Apple Watch Battery Saving Tips

If you have the smaller version of the Apple Watch, then you may find the battery just about gets you through the day. Over the past 6 weeks of using it I've been experimenting with the various settings to find the best way to save battery life.

Note: Like with battery saving tips for phones, these tips will reduce functionality, so they're not meant for daily use. Apple Watch has a built in power save mode, but with that switched on the watch is less useful than a £10 Casio watch (at least you don't have to press a button to see the screen on one of those!). These tips are meant for those long days or weekends where you want to keep the watch going for as long as possible, while maintaining the fitness tracking and ability to receive notifications (these things are not possible in Power Save mode).

Turn off Wrist Raise

On the watch itself, under Settings > General you can turn off Wrist Raise. This makes the watch a lot less useful because you will have to press a button to see the screen, but if you are out and about on a weekend and don't particularly care about the time, but want to make sure your fitness progress still gets tracked, it's a great way to save significant battery life.

Use the X-Large watch face

If you can do without seeing the weather or other useful widgets on your watch face, the X-Large's use of lots of black and no widgets means it uses far less battery juice, in my experience at least.

Use Power Saving Mode for workouts

In the Apple Watch app on your phone, choose the settings for the 'Workout' app, and select power saving mode. This stops the watch from continuously reading your pulse during workouts – very useful if you're doing long runs or walks, as the heart rate monitor sucks battery life. It will mean however, that your calorie burn stats wont be as accurate.

Turn on Airplane Mode

This one is only slightly better than Power Save mode. You'll still be able to track your activity, receive stand notifications or notifications for appointments already synced to your watch – obviously you wont get any alerts that come from your phone (such as messages). If you're away camping for the weekend, maybe that's OK?

Stay near your phone

I've noticed the battery life is a lot worse when I spend a lot of time away from my desk at work, but leave my phone at my desk. This makes sense – when the phone is within Bluetooth range, the watch will use this connection for things like alerts. When you move away from your phone, it instead has to connect to Wi-Fi directly. Wi-Fi is much less power efficient than Bluetooth.

 

 

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The Tile App

Wow, as someone who is always loosing my keys this looks right up my street. I look forward to trying it.

Interesting that they only support iOS at the moment, and say that lack of Android support is because of their unstable Bluetooth 4.0 stack.

The Tile App

 

The Windows 8 Problem

Windows 8, by trying to be like iOS and Android and providing a simplified “one app at a time” interface (or more precisely 1.3 apps at a time) means that Windows is no longer good at what Windows was always good at. I already have a tablet, and I reach for my Windows laptop when I need to do something my iPad can't. That inevitably means I head straight to the desktop. This is why Windows has failed to reinvigorate the PC market, Windows no longer offers a great desktop experience or a mature tablet experience. I'm sure it will get better, and really hope we see Office for Metro sometime soon.

iOS Disappearing Calendar Notifications – Mystery Solved

Ever turned in your iPhone to see a calendar notices suddenly disappear from the lock screen? I've been seeing this a lot lately, and it's really bugged me – especially when my phone is on silent (as it is most of the day), so I can check it at chosen intervals rather than be disturbed (developer thing, no doubt) .

Well it turns out iOS will remove a notification after the event has finished. Kind of makes sense, although it does mean if you totally miss an appointment, you'd be none the wiser unless you pay very careful attention and see it before the notification quickly disappears.

Odd quirk, but probably not a bug – just a design choice (I would say it makes sense to remove them from the notification centre, perhaps not the lock screen) and Apple should probably hide it before the screen turns in to avoid the confusion of seeing something for a split second.

o2 Aims to Make Your SMS Allowance Relevant Again With New App

Tu Go is a a great idea. It can turn your iPod, iPad, laptop, or Android Tablet into a phone. Call people as if you’re calling from your mobile, and have up to 5 devices ring when you receive a call, send and receive SMS messages and see a list of voicemails. 

