Saturday, July 17, 2021

Macbook: The Next One May Not Be A Huge Leap But Expect Apple To Stay Ahead of Everyone Else

 Source:  Appleinsider, Macworld.

Do you compare yourself to others or just your previous self?  I'm not a fan of the former but I am fine with comparing myself harshly but fairly against myself a week ago, a month, ago, a year, ago, and even five years ago.  And sure, once in a while, I'll question what I am doing and how I am doing compared to others in similar positions.  I still favor self comparisons and evaluations.

So, when Apple's latest M1 chip currently powering its lower end MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and 2021 iPad Pro was released late 2020, there were benchmarks after benchmarks that compared Intel-based MacBooks and Windows laptops against the M1 Macs.  And Apple was the clear winner in many if not most of the tests. However, time for those comparisons are over and we should be focusing on the next chip from Apple and how they match up to the M1.  It'll be faster, running cooler, and maybe even smaller but how will it compare to the M1?  That's the comparison we like to see.

And with Apple Germany accidentally unveil a 16" MacBook Pro, we know the time for that comparison, rumors not withstanding, is close.  And while the accidental unveiling was for a MacBook Pro with M1, I think it's likely that we will see the next generation M-chip powering it rather than the nearly year old M1 chip.  

Unfortunately, Apple has been quite tight-lipped about its next CPU update.  There is no short supply of speculation about what the next ship will be called and how many cores it will have or what it will be capable of.  Whether you fall into the M1X or M2 camp, we know it'll be faster.  We do not know if it'll be 10%, 20%, or 50% faster.  100%?  One can only hope but it probably does not work like this.  Apple is continuing to migrate away from Intel and Apple professional class CPU will have to be 2x or more in terms of computing power than what is powering the consumer Macs.  Otherwise, there is no need for professionals to purchase vastly more expensive and more profitable Mac from Apple.

Foe the rest of us, incremental increase in computing power will depend on other factors such as chip design as well as designs to the Mac itself. New memory with greater speed, storage, as well as increased efficiency of MacOS itself. All of these are a factor into why the current M1 Macs are so much faster than their Intel counterparts not to mention even better battery life, all the while using up much less power.

There is also speculation on how Apple will make the next chips faster and more efficient  one way is to increase speed without having to use more power. Apple will also increase the memory which currently limited to 16 GB to 32 or even 64 GB. Again, Apple will do this if it can somehow avoid increasing power usage. Then there is also something others have been hoping Apple will do which is increase the number of cores on the chip.  

We will know in the details in the coming weeks as I expect Apple to begin testing benchmarks or through leaks to the media. We are likely going to see a refresh of the Macs around October when Apple traditionally refresh its products foe the coming Holidays seasons.  

So, if you’re in the market for a new Mac, I suggest you wait unless you find a really great deal on the M1 MacBook Air.  Expectations will be very high as tech fans want to know if the surprises Apple unveil with the M1 was not just a one time event but that it can continue to exceed expectations and deliver and not only stay ahead of the competition but pull even further ahead.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Tracking Naps on Apple Watch Would Be A Welcomed Feature

 As someone who can easily fall asleep, I do not have an understanding of people who have difficulty falling asleep are unable to get a good night’s sleep.  I was not always like this.  When I was young, falling asleep did not come easy for me.  Now that Apple Watch has had sleep tracking since WatchOS 7, it is perhaps one of the most undervalued features that I think most users ignore.  On weekends, I do like to nap and maybe it is a feature Apple should add in future OS upgrades.

As I said above, sleeping comes easy for me.  I keep pretty much alert as anyone else during the day.  I prep for bed around 10 and hit the pillow by 11.  I set my watch to wake up around 6 AM but I tend to get up around 4:30.  It’s not a full 7-8 hours of sleep.  During COVID, I did not sleep longer because I do not save time commuting since my work is within a 10 minute walk.

As you can see here, my sleep is quite consistent.  Oh yeah, the Apple Watch mentioned as much.  On weekends, I like to nap if I happen to be at home with nothing to do.  During this July 4th weekend, my Saturday was very free.  I had gone for a run in the morning, the house was cleaned last week, and I did not have a lot of chores.  Sitting on the couch after lunch, I dozed off for a good two hours.  

