The Apple Watch and the urge to fix problems that don’t exist


After September’s tease, Apple fully unveiled its first foray into the horological sector at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on Monday. The Apple Watch, stylised as Watch because why not, is much the same as previously glimpsed, which is to say an accessory that you shouldn’t buy but many people will.

The timepiece itself is inoffensive by the lacklustre standards we have seen developing over the past few years since Pebble overwhelmed Kickstarter. It has a face either 38 or 42 millimetres high, comes in a moderate plethora of metal alloys (aluminium, steel, gold) and straps (plastic, leather, metal of some sort), and runs a custom version of iOS with a new Roboto-esque font, designed for increased legibility at smaller point sizes as Helvetica Neue is a chocolate teapot on normal displays, like the diminutive sapphire crystal panel on display here.

“Apple Watch represents a new chapter in the relationship people have with technology. It’s the most personal product we’ve ever made, because it’s the first one designed to be worn,” claims Apple in their online marketing fanfare, conveniently ignoring the majestic second generation iPod Shuffle. Not worn for long, apparently, as rumours abound (of course, nobody outside Cupertino has properly used one yet) that the battery will last for 18 hours at best and, if used, should only be for 10 second bursts.

Yet, the Apple Watch makes little sense in any context. The very raison d’être for smartwatches is to stop you from looking at your phone all the time by charging you some money for another screen that only does things that your phone can do better whilst still relying on the phone as its source of knowledge. They are the ultimate accessory to opulence; a sign that someone either has more money than sense or some tremendous difficulty in moving their hand to their pocket to see what’s occurring.

Apple’s site brags about how, with Apple Watch, you can leave emoji comments on Instagram, check the charge status of your BMW i3, stay on top of eBay auctions, check sports scores with ESPN, read your Twitter feed, unlock your room at Starwood Hotels & Resorts, read news with CNN, and a scant few more things that they think justify an extra £279+ expense come April 24th. I don’t doubt for one second that they’ll eclipse the existing smartwatch marketplace within minutes, if not days, but what I fail to comprehend is whether putting more onto your wrist actually benefits user experience in any way. The fear is that trying to interact with applications in this form will equate to sheer frustration once the gimmick has worn off and the return window concludes.

Then, there’s the Apple Watch Edition. A worthy rival of fellow smartwatch producer’s foto.sosho iPhone camera case for the worst product name in the history of consumer technology, the Apple Watch Edition is technically identical to the bog standard Watch Sport (the base model, for those who aren’t following the ineptitude), yet commands a base price of £8,000 thanks to its ceramic-reinforced 18-karat yellow or rose gold casing and fancier strap. You can nudge this up to £12,000 quite easily, and though I’m certain that the target market for this Edition is going to splash out for the sake of it rather than for the value, a typical pricy timepiece is hand-crafted within a Swiss mountain hut and, in some respect, worth it. Flung together by those on the factory floor at Foxconn, the Apple Watch can’t demand such lustre.

Perhaps the reason I don’t understand this impending zeitgeist is because I’m not a connoisseur of timekeeping. As I write, what lurks on my right wrist is a £25 digital Lorus contraption with a scratched face, broken strap and a frustrating method of adjusting the time guaranteeing that it dwells two minutes into the future. Why do I persist with it? Because it can give me a good enough idea of what time it is, just as it has for the last five or so years without any issues, battery charges or extraneous expenses.

If I want any more information, I’ll check my phone. Often, I’ll even look at the phone for the time because I’m already responding to an email or something. You know, those alerts that make a noise or vibration in your pocket and don’t intrude unless they need to, rather than something on my wrist that provides yet another distraction, reeks of torpidity, and provides a dreadful way for users to interact with their technologies. There’s a reason smartphone displays have become bigger of late.

Pebble spent the whole evening mocking Apple on Twitter, and rightfully so. If any smartwatch was a viable commodity, it would be one of Pebble’s. Their emphasis on consuming information rather than interacting with it is reflected in the price tag (£99 for the plastic model, £179 for the steel one), and choice of display, with a Kindle-like e-paper display which is visible in sunlight for those of us that dare to venture outside, and a battery that is claimed to last a whole week.

The Apple Watch, in all its forms, is solutionism embodied. The world’s foremost consumer technology firm has fallen into the trap of building what is by early accounts a clunky and overpriced attempt at resolving the issue of smartphones imposing on our lives – an issue that either they created with the iPhone in 2007 or that they fabricated to extract more from our pockets.

Perhaps the Watch is an attempt by Apple to position itself as a luxury fashion brand rather than a consumer technology giant. Perhaps there is a legitimate market for technology as a fashion accessory that the Apple Watch will spur. Perhaps Jony Ive and co., in all their wisdom, genuinely thought that they should jump on the wearable bandwagon.

All I know is that I won’t be joining them any time soon.

Mas#tags: Why #potatoes are the first sign of the apocalypse


By law I may be a young person, but really I’m a cynical old grouch. For longer than I can remember, I’ve been complaining about society and how we’re all inevitably doomed in one way or another. Usually, if something really provokes me, I’ll blog about it at 3 in the morning, go to sleep, realise that what I’ve written is garbage and send it to the eternal pit of doom that is my drafts folder to decompose.

This time, however, things have started to get personal. Continue reading

Flappy Bird or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bird

Flappy Bird

Mobile gaming is a wonderful thing. While it once took a 10 tonne console to escape to another world, where one would typically find a selection of guns, aliens and Italian plumbers, we can now use conveniently portable devices to take us away from our troubles instead. Or allow green pipes to cause even more.

