Apple Heart Study launches to identify irregular heart rhythms

The old saying goes, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

But how much better would it be if an Apple device alerted you that you need to see a doctor, and it ended up saving your life? That’s now a reality, thanks to Apple Watch and Apple Heart Study, a joint study with Stanford Medicine.

Apple today launched the Apple Heart Study app, a first-of-its-kind research study using Apple Watch’s heart rate sensor to collect data on irregular heart rhythms and notify users who may be experiencing atrial fibrillation (AFib).

AFib, the leading cause of stroke, is responsible for approximately 130,000 deaths and 750,000 hospitalizations in the US every year. Many people don’t experience symptoms, so AFib often goes undiagnosed.

Apple is partnering with Stanford Medicine to perform the research. As part of the study, if an irregular heart rhythm is identified, participants will receive a notification on their Apple Watch and iPhone, a free consultation with a study doctor and an electrocardiogram (ECG) patch for additional monitoring. The Apple Heart Study app is available in the US App Store to customers who are 22 years or older and have an Apple Watch Series 1 or later.

I think this is a fantastic initiative. My mom has experienced AFib, as well as a dear mentor of mine. The idea that wearing an Apple Watch could detect this condition and alert you of it goes to show how advanced the heart rate sensor is in the device.

Features like this are why I think wearable technology like the Apple Watch can have a positive life altering — and even life saving — effect.

If you have an Apple Watch, meet the eligibility requirements, and are interested in participating, go download the Apple Heart Study app.

Quick Tip: the Apple Watch Flashlight

One of my favorite new features of watchOS 4 is using the Flashlight feature. It’s surprisingly bright for short distances, and sometimes a bit more handy than fumbling with my iPhone.

From the watch face, swipe up from the bottom and tap the flashlight icon. The screen will become all white, but somewhat dim. You can swipe from right to left to get a blinking white light to use as a signal, and swipe once more to get a red light that won’t disrupt your night vision as much.

As you turn your wrist away from your face, the screen brightens all the way to maximize the flashlight effect. Rotate back to your face, and after a moment of blinding yourself, it will dim again.

Apple’s support article says:

To turn off the flashlight, press the Digital Crown or side button, or swipe down from the top of the watch face.

I’ve found an even more satisfying way. You can also simply cover the screen with your palm, and the flashlight is extinguished. The best part is it feels natural enough to do without needing to rotate your wrist back toward your face, saving your eyes from that momentary bright light.

Looping a Song Through Facebook Live

I saw this video by The Academic performing their song Bear Claws the other day and have been fascinated by it. I can't imagine coming up with the timing to put together a song through a loop caused by a delay in Facebook's livestream.

I'd never heard of this band before, but the catchiness of this song has my attention.

Twitterrific for macOS: A Phoenix from the Ashes

For me, Twitterrific has always been synonymous with using Twitter. I used it first on the Mac in March 2008. I even downloaded the app first, then signed up for Twitter to use it! And Twitterrific was the first app I installed from the App Store on iOS when it launched in July 2008. I tried a couple other clients when they came around, namely Tweetie and Tweetbot, but Twitterrific’s unified timeline always brought me back to the nest.

For the past several years, the Mac version has fallen by the wayside, and I got used to only using Twitterrific on iOS. Then, earlier this year, the Iconfactory set up a Kickstarter to resurrect Twitterrific for Mac as a fresh, modern client. I couldn’t sign up fast enough. The campaign was successful, and all summer I have been enjoying the weekly beta releases as the new Twitterrific took shape.

Twitterrific_macOS_logo.png

Today, Twitterrific 5.0 for macOS is available for everyone on the Mac App Store. It packs a ton of features into the new app, stays in sync with the iOS versions using iCloud, has fantastic keyboard and accessibility support, delightful sounds, and a few nostalgic Easter eggs from past incarnations.

Beyond any feature, though, is the care that the folks at the Iconfactory put into Twitterrific. It is clearly a labor of love, and the people behind it are genuinely fantastic. I suggest you follow a few of them on Twitter, and say hi. The best part about the Apple community isn’t just the apps we use to change our life and work, it’s the people and friendships made along the way.

In a sea of one-off money-grab apps, there are a precious few with a human story behind them. Twitterrific is one of them. And that’s why it is well worth supporting the team by purchasing Twitterrific for macOS.

¶ On Privacy and Servicing Apple Devices

Yesterday my friend Adam asked me for advice on what he should do when taking his Mac in for service at the Apple Store.

The question is simple: Should the drive be wiped for privacy reasons?

The answer is equally simple: Yes.

That said, Apple shouldn't even be making a person consider this question. The problem in this entire situation is Apple requiring the admin password in order to service a device.

