Apple Watch battery

Do Apple Watch owners suffer “range anxiety”, in the same manner as electric car owners? In my experience, yes, but it fades quite quickly once expectations and experience collide and settle down.

For my usage so far – albeit just a week and a half – my 42mm watch generally has more than 50% left when I hit the sack, having been on my wrist approx 06:45 to 23:00. Given that I have no qualms at all about charging it every night, that’s pretty good, and better than a lot of scare stories had led me to expect. Of course if I was going camping for a week it would be utterly useless, but I accept that it’s just not the right product for that scene.

How much do I really use it though? I don’t stare at it all day long, especially as the novelty starts to wear off. Apple are correct: its rightful place in the world is for fleeting interactions lasting just a few seconds, and I have quickly settled into that very casual relationship with it. Right now, I use it to:

  • check the time (obviously)
  • check the weather
  • to see what song is playing on my iPhone when I don’t recognise it
  • to see incoming messages and tweets (but very rarely to respond to them)
  • to snooze/dismiss calendar alerts
  • to quickly set a timer for an ad-hoc reminder
  • to take incoming calls, before getting my iPhone out and switching to that – but I hope to get out of that habit
  • for running (much more about that in a future post)
  • for keeping tabs on general activity via Apple’s ‘Activity’ app with its all-knowing three circles

I’ve had one day where the battery ran out prematurely. Very prematurely, at 1830! That morning I’d gone for a 5km run using Apple’s built-in ‘Workout’ app – my first and only time with that app so far – which had knocked the battery down to 84% by 0700. That actually didn’t seem too bad for the run itself, since it was working hard keeping track of heart rate etc. but I still don’t understand how it came to expire later on, from being a mere 16% down at the start. Perhaps the battery level reporting was poor and when it said 84% it was actually much lower. Indeed when it flaked out, it was reporting 13% so maybe calibration was poor, and maybe I’m closer to the wire than I think when I go to bed with an apparently healthy percentage left. We’ll see how future experiments pan out.

I recently switched from O2 to Three (whilst picking up a new iPhone 4S) and frankly it’s great. It must be great if I'm blogging about it! Key wins are as follows.

  • All you can eat data with Three. O2 have recently abandoned unlimited data and charge based on fixed price data packages for paltry amounts – e.g. 500MB for £6 per month. To be fair I should point out that their systems told me I was only using about 200MB per month previously. But read on…
  • Tethering! I can turn on Personal Hotspot on my iPhone and connect to it via Bluetooth, USB or WiFi from another computer and get all the wonders of the internet. This has revolutionised my train ride to work with my laptop. Phone stays in pocket and via Bluetooth I’m fully connected to the world. This is technically possible on some other networks but often only at a price, either to turn it on at all, or because you’ll be charged oodles for the data you use up.
  • Raw speed. Over 3G I now regularly get 8MBit downstream, 1.5MBit upstream. That’s better than many people’s home broadband and a lot better than I ever got with O2.

It's not all fun and sunshine though. I found a couple of major downsides, which I will just have to live with.

  • Visual voicemail doesn’t exist on Three. Frankly I was dumb-founded when I noticed this. I literally couldn't believe it, but apparently it's true. Instead you get a text message telling you that you have a voicemail and then have to phone a voicemail number and painfully navigate through things with the numeric keypad. It’s positively medieval and if I wasn't so smitten with their data service it would definitely be a reason to avoid Three entirely.

    Of course you only find this out after you've signed up because it's not something they point out to you. I have had conflicting messages from different Three employees in shops and on the customer service line about whether they ever intend to get with the program here. Alas I fear they won't.

  • Customer service can be dodgy. It was a struggle to get my phone up and running in the first place due to some miscommunication and dodgy information from Three. Their customer service line is like a choose your own adventure book – consisting of endless numeric options designed to avoid having to actually talk to you. Once I actually got to speak to somebody it was alright, though I had to fight my way through the number-maze each time – they wouldn't give me a direct number.

    Before my phone was activated (which is ironically what I was trying to phone up to arrange) it was literally impossible to talk to someone because the first auto-question asked for your mobile number and then complained that it wasn't activated! Apparently you have to type hash to defeat this particular monster but they didn't tell me that and the prompt doesn't mention it. Apparently it's a secret.

Waiting on a dark platform for a train. I wonder if my iPhone (3GS) can take a picture with any merit? Apparently so, assuming you like a grainy, dark blur, which frankly I do! The colour, the grain and the blur really make this picture. I even kind of like the white post in the top-left, as a jarring bit of realism creeping into the otherwise abstract shot.

I happened across a Speckled Wood butterfly on our apple tree, that apparently didn't mind me shoving an iPhone about two inches from its delicate self. It was well into a sunny day so I didn't expect it to be so docile.


