O'Grady's PowerPage » Jason O’Grady

Here’s why random apps automatically install on your Apple Watch

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 8th, 2015, 05:18
Category: Apple Watch, Apps

Apple Watch iOS app: Tap Choose Later to sync only basic information like Mail, Contacts, and Messages.This has been driving me crazy.

Shortly after visiting the App Store on my iPhone I’d notice several new watch extensions installed on my Apple Watch. I know that I didn’t explicitly install MindNode, Drafts and FitStar on my Watch, and I specifically selected “Choose later” when setting up my Apple Watch.

What gives?

If this has been happening to you, there’s a simple reason. The answer comes via Andy Gipetti on Twitter: if you update an iOS app (on your iPhone, for instance) and it has a watch extension, the new watch extensions automatically gets installed on your watch.

This strange behavior occurs despite selecting “choose later” when you set up your Apple Watch. (If you selected “Install All” during setup, you’re probably used to having tons of watch extensions running.) Let’s hope that Apple fixes this wacky “install everything” behavior before too long (today at WWDC perhaps?) and my other current pet peeve: the massive, scrolling list of apps in the Apple Watch iOS app. Apple needs to split it up into watch extensions that are “installed” and “available.”

Easily upload all your photos to Google Photos (for free)

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 29th, 2015, 05:42
Category: Aperture, Google, iPhoto, photos

Google Photos now supports unlimited photo uploads for free!

Apple dropped the ball on photos. Big time.

For years, Apple products were my default photo locker, gallery, and sharing tool. Now I’ve switched to Google, but only because Apple forced my hand. My workflow was simple: shoot photos on my iPhone and dSLR, sync everything to Aperture and share from there.

Here’s a brief timeline on how Apple went off the rails with photos:

In summary, After leaving customers hanging without photo galleries, Apple dropped support for its professional photo app (Aperture), jacked up its cloud storage prices, then released an inferior Photos app that didn’t support Aperture projects (whoops!). My six year investment in organizing my photos in Aperture is basically gone and I’m now locked into using an End-Of-Life (EOL) software application if I want to see my projects.

No thank you.

At I/O 2015 Google announced that Google Photos now includes unlimited free photo storage (up to 16MP for photos, and 1080p for videos). The best part? You can easily auto-upload your entire photo library to Google Photos in the background. Here’s how: (more…)

My MacBook runs a little toasty… 109 degrees to be exact

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 4th, 2015, 20:19
Category: Hardware, MacBook

I was using my new 2015 MacBook (the 12-inch model) for about 30 minutes tonight when it got uncomfortably hot on my lap. Instead of reaching for a laptop riser/cooling stand I grabbed my favorite tool – an IR thermometer (a Fluke 561).

Here’s what I found:

My MacBook is a little toasty... 109 degrees - Jason O'Grady

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20 Apple Watch apps worth a flick of your wrist

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 28th, 2015, 05:28
Category: Uncategorized

Calling them “apps” is a bit of a misnomer because third-party apps don’t really run natively on Apple Watch – yet. They’re more like extensions or views of apps that are running on your iPhone, but I digress. Watch apps are a little laggy at launch – get used to looking at the spinning flower – but there are times when viewing little bits of information on your wrist can be useful, especially notifications. Most importantly, it doesn’t come with all the baggage and distractions that turn your iPhone into a blackhole of time that you can never get back. After spending the weekend with Apple Watch, here are a few of the initial standout apps.

Redfin Apple Watch appRedfin, Zillow, Estately (in that order). I’m looking to purchase a house and it’s extremely helpful to open a watch app and see homes for sale near me. Alerts are what will separate the real estate apps – and none of them do it well currently. I’m stunned that Realtor.com got caught flat-footed and didn’t have a Watch app ready on Friday.

Hue. It’s extremely useful to be able to switch my home’s Hue light scene from the Apple Watch. It’s a purpose-built watch app that does just what you need it to do and nothing else.

Apple weather. Apple’s first-party weather app for Watch is my favorite for two reasons: 1) it’s linked from the weather widget on the watch face, and 2) it displays the forecast with one scroll of the crown. Dark Sky has the best notifications and Weather Nerd has the best data-rich screens.

Cufflink browser bills itself as the first web browser for Apple Watch is simple and effective. Search with your voice and get a list of results. It’s a bit of a black box to me, but worked reasonably well.

Read on for 10 more Apple Watch apps that are worth a flick of your wrist.

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DJ from your wrist with djay 2

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, April 23rd, 2015, 07:41
Category: Apps, DJ, iOS, iPad, iPhone

DJ from your wrist with djay 2 for iPhone - Jason O'Grady

djay 2 for iPhone ($2.99, App Store) is out today with a major update that includes Apple Watch support. For the first time you can cold rock a party from your wrist.

djay 2 was already my favorite iOS DJ app and I can’t wait for my Apple Watch to arrive so that I can play with its new watch features.

According to developer algoriddim, djay for Apple Watch allows you to browse your iTunes library, cue and mix your favorite songs, and control audio effects and loops for each deck individually from your wrist.

When you’re ready to stop mixing individual tracks you can invoke djay’s popular Automix feature, pulls tracks from Spotify and mixes them automatically, directly from your watch.

The best news is that djay 2 for iPhone ($2.99) with Apple Watch integration as well as djay 2 for iPad ($9.99) are free on the App Store through April 30.

