Apple Watch Band Review: California Poppy Leather Link and Atlantic Blue Braided Solo Loop

I’ve got an Apple Watch band jones. Over the past few years, I’ve found it enjoyable to have a range of bands in different colors and materials. Almost all my bands are original Apple products, because when I’ve tried third-party bands, they just aren’t as good.

Last year, I was quite excited about the Meyer Lemon Leather Loop Band, because I tend to like colors that stand out against my wrist and the watch. I’m not that interested in stodgy colors like black and brown, and my favorite bands are red, blue, and new yellow(ish), though I still like the original Milanese Loop that I bought early in the life of the Apple Watch.

So this year, I have two new bands: one leather, and one of the new solo loop claspless bands. Let’s start with the California Poppy Leather Link. If you look at my review of the Meyer Lemon Leather Loop Band, you’ll note that my initial appreciation of the band was tempered over time as it showed wear. While it’s very comfortable, and easy to adjust, it’s not a leather designed to last.

The new leather link band is different in a couple of ways. The leather itself is more finished; the previous model’s leather was more like suede, and the new leather has a smoother finish. This should wear better over time.

It’s also a lot easier to put on: with the previous model, you had to slip the end of the band through the loop, but now the band is in two parts, and one overlaps magnetically to the other. It’s easy to put on, and easy to adjust, and the magnets are very strong; perhaps they should have called this a MagSafe band.

California poppy

The magnets are much wider than the previous model, which makes this band a bit stiff, though it should probably loosen up over time. It’s also quite heavy: at 44g, it’s almost as heavy as my stainless steel Apple Watch (47g). But it feels good, it has heft, and if you wear it a bit loose like I do, it doesn’t move around as much as a sport band.

And the color is nice: it’s not a bright yellow, but the color is sort of between that of a lemon and an orange; it goes well with my gold stainless steel watch.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Braided Solo Loop. This new type of band has no clasp, and you have to size it correctly. Given the current situation, many people won’t want to go to Apple Stores to try them on, so sizing as difficult. Some people find that after sizing it using Apple’s tool, the band they got was too large, others too small. I initially ordered one that was too tight and returned it, and since I had to go to an Apple Store to pick up my watch, I tried on various sizes, and settled on the right one. (For me, it’s the largest: size 12.)

Again, it depends on how you like to wear a watch band. Some like to wear bands fairly snug, others fairly loose. I’m generally in the latter camp, but with this band, I want it to fit just exactly right. For me, it should not be loose enough so the watch moves around, nor should it be tight enough to leave a mark on my wrist.

Braided solo

If you do get it right, you may find, as I have, that it the most comfortable Apple Watch band I’ve every worn. It’s very light – only 12g in my size – and it breathes, so it’s easy to forget. If you have an aluminum Apple Watch, which weighs 30.5g for the 40mm model and 36.5g for the 44mm model, you’ll barely feel the band and watch. With a heavier, stainless steel watch, this band will make it lighter than an aluminum watch with sport loop. (My M/L sport loops weigh 30g.)

At $99, these bands are both expensive, and one could certainly say that they are overpriced, but I find them nice additions to my collection of Apple bands.

Review: Apple Watch Series 6 & Solo Loop Band

I can’t help but think that I’ve been repeating myself over the years when reviewing the Apple Watch. In reviews for the Series 3, Series 4, and Series 5 Apple Watch models, I pointed out how not much had changed in the device, and that if you had the previous year’s model, then you probably shouldn’t consider upgrading. The marquee features in these models was the addition of cellular access in the Series 3; the increased size of the Series 4; and the always-on display added to the Series 5. All of these were small, incremental upgrades to the device, making it hard to justify getting a new one if yours was recent.

The same is true for the Series 6 Apple Watch: the changes are limited, and my advice remains that, if you bought last year’s model, you probably won’t need the new one. But if your Apple Watch is two or three years old, then it’s worth considering the upgrade.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Apple Watch 6’s blood oxygen sensor is unreliable and misleading – The Washington Post

Sometimes the new Apple Watch Series 6 reports my lungs and heart are the picture of health, pumping blood that’s 100 percent saturated with oxygen.

At other times, it reports my blood oxygen is so low I might be suffering from emphysema. (I am not.)

The watch can’t decide. This much is clear: Don’t buy one of these $400 devices in the hopes of monitoring your lung health.

I’m very skeptical about including a pulse oximeter in a consumer device like this. I don’t know who would need to use this, or when, and the fact that it is not very accurate can make people worry needlessly. As the article points out, this device is not approved by the FDA, and, according to Apple, is “only designed for general fitness and wellness purposes.”

There are important differences in the blood oxygen data that Apple and Fitbit report. But in my experience, neither company’s measurement serves much purpose at all. You should know what you’re buying, because it might do more harm than good.