And it is indeed a requirement. I've been asked for my admin password on a Mac or the device unlock code on an iPhone by Apple Store employees before. And I have tried to refuse in the past, at which point the Apple employee will promptly cease helping you.

This is wrong. Apple should not require me to write down my password on a piece of paper and then take my device into another room for hours on end. Also, they do not inform you what happens to that piece of paper containing the password when service is finished. For all I know my encrypted drive could have been cloned and the admin password is now known in order to decrypt it.

Now, I'm the type that knows this dance with servicing devices, and I make a backup and wipe the device prior to service, using a simple generic password for the device during the service period. After I receive the device back, I need to spend a great deal of time restoring the device from backup.

It's inconvenient and unnecessary.

I have a proposed solution for this and Apple could build into every device they make. Create a service partition. A service partition of the device's storage would allow Apple to boot up and test the functions of the device without having access to user data. This partition would not have admin rights to the system, but would provide only the access necessary to run tests to ensure service was successful.

I imagine this being similar to booting up a Mac into Apple Diagnostics or macOS Recovery. With a Service Partition, core functions for testing would exist, without providing access to user data. No password is needed. Privacy is maintained.

Apple should build this into macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS to protect their users and make servicing devices more efficient.

¶ The Grand Old Parting

Today is Independence Day in the United States. Many of my fellow citizens and I are enjoying a day off work thanks to the national holiday. Later this evening my family will be attending a cookout at our friends' house, eating too much while laughing at the stories shared, and creating memories with our children as we ignite smoke balls and firecrackers.

For a day I will pretend the land I call home is healthy. For a single day I will rest from the growing division between ideologies, the mocking of those with differing views, and the hatred of those with a different shade of skin, whether or not this land is their land. I need a day to pretend everything isn't flat-out crazy. I need Independence.


I grew up in South Dakota. Home of Mt. Rushmore and one heckuvalot of farm land. It's a red state, as Republican as it gets. My parents are conservative and instilled those values in me — many of which I still hold very dear. I became a politically active Republican early on, around middle school. The state GOP headquarters was a couple blocks from my house, and my neighbor at the time ran it.

I would spend a number of hours helping out at that office. Mostly I would stuff and stamp mailers. I don't remember if I actually desired to do it in the early years of it, or if it was something my folks had me do to keep me from all-out boredom. Whether or not the intent was to "build character", it did. I enjoyed it, mainly because of the other people around the table.

Retirees.

It was certainly awkward at first being a young person in a room of elderly. They looked at me fondly and spoke of their grandchildren. Truthfully, I adored the attention. I'm a people person. Always have been. And I grew to adore these people.

One thing I have always enjoyed about hanging out with my elders are the stories they tell. They've had the years to accumulate them, for sure. Stories are the fabric of our society. The sharing of them weaves us together and bonds us. I cherish the time spent listening to those stories.

As I became older and my mother's employment became tied to the political success of others, I moved from mailings to the campaign trail. Painting and placing massive signs at the edge of wheat fields. Attending county fairs and even the GOP state convention. I was good at convincing delegates to vote. Like I said, I'm a people person.

I held onto my Republican beliefs throughout high school and into college, being a part of groups such as Teen-Age Republicans and College Republicans.


After college, a move to a new state and the birth of a baby set my interests in politics aside. It took me quite a while to understand the political climate in Nebraska. It is surprisingly different from South Dakota, given their relative proximity.

In lieu of political involvement I settled into maturing my faith as a Christ follower. I attended the school of hard knocks in order to do this, as a number of challenging life hurdles needed to be overcome. I knew it was impossible for me to do alone. I know to many it sounds cliché, but I needed to let go and let God work.

As my faith matured I found one of my true passions is serving others. Sometimes that looks as simple as staying late after an event to help pick up. Often it is taking a meal to someone who needs it. Other times it is inviting someone from another country who you don't know stay in your home as if they were family. Because in the grand scheme of things, they are family.

That last one was difficult for me to surrender to. Bringing a complete stranger into my home to stay there goes against the grain for me. It doesn't for my wife.

My in-laws are the most hospitable people I've ever met. They instilled that hospitality into their daughter, and she made it clear to me when we bought our house that it was important to her. So when the opportunity came knocking, our door opened. And I'm glad it did. Being hospitable is rewarding for the soul.


So this is where we circle back to Independence. I've been a lifelong Republican. But the Grand Old Party has become a delusion of grandeur. The past year I have looked with shame upon the party as I saw people I (still) love and care about become more and more aggressive toward those with differing views. The name calling on social media. The outright racism. The exact opposite of hospitality.

And most of it done by Republicans who also claim to love Jesus. And even sadder, much of it done with the oath of "for His glory" and "in His name".

This kind of behavior is not what I see Jesus doing in the Bible. Jesus didn't shame the adulterous woman and condemn her to death by stoning. He challenged her accusers to examine their own sin, then forgave her and told her to go, and sin no more.

