"If you have a body, you’re an athlete."

A heartwarming story of a high school student with cerebral palsy thinking ahead to his years in college, and his desire for a shoe he could put on himself. He wrote to Nike, which developed a shoe for him, and is bringing it to market this fall for anyone with impaired motor skills.

This whole story is amazing, and what Nike is doing here reminds me of the kind of mindset Apple has with its products: leaving the world a better place, having a meaningful impact on people's lives.

Great work, Nike. Keep it up.

¶ Obituary

I recently linked to Eulogy, written by Matt Gemmell, in which he discusses telling those that impact you of what effect they've had on you before they've died. We store up all these lovely memories and feelings and the person who inspired that in us rarely gets to hear it.

Reflecting upon Eulogy, I began to think about something said at the last Deacon's meeting at my church. Let me introduce you to JL Schmidt. JL is a career writer, having spent much of his life thus far in journalism. He's one of those classic newspaper guys who seen and written about pretty much everything. He also leads our small band of Deacons in serving the people of our church.

During part of our meeting he issued a question and a challenge.

"Gentlemen, what's your legacy? If you want to find out, write your own obituary."

The idea seems a bit self-serving at first. But as he explained himself it became quite apparent the intent is to be other-serving.

JL's thoughts on writing your own obituary are quite similar to Matt's thoughts on eulogizing those you care about before they die. Often, this summary of your life is left until you've passed, and it is likely cobbled together by a fledgling journalist climbing the ranks, who likely never knew you. All they have to work with are some meager facts provided by those who have survived you. Your obituary, if done in this fashion, likely will not summarize your life accurately.

Write your own obituary now. Then, and this is the important part, read it. Now examine it. Is that accurate? If so, is it the legacy you want to leave behind? If someone else read it, would what is written match up with the person they know? Is there anything you think you need to change in your life? What do you want your obituary to say, and how can you start to make that happen?

You see, by writing your obituary you have a chance to see whether or not you are wasting your precious time on this earth. If you were to die in the not-too-distant future, would you be known for the ideal version of yourself you want to be known for?

By asking yourself these questions and reflecting upon them, you can then begin to change who your are now to who you want to be remembered as.

I personally want to be remembered as someone who served others selflessly, without hesitation. I have a long way to go on that as I've done a fair share of self-serving these past 30 years. But now that I know what kind of person I hope to be remembered as, I can begin to cultivate that person inside me.

What do you want your legacy to be?

Eulogy

Matt Gemmell, on not waiting until someone is dead to tell them what you think of their life's works:

[…] Imagine if it were you instead. Wouldn’t you want to know?

It need only take a moment; 140 characters are more than enough. Believe me, each one counts. If they’ve made something that reached you, and – even just for a moment – left you better than you were before, don’t just move on. These are people, remember; like you. Don’t wait.

Tell them. Tell them now.

Tell them while they can still hear.

Matt takes it a step further beyond just speaking to your friends and family while they are still here. He extends the notion to those you take enjoyment from. Writers, artists, etc. If you found enjoyment in someone's work, tell them.

The closest example of this that has happened to me in recent memory is after I read a book last year titled A Drive into the Gap by Kevin Guilfoile. I wrote a review, mainly for myself, in Day One, and on a whim decided to use their new Publish service and I linked it on Twitter.

Not long after, Kevin reached out to me on Twitter. We chatted about his dad a bit. I thanked him for writing a story that ended up having profound effect on me.

That's what Matt is getting at. Say thank you to those who have great impact upon you. Say it while they are around to hear it or read it. Bless them as they have blessed you.

If not now, when?

My friend Stephen Hackett is taking his site, 512 Pixels, and podcasting network, Relay FM, full-time. This has been a long road for Stephen and an obvious goal of his ever since I first started reading his site (back when it was called forkbombr).

I can't describe how proud I am of Stephen. This is the endeavor all of us writers dream about. Godspeed.

Twitterrific 5.12

The past year has seen The Iconfactory really take twitterrific to the next level, building out the feature set and continually refining the overall experience. Today's release of Twitterrific 5.12 is no exception.

Twitterrific now adopts Twitter's new Quote Tweet feature, and it is really great. I've been using a lot while testing this new version these past weeks. Simply tap & hold on the regular Retweet button to compose a quoted tweet.

For anyone who has a tough time reaching the top navigation, you can now optionally move the navigation to the bottom of the screen. Doing so awards you an extra customizable navigation tab. This is honestly quite nice for the iPhone 6, and I imagine even more so for the iPhone 6 Plus.

