Apple Watch Series 6 review: not a must have upgrade

If you’re rushed for time here’s the summary

  • If you love the Apple Watch and use it every day and you are on a series 3 or lower then look at a series 5
  • If you’re on a series 4 or 5 don’t upgrade
  • If you use the Apple Watch as a basic fitness tracker or not all the time stick with what you have

That’s how I feel after using one for a week and why I’ll be sticking with my series 2.

This isn’t to say the series 6 is a bad upgrade it’s just that in the current climate with uncertainty around job security and if we take a more ethical approach to our tech this really isn’t an upgrade most of us need.

What’s new?

Well the main is

  • Blood/Oxygen sensor
  • Brighter always on display

In my testing neither of these are a reason to upgrade. The sensor isn’t as reliable as a cheaper finger based one (I tested both over the course of this week) and the always on display, which nice to have isn’t a must. If you want to get almost there then look at a refurbished series 5 and buy a £20 blood oxygen monitor.

But it really does come down to your watch usage. I get away with the series 2 because I’m not doing things like dictation or using apps on my watch, I see it as an activity tracker not an extension to my iPhone. I turn off all notifications as I find it overwhelming and literally only glance at the screen for time and seeing how many steps I’m up to.

If you’re an Apple Watch devotee then I still think you’ll be ok with the series 5, if you really want an always on display. You’ll save some cash and make use of another device before it gets forgotten and sent to be binned, it’s better to reuse than buy of course.

In terms of blood oxygen then I think until Apple gets approval and creates a proactive way to let you know if it finds something to check out I feel it isn’t of much use. Tracking overnight can help identify issues but you need to know what you’re looking for and to be honest based on my testing I’m not sure I’d trust it just yet. Apple states it isn’t a medical device so this leads me (as someone that doesn’t like uncertainty) to think that even Apple aren’t sure what to do with it yet. Further medical studies will help them with this but I wouldn’t buy a series 6 for this feature, it isn’t full baked yet.

So, there it is my feelings are that there is no need to feel compelled to upgrade to the series 6.

(I will say that I loved and will miss the red though).

Should you upgrade to the Apple Watch Series 6?

I’ve been testing the new Apple Watch Series 6 since launch, in particular putting it up against my Series 2. I’ve had my series 2 for over 1000 days now and it still works like a champ. I get good battery and as a general fitness tracker it still does the job. So, I’m returning the Series 6 and ultimately decided that I couldn’t justify the cost of owning it when I look at my use case, especially in the current financial climate.

What is your use case?

For me it comes down to just making sure I’m keeping active, going on a walk each day and the rings are a nice motivator. I also go weeks not wearing it and going back to a Casio or Seiko. The extra sensors and functionality cause me anxiety and I get lost in looking at data and checking how I’m doing, the series 2 is a much simpler device in my eyes now and I’m good with that.

Always on display

It’s good but not great if you love a traditional watch. I find all it does is dims, like someone has turned down the brightness. If you are a daily Apple Watch wearer this might be enough but for me I can live without it.

Battery life

Believe it or not but in my testing the series 2 is getting better battery life than the series 6. Now the series 2 is less complicated and on watchOS 6 so kind of makes sense but it’s strange a 3 year old battery beats it.

Bigger screen

My eyes aren’t great and the bigger screen has been nice but I don’t really interact with my watch throughout the day. I use my phone to still run apps and literally just glance at my watch to see the time or I start a workout. If you use the screen on the watch a lot then consider the upgrade.

Blood Oxygen Monitor

In my testing it’s not fully baked and I feel you’re better off buying a finger tip sensor one for less than £20. It’s 50/50 whether it’ll take a reading and doesn’t (yet) do anything proactive. Don’t upgrade just to get this, maybe in six months check again but for now it’s not a reason to upgrade.

Overall thoughts

I think if you love your Apple Watch and are on a series 3 or lower then this’ll be a great update. If like me you use it maybe 60% of the time and just want to track basic activity then stick with what you have or go for a series 3 or used series 4.

Moshi iVisor for iPad Pro review

I’ve not been a fan of screen protectors but after seeing a few people with matte finishes on their iPads I wanted to jump in with my 11″.

I picked up the iVisor and I have to say after a week in I’m impressed.

As you can see it’s a matte finish and installed bubble free as promised. You can take kit off to wash under the tap but I’m not ready to try that out yet.

The quality looks high and once I started to use it I can see why it’s more expensive.

