Maps

Using Apple Watch for Map Searches

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I had family in town this past week and something that seems to always come up eventually during family discussions (especially out of town family) is...

"Doesn't 'town X' have a 'store Y'?"

We have a rule at our family dinner table...no cells phones allowed. So when a discussion like the one above came up at dinner this past week I simply lifted my wrist and asked Siri if the city we were talking about had that store. Sure enough, my Apple Watch came back with the correct answer including information like:

  • Hours of Operation
  • A button showing the travel time with the option to get directions
  • A second button with the option for "transit directions" if I wanted to use public transportation
  • Phone Number
  • A Visual Map

I have to admit that I was pretty blown away. I really wasn't expecting my Apple Watch to accurately be able to find that kind of information from a literally "off the cuff" question. Not only that, but the Apple Watch managed to display all of that information in a surprisingly useful format on that very tiny screen.

Now for the interesting part. The Apple Watch can find places via Apple Maps faster then when you use Apple Maps on an iPhone, iPad or even a Mac. Don't believe me? Try it.

Even better, I'll give you an example. I just asked Siri via my Apple Watch if there was a Microsoft Store in Cupertino. I was half expecting a "snarky" answer back, but instead I got a list of two nearby stores.

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Followed by all of the really useful information I described above:

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So next I tried finding a Microsoft Store near Cupertino in Apple Maps on my iPad. First I did a search for the city of Cupertino to get Apple Maps centered on the right city (because if I just did a search for Microsoft Store" it would find one near my current location instead of Cupertino.

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Then I did a search for a Microsoft Store

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As you can see from the results above the Apple Maps search on the iPad found the closest store and it was the same store as the one that my Apple Watch found. But if you look closely, the 2nd closest store it found wasn't a store at all but a corporate office building of some kind. Turns out when I looked at the 2nd closest store that my Apple Watch found, it wasnt much better. That store was actually a Microsoft Consulting and Service Center and not a Microsoft Store. So it appears the Apple Watch and the iPad are both equally inaccurate when it comes to the 2nd closest store.

Next I did the exact same search on the iPad as I verbally asked my Apple Watch, which was "Is there a Microsoft Store in Cupertino?"

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As you can see above it found the same closest store but a slightly different list of stores. This time they all appear to be ACTUAL Microsoft Stores. Score one for the iPad.

What this tells me is that the Apple Watch is a just as accurate and much less annoying way to find things than it is to use my iPhone or my iPad. I never would have thought that to be the case until I stumbled onto it when I had no other choice but to use my Apple Watch. From now on I will be using my Apple Watch more and more for general map queries. I wonder how many other things the Apple Watch can do as good if not better than the iPhone. I might have to try to do more things with just my Apple Watch...

Using Apple Watch Maps

I'm in Munich all week and have been using the Apple Watch walking direction feature quite a bit.

You can either start with entering your destination into your iPhone or force touch the watch to bring up the search dialog and dictate a destination or choose from a list of favorites/recent locations. Walking the streets of Munich from one beer garden (Biergarten) to the next and to various sites and restaurants has put this feature of the Apple Watch to really good use for me. What's really nice about it is that you don't spend the whole walk looking down at your phone for directions. Instead, you glance down at your watch and follow the directions. You don't look at your watch again until you get a tap on the wrist that tells you about an upcoming turn or a recalculated path because you've been going the wrong way. Once you just simply trust the watch and ignore your natural instincts to "just walk in that general direction" it works really well. One less thing to worry about so you can spend that time more wisely by deciding which beverage tasting establishment to visit next.

Apple Watch Map Interface

Apple Watch Map Interface

iPhone 5 Review

First, a quick note about my little experiment to “hide” my mail app on my iPhone and iPad (see my previous post) in hopes that it will keep me from constantly checking email. It worked beautifully! In just 2 short weeks I have effectively kicked my email habit. Not having that mail icon starring at me from my dock made all the difference. Now I only check my email when I have a need to do so rather than EVERY time I pick up one of my iOS devices.

I've had my iPhone five for a little over 2 weeks now. I could literally go on and on and on about the iPhone 5, but in spirit of keeping it short I'll just limited it to the major pluses and minuses that I found so far. I hope try and follow up in the coming weeks short blog posts on specific features of the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 that I'm finding to be the most geektastic!

