Queuing for rides at theme parks is a great opportunity for sizing up the fashions of fellow thrill seekers. Everyone docilely shuffles along and the folding line passes lots of people both in front and behind. As a watch fan, I enjoy checking out the timepieces around me and at Disneyland, Paris, there was plenty to see in the warm weather.
The wrists of Disney’s guests provided a good selection of horology from Rolexes and Omegas to Tissots and Casios. Michael Kors must be selling watches by the truckload: there were probably more of these fashion watches than anything else. What slightly surprised me was the dearth of smart watches. In five days at the House of Mouse and hundreds of people, I saw two Apple watches, one Sony smartwatch and a handful of Pebbles.
The Sony owner was next to me at one point and I engaged him in conversation about the watch. He confessed that it had been a gift and he didn’t use it very much. Interestingly, both the Apple watches were on women’s wrists. I’m not quite too sure what to take away from that…perhaps they were gifts too, or perhaps Apple has made the watches sufficiently fashionable and appealing that women will be the leaders here. Or perhaps it was pure coincidence.
Where are the smart watches? They’re not at Disneyland, that’s for sure.
The use of “assistive devices” is nothing new to Major League Baseball. For decades, pitchers have snuck things like sandpaper or razor blades onto the field to alter the way baseballs reacted to different kinds of pitches. Major League officials have cracked down on these shenanigans over the years, and for the most part, they’re a thing of the past. But the drive to cheat the system will never die. And it’s in this spirit that Major League Baseball banned players and coaches from using smartphones in dugouts during games. But smart technology is moving beyond phones and into wearables, creating a new potential for team members to access data that might give them an unfair advantage during games.
This led to a reported questioning of Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost, who’s been wearing an Apple Watch in the dugout during games. MLB officials wanted to make sure Yost wasn’t using the electronic device to somehow gather information on opposing teams during games. But in the end, it was determined that Yost wasn’t actively pairing his Apple Watch with an iPhone, meaning the watch was pretty much just… a watch. Aside from being able to tell time, Yost could also get basic weather information thru the unpaired device. That’s it.
Overall, this incident was really just a friendly reminder to Yost (and all other MLB players and coaches) that they can use wearables like the Apple Watch during games. They just can’t let those devices communicate with the rest of the connected world. Professional baseball sure has come a long way from the spit ball and the corked bat!
Todoist is my favorite to-do list management app. I use it every day on my Mac and my iOS devices. Earlier this week, Todoist released an Apple Watch version of the app that brings many of the app’s functions to Apple’s smallest screen. Here’s a list of key features:
- Glance View allows you to view your next upcoming task and the number of tasks you have left for the day.
- Main View gives you access to your Inbox, Today view, Projects, Labels (Premium), and Filters.
- Quick-Add with Voice Command allows users to add new tasks to Todoist by simply speaking them into the watch.
- Reminders will provide a gentle buzz on the wrist when you’re near a certain location or at the exact date/time associated with your task.
- Notifications are a great way to keep up with shared tasks, as Todoist will let you know when someone sends you a new task or comments on an existing task.
Todoist worked hard to make use of the Apple Watch’s small display to ensure its app worked well with a minimalist design. The primary objective with the app’s layout is to keep things focused and distraction free. Todoist carried this mindset over from its other apps which are set up to allow you to focus on whatever you need to work on now, so you’re not burning brain cycles thinking about stuff you need to do tomorrow, next week or next year.
In order to start using Todoist on your Apple Watch, just download the app (if you don’t have it already) to your iPhone, open the Apple Watch app and enable Todoist on your watch in the “My Watch” tab.
Then get ready for your productivity level to soar!
Swatch, the Swiss watch maker best known for its colorful and untraditional designs, is looking to enter the smartwatch market. It’s still unclear as to what exactly Swatch is planning. But at a recent company meeting, Swatch CEO Nick Hayak stated that Swatch’s smartwatch will be launching in two countries within the next three months.
2015 is definitely shaping up to be the year of the smartwatch. And while tech companies like Apple, Motorola and Pebble have all made headlines this year in the smartwatch space, it seems few established watchmakers have entered the fray. Given its history as a known and trusted brand in watchmaking, could Swatch bring a new perspective to the field?
Little is known yet about Swatch’s proposed smartwatch. Will Swatch develop a proprietary OS? Will the company implement some version of the Android operating system? During that company meeting, Hayak said that Swatch will launch its smartwatch in two countries. The first will be Switzerland and the other was only described as a “large country.” It seems logical that this other country would be the United States. But Swatch has made deals with China UnionPay, a Chinese financial firm, and it’s likely that the Swatch smartwatch will ship with a near field communication chip that could allow the device to make mobile payments. Given the prevalence of the Apple Watch and Android Wearables in the U.S., perhaps Swatch’s second launch country will be China instead.