Flappy Bird was the latest avian title to land in our pockets and find surprisingly astronomical success, with a deceptively simple premise and mechanics. A single tap performs a single flap of the wings of a small bird that looks like Kirby with Jay-Z’s lips which, although officially nameless, I affectionately call Flapster.

But why did a game made by a Vietnamese indie developer in a few evenings after work that launched in May 2013 become the most popular mobile game of 2014? The answer lies deep within the struggles of our lives.

Mario uses his raw plumbing tekkers to open wormholes and transcend dimensions with green pipes, but Flappy Bird and its nameless protagonist present a whole new facade to these former allies. He’s not a trained worker. He’s a bird. Pipes are enemies, and serve solely to crush his hopes and dreams with a brutal splat. Should our friend succeed and pass beyond the blockade, life throws up yet another challenge before his eventual death.

Attaching no name or back story to the bird lets us project our own emotions and struggles onto its journey. Life, like Flappy Bird, is not fair. To stand any chance of reaching double figures and cross the obstacles in our paths, we must stay focused and tap carefully. Yes, we may fly face-first into a pipe now and then, but we won’t give up. We will keep tapping. Tapping towards freedom.

Now, as creator Dong Nguyen, with $50k a day in his pocket, withdraws the app from stores and himself from the limelight, lil’ Flapster flies off into the sunset (via a few green pipes, naturally). All we have left are fond memories of the winter of the bird, who taught us it was alright to fail, as long as we got straight back up to seek the bing, and the hours we lost in our quest for a high five.

Why I think the Nokia EOS leaks are intentional


Nokia EOS

Vizileaks‘ recent flood of Nokia EOS leaks has made me very suspicious, and I believe that the only possible explanation for it all is that the leak is intentional and part of Nokia’s plan. Having spent some time analysing the images, tweets and blog posts from the user’s various online channels, I have expanded my theory and it’s not quite as far fetched as it may seem. Continue reading

Nokia’s Lumia 925 is a book with a new cover and nothing more

Nokia Lumia 925 Range

You probably know what the Nokia Lumia 920 is. Last year you voted it your favourite smartphone and we also gave it our design award, so it’s fair to say that it went down pretty well. Aside from the complaints about its weight (which I thought were ridiculous, frankly), the only issue that people really had was with Windows Phone and its ecosystem or lack thereof. At an event in London today, Nokia unveiled the latest addition to the range of Windows Phone 8-powered Lumias, with the 925 joining the 520, 521, 620, 720, 810, 820, 822, 920 and 928 as the new flagship for everything that’s not Verizon, but what has changed? Apart from the shell, absolutely nothing.

And I’m mad.

Continue reading

Don’t trust any Samsung Galaxy S4 pre-order news as none of it is (yet) true

Samsung Galaxy S4 Carphone Warehouse

Over the past couple of days, I’ve seen numerous sites pick up on the story spread by a Carphone Warehouse press release that interest for Samsung’s new Galaxy S4 is so high that pre-registrations for it are 446% higher than with last year’s Galaxy S III. Many blogs, most notably VentureBeat and Pocket-lint, have sprung upon the opportunity to say that this is a sign that Apple is dying and Samsung is king and all that regurgitated nonsense, but they fail to point out any facts in these articles. The big one that is being ignored is that you can’t even pre-order the phone yet at Carphone Warehouse. The press release in question, published below, refers to pre-registrations, not pre-orders. With Samsung yet to confirm pricing for the phone, no retailer worth their bacon should be letting consumers order it yet, with Carphone Warehouse cleverly taking £29 deposits from interested parties or, for those less inclined to splash their cash, and crucially what they are most likely referring to when they give this figure of interest, email updates. Even if they were referring to deposits, these figures should be taken with a pinch of salt, and you should not trust any figures you see regarding the popularity and sales of the S4 until Samsung themselves give solid evidence.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Carphone Warehouse

Press Release

Graham Stapleton comments on the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4

Graham Stapleton, Chief Operating Officer at Carphone Warehouse, says, “The Samsung Galaxy S4 is huge news for anyone who already uses or is interested in getting a smartphone.

“Samsung has the timing spot-on with a late April launch, 4G coming to more UK networks this summer means that interest in new devices will be building considerably. We’re anticipating a massive amount of customer interest in this handset and are expecting our stores to be busier than at the height of the Christmas period. We are planning to extend opening hours at our larger sites to cope with the increased demand.

“The record breaking launch of the Galaxy SIII last year was always going to be a tough one to beat, but Samsung have pulled out all the stops with a dazzling new device that’s sure to inspire many people to make the switch to Android from other operating systems.”

The Samsung Galaxy S4 will be available from Carphone Warehouse on all major networks from 25th April. To register your interest, visit

How Football Manager took over my life


Xavier Voigt-Hill:

Our friend Will Halse of footykicks explains how a simple game is ruining his productivity. Replace Football Manager with Cricket Coach and it’s basically the same story for me as well.

Originally posted on FootyKicks:

As I sit here writing this, I have just won promotion with Brighton from the Championship to the Premier League in Football Manager, and it has taken 20 hours of my life to do this. Those twenty hours have come when I am supposed to be revising, or doing something constructive, but yet I have chosen to play this game. But why is it so addictive?

To be honest I’m not really sure. I think that there is something addictive in leading a club to glory, or battling to the death in a relegation scrap, and coming out on top. Grabbing the next big star for 100k and transforming him into a ‘leading Premier League striker’ feels great. But don’t worry, if you’ve played Football Manager before, you are not alone in this. We all know what it is like to lie in bed playing around with formations and future…

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