What About Other Apple Devices?

Since I’m in “let’s review some stuff I have” mode, it’s time to capture some brief thoughts on some of the other Apple devices I use on a regular basis. I broke down and bought a Magic Trackpad 2 and Magic Mouse 2. I’ve also been using the largest iPad Pro for over a year now, and I have what is now a Series 1 Apple Watch. As always, I’ve developed opinions (apparently it’s a thing I do).

Pointing At Things

I got tired of changing batteries. It seems that every time batteries got low, I either didn’t have any rechargeable batteries available, or the ones I have I forgot to put in the charger. I also would have dead batteries pile up on my desk at my office (since they don’t have battery recycling where I rent), since I always forgot to take them home. Enough was enough. I bought the latest TrackPad and Mouse.

They work as you would expect. The mouse is a mouse. It does mouse things. The usual gestures work, it isn’t any more or less laggy than the original Magic Mouse. It still uses a mechanical button, so the thing moves when you click it. But there is nothing remarkable about using it. The batteries built into the thing seem to last longer than the Apple rechargeable batteries, or the rechargeable Duracell’s I also use in in older devices. Of course, alkalines are still the king of longevity.

The TrackPad angle is a bit different, and doesn’t line up with the old keyboard (I don’t have the new one, since I use a mechanical keyboard at the office). What is nice is that it uses haptic feed back, which means no more switches, meaning you can use it on any surface, hard or soft. It’s still spooky to use it (as is the one on the MacBook Pro) because you know it didn’t actually move, but it feels like it moved.

Charging either is done with a Lightning cable. You can also pair them with the machine by plugging them in, avoiding the sometimes-unstable normal pairing methods. The TrackPad works while charging, since it essentially becomes a wired device. The mouse, however, does not work while charging. The connector is on the bottom, meaning that your mouse is out of commission while charging it. That can be annoying, so it means you have to try to schedule a recharge when you aren’t using it.

Are they good? Yes, they are. I’m happy I got them (I’ve had them about 4 months now). Would I recommend them? Certainly. Not having to remember to charge batteries, or keep spares around, is a very nice thing.

One Big Tablet

I bought the 12.9″ iPad Pro when it first came out, and I’m not sure that I want to go back to a smaller iPad. A big part of that, though, is what I use it for. Some of the things that an iPad Mini is more useful for, which for me is reading fiction eBooks, I can do with a Kindle. But for everything else, the big iPad Pro is far more useful.

I do read on it, primarily technical “textbook” like electronic books, PDF files and graphical books like comics and art books. The large, high-resolution screen makes reading them all easier, since I can put the whole page up at once, without having to pan around (or use some oddball “guided navigation” necessary for smaller screens). For some imagery, it certainly isn’t as sharp as it’s paper counterpart, but it is still very good. For novels, I use my Kindle, whose small size, long battery life and non-reflective screen make it more versatile to read any time, anywhere.

The iPad is also my primary mobile gaming platform, at least for my simulation-type games that I like to play (the iPhone usually more enjoyable for “fast twitch” type games, since I can hold it like a game controller). Having large, bright images and larger touch targets makes the games more enjoyable.

Doing normal “productivity work” on the bigger iPod Pro is a real thing I can do. For serous typing, I’ll sometimes pair a keyboard to it. But for dealing with e-mail, browsing the web and some light document editing, the larger machine works quite well. You still can’t code on the thing (which is fine), but for a lot of other work, it is fairly useful.

With the amount of storage they have now (and I wouldn’t be surprised to see an updated model double it again), I can carry a lot of media with me. It’s at the point where I could probably just take my iPad, and leave the MacBook at home, for some trips.

If you use an iPad mainly for browsing the web, email and games, then the bigger iPad Pro is probably better suited than the smaller versions. But it is certainly heavier (meaning you tend to prop it on something), and a lot more expensive. But for the kind of workflows I use an iPad for now, it is an ideal solution.

Time Keeps On Ticking

This is my 2nd update on the Apple Watch. I had some initial impressions after first buying it, and now that I’ve had it for nearly a year, it’s time to revisit the device. Some of what I found back in December still held true up until this week. I wore it every day, and I know it’s because I charge it by my bedside, so it’s part of my routine. I’ve been continuing to tinker with notifications, and I think I found the right balance of “important, so buzz” and “not important but I want to scan them” notifications. I almost never turn on the sound.

I did buy the leather strap, as I wanted something a little “dressier”, and it has been very comfortable. It has also aged well in the last few months, taking on a nice patina. I did buy the Milanese Loop, but I found it loosens over time, making it less desirable since the watch starts to flop around on your wrist. I might as well get the Link Bracelet. The Sport Band is still your best choice when doing anything active. Changing bands is so easy it isn’t even funny.

One neat feature is being able to unlock a Mac when you wear the watch. It doesn’t always work (the Mac will claim the radio signal is too weak), but it works about 95% of the time. Being able to either walk up to a Mac and tap the TrackPad, or open my MacBook, and have the thing just log in is pretty cool.

But something happened in the past couple of days, and I stopped wearing the watch. First, for some inexplicable reason, the battery charge will drop to almost nothing and put the watch into battery saver mode (where all it does is tell the time). The watch is fully charged each morning, so it isn’t like it didn’t recharge overnight. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it has started to happen more frequently than I would like.

The other strange behaviour was two days ago, where the watch would spontaneously reboot itself every hour or so. A device that can’t remain usable and stable for more than a short period of time isn’t all that useful. That’s when I stopped wearing it.

Not wearing the watch, though, got me realizing how much I do find it handy. Want to know the temperature outside? Check your watch. Want to know what’s coming up on the calendar? Check your watch. Have a bit of time and want to check on email and news? Scroll through it on the watch. Not having it these past two days made it clear I use it more than I thought.

Will I get a Series 2? Probably not. If anything, I’ll wait for Series 3. I don’t need a GPS receiver on my wrist (I have my phone for that). The waterproof feature would be nice, but isn’t essential right now. My Series 1 works well enough for what I need in a watch. I’m still not sure they are worth the price in either model. Sadly, the far cheaper Pebble is no longer available.

I do expect that I’ll go back to wearing the watch again. Not having it demonstrated that it is more useful than I realized.

There You Have It

So there it is. No real misses on any of these things. I like the big iPad Pro, and again, I don’t know that I would go back to a smaller one. The latest Magic TrackPad and Magic Mouse work well, and not having to keep spare batteries around is nice. The Watch continues to be adequate, and not wearing it makes it more obvious how much I did use it as more than a way to tell the date and time.