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Devices Mobile Tech

When your iPad is your computer

The recent iPad updates are pretty interesting. I wouldn’t consider using an iPad as my primary computer for various reasons. At the same time, I can see the latest iPad, along with the keyboard and mouse (?) support as a primary computer for people with pretty straightforward or general requirements.

iPads are like netbooks

In many ways, the iPad seems to be in that place laptops were in back when they were under-powered netbooks, and weren’t quite at a stage where they could act as desktop replacements, like they commonly are now.

Simon Woods has been exploring this option over at Micro.blog too

I wonder if I would be able to avoid the PC chores even if I went with MacBook Air instead of iPad Pro, and just keep the Mac super lightweight.

Simon Woods

If you’re looking for a lightweight setup, then something like a MacBook Air (or similar lightweight laptop using another OS) is a good choice. Sure, it lacks the portability, and convenience of a tablet, but it makes up for that in support for more apps, and use cases.

On this topic, I enjoyed Marques Brownlee’s review too –

The Linux option

One option I’d love to see is an iPad-like tablet that runs a Linux distro like Ubuntu. It would need to have really good touchscreen support that enables you to use the UI with similar fluidity, and also support external peripherals so you could have a desktop experience when you need it.

I doubt we’re far from that sort of experience either. It could be a really interesting iPad alternative because it could offer more of a desktop experience (with all the app choices that brings) on more portable hardware, and using an OS that can support lower powered hardware.

I haven’t used Microsoft’s Surface devices, but they seems to be pretty capable already, so perhaps the future has already arrived, just for Microsoft users.


Reasons

I wouldn’t use an iPad as my primary computer for a couple reasons:

  1. I prefer using a different browser, multiple browsers even, and you’re basically limited to Safari for your browser experience on iOS (I understand that even if you install other browsers, Safari is basically the underpinning of other browsers too).
  2. I need more flexibility when it comes to apps than iOS would offer me. I don’t think that the apps I’d want to use there are available.

Still, I feel like it could be pretty close to meeting general, daily requirements.

Categories
Devices Mobile Tech Sports

A few more thoughts about my Garmin Vivoactive 4

I’ve had my Garmin Vivoactive 4 for just over two months now, and I thought I’d share a couple more thoughts about this device.

To begin with, I still really enjoy using this watch. I’m very glad that I bought it, and I find it enormously helpful, day to day.

I’ve been running pretty regularly, and the experience of using this Garmin device to track my runs, and sync with Strava is really smooth, especially compared to my Fitbit Charge 3.

The data

On the whole, the data seem fairly accurate, and useful. There are some exceptions, though.

I mentioned in my initial post that sleep data was a little hit and miss. This remains the case. I’ve noticed that the Vivoactive 4 will think I’m sleeping even if I’m awake, but still lazing in bed.

It also seems to think that I’m sleeping while watching TV some nights (I’m clearly pretty relaxed).

I realised that a possible explanation is that I’ve set my Data Recording option (in System settings) to Smart, and not Every Second to preserve battery life. I suspect this may be the reason for the inaccurate data that I see, so I’ll test sleep tracking with the Data Recording option set to Every Second.

Interestingly the Body Battery feature tends to give me values that correspond fairly well to how I feel at a given point in time. It’s also a little stingy with recharges though. It seems to expect me to get about eight hours of sleep before it regards me as pretty well charged for my next day.

Touch screen

The touch screen works pretty well for the most part. I noticed one app or screen where it’s not that reliable, the coaching app.

I’m using the Garmin Coach feature to train for 5km races (I’m enjoying the program so far). I usually go running in the mornings, and often can’t seem to activate the touch target on the coaching app screen unless my fingers are warm.

I’ll find myself tapping with different fingers, in different positions, just to get it to progress to the next screen where I can tap to start the workout (no issues on the second screen).

From there, the UI works just fine for me.

I haven’t really had an issue with any other screens, just this one. At the same time, this has me wondering if a Garmin watch without a touch screen (and more buttons) like the Forerunner 645 may be a way to go when I upgrade down the line.

Still, it’s not a major issue for me at the moment, just a little frustrating when I want to get started with my coaching-guided runs in the mornings.

The running experience

I started connecting my headphones directly to the watch for my runs because my phone seems to have a dislike for sustained Bluetooth connections, and frequently cuts the connection at random intervals.

I use the built-in Spotify support to sync my playlists, and off I go. Here’s my current, preferred playlist:

I would like to buy a lower profile Bluetooth headset for my runs.