[…]

It should not be acceptable for giant tech companies to market devices that take readings of our bodies without disclosing how those devices were tested and what their error ranges might be.

Source: Apple Watch 6’s blood oxygen sensor is unreliable and misleading – The Washington Post

Size Matters: Apple’s Solo Loop Watch Band and Sizing

Solo loopI was intrigued by Apple’s new Solo Loop band for the Apple Watch. It’s a nice idea: a band with no clasp. It comes in two versions, one similar to the Sport Band, and a Braided Solo Loop, which is “16,000 polyester yarn filaments in each band are interwoven with thin silicone threads using advanced braiding machinery then laser cut to an exact length.”

Apple provides a sizing tool that you can print out, to find the right size. I used this to determine that the right size for me was size 10; this would allow the band to be a bit loose on my wrist, which is how I like to wear them.

I got the band this morning, tried it on, and immediately initiated a return. It’s at least two sizes too small; it’s tight, not just snug. It’s uncomfortable.

To be fair, I had estimated that I had a 50/50 chance of getting the right fit. In normal times, any band I have with holes (ie, not a Milanese or leather loop) fits correctly in either one of two holes depending on the day.

But this is clearly not a band that you should buy online. The only way to be sure of the fit is to try it in a store. And you really don’t want to go to an Apple Store these days. It’s a shame; it does feel comfortable, but given the number of reports I have seen in forums and on Twitter, it looks like at least half of the people ordering this band have sizing issues. For some people it’s one or two sizes too tight; for others it’s too loose. Several people say that they used Apple’s sizing tool, then went into an Apple store to try the bands, and there was a difference of one or two sizes. (See this MacRumors forum thread, for example.)

Note that if you ordered an Apple Watch with a Solo Loop and it doesn’t fit, you have to return the watch and the band. So even if you have another band, you’ll be without the watch for at least a month, as delivery times are pretty far away for now.

Have you ordered a Solo Loop? Does it fit? Drop a comment below.

Change Activity Goals on the Apple Watch in watchOS 7

Since the earliest Apple Watch, you have been able to change your move goal (the red ring), but there was no way to change the exercise goal (the green ring) or the stand goal (the blue ring). Now, in watchOS 7, this is possible.

Open the Activity app on your watch, then scroll to the bottom with the digital crown. Tap Change Goals.

Apple watch change goals1

The first screen lets you change your move goal, counted in calories. Tap + or – to change it, then tap Next.

Apple watch change goals2

Next, you can change your exercise goal, in 5-minute increments, from 10 minutes to 60 minutes. Tap Next.

Apple watch change goals3

Finally, you can change your stand goal, from 6 to 12 hours. Tap OK.

Apple watch change goals4

It’s about time that Apple allows people to make these changes. There are many people who simply can’t do 30 minutes of exercise a day, and others who are frustrated that the watch only counts 30 minutes. So set your own goals, and close your rings more easily.

Apple Introduces New Apple Watch, iPad Air, and AppleOne Services Bundle

It’s a strange year. Instead of the annual iPhone-fest that we’ve become familiar with in September, Apple’s flagship product is delayed until next month. So the company has presented some new items: the latest Apple Watch, an updated iPad Air, and a bundle of services and subscriptions called AppleOne. In another pre-recorded event from Apple’s spaceship campus, Apple showed off these new products and services, and, to the surprise of many, announced the released of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 for today.

Here’s what’s new from Apple.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Is This Normal Wear for a $100 / £100 Leather Apple Watch Band?

Last year, when I got the new Meyer Lemon Leather Loop Band for my Apple Watch, I posted a review here on this website. I liked the band, and I still do. However, today I posted an update to that article, with this photo, saying:

Yellow band with wear

I’ve had this band now for about nine months, and I don’t wear it all the time. It’s a bit problematic when you’re doing activities around water, such as cooking, where I wash my hands a lot, or even any form of exercise where you sweat. I’d say that I’ve worn it about 25% of the time in this period, because I have other bands and I like to switch, so the current condition is the equivalent of wearing it for a few months full time.

For $100 / £100, the wear this band shows after this amount of time is quite unacceptable. They way the yellow has worn off on the edges especially around the fold is disturbing, and, while other colors might not show the wear in the same way, on this band it looks unsightly. To be fair, the worn parts are on the underside of my wrist, but every time I put it on, I’m disappointed by the quality. I’ll contact Apple and see what they say.

I tweeted about this, mentioning @AppleSupport, and was a bit surprised by their reply:

I don’t know, it seems to me that this much wear after what was no more than a few months use is a bit excessive, even surprising, but I guess they don’t feel the same way. I wouldn’t buy a leather Apple Watch band again from Apple. If the company doesn’t think they’re supposed to last, then you’re just throwing money away.