In-app notifications are less terse, color coded for tweet type, and actionable. Tapping one will open the tweet it references.

Even Twitterrific for Apple Watch saw some speed improvements, and the ability to use Emoji in replies and a list of canned tweets to use, much like you can have in iMessage. You can configure those in the Apple Watch app on the iPhone.

Twitterrific continues to be my Twitter app of choice, and I love that The Iconfactory is making so many quality improvements to it, and I am boggled at how quickly they have been iterating this past year.

You can grab the terrific new update to Twitterrific on the App Store. Be sure to grab the Premium features via in-app purchase, so The Iconfactory can continue to make Twitterrifc the best way to experience Twitter.

ByeTunes

Last night I saw a tweet from my friend Dave Chartier that got me thinking a bit:

There's a lot of rumor about Apple introducing a new music service tomorrow at WWDC. When I saw Dave's tweet, I wondered if this may be the end of the iTunes name.

Let's be honest, does anyone really even respect the iTunes name anymore? For years I've loathed whenever I have to use it. I know a lot of folks who carry the same sentiment. iTunes has been a cumbersome app for a half decade or more.

And then I am reminded of iPhoto. How much that was being bogged down by its past and how Apple essentially scrapped it and rolled out Photos for OS X. A new, refreshed take on photos brought a new name. And I'm now wondering if the same is due for iTunes. A new, refreshed take on music with a new name.

If I were to pick a name for it, I see one of two possibilities. First, simply Apple Music. It fits the trend of Apple leveraging its own name with the general purpose of the app. Second, I could see them using the Beats name they acquired last year.

We'll see what happens tomorrow, but I sure wouldn't be surprised if Apple said bye to the iTunes name.

¶ The Companion

A watch can tell you a lot about a person. Do they care more about utility or fashion? Are their tastes modest or lavish? Even how adorned the watch face is can tell you a lot about a person. A more complete & complicated face can tell you whether the person cares greatly about punctuality to the second, whereas a blank face, such as a Movado or Guess, can tell you that the person is only interested in the general estimate of the time.

I doubt many people take notice of such things. In my observations, most people register another person's watch. I've taken notice of this more than usual the past six weeks when I took off my Seiko 5 and put on my 42 mm Space Gray Apple Watch Sport.

I honestly expected strangers to notice and ask me questions about it. My friends, of course, knew I was getting it and naturally asked about it. But it took a solid three weeks before a stranger noticed, and it was when I pulled up Passbook for the local theater's rewards program. The clerk immediately noticed then, but, really, how could he not? It was obvious. Likewise, the only other times anyone has noticed have been for times I have used the Watch for Apple Pay or Passbook.

Outside of those obvious contexts, the Apple Watch is just another watch to almost everyone out there.

And it really is a fantastic timepiece. But it is also more than that.

It's a companion.

Timekeeping

Let's start with the basics. The Apple Watch is an excellent watch, and it is priced comparatively to other great watches. Being digital, it is intensely accurate — ± 50 milliseconds of the global time standard.

It's also a handsome and fashionable timepiece. I'm really glad I went with the Space Gray model, as I love the darker toned metal, and the black band it came with. It honestly works with any style of wardrobe I choose. And when you are not using the Watch, the cover glass is pitch black. It draws no attention to itself. It is humble and unassuming.

One feature of the Apple Watch that traditional watches cannot replicate is that it truly can fit for any occasion. It comes with a myriad of choices of watch faces, and a number of them offer a great level of granular customization. You can adorn the face with as little or as much complication as you want, and even change the colors of some elements to match what you are wearing. My favorite is the Utility face, and I generally have the accent color for the date & second hand set to orange, my personal favorite color.

The Utility face is greatly customizable. It can be set to show numbers for all twelve hour positions, or just the four cardinals, or none at all. Another favorite is the Color face, set to either a bright blue or orange, which reminds me a bit of Tron.

No matter the occasion, the Watch is a companion to your style.

Complications

A great deal of the watch faces have little bits of data you can add called Complications. They are like little widgets. You can set things such as activity level (more on that later), the weather, timer, calendar, sunrise/sunset, moon phase, and the time of various cities via the World Clock.

The standards I keep on my beloved Utility face are Activity, Timer, and Weather. Tapping one of them will switch you over into the corresponding app. I love this in the morning as I am getting ready. I'll glance at my Watch to see the current weather, and with a tap on that Complication, I can check the hourly forecast for the day. Sometimes I take a peek at the 10-day forecast to build a mental picture of how the week looks. It seems Monday will be an opportune time to mow the lawn.

