. Phonearena found that the iPhone 6s/6s plus battery last longer than previous versions! Amazing!

Below are my sharing the a few hours experience:

  • Touch ID is very fast. I am hardly required to type my lock screen passcode. Great.
  • It is better to hold the iPhone by left hand. It is fine for me to us my left thumb (to use 3D Touch) to press the left edge of the screen to go to app swticher. My right thumb cannot reach the left screen edge. And it is better to use a thinner case which does not obstruct the screen edge.
  • 3D Touch is hard press, not long press. It is about the physical force, not time.
  • Will 3D Touch make the home button obsolete in iPhone 7?…

We had iPhone 5 Space Gray in 2012. We have iPhone 6s/6s Plus Rose Gold in 2015. Huge changes in three years. Both are beautiful.

September is over. Try to remember.


99 days with Apple Watch and Your Brain at Work

Question: What does HIJKLMNO stand for?

(Hint: don’t use your default way of thinking, think out of the box)

What were happened in the last two and a half months? A lot! And I didn’t write any blog until today.

I ran three times a week in July, increased from two times a week in June and May. I walked more too. The ease of using Apple Watch to keep track of physical activities did drive me to do more exercises! Apple Watch motivated me at the beginning and then, I believe, the dopamine generated from doing exercise drives me to run more. The running habit loop is: the cue is the Apple Watch’s “3 rings” and other fitness apps, the routine is to run 5km, and the reward is feeling great and healthy!

Apple Watch in Beijing

I read three books. To be exact, I listened to three audiobooks: Becoming Steve Jobs, The Power of Habit, and Your Brain at Work. I heard the audible.com promotion in The Talk Show podcast when I was running. Then I downloaded audiable.com app and my first audiobook – Becoming Steve Jobs. It was my first time to listen to a book, a 460 pages book! The audiobook was 9hr and 42min in length. I listened to it most of time during exercise. Running 5km is about 30min, plus warm up and warm down, in total it takes an hour. I run three times a week. Hence theoretically I can complete an audiobook on average in three weeks. And I really did it. Once, twice and three times! To read (or listen to) one book per month is now an achievable target to me!

(By the way, podcast is a effective advertising media! Thanks John Gruber and audible.com again!)

your-brain-at-work

I read Your Brain at Work by chance. Unlike Becoming Steve Jobs and The Power of Habit which are very popular, Your Brain at Work is not a best seller. I heard about this book in a projectmanagement.com webinar – Mind Over Matter. The speaker highly recommended the book to project managers. The Power of Habit aroused my interests in how human mind works. I found Your Brain at Work by David Rock available at audible.com. The customer reviews were very useful and positive too.

It is a very interesting and inspiring book. I am not writing a book review but I would like to share something about Your Brain at Work here:
-Mind’s main responsibilities: understanding, deciding, memorizing, recalling and inhibiting.
-Positive thinking will increase dopamine level and arouse attention.
-Our automatic response to danger or reward is called emotion.
-Human walks TOWARDS Reward and run AWAY from Danger.
-Regulate emotion by Labelling and Reappraisal.
-Reappraisal and observing of mental process are two very important skills/abilities.
-Brain sense and PREDICT all the times. Human predicts to gain certainty.
-What you expect is what you experience.
-SCARF model describes the five essential social needs: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, Fairness.
-Facilitate Positive Change (FPC) is more effective than Constructive Performance Feedback (CPF) when we try to help others.
-Human’s default approach is to focus on solving problem rather than achieving (wanted) outcome. We need to veto this default approach.
-The power is in focus. Changing the way we pay attention will change the circuity of our brain!

Apple Watch Now Playing Glance

Another new habit loop is formed: the cue is the Apple Watch’s “3 rings” and/or I want to “read a book”, the routine is to run 5km, and the reward is feeling great & healthy & productive!

“Habit is what allows us to do a thing with difficulty the first time but soon do it more and more easily, and finally, with sufficient practices, do it semi-mechanically or without any consciousness at all.” 

I highly recommend Your Brain at Work to you too. It is more than work. It is easy and joyful to read (and listen to) it. I am happy and graceful to share it with you by writing this article at the Beijing Capital Int’l Airport. Coming home soon. Wish my flight will depart on-time.

Flight is on time!

Wish you all have a great weekend.

Answer: H20 (the alphabets from H to O)


One week with Apple Watch: Glance it as a watch!

I’m lucky to be able wearing the Apple Watch for more than one week. Below are the ten remarks of my Apple Watch experience:

1.The screen is crystal clear and best for highly focused information which can be consumed in a second to two!