With us being in summer now and even though we aren’t out and about I’m using it outside in the garden and the finish helps to keep off reflections. It does have an impact on clarity but not too bad to want to take it off. I now personally prefer a matte finish on my iPad screen.

Using the pencil also feels better to me than using the naked screen. There is a little more friction and the texture feels good, not like paper but again better than the glass.

I didn’t have a concern about scratches but that’s obviously a nice side effect of switching to a protector.

At over £20 for one it is on the pricier side but I recommend spending a little more to get the Moshi.

Lockne, an app to help you create a great lock screen and wallpaper

Lockne is a great little app that I can’t believe hasn’t already been done, it’s a really useful utility app that every iPhone user could do with. If you’re into changing up your wallpaper every 5 minutes (like me) then you need to check it out.

Developed by Jonathan Ruiz this is an app that lets you visualise what your home screen and wallpaper would look like in real time and then allows you to capture what you saw within the app.

The UI is simple and intuitive and for me the only place I would change it would be to move the settings icon somewhere else or make it smaller, other than it’s perfect for what the app is trying to achieve.

Once you are happy with how it’ll look then simply hit the circle to take a photo as you would within the camera app.

You can switch between lock screen and home screen by tapping on the far right icon, in this case above hitting the lock icon shows you what it might look like as a lock screen rather than the home screen as above. In my testing whilst writing up this overview I experienced no bugs and performance is really good. I’ll be using this app quite a lot going forward in my pursuit for that perfect wallpaper.

I think it’s great to see utilities like this still being made, one that feels like the creator wanted to use themselves so went out and did it. It’s important to support apps like this one and I gladly spent the £2.99 to support it.

Magic Keyboard for the 11” iPad Pro – First impressions

I like to quickly write down my thoughts as I use a product rather than write up a big review so here are my first impressions of the Apple Magic Keyboard for the 11″ iPad Pro. I’ve had the 2020 iPad for a couple of weeks and enjoying it but it didn’t feel complete as I was waiting for the keyboard to arrive and today it did.

Even on the smaller iPad Pro it’s got some weight to it but for me at least it’s fine to carry around with the iPad like I did my Smart Keyboard cover on my 10.5″ iPad Pro.

Before even plugging it in the build quality feels amazing (as you’d expect for almost £300). The keys are good, more travel than my 12″ MacBook so I’ll need to adjust but enjoying the typing experience. The hinge to hold up the iPad is stiff and that’s a good thing, the trackpad is also a little stiff to click – but it’s only day 1.

Here’s a summary of things I’ve spotted from my first hour with this new setup

  • It really highlights the apps that embrace the setup, if your app doesn’t have secondary click support I cant use it – I’m currently working out which of the apps I use are good or bad in this respect (would you be interested in a post about this?)
  • My writing style means my hands are quite high so my nails are hitting the bottom of the docked iPad, I just need to adjust to this – no big problem
  • I like the flexibility of using whichever method I feel like – keyboard, trackpad, undocked or pencil, it’s one of the main reasons I love the iPad so much
  • The trackpad is actually bigger than I was expecting on this smaller iPad and I’m enjoying using it
  • The keys feel cramped to begin with but I’m getting used to it
  • I miss the function row that I had with my MacBook
  • It feels a little top heavy on the lap but totally doable for me I don’t think it needs to be a desk only accessory on the 11″
  • I wish the hinge had some more angle to it but understand why not – it would topple over…

Using this setup really makes me appreciate my choice to stick with the iPad and means that I have so much flexibility. I’m looking forward to seeing what iPadOS 14 brings up in terms of iPad support even more now.

NetNewsWire for iOS mini review

Just a quick few thoughts on the new to iOS NetNewsWire RSS reader. I’ve been using Reeder for a little while and was a little unsure about testing out NetNewsWire but I I’m switching to it. The main reason is the performance and starred feature. Wow it’s quick and I found that with the Today and Starred article lists it helped me to engage more in reading blog posts.

The way that I’ve been using the app is to periodically check in with the Today view to see if anything is new and if there is something I want to go back to I’ll mark as starred and then pop into the starred view later to give it a read.

You can simply tap the star at the bottom to mark something to read later and then tap the arrows on the top right to move through your feed.

I don’t hook into a reader service but have an OPML export that contains all of my feeds, this can be imported into NetNewsWire.

