AppleWatch first impressions

I received my AppleWatch (the “developer special”, 42mm blue sport band) Friday, and so far I’m happy with it overall.

For the last year, I’ve been wearing a Pebble Smartwatch and I’ve gotten used to receiving notifications on my watch. I got into the habit of keeping my phone in my pocket most of the time and just looking at my wrist when I get a notification.

The Pebble & AppleWatch notifications are very different. With the Pebble, the phone still makes a sound & vibrates, and then a few seconds later I’d feel a vibration on my wrist and it would appear on the Pebble. The Pebble often disconnected or would stop receiving notifications every few days. The AppleWatch notifications are more subtle and a lot less annoying – instead of vibrating, it makes a soft ‘ping’ and taps me on the wrist. While the Pebble always presents all enabled phone notifications, the AppleWatch only presents notifications when the phone is locked. The AppleWatch also gives you a lot more control over which notifications are presented.

I find that “activate on wrist raise” isn’t always reliable. I’ll often activate it unintentionally, and many times it won’t activate when I want it to. Hopefully future software updates will let you adjust the sensitivity.

I’m very happy with the AppleWatch’s battery life. After a day of normal use, the battery is usually at 50% or more, and I charge it every night before I go to sleep. The Pebble claims 5-7 days between charges, but I found about 4 days is more realistic.

Applications on the Pebble are an afterthought and are inconvenient to access, requiring navigating through the menu. Apps are a central feature on the AppleWatch and are a lot easier to access, by pressing the digital crown, although the app screen is cluttered and can be difficult to navigate. Hopefully the UI will improve in later software updates.

Glances on the AppleWatch make applications easier to access and launch, although having many glances enabled means swiping through a long list of items to get to the one you want. My favorite use of a glance is the Transit app, which can instantly show me the next departure time of the two nearest MUNI lines.

I was hoping the AppleWatch would replace my FitBit One, which I lost on several occasions and I often forget to put in my pocket. This is one area where the AppleWatch doesn’t quite measure up. I still use the FitBit for sleep tracking, and the AppleWatch doesn’t let you enter meals and doesn’t measure flights of stairs, like the FitBit does. I also find that the AppleWatch and FitBit report different numbers of steps and distance traveled.


Picslide is now open source

I’ve decided to open source PicSlide, which was one of my first iOS games. It isn’t selling enough to make it worthwhile updating for the iPhone 5. When I looked at the code I didn’t find it too embarrassing and it didn’t make me want to vomit, despite being written in 2009, so I decided to share it. Some pieces like scaling & slicing images and doing Quartz drawing may be helpful as sample code.

The source code is now available on Github at

Nexus 7

I’ve had a Nexus 7 for two weeks and there are lots of things I love about it and some things I really dislike.


  • I love the size. After using it, I really want a 7″ iPad.
  • I really like the universal back button at the bottom of the screen.
  • The soft home button moves to the correct position when you use it in landscape mode.
  • Rearranging icons is less annoying than in iOS.
  • Widgets can be placed on the home screen.

Not so good:

  • UI is ugly. No rounded corners, shadows, or gradients. Everything looks flat & square.
  • Endless march of notification icons across the top of the screen.
  • Many of my favorite apps aren’t available for Android. The only Twitter app I use is Echofon because it’s the only one that syncs my mute settings as well as unread tweets. It isn’t available on Android, which seriously limits my ability to use Twitter on the Nexus 7.

For a long time I dismissed the rumors of a 7″ iPad, but after using the Nexus 7 it makes perfect sense. A 7″ tablet is a lot more comfortable to use than a 10″ tablet, yet the amount of screen real estate is just as usable.

Sugar Rush 1.4 Update

I’ve submitted a minor update to Sugar Rush which changes the FaceBook SDK to use the latest API so sharing will continue to work. It also adds support for built-in Twitter accounts in iOS 5 or later and updates the Kiip SDK to the latest version.

Sugar Rush Free gets a much bigger update. In addition to those SDK changes, I’ve renamed it to Sugar Rush Lite and added in-app purchase to get rid of the ads & height limit. You can also buy Donuts, which will make it functionally equivalent to Sugar Rush Pro. Both Sugar Rush Lite & Sugar Rush Pro now share the same Game Center leader board & achievements.

Sugar Rush 1.2.5 gets a new Christmas theme

Sugar Rush 1.2.5 and the new Christmas bonus pack is now available. The Christmas pack adds a new theme with new candies and high-scoring new bonus items. In addition, special bonus power items and premium items such as donuts will appear more frequently, making it easier than ever to get new high scores. Sugar Rush is still free. The Christmas pack is available as an in-app purchase for $0.99.

New Christmas theme.png

iPhone 4S

Last weekend I finally got an iPhone 4S, when I became eligible for the upgrade. I got the 64GB model in white, because I was running out of space on my 32GB iPhone 4.

It’s noticeably a lot faster than an iPhone 4, especially when scrolling through a list of photos in apps like Instagram. The screen is brighter than the iPhone 4 and has a yellowish tint (although it isn’t too noticeable in this photo). After using it a few days, the yellow tint seems to be less visible.

iPhone 4 & 4S

The screen is easy to read outdoors. I was able to read a book on the screen in moderate sunlight without any difficulty.

The camera is a huge improvement. Note the much sharper details in the iPhone 4S photo below. The iPhone 4S won’t replace my D90, but I probably won’t carry a point & shoot camera any more.

Taken with iPhone 4
iPhone 4
Taken with iPhone 4S
iPhone 4S

Before I bought the 4S, I wasn’t really too interested in Siri, but after using it, I’m very impressed and found it to be fairly accurate at recognizing my commands. In all, the iPhone 4S is an impressive & worthwhile upgrade.

Sugar Rush 1.2

I’ve submitted Sugar Rush 1.2, which adds support for a new Halloween candy pack, as well as internal changes to support multiple themes or candy sets. Also, if you bought donuts, you now have two varieties with even more power.

Screenshot 2011.10.09 14.43.57.png

The Halloween pack gives you a new spooky background, candy corn, pumpkins, and candy apples. You can pick the theme from the main menu screen. Each theme has its own leader board in the game center to keep the scoring fair, since the amount of candies & their distribution frequency differs in each theme. If you also bought donuts, they will remain available in all themes.

How far we’ve come

To see how far we’ve come since 1984, just compare the specs of the first Macintosh with today’s iPhone 4GS:

1984 Macintosh 128.png

We now carry in our pocket a device with a faster processor, more storage, and a higher resolution screen in a much smaller package than the computer we had sitting on our desk 27 years ago. Today’s Macintosh is many times faster, with a very different CPU, and has many times more storage, yet it’s still recognizable as a Macintosh and still has the same elegant simplicity.

R.I.P. Steve Jobs

Apple reports that Steve Jobs has died:

Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.

Apple’s home page is now a tribute to Steve Jobs.

Screen Shot 2011-10-05 at 8.06.19 PM.png

Steve Jobs truly changed the world. His influence has impacted the music & entertainment industries as much as in impacted the computer industry. The devices he created changed the way we listen to music, watch movies, and interact with our phones.

Sugar Rush is now free

Sugar Rush 1.1 is now available and it’s now free. Current users who upgrade from version 1.0.5 won’t see ads, but new users will see a small unobtrusive ad when no special powers are in effect. If you prefer, you can purchase an upgrade that removes the add. Premium items will be added for sale in the future. You can now buy donuts, which give you a big energy boost. Soon we hope to have a Halloween candy pack available.