If I can go back and add some sleep minutes, that would be a nice feature to have on the Apple Watch or have it automatically ask if I had been napping based on my heart rate and lack of movements of my body.  

It’s too late for WatchOS 8 to have a napping feature.  However, Apple has gone step further with sleep tracking in the upcoming OS.  Now, sleep tracking includes respiratory tracking through the Apple Watch 6’s ability to track movement and oxygen rate in the blood.  

I’m still trying to understand now sleep tracking helps people get a better night’s sleep.  It’s a subject I would like to study a bit more in-depth.  As someone who would like to get the most out of my waking hours, if I can use the sleep metrics to help me do that, I would be very interested.  

I would appreciate any suggestions.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Who Needs A Laptop When an iPad Is More Than Enough

A MacBook is be nice to have since it has a much longer battery life than anything that anyone can buy on the Apple side of the street including the iPhone Pro Max.  Still, lugging around a laptop is so 2010 and before that.  Now, there are tablets.  Okay, iPads, to be more specific, that can do the job of laptops and MacBooks and are better at specific tasks than regular computers.  And Apple suggests that users consider 

During the last 14 months of lockdown due to Covid, I've relied on my 2016 MacBook for work I do for my regular job.  I have my trusty iPad mini around when I need to use it as another screen or a distraction while I am working.  I came back to the office about a month ago and for the first week, I was bring my MacBook to and back from work.  Starting with the second week, I've been leaving it at work.  Now that I have a regular schedule, I only do what's necessarily for my job and I don't want to take my work home if I don't have to.

At home now, if I need a computer, I am 95% on the iPad mini (the other 5% is on the iPhone).  And I am comfortable doing because if how robust the iPad and iPadOS is now and goes to show that regular people who do not need a powerful device, a truck in the words of Steve Jobs, can comfortable stick with an iPad.  Or even an iPhone should one chooses.  

When I first decided that the iPad is all that I was going to rely on, I was a little nervous.  There is a possibility that I might need to some some work at home in the event of an emergency.  So far that has not happened yet and for some coworkers who are still on their desktop computers, they'll just have to deal with anything that comes up when they go to work the next day.  So, I adopted that attitude just as I adopted the attitude that work is for work hours only.  

With the iPad mini, I can do the everything else.  

  • Gaming
  • Social activities - messaging, video chats, email
  • Transactions - paying bills, banking, buy/sell stocks if I wanted to, e-commerce
  • Writing - just as I am doing now
  • Reading news or books
  • Streaming music or video
  • Surfing the web for suggestions on my gardens
  • Personal projects - these involve more writing as well as some spreadsheets that I use Pages and Numbers for.
  • Drawing
  • Taking photos - okay, I'm not an old folk who goes on vacation snapping away. But I really have to, the mini is not as bad as carrying around an iPad or iPad Air
I think these activities I've listed pretty much covers most of what everyone else do on their iPad or iPhone.  What has perplexed me somewhat was the skyrocketing sales of the iPad for enterprise.  I knew with schools going online, iPads were a great option.  

But for people working from home? With iPadOS 15 about to be released in less than three months, we already know a lot of what Apple has planned and we we can anticipate that Apple will do in the coming years.  And from the looks of things, we will see the iPad gains new features or see updates to existing features that make it a more powerful device that may eventually end up with mobile warriors selecting the iPad over a MacBook for work if they do not need the extra horsepower that the Mac offers.

For now, I'm happy that I do not need to carry my Mac around and can instead really go mobile and light with the iPad mini.  

Monday, June 14, 2021

Apple Watch: More Flexible Goals and Challenges For Fitness

 I've been an Apple Watch user stating with the 2nd generation.  It is Apple's first mobile device that I did not jump on right away - I was an enthusiastic user of the original iPhone and iPad.  For some reason, it just was not for me.  And the second generation was not for me but I got it as a gift.  Before that, I was a Fitbit user if not a happy Fitbit user.  But I decided to give Apple Watch 3 a go and I'm now a believer.  It is largely due to the more mature apps, especially the fitness app and features.  It has been a while since Apple has made changes to the rings of goals and I'm hoping Apple will do that soon.

