Apple Watch Adventures

2015-06-25 20.38.48Recently we’ve been exploring our customers’ user journeys, mapping out their touchpoints and reevaluating how we engage in the user experience of everything we do both digitally and in the physical world. Part of that requires the use of personas – model customers who in theory fulfil various different criteria in order to test the functionality and experiences of those digital touch points. I couldn’t help thinking about that and wondering which persona I might fit into in some nutjob’s head at Apple. Here are my first 12 hours’ experience with the much talked about Apple Watch.

As a bit of background: I’ve used work-owned Mac Laptops with OSX for 11 of the last 13 years but once made the mistake of spending my own money on an iPhone 3G, my first smartphone, which I hated more than I liked and swore never to buy another Apple device.

0900 Arrive at the office, coffee, email.

1000 Done responding to email for now. Time to look at what’s in the new box on my desk this morning. Ooh an Apple Watch. Great!

It’s heavy. Really heavy. The box is heavy, the plastic case is heavy, the magnetic charger is heavy. I think someone told Apple Heavy = Quality or something. I requested the smaller 38mm watch as my wrists are pretty thin and I didn’t want it to look ridiculous. The watch is small in width and height but it’s heavy. And fat – looks like a toy of some sort. Heavy, clunky, ugly. The leather strap feels it’s made of the same foam as my childrens’ play mats. The buckle is flabby and horrible. The face is already covered in fingerprints – I thought these things were oleophobic.

At least it came charged though, mostly because my IT Support team wanted a laugh and took it out of the box to play with earlier.

1030 meetings until 1200.

1200 Turn it on. It asks me to choose English (UK) as my preferred language fifteen times for some unknown reason.

1210 Meetings until 1400.

1400 I know it’s an Apple device and they’re very well known for being “open”. Not. Is there any way in the known universe to make it pair with my S6 Edge?
Read some webpages.

1420 Anticipate pairing compatibility answer. Scrounge an iPhone 5S from my IT Support team.

1430 meetings until 1800

1800 IT Support team managed to locate previous iPhone owner to deactivate account locks & device security so it can be reused.

1820 catch a lift home

2010 get home, cold dinner.

2030 No it doesn’t pair, but found a video of a guy who managed to make it run OS 7. Neat, I wonder if it could run Android. Read stupid Mashable articles for a bit.

2045 Try and set up the iPhone. Needs Wifi. Try to type in my long WPA code using the soft keyboard. Three attempts before typing it right – keyboard is noticeably less responsive than the S6 as well as being much smaller and non-Swype (yeah yeah, non-security-compromised, haha).

2050 Past the wifi setup screen. Yes!

Won’t proceed without a SIM. Full Fiscal Shambles! I can register a Galaxy without a SIM. Why must I have one for an iPhone? What happens if I use a SIM from something else? Is it locked somehow?

2055 No idea. Let’s try. Extract the SIM from my old S3. It’s a mini SIM. Too big. Don’t really want to cut it down as it’s already cut down from a fullsize one and I won’t be able to put it back in my S3.

2058 I wonder if I have something other than my S6 has a micro sim. Losing the will to live.

2100 Look for iPad everywhere in the house.

2110 Realise child has pinched iPad to play Clash of Clans and hidden it somewhere. Look for child.

2115 Location-aware child has left the house. Look for SIM extraction tool for S6. Find paperclip. Extract SIM.

2120 Insert SIM, complete iPhone setup.

2122 Complete watch setup. Manage to zoom in the app that tells the time. Can’t unzoom it. Didn’t read the instructions two seconds ago about how to unzoom. Can’t figure out what the magic pinch-press-zoom-standonhead combination is. I guess I need to hold Apple-Meta-Cmd or something.

2123 Press all the buttons at once and repeatedly in various combinations. Discover scrollwheel strafes across the display. Wow that’s a really horrible interaction.

2130 Have no content on iPhone to drive Watch applications.

2140 Get bored. Throw it in the bin. What a PoC.

2150 Realise we’re supposed to be writing Metrichor apps for it. Fish it out of the bin ready to give to the developers. Should set the project back a couple of months.

Update 2015-06-26
How could I forget? There is one thing I like – the UK plug with the retractable pins – finally! Sorry Samsung, only retracting one out of three pins doesn’t cut it.

Using the iPod Nano 6th gen with Ubuntu

440x330-ipod-nano6gen-frontToday I spent 3 hours wrestling with a secondhand ipod Nano, 6th gen (the “6” is the killer) for a friend, trying to make it work happily with Ubuntu.

Having never actually owned an iPod myself, only iPhone and iPad, it was a vaguely educational experience too. I found nearly no useful information on dozens of fora – all of them only reporting either “it works” without checking the generation, or “it doesn’t work” with no resolution, or “it should work” with no evidence. Yay Linux!

There were two issues to address – firstly making the iPod block storage device visible to Linux and secondly finding something to manage the unconventional media database on the iPod itself.

It turned out that most iPods, certainly early generations, work well with Linux but this one happened not to. Most iPods are supported via libgpod, whether you’re using Banshee, Rhythmbox, even Amarok (I think) and others. I had no luck with Rhythmbox, Banshee, gtkpod, or simple block storage access for synchronising music.

It also turns out that Spotify one of my other favourite music players doesn’t use libgpod, which looked very promising.

So the procedure I used to get this one to work went something like this:

  1. Restore and/or initialise the iPod using the standard procedure with iTunes (I used iTunes v10 and latest iPod firmware 1.2) on a Windows PC. Do not use iTunes on OSX. Using OSX results in the iPod being formatted using a not-well-supported filesystem (hfsplus with journalling). Using Windows results in a FAT filesystem (mounted as vfat under Linux).Having said that, I did have some success making the OSX-initialised device visible to Linux but it required editing fstab and adding:
    /dev/sdb2 /media/ipod hfsplus user,rw,noauto,force 0 0

    which is pretty stinky. FAT-based filesystems have been well supported for a long time – best to stick with that. Rhythmbox, the player I was trying at the time, also didn’t support the new media database. It appeared to copy files on but failed every time, complaining about unsupported/invalid database checksums. According to various fora the hashes need reverse engineering.

  2. Install the Ubuntu Spotify Preview using the Ubuntu deb (not the Wine version). I used the instructions here.
  3. I have a free Spotify account, which I’ve had for ages and might not be possible to make any more. I was worried that not having a premium or unlimited account wouldn’t let me use the iPod sync, but in the end it worked fine. The iPod was seen and available in Spotify straight away and allowed synchronisation of specific playlists or all “Local Files”. In the end as long as Spotify was running and the iPod connected, I could just copy files directly into my ~/Music/ folder and Spotify would sync it onto the iPod immediately.

Superb, job done! (I didn’t try syncing any pictures)