Despite its rapid growth in recent months, the smartwatch space is still fairly new and much is likely to change. If Swatch is able to bring a product to consumers that’s unique and reasonably priced, the watchmaker might just find a whole new market to tap into.
Line 6 is a musical instrument and audio equipment manufacturer that’s been a real industry innovator for nearly two decades. I bought my first Line 6 guitar amp back in 2001 and have been hooked on the company’s products ever since. At this point, it’d be a neck-and-neck battle between Line 6 and Apple as far as which company has made a bigger dent in my overall net worth.
One thing that Line 6 has done recently that’s really intriguing is the development of “remote” apps that work wirelessly with its various products. The first of these connected-app lines is the Amplifi guitar amp/smart speaker system. Amplifi was designed to bridge the gap between practicing at home and jamming with other musicians. At home, the Amplifi could be used as a speaker for entertainment systems. At the rehearsal space, Amplifi also works as a full-power electric guitar amp.
Amplifi is also the first Line 6 product to use a remote app to control different features of the device. The app originally launched for Android and iOS, running both on iPhone and iPad. Now, Line 6 has brought its Amplifi Remote app to Apple Watch:
The new AMPLIFi Remote v2.11 update enables guitar players to control and access guitar tones via Apple Watch. Guitarists can now access tones, control levels, search the Line 6 Tone Cloud, and use the tuner, right from their wrist. AMPLIFi Remote works with the entire AMPLIFi family, and provides guitarists with unprecedented control over every aspect of their guitar tone and effects.
Amplifi Remote features such as Tuner, MyTones and master/instrument level controls will be accessibly directly on the Apple Watch version of the app. Users will also be able to do a “dictation search” of Line 6’s Tone Cloud service, which will allow them to use vocal requests to search thru guitar tones saved to Line 6’s cloud service. Tones can then be quickly loaded onto an Amplifi device for immediate use.
It’s great to see Line 6’s continued development of things like the Amplifi Remote App. The company has also started rolling out other products that work with similar apps. I’m definitely excited to see what else Line 6 comes up with this year.
If This Then That, better known as IFTTT, is a popular service that ties a plethora of online apps. services and devices together to perform specific tasks. For example, you could create an IFTTT “recipe” (the term that IFTTT uses for actions created thru the service) to automatically save your Instagram photos to Dropbox. IFTTT can also be used to work with things like smart sensors, home automation systems and more.
The IFTTT interface itself is accessed mostly thru the company’s website. There, you can search for recipes created by IFTTT staff and users. Once you find a recipe you’d like to try, just add it to your own IFTTT account where you can then configure the recipe to specifically work with your own user accounts across whatever services are referenced in the recipe. Along with that interface, IFTTT also offers its own apps that work in complementary ways to IFTTT’s core functionality:
- Do Button: This app gives you a simple one-button interface to trigger the recipes that you’ve made thru IFTTT.
- Do Camera: Create a “personalized” camera that will automatically share your photos with services like Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote and more.
- Do Note: Use this app like a “digital notepad.” Make a quick note and then use IFTTT recipes to share it with Evernote, Google Calendar and more.
All of these apps were originally available for iPhone only. But IFTTT recently brought all of these apps to iPad and Apple Watch. The company is touting this move as “small, medium and large” versions of its apps for the different devices. Now it’s easier than ever to access and activate your IFTTT recipes.
I’ll admit, I’m still kind of an IFTTT newbie. But with the ease of use provided by these new apps, I’m definitely going to be looking into using the service more.
Apple has made a point of adding accessibility features to its products for years. Everything from the Mac to iOS devices has user-enabled controls and configurations for things like voice-to-text, alteration of the screen thru focused zooming in and more. And while it seems like the company’s new Apple Watch wouldn’t necessarily be that useful for customers with visual or other kinds of impairments, Apple wants to prove that misconception wrong right out of the gate. That’s why users with special needs can make appointments to test out an Apple Watch, with specific guidance from an Apple Store employee that can demonstrate all of the watch’s accessibility options.
Customers who are interested in making one of these appointments can do so thru the Apple website, the Apple Store iOS app or by calling 1-800-692-7753. When making an appointment, it’s a good idea to note that you’re a disabled user and you’d like to try out the Apple Watch’s accessibility features. This way, the store can have an iPhone preloaded with the full Watch OS and paired with an Apple Watch ready when you arrive. (Apple Stores don’t normally have their watches fully set up like this for customers who just walk in off the street, that’s why it’s important to make an appointment in advance.)
Anytime you’re going to purchase a new item (especially something that can be pricey like an Apple Watch), it’s a good idea to try it out and really see if its right for you before handing over the credit card. It’s great that Apple is continuing its commitment to disabled users by allowing them to make these special appointments. Hopefully, the Apple Watch will prove to be a true asset to those who are in need of assistive technology.