For me this is now the default RSS reader you should be using on iOS. It’s free and you should do what you can to promote the open web and share your favourite blogs. (Note to self, I need to share more links!).

Pitaka Air for iPhone 11 Pro – long term review

I picked up the Pitaka Air for my iPhone 11 Pro on 26th November 2019 and it’s become an essential part of my daily tech. I hate cases in general but everytime I’ve gone back to a naked iPhone I come back to the Pitaka and feel it’s improved the experience of using it.

The case itself weighs almost nothing and is constructed of a carbon fibre type material that gives it a great look and feel. I’ve also tested it on several accidental drops and it’s protected my device both times.

You can see a slight white mark and dent in the camera surround that it look when I dropped on concrete.

Even though I’ve taken it on and off quite a few times it still fits tight and there’s no fear about it coming off on it’s own.

It’s also pretty unique and personally I’ve not seen anyone else with one.

All of the buttons are easily accessible and access to the charging port is also great.

So it’s light, protected my iPhone on a couple of drops and adds grip. I really can’t recommend this case highly enough. As someone that hates cases it’s something I now can’t imagine not using.

A review of the 12” MacBook after 3 years

This might seem like a strange post for someone that lives on iOS but I’ve been using my MacBook a little more lately due to the battery issues I’ve been experiencing on my iPad Pro. It’s been sat on my work desk so if I’ve needed to check my to do app or play some music I’ve been reaching for the MacBook.

Durability

It’s been in my camera bag and been on holiday with me but in general gets used around the house. It’s showing some signs of wear around the edges but overall if I took the stickers off you’d think it was less than the 3 years I’ve had it.

That keyboard…

I don’t love it, I make typing mistakes but it’s been reliable. I might be in the minority but as someone that usually has issues with gear the keyboard has worked fine. I did have a sticky tab key for a hour or so but tapping on it a few times seemed to remove whatever was stuck below it. I don’t have Apple Care for it anymore but hoping Apple would honour any repairs given this keyboards sordid history. I definitely prefer typing up posts on my iPad Smart Keyboard though.

Performance

This is where I notice it the most, it’s slow. My 10.5″ iPad Pro never stutters but this feels slow and more than a 3 year old machine. I’ve got the base model so expected it to slow a bit but on the latest version of macOS I’m getting a little frustrated at the rate apps load, lag in Notes and general slow background iCloud sync.

I’m actually going to refresh back to the original OS it came with and see what happens to performance.

Battery

Battery still seems good, no issues and a factor for me picking it up over my iPad Pro that can’t get through a few hours at the moment.

Overall

As a part time machine the MacBook works well for me but only for basic tasks. I wouldn’t be able to do much video on it but for music production it’s been fine to be fair. Logic Pro runs ok on it and in my use recording guitar it’s also ok. I wouldn’t recommend anyone picking one up now though unless it’s a bargain and not your main machine.

A sticker pack to help you say no

Saying no to something isn’t always easy but with the Decline sticker pack it makes things a little easier to select the right response.

I use sticker packs a lot and having another one to pick from is something I’m always going to take a look at.

There’s a good selection of responses and the artwork is clean and stylish. Personally I’m looking forward to more sticker packs, no pressure!

Great work from Alyssa and Tim, well done. Check out more at their site here.

Casio G-Shock 5610 – An affordable space watch

Two things I’m into are space and watches and more recently I’ve gotten into researching watches that have ended up in space or on the moon. The most obvious watch that comes to mind is my dream watch to own, the Omega Speedmaster but at over £3000 it’s a little out of my price range for now. The good news is that one of favourite watch brands has ended up in space, lots of times – Casio.

The g-shock 5600 series had been worn into space multiple times and is a great everyday watch.

The model I picked up to review was the 5610, tough solar for £74. It looks big when you see images but in reality it’s not that big on the wrist so first off don’t be put off straight away.

This model has a couple of cool additions on top of the 5600, solar powered and the ability to update itself via atomic timekeeping.

On using it for a week here are some of the takeaways

  • The buttons are recessed so can’t be hit accidentally
  • The strap is typical Casio resin and super comfortable
  • It’s light enough to forget you’re wearing it
  • The illumination is the best I’ve used on a watch
  • It’ll take a beating

This has to be the best value for money in terms of having a daily watch you can wear anywhere.

If you’re looking for an everyday watch with a great history then the g-shock is hard to beat, especially if you’re into space. Until I save enough for an Omega, this is my number one space watch.