Look and feel:

Immediately, when I pulled the iPhone 5 out-of-the-box it felt much much lighter than my iPhone 4. The fit and finish on the iPhone 5 is amazing! It just feels incredible in your hand. This new iPhone feels so good in your hand this'll be the first iPhone out of all the iPhones I've carried that I am not going to put a case on. I just can't bring myself to put a case on such a slim, light, and beautiful device. The larger screen…is a bit of a problem for my elf sized hands. For the first day that I had the iPhone I felt like I was constantly stretching to get the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Then I realized that with the iPhone 4 I was using my pinky finger in the lower left-hand part of the phone to secure the phone and with the taller iPhone 5 screen I can't comfortably stretch while holding the phone that way. Without even knowing I was doing it, I've since adjusted my grip on the iPhone and I no longer feel like I'm stretching to reach the upper left-hand corner of the screen. My point in all of this is that if my child-sized hands can comfortably reach the entire iPhone screen I don't think anybody else will have any problem. Apple got the design right, it is a noticeably larger screen but still easily operated with one hand.

Speed:

There is a huge speed increase from iPhone 4. Apps load much faster and the phone is just much much snappier. I didn't realize that the delays I was living with on the iPhone 4 until I got the iPhone 5 and the delays were gone. Multi-tasking and switching between apps is lightning fast making it that much more efficient to use in that way. I've also noticed a huge speed increase with apps that have to access the Internet for data and I'm still on AT&T 3G/4G (no LTE in my area yet) so it's not because I'm now on LTE.

Battery:

For the first few days I noticed I was actually getting less battery life o the new iPhone as compared to my iPhone 4. I was really looking forward to getting a new iPhone so my battery life would be a little bit better so I was a little disappointed initially. However, I really haven't run out of battery over the course of an entire day yet. In fact, I found that the battery life has gotten better after the first few days of using the phone. I've also noticed the battery drains much faster towards the upper end of the battery than it does when he gets down to the lower percentages. Between self battery calibration and Apple tweaking the software I expect the batter life and accuracy to get better over time. Overall, battery life is not an issue. In fact, if you are upgrading from a 4s you may even notice a longer battery life.

Temperature:

I don’t know if this is because this the first iPhone I’ve used without a case, but I notice the device getting pretty warm after using for an extended period (especially when accessing cell data). I wouldn’t call the increase in temperature a problem, just an observation. With the faster A6 processor it only makes sense that the phone would produce more heat. Although, with the A6 Apple is able to selectively throttle the processor speed to save on battery life. So I expect processor speed utilization and heat management to also get better over time as Apple is able to tweak the software.

The new Maps app:

This one has totally been blown out of proportion by the media. I am really excited about the new Maps app. It loads and refreshed images so much faster than Google Maps and I really love the new turn by turn directions. You can even listen to music or podcasts with the turn by turn directions, the music just fades down when directions are spoken and then the music resumes full volume. There is definitely an accuracy issue with the new Maps app, but if you remember back when Google maps was just starting out they had the same issues. But Apple has one thing that Google didn’t have back then, hundreds of millions of users. Report map errors from within the app and Apple has been fixing those errors very quickly. This app will get much better over time (and its already really good right now). Don’t listen to the media on this one. 

The new headphones:

iPhone 5 now comes with new headphones called “Ear Pods.” I’m no audiophile, but I do own a pair of really nice over the ear Bose headphones. I am now not using my Bose headphone much anymore, these are THAT good! The original iPod headphones were ok, but let’s face it...they were essentially throw away headphones. These new Ear Pods are very comfortable even for extended periods of time and they sound fantastic. The bass is much more pronounced (even better than my Bose headphones). Will these new Ear Pods replace the need to buy a really nice pair...probably not. But you now have a really nice pair of headphones to take with you on the go without sacrificing much in the area of comfort and sound quality.

So I said I would keep it short. Believe it or not this was short. There is so much to be said about iPhone 5 and iOS 6! I’ll try and post VERY short posts in the coming weeks about my favorite new features and how I use them. I’m also curious to hear from all of you about whether you are getting a case for your new iPhone 5? I’m hearing a lot of people saying they have never used a case before but they are getting one for the iPhone 5 and I’m exactly the opposite. What are you doing and why?

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