Month: April 2015

What’s the Apple Watch like for a normal user? – 1 week in


Before you read this please have a read of my experience today trying to swap a white band to black. It’s almost unbelievable.

I wanted the Apple Watch after trying it. More than that though I knew it had the potential to be great for my wife. I’d already paid for the Pebble Time Steel so there was no backing down now. I could still be involved from day one so in a spectacular boomerang present I bought myself my wife the Apple Watch as pictured above.

Then it hit me that this could be useful material for the blog. What’s it like for a non-techy person to own an Apple Watch?

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My worst Apple service experience ever over a bit of plastic

I’ve just had the worst experience with Apple customer service ever and all for the sake of a cheap bit of plastic.

I bought the Apple watch for my wife as a gift. She loved it but wasn’t keen on the white band and wanted the black one. I’d heard that Apple were swapping bands for people if they were unhappy with them rather than have people undergo a complete refund process. Good I thought, I’ll do that for her and make her happy.

My first disappointment was being told I by an online chat representative they can’t do this for me. I’d have to ring Apple in the morning. Sigh. Ok.

I ring. “Ok what colour what do you want to swap to?”the chirpy Apple rep asks. I answer black and am told it’s not on his drop down menu for exchanges so he can’t. We go round and round. I explain I’m not happy with his answer, he tells me nothing he can do. I ask to speak to his manager – he tells me he doesn’t have one. This annoys me even more as I know this is a lie from past experience. When I explain this he tells me he could raise it with a manager but there would be nothing they can do either.

Finally I resign and ask what is the address / system for raising a complaint. I’m told there is no complaints department at Apple. Is it just me or is that hugely arrogant?

OK then I’m now told my account is marked and if I just call back when the black bands are available again they can sort an exchange for me. I ask where I should be checking and he directs me to the Apple Uk online store. So I do this whilst we are talking. There in front of me is the 38mm sport band in black available to order. I tell the rep this. Cue silence, confusion and lots of “are you sure?”

“I’ll speak to my manager as a special exception”.

Now this is where it gets stupid. I am told that I can’t have the black strap as an exchange as it’s not available for the silver sport Apple Watch, only the Space Grey.There is no way at all I can exchange it. What? Really?

I try to reason with the guy and ask if its made from the same plastic and has the same mechanism then it’s exactly the same as the white  band but its black. So there is no logical reason if I can swap to a pink one why I shouldn’t be able to swap to a black one.

Stonewalled. Can’t be done.

I inform him I will be sharing this bad experience as far and wide on social media as I can. If Apple won’t give me an official method of complaining then I’ll complain in my own way.

Well done Apple you’ve made me a very unhappy customer over a cheap bit of plastic that costs you almost nothing.

“A watch as unique and individual as you are” said Apple.

Unless you want it in black.


The Guardian Angel: Using wearable tech to aid womens safety

I’m interested in how wearable technology can improve our lives and I came across the The Guardian Angel and felt it was something I needed to share as it might help you or woman you love get out of a dangerous situation.

Domestic abuse in the UK is shockingly common and of course is a global issue for both men and women. Women also have to deal with unwanted approaches and attention from men. The Guardian Angel is designed with women in mind to help in these kinds of scenarios.

It comes as a pretty jewellery-like pedant or can be worn on the wrist too. It has a fairly discrete button that is flush with the surface and on pressing lightly will send a false phone call to your phone so you can pretend you need to take the call and move away or distract from the current scenario. It may just give that little bit extra time to allow a situation to cool down. If things are getting out of hand a longer press sends out a SOS to the person of your choosing and this includes your exact location. As well it will turn on your camera and mic and start recording whats going on which could prove extremely helpful should you need to involve the police.

My only reservation with this is that the button is on the front of the device. If you chose to get one I think some test runs with friends before you start using it would be wise so they can tell you if they can see if you are clearly pressing a button or not. I think having a back up story in case you are spotted pressing it would be wise or might actually make matters worse. One idea that came to my mind was to pretend you use it to instantly check into Swarm or other location-based service.

I hope we see more devices like this and hopefully we’ll see some designed with men in mind too in the future.

