Thursday, June 27, 2019

With The Flashlight App on Most Phones, Is Anyone Buying Flashlights Anymore?

Everyone is talking about what the Apple Watch replacing the traditional watches and decimating the market.  But that has been happening long before the Apple Watch came along.   I'm not sure what is the percentage of the human population that wear watches but it is not a reach to suggest that that number dropped since the availability of the iPhone and other smart phones.

What I am wondering about is how the smartphone has affected the flashlight market.  I thought of this when I went on a recent camping trip.  I had all the gears that I needed including flashlights for the strolls on the paths that had no lights. 

I brought a lot a couple of lanterns and two flashlights with 1000 lumens each.  I ended up not using one of them because I had not thought to when I left the camp site which was well lit by a fire and half a dozen lanterns brought by my family and friends.

With my wife using one of the flashlights, I had only my phone and so I turned it on to illuminate the path in front of us to make sure we don't trip or stepped into anything that I was going to regret while she swept the beam from the flashlight around us.

My phone performed admirably.  It was adequate for the near darkness.  We could not see anything in front of us and the only source of light were cabins across the lake and everything else was dark on our side.

Had we only used our phones, it would have been fine.  Maybe a bit more scary but I am sure there was no bears around despite the signs.  But, hey, we're city folks so we are not used to being in that environment.

So I wondered if what we had was good enough for a weekend camping trip, is anyone really buying flashlights anymore?  Unless you have a specific need for a flashlight or lantern, I just don't see it.

It depends on the specific needs.  If you need one that is more durable because of work, definitely. A handyman is going to need more than a phone.  Ergonomically, a tube shaped flashlight works better than a phone for most types of jobs.  And if you need more light than the light on a camera can provide, definitely.

When we go for walks at night in the neighborhood, the phone light was all that we needed.  I have a couple of small flashlights about 50 lumens sitting by the door and I can't remember when was the last time I used them.

For me, the most important tech I needed were the battery packs with USB ports to charge our phones.  I know what some of you may be thinking.  I should have left the tech at home.  Sorry, city folks here.  Ain't gonna happen.  Mostly I needed to check emails but that's about it.  I ignored everything else that was coming through.  Sort of a compromise.

So, are you still buying flashlights for your home needs? And if not, is it because the light on your phone is all you need?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

List of Lives Saved by The Apple Watch

I'm an Apple Watch user.  Not since day one but six months later when I got it as a gift from a friend for a favor I did for him and his family.  After a year of it, I was still not a believer.  Today, I am.  And I'm very optimistic that Apple will revolutionize personal health and the healthcare industry in general.

After using my original Apple Watch for a year, I lost interest in it mainly because it was slow, buggy, and, well, the battery life was really not that great.  I have had to cut workout monitoring short because the battery died and I ended up not being able to close the rings.


I eventually about a new Series 2 and that was much better.  It was this Apple Watch 2 that really had me believing that Apple has something there for me personally.  I gave it to my mom and I eventually graduated to a Series 3 this year after trying various ways of having the same health benefits with only my iPhone X.  I got a regular pedometer to monitor my steps when I don't have my iPhone on my person.  I also tried to revive my old Fitbit but after a year of sitting in my drawer, the battery died (probably of neglect).

None of those options offered the same benefits as having an Apple Watch.  So, I decided I need to go back to the Apple Watch.  With the latest Series 3, the longer battery life, which means it should safely last me through the day, I think Apple has a watch that is truly worth getting.  It's faster and the latest OS offers more features that is likely the first step towards letting users leave the iPhone at home.

It is important to recognize that Apple Watch wearers like the health benefits of heart monitoring and workout tracking.  It is also the health features that Apple advertises much of the time.  And the only health monitoring feature is the heart rate monitor.  I'm hoping there Apple will add more body monitors in the future.  However, for now, it appears that the heart rate monitor, which studies have shown it to be the most accurate, on the watch is good enough to save lives.

Here is a growing list of people who were saved by their Apple Watch.  A vast majority who were alerted by an expected elevated heart rate.

  1. South China Morning Post - A 76-year old man with blocked coronary arteries was warned by his watch that resulted him going to the ER before things got worse.  Furthermore, Gaston D’Aquino suffered from a variety of other health issues, including diabetes, and should benefit from additional health monitoring features future Apple Watch will likely have.  
  2. ABC News - Florida teen was alerted to a 190 beats per minute and she was not doing any physical activities.  Her mother, a registered nurse, took her to a clinic Turned out to be a kidney condition.  
  3. 9To5Mac - A 50-year old attorney, in very good physical shape, was alerted at night that his heart had jumped to more than 120 beats per minute. Turned out to be something very serious.  In additional to an onset of a heart attack, four stents were inserted for blocked arteries.  Had it not been for the watch alert, the man likely would not have waken up.
  4. CNBC - A pulmonary embolism is the blockage of an artery to the lungs that results in a variety of symptoms including shortness of breath and, of course, elevated heart rate.  
It is noted that a few of those folks in the list used third party apps designed to alert them of elevated heart rates, Apple Watch 4, the latest version, can do it natively.  

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

iPhone Plus Versus the iPad Mini - The iPhone Plus Ain't the Same As A Small iPad

Most who follow Apple closely will agree with me that it was disappointing Apple did not upgrade the iPad mini along with the rest of the iPad line.  Most predict that Apple will eventually let it go the way of the iPod now that the iPhone Plus screen is big enough that it may represent a good alternative for folks who want a bigger screen mobile device but doesn't want to go as big as the 9.7" iPad. 

