iPhone X

I can’t believe an entire year has passed since I upgraded to iPhone 7 plus. I love my iPhone and the plus form factor. My initial reason for going plus was to get the better camera features, it is after all my primary camera, but I found myself actually enjoying having the larger screen.
While the iPhone 7 plus was an improvement over my iPhone 6 plus in almost every way it wasn’t a big leap in technology. That big leap in technology arrived today in the form of the iPhone X.

Unboxing

The most remarkable moment unboxing the phone is when you see the screen for the first time. It’s amazing how much it reminds me of the iPhone 3g and 3 gs. The chrome band around the face, the rounded corners are really striking after staring at the 7 plus front face for over a year and previous generations for ten.

The lack of a home button also takes you aback. How are you going to unlock and work the damn thing? It brought the realization that I was going to have to learn a few gestures before I could even use this new phone.
Getting the phone out of the box revealed the usual iPhone accessories. The usual charging block, USB-Lightning cable, wired ear buds, and headphone jack dongle are all under the phone.

Setup

In anticipation of getting the X, I started off the day making an encrypted backup on my laptop. I want all my settings and health data restored on the new phone so an encrypted back is the only way to transfer them to the new phone. Prior to the backup iTunes reminded me to install iOS 11 which I did assuming the iPhone X would come pre-installed with it.
The new install process is very slick. Just put the phone next to another iOS device, enter your phone unlock pin, and the initial critical settings are transferred. The Face ID registration was very fast, probably less than a minute. Activation on the cellular network failed the first time but worked fine on the first retry. The last step asked me if I wanted to set the X up as a new phone or restore from iCloud or iTunes backup. I picked iTunes and connected the phone to my laptop. Then iTunes threw up a warning that my phone was running an older version of iOS and I would have to update the phone. (Airhorns)
The upgrade took agonizingly long. I was getting antsy. I tried not to freak out when I saw the estimated time start at 2 hours, drop to 40 minutes, and then start counting down at 20 minutes. The actual upgrade took around 30-40 minutes. When it was done, I was able to get the backup restored to the phone and I was in. Here are some quick notes on my experience.

Size

After being in the “Plus Club” for so long this phone feels tiny in my hands. It feels small and as when holding other non-plus phones it should feel disappointing because of the non-plus screen size but not with this iPhone. The screen goes out to the edges. It looks so large in comparison to how it feels. It’s like the Tardis of iPhones.

True Tone

This is the first device I own with True Tone and I don’t think I want another device without True Tone. The color of this display is stunning. There were some times when I felt like I was looking at a printed page. It’s like looking at a Retina display for the first time. You never want to look at a non-retina display ever again.

The Notch

I thought I would hate it. It’s weird. I don’t hate it. But you stop noticing in in portrait mode. The same can not be said when you rotate the phone on it’s side. That black notch in my beautiful screen is very noticeable when you hold the phone in landscape. We are all going to need to get use to this new feature of our phones.

Face ID

Face ID works great and works best when you don’t think about it. During my first few minutes with the phone I did have a couple of misfires. One because of the angle of my phone (almost pointed away from my face) and the other because I flubbed the unlock gesture. After two to three minutes you just get used to it. Everything gets smoother when you just start to expect that it works. The new unlock gesture is that easy to learn.
Later when I jumped in my car, Face ID worked fine with my sun glasses on and the phone at a low angle/position relative to my face. I thought for sure it wouldn’t work 100% of the time but sure enough it was reliable.

Speed

This phone is fast. It’s noticeably faster than my 7 plus.

Feelings After One Day

It’s not a minor incremental improvement. It’s a leap forward. It’s a blast to learn the new features, some so fundamental to the operation of the device.
Very happy with this phone. Glad I upgraded.

iPhone X

Welcome Back to Night Vale

Maybe it’s just that time of year but I’ve been craving books, music, and podcasts of a supernatural variety. I’m in a spooky mood and I want to hang out with mad scientists, aliens from other planets, vat-grown monsters, and children of the night. I’m not sure how I ended up rediscovering it but the Welcome to Night Vale podcast hits the spot.

If you are unfamiliar with Night Vale, it is a strange place in the deserts of the American southwest. The podcast is a recording of the radio broadcast of one of its denizens. It features local news, PSAs, and special announcements. That would be pretty mundane in most places but not in Night Vale.