2.The watch face (or the Complication Layer, the highest hierarchy stated by Horace Dediu) is most useful to me. I use the Modular watch face. Current time and calendar help me better use of my time. Outdoor temperature and activity level motivate me to move/exercise more.

3.Haptic notification just works! I usually put my iPhone on silent and sometimes I missed incoming calls. I hadn’t missed any call in the last ten days!

4.Less is more: keep number of Glances at a minimum for easy navigation. Reserve it for the most frequently access information. Here is my list: Battery, Now Playing, Heartbeat, Pacer, Weather, Things, Stocks, Ticker, CNN and Shazam. Shazam is there for quick access. The best assistant is the one with you.

Glances on Apple Watch

5.Third party app is slow. It takes time for precious tapping on the honeycomb-like UI. All these make app not very accessible. That said, there are still some useful apps.

6.The Apple Watch app on iPhone is slow too.

Apple Watch app

7.Interactive app with allow user input is even slower. Example: CALC

8.It takes 2hr to fully charge the Apple Watch from 20% battery level. I usually charge it before sleep. I wear it when I sleep to monitor my heart rate. When I wake up the Apple Watch battery level is 80%+ and charge it 30min to make it full. Hopefully Apple will provide new SDKs so that developers can use Apple Watch to monitor sleeping.

9.We can use Passbook on Apple Watch to enter the departure areas at Hong Kong International Airport. However we cannot use it for boarding unless you have a very very THIN wrist. It is the similar challenge caused by the fixed barcode scanner encountered by Qantas passengers.

10.Recommended 3rd party Apple Watch apps: Things, Pacers, RunKeeper, Overcast, CNN, Ticker, CNBC and Keynote.

3rd party app


Apple Watch review: it is much better to tap on the wrist than the upper arm

Yesterday was 24-Apr-2015, the Apple Watch was officially on sales and shipped to customers. There are many blogposts about the gadget, some great ones such as the Apple Watch Sport Unboxing by 9To5Mac and 28 Apple Watch Tips and Tricks by iMore respectively.

Today is 25-Apr-2015, my pre-ordered Apple Watch 38mm Space Grey Aluminium Black Sport is delivered to me at 10:01am! Much earlier than I expect. The ETA shown on Apple Store is 24-Apr to 8-May. Under-promise, over-achieve. Thanks Apple!

As a (causal) blogger, here is my blogpost about Apple Watch too. I don’t reinvent the wheel to talk about unboxing and how to set up, etc. I will write my first running exercise wearing Apple Watch. My main use case of Apple Watch is fitness device.

Apple Watch measuring Heart Rate

It was 5:30pm, I put Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 on my ears, iPhone 6 plus in the armband on my right upper arm and Apple Watch Sport on my wrist. My aim was to test the smartwatch and I decided to go for a light exercise. I ran 4 km and 29min.

First thing first: it is much more easy and pleasant to control a gadget by tapping on wrist than the upper arm!

It is dangerous looking at the upper-arm when running. I won’t do it anymore.

I started a run session in RunKeeper on my Apple Watch. I did the same in Workout. I was listening to podcast while running. I used the Music app “Now Playing” to pause and resume the podcast a few times. RunKeeper/Workout on Apple Watch showed how long and how far I ran. I swiped up the watch face and glanced Heart Rate about each 100m to check my beat rate. I wanted my heart rate to reach 180 for a few minutes. It was very easy and motivating (to run faster). I stopped when I ran 4km. I found a place to do a 5-minute stretching. I set up a 5-minute timer on Apple Watch with just a few clicks. I received a Line message and I replied it using a emoji. I did all these by interacting with the Apple Watch only. I didn’t touch my iPhone!

Apple Watch screen captures

I checked the RunKeeper and Activity app on iPhone after dinner. Activity showed my average heart rate during the workout period. Health app recorded my heart rate since 11am. It showed heart rate range in each hour. Very cool!

RunKeeper vs Activity

My Apple Watch day one was very interesting. It did what I wanted it to (measure heart rate during exercise). It can do much more! It is fun to use and to learn how to use Apple Watch:D

Notes:
1.I am pleased to find the Apple Watch Sport comes with the new Apple 5W USB Power Adapter (Folding Pins)! It is much more portable than the old one! A small adaptor and a big nice surprise to customers! Every little thing counts!

Apple 5W USB Power Adapter (Folding Pins)

2.I made phone calls using the Apple Watch. It is amazing!

3.I listened to Techpinions podcast – Q1 2015 Tech Earnings, TV Services, Mobile Web. It talked about Cloud Computing, OTT, CDN and mobile web optimisation. A great podcast!

4.We can do screen capture on Apple Watch by quickly pressing the Digital Crown and Side button at the same. The picture is stored on iPhone.