Unlike Skype, there’s no ‘free’ calls if you call someone else using the app, all calls are charged as if you made them on your phone, as are messages.

To me this is less of a challenge to Skype, but might have more of an impact on people using iMessage, BBM or Google Talk for messaging across their devices. Now instead of being locked into your device operating system vendor’s ecosystem (iOS, Android, Blackberry), you can be locked into your network operators (albeit far more interoperable) system instead. This is a nice idea, since SMS messages sent from this app can still be receive by someone with an old phone. I do like iMessage, the typing indicator is particularly useful for knowing whether to keep you phone out because you can see the other person is about to respond but I am seriously considering switching to this since my contract gives me unlimited SMS anyway.

It remains to be seen how this app will affect battery life. On iOS at least, VOIP apps get launched on system boot and can poll their sever a minimum of every10 minutes. On Android anything goes with regards to background activity. Of course users without a cellular network connection (most iPads sold) will only be able to receive calls when they’re in a WiFi area. If it had a big impact, I probably wouldn’t use it.

What this does blur the line between what a phone is, and what a tablet is. How long before we just buy a device with a 3G/4G connection, and download our favourite VOIP app for making calls with? With a Bluetooth headset, could the iPad mini be your next phone?

How long should a tablet be supported for?

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Tablets are billed as “post-PC” products designed to replace the job of a PC for most people. The argument goes, most people don’t need a truck (a PC) and instead they just want a small car. True as that may be, I see a problem when the car only gets supported by the manufacture for 2 years. That’s the case with the original iPad. According to Apple, iOS 6 will not run on the iPad 1 which was released in 2010. Buy not having the latest operating system, this means the latest security updates will not be available, nor will the latest developer APIs. Many of Apple’s own apps (such as the Pages) will likely be updated, and these updates will only support iOS6 (this was the case when iOS 5 was released). Will the file formats be compatible? Let’s hope so. The same will probably happen with a lot of 3rd party applications. It also means the new OS features such as shared photo streams and Facebook integration wont be available.

Yes this is a fast moving industry, and yes the iPad 1 was woefully underpowered (especially when it comes to lack of RAM, the version of iOS it came with didn’t support multitasking remember) and you might argue the that iPad 1 is a special case, as it was mostly purchased by early adapters who will probably be running the latest model of iPad by now. I can also see how Apple might not want developers to hold back their software to ensure it works on the older hardware – iPhoto doesn’t run on it today.

That said, I really think Apple should be sending the message to consumers that their tablet will be relevant in at least 2 years time (you would expect a laptop to be). If they can continue to support the iPhone 3GS (released roughly 6 months before the iPad in 2009) then why not iPad? 

My wish list for iOS 6

iOS delivered when it removed the need to synchronise with iTunes, and incorporated cloud backup right into the device. But what is still missing?

 

iTunes Account Sharing

Yes the bosses at Hollywood and the big music companies will hate this idea, but we humans like to share. Who knows what evaluation might have thrown up if we had been purely selfish creatures. That means when my partner downloads a TV show on her iPad, it would be quite nice if we could watch it on my iPad without jumping through hoops. How about a feature to link up to 5 iTunes accounts, so they can all download each others purchases? It would be one more argument for buying DRM protected content as opposed to downloading it for free from other unofficial sources.

Automatic App Updates

More ‘normal’ users don’t religiously check the App Store for updates, so having an Android-like feature whe selected apps can update automatically would be useful. This would need to be user-controlled, as some apps makers have a tendency to make their apps worse over time instead of improving them.

Standard platform for magazine/newspaper content

Digital newspapers and magazines are a mess. Most are custom apps that contain a series of digital images. There’s no ability to email links, lookup words or save out articles. What iOS needs is a standard system for newspapers (and a lesser extent magazines) – that offers a consistent way to navigate articles. When you pickup a newspaper, you expect it to work like every other newspaper. That’s not the case on the iPad. App makers might say this limits their creativity, but I think the egos of software developers can take the hit, and that the written content should take centre stage. It would surey be cheaper to produce for a system like this where all the publisher needs to worry about is the content and not the cogs and wheels that drive the app.