I look at the Fitness app on the Watch every day that I have the watch on my wrist.  And probably a few dozen times a day to see where I am.  It's great.  I am comfortable setting my goals at 700 calories, 30 minutes of workout, and getting up 12 times a day.  It took a while for me to decide this is what works for me - it is achievable, it makes me work for it, and it also makes me struggle a bit especially at the end of the day when I am still coming up short.  But there are two additions I like Apple to add to this.

I like another ring to be added.  And this ring can be set by the user.  Certainly, there is enough room on the watch for Apple's developers to add another ring.  Even two.

See that middle of black space within the blue ring?  That nothingness?  Apple can certainly make the rings thinner for another ring and a features to fill out the middle.  Maybe like solid circle that fills up as the user gets closer to that goal.  

And what would users like to use these custom goals for?  I like a steps per day goal.  I'm sure by now, everyone knows about the arbitrary 10,000 steps per day goal.  My goal is around 11,000 steps a day (I'm around 11,500 days a day average so far this year).

Perhaps, the number of stairs per day is a worthy goal to pursue.  Hours of sleep, ounces of water intake, minutes of mediation, or workouts.  These are just some that I easily thought of that I think many users would be interested in. And smarter readers like yourself could certainly think of other things that I have not considered as goals that would be of interest to users should Apple ever allow users to determine goals for additional rings.

One other thing about the Apple Watch I like is the ability to challenge other users.  Here are some thoughts about this I would like to see Apple implement.  A couple of weeks ago, I was challenged by someone.  And what Apple used to determine the winner is the how many percentage points is earned by the user at the end of seven days.

I like to see more challenge features.  

  • Allow users to set the number of days.  The current seven-day challenge is prety good but that mgiht be too long for some users or some users might want more days to go up against another.
  • Ability to challenge yourself.  This might not be as much as a challenge as a need for Apple to help users track how their fitness and workout is progressing or lack there of.  Some of the data are in the Health app on the iPhone which makes it not easily accessible for any use other than for me to see how I did last week, last month, or the past year.  All that information should be made available for use like a self-challenge game.  I'm doing a lot of tracking on my Numbers sheet but it would be a nice feature use that info so can instantly know how I'm doing against myself.  
  • Having a friend who you can challenge is great.  So is the self-challenge above. I like to see challenges expanded to data collated by Apple against someone in my age group, sex, and similar physical activity.  Make this available on Game Center would be neat as well.
We are still in the infancy of the wearable revolution and Apple will likely evolve and update the Apple watch fitness app with more features with each passing year.  I think all the features I would like to see are really low hanging fruits that Apple can easily implement.  And perhaps, Apple has other features in store that will blow away any of these features I want. Either way, I would not want to miss this boat with each watch and WatchOS update.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Tales of the iPhone Mini - Perfect for Health

 When we think of health these days, we have plenty of options and tools available to us to stay health, lose or maintain weight, or other health related goals we have.  In the Apple world, the most obvious one is the Apple Watch.  Before that, we have the iPhone with its ability to count steps and GPS to let us know how far we have walked, ran, or rode.  Today, with the different sizes of iPhones available to us, only the iPhone mini is the perfect choice for 

There are plenty of apps with the sole goal of achieving better health.  How much water to consume, what to eat, and much more.  Some apps even duplicate what the Apple Watch does very well - measure your heart rate.  The iPhone 12 mini, the regular iPhone 12, and the two iPhone Pro models all do that very well because they can run all these same apps.   However, only the mini does all of these and is easier to carry around on the go.  

This is obvious - the mini is smaller than all of the other iPhone 12 models.  The iPhone 12 mini with its size makes it easy to carry in the pocket, armband, or with one hand.  I’ve ran with the iPhone 11 Pro Max before and half the time, I’m worried about dropping it.  This is not the case with the mini.  I can easily handle it with one hand and not worry about dropping it. 

The iPhone 12 comes in at 5.78 oz.  The iPhone Pro and Pro Max at 6.66 and 8.03 oz., respectively..  The mini comes in at 4.76 oz.  It’s not a big difference unless you’re comparing the mini with the Max Pro wieghts.  It really comes down to the size.  The iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 feels big.  And the Max even more so.  So when you’re trying to run with them in your hand, stuffed in a pocket, or anchored to your arm, you really feel them.  This is not the case with the mini.  You almost do not notice it.

Of course, that stills can’t compare to the Apple Watch that simply sits on your wrist. Next post: iPhone Mini versus Apple Watch workouts and health.