Apple Watch Tips: 8 Things You Didn’t Know It Could Do

If you have an Apple Watch, you certainly know about its marquee features. It can track your activity and prod you to exercise more, using its three rings. You can use it to make and receive phone calls and text messages. And you can get notifications for calendar events, reminders, and updates from your favorite apps. You can use it for Apple Pay to quickly buy a cup of coffee or a book. You can use Siri to have your watch react to your voice commands and provide you with information. And you can check the time, with one of dozens of customizable watch faces, where you can add complications to provide data and quick access to apps and features.

But the Apple Watch – which is more a wrist computer than a timepiece – has lots of great features you may not know about. In this article, I’m going to highlight eight things you probably didn’t know you could do with your Apple Watch. Some use built-in apps and features, and some use third-party apps. Read on to find out how to make your Apple Watch do a lot more.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Use Your Apple Watch to Unlock Your Mac and Authenticate

You’ve been able to unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch for some time now. If your Mac is asleep, and you wake it up, if you’ve activated this feature, the Mac confirms your identity via your Apple Watch and wakes up.

This is an interesting chain of identification. It requires that you have two-factor authentication turned on for your Apple ID, and having authenticated on your iPhone by entering your passcode, your Apple Watch then inherits this authentication (or you can authenticate on the Apple Watch by entering its passcode), and the Mac then accepts this as proof that the watch belongs to you.

To activate this feature, go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General and check Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac.

Apple watch unlock

This allows you to wake up your Mac, and approve certain secure actions in macOS. For example, if you want to access a secure preference pane – one that shows a padlock at the bottom left of the window – click the padlock then authenticate on your watch by pressing the side button twice (this is the same gesture you use to authenticate for Apple Pay).

Apple watch padlock

Another action where you can use your Apple Watch to authenticate is if you want to delete files in certain folders. For example, to delete an app downloaded via the Mac App Store, you need to authenticate:

Apple watch approve

If you have a Mac with Touch ID, the Mac defaults to using that option for authentication, but if you have an iMac, which doesn’t offer Touch ID, this can make it a lot easier to perform secure tasks.

Note that this feature is only available to recent Macs, ones that support Continuity and Handoff, not all recent Macs can perform all of these operations. See this Apple support document for more information.

Apple Watch Series 5 Always On Battery Life

Pretty much the only new feature in the Series 5 Apple Watch is the “always on” feature, where the watch’s display is always on in a dimmed, slow-refresh state. Apple says that this doesn’t affect battery life very much, but anecdotal evidence has suggested that this is not the case.

I did my own testing a couple of days ago, and found that the battery life was well below what the Series 4 offered, but still, in my limited usage, within the 18-hour range that Apple claims.

However, my usage was limited. Here’s what Apple says about how they measure battery life on the Apple Watch:

All-day battery life is based on 18 hours with the following use: 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use, and a 60-minute workout with music playback from Apple Watch via Bluetooth, over the course of 18 hours. Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS) usage includes connection to iPhone via Bluetooth during the entire 18-hour test. Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular) usage includes a total of 4 hours of 4G LTE connection and 14 hours of connection to iPhone via Bluetooth over the course of 18 hours. Testing conducted by Apple in August 2019 using pre-production Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS) and Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular), each paired with an iPhone; all devices tested with pre-release software. Battery life varies by use, configuration, mobile network, signal strength and many other factors; actual results will vary.

I did not do any workout or listen to music, nor did I have any 4G connectivity; I was home all day. With 43% left on my battery after about 13 hours, I find it hard to see how, in the above conditions, the watch would make it to 18 hours.

Yesterday, I did another test, this time with the always on feature disabled. While in my first test I took readings at more or less random times, I tried to be more regular in the second test. Here are the results in chart form:

Apple watch battery chart

With always on enabled, my watch was at 26% after about 24 hours. With it disabled, it was at 46% after the same amount of time. (Note that I slept with the watch on for both test, with the watch in theater mode, and with do not disturb enabled.) But, again, there was no workout, no music playback, no 4G connectivity. This strongly suggests that Apple is over-estimating battery life on the Series 5 Apple Watch, but also that the always on feature does hit the battery considerably. In fact, after about six hours, there’s a 20% difference in total battery power, which, interestingly, remains pretty much stable for the rest of the test.

Now I work at home, so there’s no way that I would deplete my battery given the way I use the watch, but if you are out and about, doing workouts, playing music, and connected to 4G, you really need to be careful. I think the always on feature is very good, and if you’re aware of how much it hits the battery, then you may want to use it. But if you plan to not be near a charger until the end of the, and you’re using other battery intensive features, you might want to turn it off.

If I have time next week, I’ll try some more testing: with a workout, music playback, and 4G connection, starting when I get up in the morning, and see how quickly the battery depletes.