Computer Science, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, STEM

Fun and Fixes on the #AppleWatch Six weeks later #RaceOnTech

apple watch monogram logo

I kept telling myself that I’d write another blog post about the Apple Watch and now it’s been six weeks since I first received it on launch day on April 24, 2015.  My wife received hers about two weeks after that.  I’ve observed some “fun” things about the Apple Watch as well as some fixes that I hope come soon (I’ve already received the first Apple Watch OS update).  And if nothing else, please read the “One More Thing” section at the end of this blog post where I introduce a subject of future blog posts about inclusion and diversity in technology, or #RaceOnTech .

Adding a Monogram

One of the fun features I found for one of the selectable Apple Watch faces is that you can add a Monogram, your initials, to one of the faces.  I forgot where I learned this from, maybe TechCrunch, but you can put the Apple Logo in your monogram.  I took it one step further and added both the Apple Logo and my initials into the Monogram.  The picture is at the beginning of this blog post above.

Sending Sketches and Notes

Now that my wife has an Apple Watch, I’ve sent her all kinds of crazy quick sketches, tried to play tic-tac-toe remotely using drawings, and sent her my heartbeat.  In addition, you can do a series of taps that when received, remind me of fireworks exploding on the screen.  I found out that when I tap the picture of her while in the “friends” mode, it has a small graphics “explosion”.  The Apple Watch is an excellent communicator but one of the fixes I would like to see is the ability to send an entire Text message with Siri. Currently, I can tell activate Siri by just saying “Hey Siri, Tell <insert name here>, I’m running a little late”.  But currently, you still have to press a send button.  I wish it could just write a message to me saying, “Would you like for me to send this”, rather than having to use my other hand to send it. [Update: a Twitter follower just informed me that you can say, “Hey Siri, send.” This wasn’t intuitive to me since the iPhone version of Siri just asks you if you want to send it. ]

This brings up another issue. When my wife and I are both in the car saying , “Hey Siri”, both of our phones pick it up and our watches get “double” inputs. Could we train Siri in the future to respond to “Yo Joe” or something different so in a room full of Apple Watch wearers we aren’t all saying the same thing to activate them?

Playing Golf with the Apple Watch

My favorite golf app, Golfshot GPS, has an Apple Watch app.  I had to use the “classic” golfshot and was able to get the distances on each hole.  I enjoy using it but there is some lag with the update of the distances from my iPhone 6+ to the Apple Watch Sport.  The band and the watch stood up to the shock from my often errant golf swings as I swung into the ground producing divots or trying to swing the ball out of the sand.  I’ve also dropped my watch a couple of times on the hardwood floor in the house and haven’t noticed any scratches.

Level of Detail

I noticed that when I press the Digital Crown once to view all of the apps with their tiny icons, that the Watch app, even though it’s very tiny, show the current time down to the second!  Now that’s paying attention to detail.  Kudos to the Apple designers.  There is one fix that I would like to see regarding the Digital Crown.  Currently it’s used as a push button and to scroll, and zoom in and out of apps or photos. I would like it so that the surface of the Digital Crown could be used like a touch pad to move around in the App Screen.  This would allow you to select Apps using only the Digital Crown and not having to put smudges on the screen with your finger.

“Biggest” Discovery

When I first got the Apple Watch, my wrist started to hurt because I was trying to twist and bend it just right so that the accelerometer/gyroscope would get the right readings to turn on the display from its sleep mode.  But I always wondered, what if I’m upside down fixing on my car (I am not a mechanic), how would I see the time.  I discovered the answer was simple and was my “biggest” discovery: just tap the screen.  You can see the Apple Watch screen at any orientation by just tapping on it.

Biggest “Embarrassment”

OK, I admit, there is a temptation to be in the gym and then raise up my wrist and speak to Siri, “Launch Workout”.  The embarrassing thing that happens on more than one occasion is that for some reason Siri doesn’t come on and I’m not able to launch the App.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to give strangers demos of my Apple Watch in the airport or elsewhere.  But I tend to not show off Siri too much because sometimes doesn’t activate. I usually have to put my wrist down, shake it, and then try again.  That’s fine for demos but what happens if there is an emergency and I really need it.

Wearing it Upside Down

I remember seeing a Twitter post of an early Apple Watch user trying to make a phone call and listen to it in a crowded restaurant.  The had their watch awkwardly held up to their ear, trying to hear the caller on the other end.  The way someone normally wears their watch makes it difficult to hear phone calls on the Apple Watch.  The design “problem” with the AppleWatch is that the tiny speaker and microphone is on the left side, or the opposite side of the Digital Crown, which makes it difficult to hear phone calls from a person wearing it on the left side with the digital crown on the right.  The solution: change the Watch Orientation settings in the Apple Watch app and where it on the left wrist with the Digital Crown on the left side of the watch.  This works well when you raise your wrist to hear better.  Or you can put your hand on your chin as though you are pondering while talking or while driving with your elbow against the car door.  This will make more sense if and when you have a watch.

One More Thing

Next week, Apple is having its annual World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco.  One of the rumors I’ve read on the Internet include the possibility of having a release of an SDK for native Apple Watch apps.  Left to the imagination of thousands if not millions of iOS developers, the world is yet to see what kinds of Apple Watch Apps could be released soon.  My question is: how many of these developers will be underrepresented minorities (African American, Hispanic, and Native American) and women, who are also grossly underrepresented in the technology and computing field?  Having more diverse iOS and Apple Watch developers provides a major means for these communities to create new entrepreneurial endeavors and income.  I’m encouraged that this year, Apple had a WWDC scholarship competition that included applications from STEM organizations such as NSBE, Girls who Code, Black Girls Code and the Thurgood Marshall fund.  I’ll write more about this issue in my next blog.  And by the way, if you happen to be going to WWDC next week, please let me know.  I hope to see you there.

About the Blogger

Andrew B. Williams, Ph.D. (@outofthebox1) is the Chief Creative Officer for AppRobo LLC, a motivational speaking and technology consulting company that promotes inclusion for innovation in the computing and robotics industry.  As a professor of electrical & computer engineering and distinguished chair at Marquette University, he directs the Humanoid Engineering & Intelligent Robotics (HEIR) Lab and was the founder of the SpelBots at Spelman College.  He is also the principal investigator for a NSF National Robotics Initiative research project to develop culturally responsive humanoid robotics curriculum for underrepresented girls and an NSF Innovation Corps for STEM Learning entrepreneurial project to develop low-cost humanoid robots for under-resourced schools.  Dr. Williams’ TEDx talk, “Belonging in Technology: What I learned from Steve Jobs”, shares how inclusion can inspire creativity and innovation and what he learned while being hired by Steve Jobs as Apple’s first Senior Engineering Diversity Manager.
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