It also made for an interesting test of iPhone macro camera capability. The results in this picture are fair, though it has smeared the subtle feathery detail in the wing quite badly. I suppose that's to be expected from such a tiny sensor, with lots of anti-noise processing to compensate. The biggest difficulty I found was getting it to reliably focus on the point I was interested in, resulting in lots of shots of an in-focus leaf and a blurry butterfly. Theoretically you can tap the screen to indicate the point for focussing and metering, but I didn't find that to work particularly well. Worst of all it doesn't give any obvious positive or negative feedback on whether it thinks it has successfully locked on or not. I'd like it to flash a green square when it's got a good AF lock, and maybe a red disintegrating one if it has failed.

Note that this is a crop from the original. Click for higher res. Another major annoyance of the iPhone's Camera app is that when viewing the photos, it shows a low-res blurry version when zoomed in, leading you to think that the camera is significantly worse than it is, and making is very difficult to check focus. I really can't understand why they'd do this!

09. August 2009 · 8 comments · Categories: iPhone, Mac

I've noticed that in iPhone's Calendar, you can't change the calendar (Home,Work, etc.) of an entry once it's been created – only at the point that it is being created. This is immensely frustrating as quite often I fail to spot which calendar an entry is being created in until after I've hit Done and I see it showing up in green or blue in my calendar. I split about 50/50 between Home and Work entries and so very often each new entry is of a different type to the last (though I fail to notice it) leaving the default calendar assignation incorrect. Grrrr.

Update: I realised that a big reason for failing to spot which calendar is being used at point of entry is that it doesn't use the calendar colour in the creation UI – only the name. If it backed the name with a big splash of colour (green for home, blue for work) I for one would be far less likely to mess up.

Because my broadband wasn't working I've been using internet tethering with my iPhone for my main internet connection for my computer. So when my iPhone demanded I update its software to cure its SMS vulnerability I thought hey why not go ahead! I figured it would download the update to the computer (via the iPhone's net connection) as per normal, then perform the update. No reason to suspect a problem. 

Unfortunately once it had got the whole 300MB package and tried to install it, it required access to some Apple server in order to finish the install, but the iPhone was half-updated and no longer providing internet connectivity. So I got stuck there, with an iPhone just showing a "connect to iTunes" graphic when switched on. I understand this is known as "recovery mode". And that's how it's been for a full day, but thankfully I now have broadband working and have managed to get it back up on its feet. That required a factory restore then update from backup then full sync though, and I'm yet to determine if all is truly well.

So the lesson here is – don't use your iPhone as the sole internet connection in order to update your iPhone!
For some reason, having switched it off when the previous occupants left, we now have to wait 2 weeks for BT to turn our broadband back on again. I know not why. They must literally have a system that includes a "wait two weeks for no good reason" step. As such I'm using my iPhone with internet tethering as my internet connection.

It works reasonably well, maxing out at about 50 kilobytes/s – which equates to about half a megabit, so stretching the term broadband quite thin but useable as long as you're not in a hurry. However I've noticed that O2 are pulling a fast one (pun intended) and rewriting JPEG and GIF images that you request via HTTP, re-encoding them at a much lower quality level, presumably in order to make your bandwidth go that much further.

I have a problem with this though as they've gone so far down the quality slope that the images are often no longer fit for purpose, with small text unreadable and photos suffering from JPEG artefacts so badly that there's only a muddy mess left. Here's a small screenshot from my blog sidebar, showing the knackered JPEG, which I have saved with very high quality JPEG compression so as not to introduce more artefacts. Of course when I review this post it'll get re-compressed by O2 again and look even more terrible (indeed the hyperlink text is near unreadable) but hopefully you won't have that problem unless you're also tethering.


So this is a plea to O2, asking them to turn up the quality, if they must mess with the web at all.
I had a couple of long train journeys today, so this morning just after I boarded that train at Paddington I followed the instructions on my iPhone to turn on internet tethering. This would allow me to use its 3G internet connection on my laptop via bluetooth, enabling me to get some work done. Brilliant!

Follow the instructions to enable it and you end up with a fiddly web form that requires you to manually fill in the details that O2 already have for you. How's that for an integrated experience?! Terrible, that's how. And then the coup de grace – it's 14 hours later and internet tethering has still not been turned on for my phone. Both train journeys have been and gone, I'm starved of juicy internet goodness and O2 are presumably laughing at me whilst making a small tower from 15 of my pound coins.

Their instructions do say it could take up to 24 hours to come alive, but it's natural to assume that this is a worst case caveat, like Royal Mail saying you're not allowed to complain about 1st class mail until it's gone missing for 7 days – a backup clause to cover exceptional circumstances. Apparently O2 are serious, perhaps to deliberately discourage people who are in any way impulsive from stupidly parting with their money for such an overpriced service. Perhaps they're on our side after all…

Update: about 30 hours have now passed since I bought the tethering bolt on. Now not only does my phone still not have data tethering, but it has no data connection whatsoever. So I can't get email, visual voicemail, web etc. on the phone itself, let alone on a tethered device. A quick call to O2's magic iPhone support number gives me a recorded message that they're having trouble in the London area with 'network congestion'. I don't see why this innocuous Tuesday would result in a tidal wave of traffic that brings their service to its knees, unless it's simply the continuing weight of iPhones being added to its network every day as they continue to sell like hotcakes.