The Jesus I know cared about the sick, the poor, the homeless. You know, the undesirable people of our society. He told parables of the generosity of the foreigner. He commanded that we reach out to those less fortunate, and to seek out those who are different from us.

And yet the rhetoric used by those leading the Republican Party today is the exact opposite, yet said in His name.

It burdens my heart.


October 16, 2016. I'm sitting in my adult Sunday School class at church. We're discussing a book titled Lord, Save Us From Your Followers. How true.

There are comments made in the class that fit the title well. Not said in anger. On the contrary, calmly resolute. Yet politically charged in the tumultuous climate as the election nears.

I can tell some feel justified in their views, while others feel ostracized.

And I've had enough. Enough of the hyperbole. Enough of the hypocrisy. Enough of the Grand Old Party and the assumption that its membership is synonymous with righteousness.

I discreetly turn on my iPad, and pull up the Nebraska voter registration site. I fill out the form. I've been thinking about this for months but fearful to change something that I had identified with for so much of my life.

Party affiliation…

Independent.

¶ WWDC 2017 Wish List

With Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference kicking off tomorrow, it seems to be about the right time to put out the good old last-minute wish list. There have been a number of rumors swirling about, including rumors of some hardware announcements, but surprising few (if any?) actual leaks.

It’s natural to expect previews of Apple’s next iteration software platforms: macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. I also expect to hear about updates to Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and iCloud.

This year my wish list rests chiefly on one topic: the iPad Pro.

iPad Pro

I’ve been rocking an iPad mini for quite a few years now. I’m using it more as my main personal computer, and the Mac as the occasional truck for increasingly rare heavy tasks. As the iPad has taken a larger role in my day-to-day, I find I am wanting a bit more room to spread out. I’m ready to move to an iPad Pro.

The 10.5-inch iPad Pro

While I’m not all that interested in going from an iPad mini to the gargantuan 12.9-inch iPad Pro, I am very interested in the rumors of a 10.5-inch iPad Pro taking the place of the current 9.7-inch iPad Pro. And the rumors make a great deal of sense.

Dan Provost made a great observation when the 10.5-inch iPad Pro rumors began.

When the original iPad Pro 12.9" was introduced in September 2015, Phil Schiller demonstrated the reasoning for that sizing by illustrating that the width of the new iPad is the exact same dimension as the height of the 9.7" iPad.

This has the advantage of essentially having two full height iPad apps, side by side.

Now, imagine Apple doing the exact same thing, but with the iPad mini.

The math works out perfectly. This new 10.5" iPad would have the exact same resolution as the 12.9" iPad Pro (2732 x 2048), but the same pixel density of the iPad mini (326 ppi instead of 264 ppi). Crunch the numbers, do a little Pythagorean Theorem, and you end up with a screen 10.5" diagonal (10.47" to be precise, but none of Apple’s stated screen sizes are exact). In terms of physcial dimensions, the width of this 10.5" screen would be exactly the same as the height of the iPad mini screen.

The ability to run two full portrait iPad apps in Split View would be a great distinguishing feature between the iPad Pro line and the regular iPad line, in addition to the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard accessories. I foresee the 9.7-inch iPad Pro we know today going away, and the latest refresh to the regular iPad being the sole occupant of the 9.7-inch form factor.

3D Touch

I love 3D Touch on my iPhone 7, and greatly miss it when using my iPad. 3D Touch feels like right-click on a traditional computer — a quick shortcut to common tasks. Having this available on a larger screen would really open up some options for iOS to shine on iPad hardware.

Physical refinements

I feel like it is time for Apple to move on from the chamfered edges on the iPad. They feel like an overused and outdated design detail in 2017, considering the look debuted on the iPhone 5 in 2012. I’d rather see the glass curve slightly to meet the aluminum like the iPhone 7. Bonus points if the iPad Pro comes in black aluminum like the iPhone 7.

iOS 11

Putting the Pro in iPad Pro

The mass consensus I have seen on other sites and heard on podcasts is that it is time for iOS to embrace the iPad in a significant way. As much as I love my iPad, iOS has always taken the iPhone form factor as a priority. With iOS 9 in 2015 Apple bolted on some iPad-only features with Split View and Slide Over, but those features remain today as they were when the launched. They still feel like they were bolted on instead of custom designed.

I’d like to see iOS bring a lot of polish to a refined iPad experience. No one outside of Apple has envisioned this better than Federico Viticci in his iOS 11 Wish List. I encourage you to read the entire post for his deeper explanations around his ideas, but you absolutely must watch the Concept Video he and Sam Beckett created, which I have also embedded below.

Federico has many terrific ideas in this video. It's safe to say that the most prominent is drag & drop between apps in Split View. This has felt like a missing piece to the puzzle ever since Split View was introduced.