Fitness

It turns out mowing the lawn is quite the workout. I have the data to prove it thanks to the Watch. Of course, I'm the one using an old school, Chris-powered reel mower, so it better be a workout.

Fitness is one aspect where the Watch has been shining as a companion. The three activity rings — pink for active movement, green for exercise at a brisk walk or above, and blue for 1 minute of standing movement per hour — are genius and provide a great deal of motivation for me to move more.

The pink Move ring, as Apple calls it, measures your active caloric burn throughout the day. By default, it starts you off with a rather attainable daily goal. When you meet that every day for the week, the start of the next week will prompt you to increase your goal and suggest a new goal. You can adjust that up or down. I've become a bit obsessive about completing my Move ring each day. I had a 34 day streak going until I missed it by 15 calories when my wife & I were watching something. Don't worry, I'll get it back.

The green Exercise ring is the bane of my existence right now. For the past two months I have gone on a daily walk during my lunch break from work. At first I could log only about a half mile in 20 minutes. Now I can do about 1 to 1.25 miles in that time. Yet at my new normal walk pace it isn't enough to budge that dang green ring. I don't know what speed Apple considers a brisk walk, but I have to be near jogging to get the ring moving. I hope this gets adjusted in a software update, because it feels a bit off.

That said, it logs perfectly when I go for a run or a bike ride, or when I mow the lawn of all things. I have a feeling a great deal of the Exercise ring is due to heart rate, and I must not be getting my heart rate up enough when walking to count. But mowing the lawn does the trick quite well. Oh, did I mention that the back of the Watch is a heart rate monitor? Well, it is.

Finally, the blue Stand ring is changing my health for the better, and I love it. It's not only helping my physical health, but also my mental health. I'm the type of person who will get tunnel visioned on my work and I will sit at my desk for four hours straight before standing. And when that happens it hurts to stand up. And my eyes hurt from being so focused on a screen.

Now, if I have been sitting from the top of the hour to fifty minutes past, the Watch will give me a tap on the wrist. It's hard to ignore. I glance at the screen and it says it is time to stand up and move around for at least one minute. I obey, rise from my chair, and walk about the house. I say hi to my wife, give her a kiss, and ask her how she's been the past hour. We connect for a moment, and I get myself something to drink. Another tap, the minute is up.

It's now a new routine. I get a mental break from my work. A brief moment to unplug and step away. My eyes thank me for the change of scenery. My legs appreciate the movement.

Now, if I have not been sedentary for those 50 minutes into an hour, the Watch logs that and credits the hour to my Stand ring, and forgoes the nudge on the wrist. I also appreciate that, too. I rarely feel a tap to stand up & move on a weekend.

The Watch has become my fitness companion.

Assistant

The single greatest thing about the Watch has been that I am looking at my iPhone less.

It used to be that my phone would vibrate and make a sound, and I would instinctively pull my phone out from my pocket, and swipe on the notification to deal with it. But I wouldn't stop there. The next thing I knew I was checking another app, then maybe another. And ten minutes have passed. I never really noticed this as a problem, but in retrospect it wore on me.

Some of the first things I did when setting up my Apple Watch was to silence it, and limit which things I'd allow the phone to send over as notifications. Now, my phone doesn't explicitly notify me for most things, and my watch gives me gentle taps on the wrist instead.

The beautiful part is that I've gained more restraint in whether or not to act on a notification. My wrist is tapped, I glance to see a short preview of the notification, and often I just turn my wrist away to queue the notification to be acted upon later. Most things don't require my immediate attention, and now I can tell that in seconds with little effort.

It's almost like having a well-known assistant who can give you non-verbal cues as to whether your attention is really needed or not.

I'd be remiss to make a comparison about the Watch being like an assistant with mentioning Apple digital assistant Siri. I'll admit I was pretty bearish on Siri for the Watch as Siri has never been all that stellar on iOS. But somehow, Siri is really good on the Watch. This is important, because Siri is the main way you interact with the Watch. Dictation is almost always spot on with the Watch, more so than it ever has been (or still is) with the iPhone. I've even found Siri to be responsive to a near whisper if I hold the Watch a little closer.

She also doesn't talk to you, at least, not out loud like she does on iPhone. Instead, Siri on Apple Watch communicates solely via text. And I kind of like that. It almost feels more personal since it is unlikely for someone else to be looking on, whereas the verbal aspect of Siri on iPhone can be heard by anyone around you.