Night Vale is a nightmarish place inhabited by strange hooded figures, feral dogs, trans dimensional beings, and indescribable shapes that no one speaks of. The entire place is governed by a the town council and the sheriff’s secret police. The sky is patrolled by strange helicopters that vary in menace depending on what color they happen to be that day, that is when it’s not filled with strange glowing lights. Night Vale feels like a mashup of Twin Peaks, Hawkins, Indiana, and resort community designed by H.P. Lovecraft.

I first became aware of Night Vale back in 2012. I’ve been revisiting this strange place by replaying old episodes. I’m glad to see it survives after five years as an active podcast with many spin-off shows and books.

If you want a bit of black magic and mystery in your life, subscribe. I recommend it. See you at the dog park…or not.

Welcome Back to Night Vale

MMOSS – Hedge Creeper

Cambridge, MA eating an Atomic Meatloaf Meltdown and drinking a Harpoon Ale. I was alone so I picked up a local music trade paper and was leafing through it when I stumbled upon a review for the album “i” by MMOSS a psychedelic jam band from New Hampshire. I was intrigued. After finishing my meal I went out an bought the CD somewhere near Harvard Square and I’ve been a fan ever since.
I’m pretty sure they have only recently been available on Spotify and it looks like a re-issue of “i” is available. My pick for the week is “Hedge Creeper”. It’s a fun jam full of late 60s AM radio tropes. I think Ron Burgundy is playing lead jazz flute on this one. Enjoy this track while driving with the top down.

MMOSS – Hedge Creeper

My take on the Apple Watch

A friend forwarded me this NY Times article about the mechanical watch makers responding to the Apple Watch. It prompted me to write a long email response which I thought would make a good blog post. So here goes.

After wearing the Apple Watch Sport for more than a month now I can tell you it’s going to stay on my wrist. It is not a reduction of the phone but rather an extension of it. A very useful one. I’ve purchased two additional color bands that I switch depending on what I’m wearing. I plan on purchasing additional straps/bands as interesting designers start creating them for Apple Watch.

I use Apple Watch for telling the time, fitness tracking, managing my appointments, and for checking messages/notifications. I’ve filtered down notifications so that only the most important make it to the Apple Watch. When I get a gentle tap on the wrist I simply glance at my watch to see the notification. If it’s a message that I can use a canned response for then I just reply right from the watch. I don’t take my phone out of my pocket if I get a notification on the phone. As a result, I use the phone a little less.

I purchased the Apple Watch Sport because it is inevitable that subsequent versions of the watch will improve. I will purchase a more expensive stainless steel model when it includes GPS and better water resistance. I’d like to keep it on when I’m swimming or kayaking. (I know a touch screen that works submerged is a tall order.) I’d also like to see them make the watch bigger. The current 42mm looks fine on my wrist but I wouldn’t mind a larger face. I’ve worn Suunto watches in the past and I’d love to see Apple make a watch with that form factor. I will probably never consider buying the gold watch.
I’ve always worn watches mostly inexpensive Swatch watches (I am a child of the 80s) but much as I drool over mechanical watches, I can’t justify the cost. They are beautiful objects and I especially marvel at the models with multiple interesting complications. They are truly wonderful. Even with Apple entering the fray, I don’t think expensive mechanical watches are going anywhere. There will always be a market for them. All these hybrid watches these guys are trying to create to compete are a mistake. I mean, smart straps? It’s like building a hybrid Lamborghini. Yes, there is an overlap between people who want expensive mechanical watches and smart watch functionality. I think that market is smaller than the overall mechanical watch market and way smaller than the market for smart watches.
Apple is going to take a great chunk of the smart watch market by making very compelling products. Like phones they aren’t going to dominate market share but they will take most of the profits because of their complete mastery of logistics and manufacturing. They will likely compete with mechanical watch makers at the periphery, maybe for the sub-thousand dollar segment. They will continue to improve not only the function but the materials that make up the watch as well. I doubt they are going to really threaten high-end mechanical watch makers. As long as there are people with money and expensive tastes, mechanical watchmakers will fine. It’s everyone else that’s in trouble.
My take on the Apple Watch