Website, Google Doc crowd-sourcing Apple Watch orders

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015, 21:51
Category: Apple Watch, Wearables

If you’re breathlessly refreshing Apple’s order status page in an attempt to figure out if your Apple Watch will arrive on Friday, take a breather.

Tracking one’s Apple Watch order has turned into a national pastime here in the U.S. as eager pre-orderers try to figure out if they’re in the first first batch of Apple watches set to arrive in two short days. Apple’s “We’re working on your order” email, sent earlier this evening to some customers, has brought things to a fevered pitch.

An aside: It’s curious that Apple doesn’t use Touch ID to authenticate users of its Apple Store app attempting to access the “Order Status” tab, instead opting to have users type in their passwords the old fashioned way. 

If you count yourself as one of the obsessed Apple Watch trackers, there’s a new website that will help you read the tea leaves.

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Unpacking Apple’s ‘We’re working on your order’ email

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015, 21:02
Category: Apple Watch, Wearables

We’re not sure what they mean yet, but Apple just sent out an email that says “We’re working on your order” to many people that pre-ordered an Apple Watch.

The email’s subject line begins with “Your Apple Watch Order” followed by your order number and looks like this:

Apple Store email: "We're working on your order" - Jason O'Grady

I received the email above at 8:02 p.m. PT this evening, but there’s no rhyme or reason to it, unless it means bad news.

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My love-hate relationship with Apple’s new USB-C port

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015, 08:25
Category: Hardware, MacBook, Review, USB-C

My love-hate relationship with Apple's new USB-C port

Apple began shipping the new 12-inch Retina MacBook this week (more on it in a future post) and with it, a totally redesigned power adapter based on USB-C. (There are a lot of opinions about Apple’s roll in developing USB-C, which you can read here, here and here, but they’re outside the scope of this post.) As with most things in life, USB-C comes with a number of benefits and compromises which were undoubtedly debated ad nauseam in Cupertino for months. Here are my thoughts on USB-C after using it for a few days.

The positive

  1. The USB-C connector is small, which allows it to fit in small places (like the side of the MacBook 12-inch). It could conceivably end up on other Apple hardware in the future, but don’t recycle your Lightning cables just yet.
  2. The Apple 29 Watt USB-C Power Adapter is smaller than other MacBook power supplies, but it’s a one-trick pony. Apple also missed the opportunity to add a couple of female USB-A jacks on it which would have addressed the MacBook’s “one port” criticisms and earned Apple a ton of good will in the process.
  3. It’s a standard (part of the USB 3.1 specification) which means that third parties can make USB-C cables and dongles without having to worry about being sued by Apple. This should increase competition and lower prices. Eventually.
  4. When you plug in the MacBook’s USB-C power adapter it makes a satisfying “dong” sound – just like the iPhone does. While it’s a nice touch, it doesn’t respect the MacBook’s mute setting, which puts it dangerously close to the neutral category. The iPhone vibrates when connected to power while muted and I’ve heard that Apple could fix the MacBook behavior in a software update.

Read more about the things that drive me crazy about the new USB-C port…

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Here’s how to get Office 2016 for Mac, right now

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 5th, 2015, 16:50
Category: Microsoft, Office, Software

Screenshot 2015-03-05 16.48.58

Anyone that relies on Microsoft Office is intimately aware that the current version (that’s Office 2011 for Mac) was released five years ago. That’s 36 dog years, but who’s counting?

If you’ve been pining for a new version of the venerable office suite (and haven’t yet switched to Google Drive for some reason) there’s hope. Microsoft posted an Office for Mac Preview today, which is widely expected to become Office 2016 for Mac when it’s released in “the second half of 2015.”

A few things worth noting about Office ’16, er, the Office for Mac preview:

  1. It doesn’t require you to subscribe to Office 365,
  2. It doesn’t require you to register or complete a lengthy questionnaire,
  3. It doesn’t even require you to login to your Microsoft Live, Passport, 365 account.

Shocking, I know.

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Time Limits desperately needed on iOS

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Date: Tuesday, February 10th, 2015, 07:52
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, Kids

TL;DR I’d like to see the Time Limits feature from OS X come to iOS Restrictions.

Time Limits in OS X Parental Controls

It’s hard to deny that the iPad is an unbridled success and that it changed how we use computers in our daily lives. For kids, this might be the understatement of the decade. The iPad is a kid’s dream, it can play games, movies, music and can be interacted with on many levels.

The iPad’s popularity with children is simultaneously its best and its worst feature. Ask any parent with young kids.

I have two kids (ages 7 and 4) and they received iPad minis for Christmas. While iPads are nothing short of magic to young kids, things can quickly turn ugly when young ones are told that “it’s time to put the iPads away.” My seven year old is definitely ready for an iPad but my four year old is borderline. An unfortunate reality of having multiple: what you buy for one you need to buy for the other.

It’s important to set limits on iPad use for young kids, so that they can do other things like homework and playing with other kids and we generally limit their use to one hour on weekdays and two hours on weekends. The problem is enforcing these time limits. While my seven year old generally complies, my four year old frequently breaks down in tears.

The solution is system-level time limits that shut off the iPad after a user-defined interval. Unfortunately, third-party iOS apps don’t have system level access (thanks to sandboxing), so the feature has to come from Apple.

Luckily, Time Limits are already available on OS X. (more…)