Post by Bill Ramsey

IOS 9 and Apple Watch OS 2

Where Is the Love?

As you all know, Bill has always been a fan of Apple and the innovations it has introduced over the years.

Phil is still unimpressed. Phil is of the opinion that Apple’s latest innovations are mainly figments of the tech writers who heap endless amounts of kudos upon Apple products. The latest Apple tech “advances”, iOS 9 and Apple Watch OS 2, have Bill moving closer to Phil’s view of the Apple Dynasty.

Apple Watch OS 2

Apple released the two operating systems in late September (although not simultaneously because “bugs” in the new Apple Watch OS had to be worked out). There was quite a bit of fanfare in the technical press leading up to the release of these OS’s, although not quite as much as usual. After trying out both, on our Apple Watches, iPads and iPhones, even Bill is unimpressed.

Here are some specifics. Bill has always used and loved the Apple Notes App. (Phil calls it a poor substitute for Microsoft’s OneNote.) Still, the Notes App was always quick, easy to use and handy. You could sync it with your Notes folder in Microsoft Exchange, and it has always been a handy tool for jotting down ideas and “to dos” quickly. Apple touted the new Notes App as much more robust – adding checklists, bulleted lists, numbered lists, formatting, advanced sharing, inserting pictures and handwriting, etc. So, Bill anxiously awaited 2 pm Central Daylight time on September 16, and immediately downloaded iOS 9 onto his iPad and iPhone. Frustration ensued. First, it took several starts and shutdowns of the App and his iPad to get the formatting, etc. to work. Second, those features were only available if Bill stored the note in iCloud. Consequently, you cannot sync full-featured notes with Exchange – making the App much less handy, if you use the formatting features.

That was just one of the disappointments for Bill. You can use a split screen on your iPad or iPhone in iOS 9, but that feature is limited unless you have an iPad Air 2; and it really will not be that useful until you buy the yet-to-be-released iPad Pro. (Of course we will buy one and review it as soon as it is released.) The search function (available by swiping down or to the right on the home screen) is somewhat improved, as is Siri, but not nearly as dramatically as advertised. Swiping through open apps (by double-clicking the home button) is improved as well, but it is nothing earth shattering.

Of course, there are some cool new features, such as the News app and the improved iTunes app, increased and improved abilities to share information among apps, post information in various cloud services, print, send email attachments, share items with others, etc. As a result, Bill still considers his iPad to be his favorite device when away from his desktop all-in-one computer. Ironically, Phil loves some of iOS 9’s improvements, primarily Microsoft’s (no surprise from Phil) continued improvement of Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Excel for the new iOS 9.

Also, for those with limited storage on your device, the iOS 9 is smaller and takes up less memory. If you have a Bluetooth keyboard (as we do), you will love the ability to use keyboard shortcuts.

Still, given the lack of breakthrough features, an iPad is just an iPad. In this world of constant tech change and improvement, iPads and iPhones are beginning to seems stale and “old” to us. iOS 9 has really done nothing to make them feel fresh and new – even to Bill.

You will remember that we also reviewed the Apple Watch when it was released, along with various Android watches. Bill is completely over the “smart watch experience.” Phil still wears his Android watch (but he does wear his TAG watch on formal occasions). Bill’s wrist goes naked.

Given all the hype from Apple about the new Apple Watch OS 2, we (Bill) hoped it could rekindle his relationship with his Apple Watch. But, as Donny Hathaway would say, “Where is the Love?”

Maybe Bill should not be so fickle. The app developers for the Watch are still catching up with Apple. Still, the over-hyped vast improvements just are not there. Here are a few of them.

If you are a big Facebook user (we are not), the Facebook Messenger app is able to text, send audio files and share locations right from the wrist. iTranslate will let you see, hear and translate over 90 languages by speaking to your Watch. (This did not work well with Bill’s country accent.)

We do like the feature that allows the Apple Watch to connect to open Wi-Fi networks without needing to connect to your iPhone first. You can leave your phone in another room and still connect to information via Wi-Fi. The latest update for Android Wear for watches already supports this feature, so it’s nice to see the iOS device receiving it as well.

We also like the “nightstand mode” for Apple Watch. You can lay your Watch on its side at night, and it will act as a night clock – complete with an alarm mode with snooze.

Finally, a feature that was sorely missing has made it onto the Apple Watch: email replies. Just like text messages, you can now reply directly to emails from your wrist with voice dictation, emojis and smart responses. However, you can’t edit your messages – thus limiting this feature.

Apple Watch iOS 2 was supposed to be a vast improvement – almost revolutionary. Even Bill has not bought the hype – singing “was it just a line; where is the love?”

See you next month,

Bill & Phil