Between the subtle approach to notifications and a faster, more accurate, and — dare I say — more intimate Siri, the Watch makes an impressive companion as an assistant.

The Little Things

Apple Watch wouldn't be an Apple product if it didn't make us appreciate the little things. And there are many of them to be appreciated.

In no particular order:

  • The ability for the Watch to easily change bands is amazing. With the simple press of a button on the underside the strap slides off the case, and a new one can slide right in. It's amazing other watches have never done this.
  • The Sport band is extremely comfortable. I didn't expect it to be. I expected it to feel plasticy or rubbery, but it feels like neither. It is soft & feels fantastic. I can see why Apple insists on using the mouthful of a word fluoroelastomer instead of simply rubber, as it is a totally different grade of material warranting a higher expectation.
  • I love using the Digital Crown. The crown on traditional watches is something you use maybe twice a year to set the time for daylight savings. On Apple Watch, the crown is used constantly. It's how you scroll a text view or longer notification or zoom in and out of maps (and it is so smooth when scrolling. It glides like it is greased with butter). Pressing it is akin to the iPhone's Home button. Double pressing it switches you between the last two apps used. Pressing & holding manually activates Siri.
  • I was impressed by how compact the Watch is, even the larger 42 mm. The pictures on Apple's site don't do it justice here. The pictures make it look rather thick & cumbersome, and it is anything but. In fact, it is the same thickness as my Seiko 5, and has about the same height x width footprint. It really does feel like a watch, not a miniature wearable computer.
  • This is the first Apple device to be water resistant, and it is really water resistant. It appears to surpass Apple's very cautious recommendations. I've seen videos of folks swimming with it, or leaving it at the bottom of a pool for an hour without problem. I've personally ran with it in the rain, done the dishes numerous times, and even wore it in the shower once, all without issue. It's a very rugged little watch.
  • Sending my heartbeat to a friend is fun because it weirds them out. Receiving a heartbeat from a friend, well, weirds me out. I do think it'd be a great feature if my wife ever decides she wants an Apple Watch, especially on the rare times one of us is traveling without the other. I can see having an appreciation for sending & receiving heartbeats with her, much like I appreciate FaceTime in that regard.
  • Don't worry about battery life. I have rarely had it dip below 30% charge, even with higher usage on a family trip to Chicago, where I was getting directions. It truly is all-day battery. And, since I am looking at my iPhone less frequently, my battery life has been better day-to-day on that, as well.

The fact that the Apple Watch is a watch first and foremost — and an excellent watch at that — makes it an excellent companion with regard to style and daily utility. Add to that an amazing fitness tracker that measures many aspects of my health, and improving on aspects I didn't expect it to, makes it a companion on the journey to a better me. Finally it is my companion as a well-timed assistant, keeping me focused on the things that carry greater importance, and leaving the chaff to be dealt with at a later time.

I was skeptical about how the Apple Watch would fit into my life. I questioned whether I really needed yet another device. But Apple Watch is not just any other device. It is my new watch for any occasion, in pretty much any environment, helping me be healthier, and helping form a new habit to be intentional in my interactions with my devices and with other people.

Please Let Me Pay For My App

Carley Knobloch makes a case for paying for apps:

Here’s how I see it: You know where you stand with a company that makes a paid app. It’s an honest exchange: Company creates a product or service, and I pay you for it, much like I would someone who washes my car or makes me a smoothie. It’s how things have always been done. It just makes sense.

When Company creates a product or service that it gives to me for free, I have to do a lot of thinking about why Company is choosing to do that.

[…]

Companies like Google, Facebook, Snapchat and Apple aren’t altruistic, of course: They’ve built genius services we use every day for free, and while we don’t pay with money, we pay with a major invasion on our privacy. One that we signed up for (go back and read the Terms & Conditions). So, in essence, the business model is you.

Side note: I disagree with her inclusion of Apple there. Apple has proven time & again they are very privacy focused. And they make their money from hardware. Their software and services are something that are value-adds to drive hardware sales.

Beyond privacy reasons alone, is the fact real human beings make software. A developer making an app you love and asking for money is trying to make a living. Paying them supports their lifestyle, and also, frankly, enables further development of the app you love.

If you are unwilling to pay for that app, don't be surprised when it disappears because the developer can't afford to keep working on it.

Now, linking to Carly's article is slightly self-serving in that she uses 1Password as an example, and I make my living from 1Password's success. So yeah, I'm very biased on the paid software front. But please, support your favorite apps and their developers by paying for apps.