An Aftershokz headset would be great given that they don’t block your ears, and seem a safer option when running around the city. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be readily available in Israel, and can be a little pricey. Still, they may be worth the investment.

Overall, I really enjoy running with the Vivoactive 4. I’m running more frequently, seem to be improving as a runner, and that’s largely thanks to the motivation on my wrist.

I know it’s a bit materialistic because obviously you can run well without a watch, but this works well for me.

Categories
Devices Mobile Tech

Folding smartphones remind me of the old Nokia Communicator devices

These new range of folding smart phones are really interesting (I really like the idea of a device that opens up to reveal a larger, tablet-size screen). At the same time, I can’t help but think of the Nokia Communicator series devices from over a decade ago. Take the Nokia E90 Communicator, as an example:

I was really excited about these devices back then. The new folding phones seem to be a v2.0, in a sense. I wonder if these will become more commonplace or, like the Nokia Communicators, remain pretty rare due to factors like price, and form factor.

Just on the use case for these new folding phones, Dave Lee has a great take on this that echoes some of my thinking, albeit not from the perspective of a gaming device:

Featured image courtesy of Samsung

Categories
Devices Mobile Tech

My Fitbit Charge 3 arrived!

My Fitbit Charge 3 arrived a little sooner than I expected.

Setup was pretty quick. I first had to install an update through the app on my phone, charged it for a bit, and then put it on.

I’ve been wearing it almost constantly since I received it (I take it off when I shower, even though it’s waterproof), and I really like all the data it gives me about my daily activity, sleep patterns, and even reminders to get up and move around more during my day.

I really love how I haven’t needed to charge it every day. I’ve been wearing it for about six days, and I’m on 41%.

Categories
Devices Mobile Tech Wellbeing

Counting the steps till my Fitbit Charge 3

I’m looking forward to receiving my Fitbit Charge 3 in a week or two. I don’t do any intensive activities but I like tracking things like steps.

Having an activity tracker that will help me track other metrics will give me a great view of my general health.

Categories
Devices Games Mobile Tech

My new gaming adventure

I haven’t been much of a gamer (at least not since childhood), until I started a new, casual gaming adventure in the last week or two. It started when we bought a Nintendo Switch for home.

We opted for the Switch because it seemed to be a better choice for the whole family. I also really like the sorts of games I’ve been hearing about from Nintendo.

We started off with Legends of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Minecraft, and Fortnite (our son introduced me to this one). So far, Legends of Zelda is my favourite game on the Switch. It’s a remarkable adventure, and our son and I are constantly comparing notes about where to find gear, how to solve the next challenge, and how to stay alive in the game.

I’ve also started playing a game or two on my Android phone. I really enjoy Alto’s Adventure, in Zen mode. I like just skiing across the landscape, and getting back up each time I hit a rock, or fall down a crevice.

The imagery in Alto’s Adventure is wonderful. Even those moments after a crash have a profoundly contemplative feel to them,

My ideal would be to play Alto’s Adventure (or even the follow-up, Alto’s Odyssey – I haven’t started playing this one yet) on the Switch, but the game only seems to be available on iOS or Android.

Our next game is probably going to be Mario Kart 8. We want a game we can play together, and this one seems like a great option. I’m also looking forward to the launch of the Nintendo Switch Online service that seems like it will bring the older NES games to Switch devices as part of the subscription service.

The timing for this is great. I’m on vacation with our kids for the next two weeks, and playing games like these together are a great way to unwind between the outings we have planned.

Categories
Mobile Tech

And Google AI became self-aware on …

This video just drives home the link between personal device use, and the future awakening of our AI overlords.

This reminds me of how Google used it’s free phone information service to gather voice samples to train its voice recognition algorithms.

The main difference here is that Google wants is users to train its nascent AI in a sort of machine learning feedback loop. This should be interesting.

Categories
Film Mobile Tech

Love this Star Trek wallpaper for my phone

I decided to change my lock screen wallpaper today and went looking for a Star Trek wallpaper. I’m a bit of a fan and we’ve been watching the Star Trek Voyager series for the last couple months (we’ve already watched TNG and DS9 again).

When it comes to phone wallpapers, I prefer darker backgrounds. One reason is so my phone doesn’t become a second Sun when I am sitting in the dark with our kids, putting them to sleep. Another reason is that I want to minimise clashes with app icons and on-screen text so I can see what I’m doing.

I did a couple Google searches and came up with this great wallpaper that I love. I searched for it on my desktop and found a version on the Mobile Abyss site. It looks terrific on my phone.

Another option is this version on the same site. It has a bigger badge but a very different look. I haven’t tried it yet but it could look great on your device.