Frankly, I think that's a pretty lame comparision and excuse.  First of all, the iPhone Plus is not a tablet.  I have the iPhone 7 Plus and I love it.  It's powerful, gets me through the day with no issue, and has the best camera as far as I can of any that I have ever owned.  But here is why I don't think it's a good replacement for the iPad mini.

The mini can do many things that the iPhone cannot do.  Split screen.  A little cramp but works well.  The iPhone doesn't do split screen.  Picture-in-picture is a feature that the iPad owns the iPhone.  The mini does that too but the iPhone doesn't.  I think it should and allow can easily allow it to do that but it doesn't.  It's obvious that Apple does want to keep some features that as exlcusive to the iPad. Which kinda says a lot about how Apple does not think the iPhone 7 Plus is a viable replacement for the mini.

Furthermore, the mini is more a productive device than the iPhone.  I've done my share of work on the iPhone but if you put the iPhone Plus and the iPad mini on a table and ask me to crank out a spreadsheet, drawing, or just about anything else, I'll reached for the mini every time.

So, it is perplexing that Apple decided to forgo upgrading the mini in 2017.  Perhaps, we might see an upgrade down the line, perhaps in time for the Holiday Seasons in 2017 or next spring when Apple may decide to use that time show off new iPads. 

The mini serves a need that the iPhone Plus can be a viable substitute for.  Reading, watching videos, or play games.  For other things that can offer greater productivity, the mini has the iPhone beat.  And let's face it, the iPhone Plus costs way more than the mini.  Some might say that's the reason Apple decided not to upgrade the mini and will eventually kill it off.  If so, it should have done that earlier this year.

My guess is that Apple does have plans for the iPad mini.  Maybe it'll get an biannual upgrade like the iPhone SE.  If it does, it makes sense.  The iPhone SE did not get an upgrade this year and if Apple does want to keep the mini in the lineup, upgrading the SE and the iPad mini at the same time next year would make a lot of sense.  That means I'l be more than willing to retire my current iPad mini and opt for the iPad mini 5.

Forget the 15” iPad - give me a 20” One

How do you like them 12.9" iPad Pros? I like then and I'm sure those who own one likes it too. Do it is inevitable that Apple will eventually come out with even bigger iPads that truly blends the line between a tablet and one that works just as well on a desktop. It'll be easier to lug around a tablet form factor than the iMac. Heck it'll be easier and lighter to carry even a 15" or 17" iPad than the 15" MacBook Pro.

So, instead of all that, let's just straight to the 20".  Let's face it, this won't be something you take to Starbucks but it'll be something you can move around your home, office, or studio.  And yeah, at 3-4 pounds for so, you can definitely move it around some.

Right now, I'm sitting in front of a 22" monitor and it's definitely heavier than what a 20" iPad Pro would be and, if it wasn't for the cables and the lack of any reason why I need to move it from my desk, it isn't difficult to move it at all if I wanted to. 

Plus, imagine really using it as a second monitor, perhaps, exclusive to this 20" iPad.  It's both a win-win for Apple and the user. 

Above all, look at the huge productivity spike you'll see with it.  I've done work on the iPhone going as far back as the 3.5" screen.  And then as the screens got bigger and the apps could do do more, I am now doing much more on the iOS devices, particuarly on the iPads.  And I've used them all - 7.9", 9.7", and the 12.9" iPads.  So, I imagine I can do a lot more on the 20" iPad Pro.

Imagine a split screen of 3-4 apps while allow space for other things like a keyboard or controls for apps and games.  You simply cannot do that on today's iPads or Macbooks.  Definitely not on the desktop Macs.

What Apple would have to do is to create a whole new way of utility on such a tablet.  It would truly revolutionize how we interact with computers in the future.  Yeah, gotta be revolutionary.  Because let's be real about this, one day, you can have a room where just the wall itself it a giant screen that you interact with. You can be sitting or standing while you interact with a spreadsheet, painting, or gaming with someone while also FaceTiming your buddies. 

So, I'm gonna go out on a limp here and say that a big, big iPad is something.  Perhaps, Apple is still waiting for the technology to catch up to their vision or it is simply still trying to figure out the best way to make it work in that unique Apple way.  Regardless, it'll happen when Apple think they've got something revolutionary.  And while I'm happy with my iPad 2, I would definitely be ready to buy a 20" iPad Pro because it would take computing to another whole new level.

Perhaps, it might not called the iPad when it does come out.  But who cares.  Just be ready for it.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

iPhone Keyboard Development On the Original iPhone: Someone Will Figure It Out

Source:  CNBC.

Here is a story about the original iPhone and it's lack of keyboard compared to the most popular smartphone at the time: the Blackberry.  It was David versus Goliath though whether Apple or Blackberry was one or the either was uncertain at the time and only time will tell which we know already.  But the story behind how Apple's iPhone came to make up for not having a physical keyboard showed just how people will find a way around a solution if the necessity for the solution exists.

Apparently, keyboard solutions Apple was develop just was not accurate enough.  I had been using the Windows Mobile devices and I know just how bad virtual keyboards are.  Perhaps Apple could have call it a day with what they had up to the point and it would have been better than anything else on the market but that was not enough.

So, Scott Forstall stopped development on other aspects of the iPhone until a viable solution was found.  It was a bit of AI and thinking outside of the box.  What they did was to make predictive typing smarter and with a neat trick where they expand the area around a letter they think users is likely to type next after the first letter of the word. 

It is an interesting story in and of itself but it showed just how people can and will find a solution to solve whatever their problem or obstacle is.  Apple's solution was the best they could come up and it worked well enough to overcome not having a real keyboard.