Why I bought the Pebble Time Steel

Pebble Time Steel

Several things will always be true of technology. Firstly that there is never a good time to buy. Secondly there will always be brands and chosing one over another will have pros and cons. So chosing what to buy in technology if you invest time and energy in researching your options can be a lot more confusing than just wandering into your local electronic store and asking some pretty clueless guy/girl what is the best on offer and have them push you whatever their sales managers have told them to shift this week. Don’t even think of reading comments sections to get more help on chosing!

This brings us to the minefield of chosing a smartwatch. All major parties cards are on the table for 2015 it seems. Sure there might be a few companies trying to get a piece of the action later in the year but the big players are all in. The Apple Watch will start shipping shortly to the lucky few who got in early, Google has many Android Wear devices out there already including the headline act that is the Moto 360 and finally ( but not least ) Pebble have both their Time and Time Steel watches announced and starting to ship soon.

So why did I chose the Pebble Time Steel?

1) Cost – Whilst I’m really excited about the wearables space more and more I have my doubts that the watch is truly the best way to go. Maybe its the answer for now but it doesn’t seem the long-term answer. The Time Steel gives me a chance to experiment in this space without taking my eyes out financially.

2) Cross-platform – I’ve been enjoying my experiment with Android over the last year or more but I’m undecided if it’s the long-term future for me. I have pangs of jealousy looking at the gorgeous screen, build quality and camera of my wife’s iPhone 6 Plus. Chosing Pebble gives me the option to swap at a later date and not leave me with a dumb watch. I hear many rumblings that generally the Pebble works better on Android so that’s another positive aspect for me right now.

3) Maturity – Pebble launched as the first smartwatch in 2012. That’s a good head start for the company to figure out its watch, platform and vision. Developers have been highly creative with the software and there is a huge app store now. Granted I have no doubts there will be an enormous app store for the Apple Watch in time but right now it seems developers are really limited in what they can do.

4) Always on Colour E-Ink – When the Pebble first launched I really loved the idea of it. The display though was a total turn off though. By this point I was used to retina display multi-colour displays on my phone. Going to pixelated black and white seemed too much of a step backwards. Now with colour E-Ink I feel much happier and whilst its not LCD level resolution I hope it will be enough.

5) Battery – This is a huge issue to me. I am totally sick to death of charging gadgets. If I’m going to let a smartwatch into my life I want it just to be working when I need it. The 10 day battery life of the Time Steel was as much a clincher as the higher end materials it has. Now I can see myself charging it once a week on a Sunday perhaps, ready for the week ahead with no fear it will die on me.

6) Waterproof – Not a deal breaker as such but knowing I can get it wet or even drop it in water without breaking it is pretty neat.

7) Smartstraps – A great concept whereby you swap out your standard strap for something that adds extra functionality of your chosing. Examples could be a heart rate monitor, GPS or extra battery. The possibilities are huge and as Pebble have made the technology open means there should be a thriving group of engineers trying to make the most of this ability. I can’t wait to see what they can do!

I have concerns. Of course I do. The Apple Watch is widely being hailed as the best smartwatch yet even if most have some serious reservations attached to that statement. It has the potential to kill off Pebbles market.Build quality is another concern. I hope the buttons are solid, well engineered and correctly aligned. Flawless industrial design is Apples trumph card in everything it makes.

Pebble has one thing on its side though. Its backers.

The record-breaking response to the Pebble Time Kickstarter shows how big and passionate the community has become. Over 78,000 people backed the Kickstarter having never seen or used one in their hands.The Pebble owners I have chatted to really like their watches and are impressed how as time goes by the updates just make them constantly better and more useful. Never underestimate this kind of community enthusiasm. It was this enthusiast passion that helped to drive Apple to succeed and without it Apple may have gone to the wall before its huge turn around. It seems hard to imagine now. Maybe one day we’ll look back at Pebble in the same light?

I’ll be honest. Pebble had me with just the colour e-ink and battery life alone. I waited and held off. I wanted the Steel version. Now I just have to wait until July. But that’s cool. By then the Pebble Time will be in use and no doubt many software updates will have been pushed out hopefully making my start a little less bumpy.

I’ve thrown in my hand now lets see how this plays out.

When I get my watch I’ll post some first impressions and thoughts on living with it. If there is anything you would like me to comment on or check out please let me know.

Meanwhile I’m just going to leave this super cool promo video for the Pebble Time Steel right here..

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