Less Clutter

iOS 5 seems a little bloated in placed. Cick the action button in Safari and the options no longer fit in on one screen on the iPhone. Where we once had ‘Add Bookmark’, ‘Add to home screen’ and ‘Mail link to this page’ we have now options to Tweet, Print and do even more. This is systematic of the OS in many places.

 

System wide sharing to other apps

Instead of a ‘Tweet’ link hard-coded into the operating system, why not have a share system simular to Android. The UI would need some work and the ‘intent’ be more specific that Android (on my Androird phone, sharing a link brings me a list containing Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox and a File Explorer app, why would I want to send Dropbox a URL?) – perhaps a way for apps to register as social applications ?

 

Scheduled Notifications

I like the fact my iPad has push email. I don’t like the fact it notifies me of new email at 2 in the morning. ‘Nuff said?

 

How to make your Kindle work with a BT Home Hub 3

If you search around for WiFi connection problems relating to the Kindle, you’ll soon discover that Amazon seem to have played a bit fast and loose with the WiFi specification and problems with the Kindle are rife.

It was no surprise to me then that when I switched to BT ADSL that both my Kindle 3 and my Dad’s Kindle 4 wouldn’t connect to the Home Hub 3 router. I counted 11 other devices in the house which connected without any trouble; laptops, iPods, Xboxes and phones of different makes – so I knew the problem was with the Kindle. After not getting much help from Amazon (for what its worth, their support staff answer the phone quickly, and were pleasant to deal with) I decided I would just need to go through a trial and error process myself. This was time consuming, because the problem only seemed to manifest itself once the Kindle had put the WiFi radio to sleep, so after making a change to the router’s configuration and reconnecting the Kindle, it would always work, and only after 30 minutes or so when the Kindle failed to connect would I know if there was still a problem.

Anyway, the solution for me was to disable mixed WPA and WPA2 encryption, and set the router to use only WPA2. Contrary to other Internet sites, changing the wireless channel or turning off ‘N’ mode made no difference to me. This fixed worked on my Kindle 3 3G and the new Kindle 4 WiFi. All my other devices still connect fine (event a first generation iPod Touch) so not having the original WPA specification in use doesn’t seem to have any drawbacks.

I hope this is of use to someone – let me know in the comments if you’ve had the same problem.

Does Microsoft have a virtualisation trick up it’s sleeve for Windows 8?

Please Microsoft, do the right thing!image

So Windows 8 will be all things do all people, a tablet operating system to rival iOS and Android for consuming content, while at the same time a fully functional desktop operating system that we use to create content. Sounds great, right?

How can that be possible? Can you imagine the iPad having 10 hours of battery life if it had to run all the background processes (and crapware) that comes preinstalled on most PCs? Bloated AntiVirus software, scheduled disk clean-ups, random Adobe icons, it can be a bit unwieldy for a system that is suppose to be “always on” – the iPad will after all, receive notifications while in standby (and yes the 10 hours is actual usage, not standby). I can’t see Windows doing that, and even with specially tuned hardware all it takes is for someone to install a bit of rouge “classic” software (rather than software using the new JavaScript and probably Silverlight APIs) and that all gets thrown out the Window (sorry, bad pun).

So maybe Microsoft has taken the technology it developed for Windows 7’s “XP Mode” and made it so when you buy a tablet PC, the classic side of the system that can run all your old software is completely virtualised. This would mean the entire legacy system would be contained within a single process that could be paused to save battery.

When installed on a desktop, this extra layer probably wouldn’t be needed (Obviously games and other high-end software won’t run well in a virtualised environment) – but for a tablet I think it makes sense.

Obviously this is just pure speculation on my part, so lets hope all will be revealed at this year’s BUILD conference.