eXtensions - Wednesday 2 November 2016

Apple Watch and Recent Events (Bangkok Post, Life)

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


Apple's event last week, a day after Microsoft's announcement of some well-received devices, revealed the expected updates to the MacBook Pro range. The new devices from Microsoft and Apple use the Intel Skylake processor not Kaby Lake.

While Microsoft favours a touch screen, Apple has avoided this. Apple's iPhones have shown how touch technology can help productivity, but there is a feeling that using this on the computer monitor is not helpful. The Touch Bar puts input where needed. Long-time Mac users often make use of key commands for efficiency, so this extends that functionality. This second display is run from the T1 - an ARM chip based on the ones used in the Apple Watch.

MacBook Pro
MacBook Pro with Touch Bar - Image courtesy of Apple

More features could be made available, but for now the Touch Bar changes depending on which app is being used. One addition that the Touch Bar allows is the Fingerprint ID like on iOS devices, which will make secure online payments easier.

At the Apple event there were demonstrations on its use in Final Cut Pro and Adobe Photoshop showing how quickly users can do things. Other developers (like 1Password) are already working on providing support. When running Windows in BootCamp, Function keys will be displayed.

The 13" models with the Touch Bar are US$1,799 and US$1,999. Converting the former price gives 63,055 baht. Adding 7% for VAT is 67,469. On Apple's online store this model is 67,900 baht, so pricing is close. The price of the other new 13" MacBook Pro converted to baht and with 7% added is 74,969 baht, making this model a fraction cheaper at its listed 74,900 baht. The two 15" models are $2,399 and $2,799: 89,971 and 104,972 baht with VAT factored in, while the prices quoted here are 89,900 and 105,900 baht respectively.

When I checked at the weekend these new Macs were shown as "currently unavailable" here (this is unchanged). In the USA the new 13" versions have delivery times of 4-5 weeks, with the 15" at 3-4 weeks.

Apple Watch Apple Watch

Two weeks ago, the Apple Watch Series 2 went on sale here. I have been running a black version for the last few days. I had been quite happy with the first release of the Apple Watch, especially messaging and fitness monitoring, although I am not a gym visitor or runner and use this for basic inputs. Last Friday, the Apple Watch Nike+ was released worldwide. There are two versions: 38mm at 13,900 baht and 42mm at 14,900 baht on sale here now.

Apple Watch workouts The Series 2 Apple Watch has added considerably to what can be done by those who do make use of the fitness features, helped by some of the 18,000 apps now available. Placement of apps can be done as before using the iPhone Watch app. Users may also add regularly used items (such as heart reate or message apps) to the Dock. There are more complications available so a watch face (and there are more of these too) can be set up to provide a user with personalised input and output methods.

There were several improvements to the S2 chip that now powers the Watch. With dual cores, enhanced graphics capabilities and GPS it works faster. The screen is easier to see and GPS location capabilities help provide significantly more detail for those who run (or in my case, walk). Improvements for fitness include colour-coding on the map for different running speeds or when stationary. As GPS only works outside, dotted lines indicate when tunnels or subways are used. This additional location information is assisted by built-in Wi-Fi.

Apple Watch
Apple Watch Series 2 and Original Apple Watch

WatchOS allows for several types of exercise input, including running and walking, plus more highly-tuned workouts for wheelchair users and for swimming. These require new types of motion recording: input from arm movements is completely different. Activities can be shared, which adds group or family competitiveness.

As swimming needs full immersion, waterproofing was developed for the Watch. A quick-access menu turns off input to the watch face - avoiding spurious input from splashes - and locks the watch. When done, turning the digital crown unlocks the watch and expels any water from the speaker housing with a sonar-like beeping. It is water resistant up to depths of 50 metres.

Apple Watch Apple Watch

When the Watch I am now using arrived, it had the black fluoroelastomer band which is ideal for sports. I loved the stainless steel Milanese loop band I had with the first Apple Watch, so I also bought a black version of this. It felt thinner than the original, so I checked this with the help of the Mechanical Engineering Department of Mahidol University's Engineering Faculty. The black band was 1.44mm thick compared with 1.45mm of the older band. It may be that the weave of the band is finer.

Apple Watch Band Apple Watch Band

Milanese Loop - Original Stainless Steel and Black

Next time: more on the Apple Watch

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



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