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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 8 min 36 sec ago

The Verge's Apple Watch review

Wednesday 8th of April 2015 12:50:24 PM
The first Apple Watch reviews are coming out right now. The Verge's review is incredibly detailed, and also, brutally honest: the Apple Watch has major issues right now, but it does have a lot of potential. The biggest issue highlighted by The Verge is performance, and the video review shows stuttering, loading screens, and unregistered taps on the screen. But right now, it's disappointing to see the Watch struggle with performance. What good is a watch that makes you wait? Rendering notifications can slow everything down to a crawl. Buttons can take a couple taps to register. It feels like the Apple Watch has been deliberately pulled back in order to guarantee a full day of battery life. Improving performance is Apple's biggest challenge with the Watch, and it's clear that the company knows it. These seem like the same issues the Moto 360 had when it first came out. Android Wear updates eventually addressed most of these issues, while also increasing its battery life, so I'm sure Apple Watch updates will do the same. Still, it's disappointing that such an expensive, high-profile device suffers from performance issues, especially since it leads to a huge problem for the Apple Watch, highlighted perfectly by Nilay Patel: "there's virtually nothing I can't do faster or better with access to a laptop or a phone". The other major issue is one I also highlighted in my Moto 360 review and other smartwatch articles: smartwatches make you look like a jerk, and the Apple Watch is no exception. It turns out that checking your watch over and over again is a gesture that carries a lot of cultural weight. Eventually, Sonia asks me if I need to be somewhere else. We're both embarrassed, and I've mostly just ignored everyone. This is a little too much future all at once. I worded this in the form of the funeral test (or wedding test if you're not a cynical bastard), and it's a crucial flaw in the entire concept of a smartwatch. It is a major weakness of Android Wear, and also of the Apple Watch, made worse by the fact that, according to The Verge, notification settings simply aren't granular enough. The Verge also discussed the Apple Watch with their fashion-focussed sister site Racked, and the responses weren't particularly positive - it looks way too much like a gadget and computer, and too little like an actual fashion accessory. Of course, there are many people who have zero issues with that (I'm assuming the majority of OSNews readers do not care), but I personally do. I have enough computers and gadgets in my life, and I want my watch to look like a watch - not a computer. The Verge eventually concludes: There's no question that the Apple Watch is the most capable smartwatch available today. It is one of the most ambitious products I've ever seen; it wants to do and change so much about how we interact with technology. But that ambition robs it of focus: it can do tiny bits of everything, instead of a few things extraordinarily well. For all of its technological marvel, the Apple Watch is still a smartwatch, and it's not clear that anyone's yet figured out what smartwatches are actually for. It turns out that virtually everything I've said about smartwatches in the past - in my Moto 360 review as well as other smartwatch articles - remains accurate even with the introduction of the Apple Watch. It's important to note that I am not saying smartwatches are a bad idea - just that their current incarnations - be they Wear, Pebble, or Apple Watch - are the wrong answer to the wrong question. Nobody seems to have found out yet what a smartwatch is actually supposed to be.

In praise of the mechanical keyboard

Tuesday 7th of April 2015 07:03:26 PM
As I'm writing this, I'm worried I'm waking up the neighbors. I'm typing these sentences on a mechanical keyboard, one of the odder and more endearing hardware trends in the tech world right now. It's the kind of keyboard everyone used 20 years ago, and that can still be found in some old-school offices that haven't upgraded their IT in a while. You know the keyboards - the ones that have tall keys and emit a sharp, high-pitched click-clack with every keypress. Most tech nostalgia is misplaced. As much as we pretend to pine for the gadgets of the past, you wouldn't actually want to trade in your iPhone 6 for a Nokia, or sub your Chromebook out for a Commodore 64. But these days, a dedicated group of keyboard connoisseurs is trying to resurrect the mechanical keyboard. There are now a handful of dedicated mechanical keyboard manufacturers, like Code and Rosewill, and an active subreddit exists for mechanical keyboard fans to exchange tips and reviews. After using one for a week, I finally understand the hobbyist hype. Mechanical keyboards are loud, expensive, clunky, and cool as hell. For the life of me, I will never understand the affinity for mechanical keyboards. I've never liked them. I want my typing to require as little force as possible, and I want my keyboard to be as flat on the table as possible, while still having each keypress have a decent 'plop'. For me, there's only one keyboard, and that's Apple's current like of aluminium chicklet non-laptop keyboards. I've been using them since they came out, and I have one or two on back-up as well in case the one I'm using now dies. I find that the keys on mechanical keyboards require too much force to press down, which I quickly find incredibly tiring. Their travel is also quite long. They are also too 'fat', forcing me to turn my wrist in an unnatural and uncomfortable position (i.e. hands upwards). In short, I find the current revival of mechanical keyboards mystifying.

Redstone: the codename for the next Windows update

Tuesday 7th of April 2015 06:55:45 PM
Microsoft loves to use codenames and from the past few years, there are two in particular that you may recall; Blue and Threshold. With Windows 10 (Threshold) coming to market sometime this summer, Microsoft is already starting to work on the next update for the OS. Microsoft has said multiple times that Windows will be moving at a faster cadence than in the past and they are already working on a release for 2016. The codename for the project is 'Redstone', a popular item in the recently acquired game, Minecraft. So now we know why they acquired Mojang.

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