Scroll through any tech news and rumors site these days, and you will be inundated with Apple coverage. Everyone wants to talk about the new AirPods and Apple News+ and the Apple Card and everything else the behemoth tech company announced at their Apple Special Event last week. But if you read one of those articles, you will have read them all – a lot of speculation, a lot of talking points and, especially in the case of Apple News+, a lot of derogatory information. (Apple News+ represents a direct threat to tech reporters’ employers and ultimately their livelihoods).
That coverage is all well and good if you are an Apple fanboy – someone who HAS to know about the latest and greatest Steve Jobs’ old brainchild has to offer. But what if you are a regular old consumer? What if you are someone who still rocks the iPhone 6 and has yet to make the jump to a smartwatch. This article is for those people. Because I am one of those people.
In the past two months, I made two separate (but related) Apple purchases. First, I got an Apple Watch Series 4. I did not want an Apple Watch, mind you. I liked my classic Bulova. I’ve sneered at digital watches since I was a child. And what is an Apple Watch but a digital watch made cool? But I got a deal, and with my Bulova needing a new battery, I decided I would at least try it out.
If my immediate experience with the Apple Watch wasn’t disappointing, it was only because of how low my expectations really were. The thing just flat out did not work. I followed all of the instructions, downloaded the app on my phone, turned it on and off about half a dozen times. Nothing. Ok, sure, it told time. And I suppose it looked cool. But it could not make or receive calls. It sometimes could send text messages but usually couldn’t. It began to seem like a giant waste of money.
Indefatigable as I am, I was determined not to give up. I scoured the internet for reasons that my Apple Watch might not work as expected. The only thing I could reasonably come up with was that my phone was too old.
Apple’s website claims that the Apple Watch Series 4 will work with iPhones 6 or later. I had an iPhone 6S, so my watch should have been compatible. Could it be that Apple was not entirely truthful? Maybe they wanted schmucks like me to think they could get away with spending $400 for a new watch without simultaneously shelling out $700 for a new phone.
Turns out, that is exactly what happened. While Apple may not have been completely mendacious when claiming the Series 4 “works” with the iPhone 6, the assertion is clearly misleading. If you want your Apple Watch to perform the primary function of an Apple Watch – namely, sit on your wrist and show other people that you own an Apple Watch – then an iPhone 6 is perfectly suitable. If you want it to perform all of the advertised secondary functions, then you need a newer model.
So, I did it. In what turned out to be more of a necessity than I had ever imagined, I bought an iPhone XR, hopeful that the upgrade would solve my Apple Watch problems. And you know what? It did. Since getting the iPhone XR, I have no complaints about any piece of Apple tech I own. The watch excels at making and especially taking calls. (I had never answered a phone call from the golf course before). Another feature I like is that I can control the music on my phone when it is plugged in to an audio jack on the other side of the room. (The downside here being that I needed to buy a special Apple-sanctioned adapter in order to be able to even play such music anymore).
Long story short: I do recommend the Apple Watch Series 4 for any traditional watch wearers considering making the leap. But caveat emptor, depending on what is in your pocket, it may end up costing you hundreds more than expected.
I Found An Affordable Polaroid Alternative
It’s 2021 and we are officially done overpaying for products that have affordable alternatives. Do you really need that instant film camera that says “Polaroid” on it? Or can you make do with another instant film camera for half the price that works just as well? Yep, you guessed it. You can most definitely get a cheaper version that produces a very similar outcome. Your pictures will still print out instantly, and despite a difference in size, the quality will be very similar to that of a Polaroid camera. Don’t worry: You will still be hip and trendy even if your instant film camera doesn’t have “Polaroid” printed on it.
I personally have wanted an instant film camera for years, but I knew how expensive Polaroid cameras were, so I just never ended up buying one. That is, until I came across the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera. The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 is a battery-powered instant film camera that sells for $68 on Amazon. Compare that to the price of a Polaroid camera, which ranges anywhere from about $90 to $180 on Amazon.
I don’t just love my Fujifilm instant camera because it was half the price of a Polaroid; in fact, I am finding the quality and value to be terrific. It is easy to use, and every photo I’ve taken so far with it has turned out great. It’s available in five different colors and is ideal for selfies or close-up pictures. Obviously, this camera lacks some of the features that Polaroid cameras have, but given the price difference, that’s to be expected.
In my nonprofessional opinion, the Instax Mini 11 is basically a simple version of a Polaroid, meaning it’s perfect for those who just want the instant film photos without all the bells and whistles. Given its ease of use, this camera is also perfect for families and kids. The few cons associated with this camera include the fact that you cannot turn off the flash, so you have to be a little more conscious of the lighting, and that it doesn’t work that well for far-away shots. The film is a tad on the expensive side, but I feel like that’s inevitable with instant film cameras. Other than that, I’d have to say this little camera is a steal.
You Can Now Watch Both HBO Max & Quibi On Roku
Our long national nightmare is over. When HBO Max launched last June, I liked its offerings but was disappointed that there was practically no way to watch it. Although Christopher Nolan called it “the worst streaming service,” it actually has some good content, but since it was not accessibly from any streaming device, viewers were stuck either watching it on their laptops or else purchasing an upgraded Samsung Smart TV. My family ended up doing the latter, and we have no complaints at all with our new 55″ screen. But considering we own a plethora of Amazon Fire and Roku devices, it would have been nice to actually use them to watch the shows we are paying for.
What took so long? With Amazon, the answer is obvious. Amazon competes with HBO via its own streaming service, Amazon Prime, and so it was always going to be a tough negotiation. But Roku? Isn’t one of the pluses of Roku that it is platform-neutral?
Now we know the answer. Roku announced today that it had acquired the library of Quibi, an erstwhile streaming service that went bankrupt not too long ago. Roku will play those Quibi shows on its devices for free. In other words, Roku is getting into the content business.
Considering reports that sales of their devices have outpaced others on the market during the pandemic, this is big news for the entertainment industry, and it may make negotiations between the various players all the more hostile in the future. For the time being, let us rejoice and be glad that we can finally watch HBO Max in peace. We will deal with the fallout later.
The Lululemon Mirror Is The Latest In Dystopian Tech
Right before the New Year, we ran an article taking a look at some of the fitness options for keeping in shape in the midst of a pandemic. One option we did not touch on is the Lululemon Mirror, mostly because I did not believe it was a real thing. Like everyone else, I’ve seen the many ads touting this Bradburyesque contraption over the last couple months. But I figured it was a parody. There’s no way the brand known for their overpriced yoga pants aspires to hang a giant two-way looking glass on people’s wall, right? Wrong. The Mirror exists, and it is a sign of the times.
For those unfamiliar with the Mirror, it literally a $1,500 mirror, which in addition to filming your movements also displays workout videos so you don’t have to go to a gym. Is there a market for this? There must be, considering Lululemon bought the start-up responsible for the device for $500 million.
Such is life during COVID. People are so tired of being trapped in their houses, they are now turning to life-size screens to simulate interpersonal interaction. This also shows how the pandemic has changed our relationship with privacy; now that we are on Zoom every day, performing workouts in front of a camera does not seem like that big of a deal. (For those folks who do still value privacy, Lululemon insists that turning on the camera is merely “an option.”)
The Lululemon Mirror is just the latest example of wellness technology designed to capture any and all information about its users. Pretty much all of your important health data is tracked by your Apple Watch, and that isn’t even counting the enhancements of Apple Fitness+.
If people are willing to bare their souls to a miniature robot, who am I to tell them off? But as more and more data is accumulated through these various channels, it’s hard not to think that they will be used in some way to manipulate human behavior. Maybe this is a good thing, leading to a healthier populace. Let’s hope that’s the case. Because if the data falls into the wrong hands, there is little doubt that it could be used to nefarious ends.
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