Amazingly, not long after Federico's concept was released, app developer Readdle updated its suite of productivity apps with their own implementation of Drag & Drop between their apps when running in Split View.

It is freaking magic. It works exactly as you would naturally think, and it is done some seamlessly you would it was a built-in feature of iOS.

Beyond Drag & Drop, I'd like to see iOS add a better app picker in Split View on iPad. Federico's concept of that is terrific.

Finally, John Gruber had pondered the idea of putting a trackpad on the iPad Smart Keyboard. At first, I scrunched my nose at the idea, thinking he was insinuating adding a traditional mouse cursor to the screen, but he cleared that up right away. He first talks about using it to move the text insertion point around. That would be welcome, as using the current two-finger gesture on the screen when using an external keyboard is cumbersome.

I was far more intrigued by John's second thought:

tvOS’s UIFocusEngine. That’s the interface framework that allows Apple TV to be controlled by a trackpad or game controller without an on-screen mouse cursor. On Apple TV, you don’t move a cursor around, you move the selection around. Two years ago Steven Troughton-Smith discovered that an incomplete version of UIFocusEngine was built into iOS 9.

This makes so much sense. tvOS uses a lovely 3D animation to icons and buttons to give them depth and tell the user that item is selected. It would feel right at home on iOS if using a trackpad on a Smart Keyboard.

In Summary

I'm practically drooling for a 10.5-inch iPad Pro. I really hope 3D Touch is added to its gorgeous screen. I hope the enclosure gets with the time and receives a nice update to where the glass meets the metal.

I want iOS to leap ahead on the iPad and help the platform take off. It needs to bring a few more paradigms over from traditional computing but reimagine them for the world of touch. Drag & Drop,easier access to apps and data, and embracing the Smart Keyboard even further would all be welcome additions.

Here's to seeing what apple brings us tomorrow.

How to Shoot on iPhone 7

Apple built a terrific page on its website with a variety of short videos showing how to take better photos with iPhone 7. Each of the 16 videos focuses on one brief lesson, demonstrating a photography tip in 3-5 steps.

The videos are produced well, fun, and above all practical. I think there is at least one technique everyone with an iPhone will benefit from in these videos.

Many of the videos illustrate the use of exposure control, which is a technique I think many people don't know about on iPhone. It is easily one of the best things for anyone to learn to make their photos better, and these videos explain the benefits very well.

My favorites of the videos are How to shoot without flash and How to shoot with street light. They both show how a great photo can be taken in low light without using the obnoxious flash.

Check out the videos and then put them into practice. If you shoot something you are especially proud of, let me know on Twitter.

LEGO Ideas Saturn V Launches in June

Just in time for my birthday.

The Saturn V simply looks incredible. The attention to detail is — for lack of a more appropriate word — stellar. Moon exploration has fascinated me since I was a young boy. I had a giant poster of the Moon in my bedroom, a Saturn V pog container (remember pogs?), and many space themed LEGO sets. Ask my folks.

I hope to add this to my collection soon.

Twitterrific for macOS re-hatches with Project Phoenix

I’ve been using Twitter for nearly a decade now and Twitterrific for Mac was what first got me hooked on the service. Over 72,000 tweets later and I still use Twitterrific (on iOS) every day. It’s safe to say that this app is my most used app.

I loved Twitterrific on the Mac, and while I understand why it was put in the parking lot of development to focus on iOS, I have always missed it. And I know its creators at The Iconfactory have missed it as well.

That’s why I’m excited to see that they want to bring it back with Project Phoenix on Kickstarter.

If funded, The Iconfactory plans to have a minimal app ready around August 2017 with t he following features:

  • Unified home timeline
  • Multiple account support
  • Composing, replying, and quoting tweets
  • Muffles and mutes
  • Streaming
  • Themes
  • Delete and edit your own tweets
  • Sync timeline position with iOS
  • VoiceOver Accessibility
  • Keyboard control
  • Attaching images to tweets
  • Timeline search (text filter/find)
  • Open links to other tweets, profiles and media in your browser

If they reach the stretch goal, they’ll add these in a major version release:

  • Direct messaging
  • Read, create, delete saved searches
  • Read lists
  • Built-in Twitter search
  • Built-in quick media viewer (images, GIFs, videos)
  • Built-in conversation and threaded tweet viewer
  • Built-in viewer for user profiles
  • Alt-text attachment when tweeting images
  • Searching for and getting suggested users while composing

And finally, if they reach a victory lap goal, they’ll add:

  • Simple list management (create, edit, delete)
  • Manage drafts and sync them with iOS
  • Dock-less mode
  • Built-in profile editor so you can change your bio, avatar and more
  • Trends
  • Video upload
  • Geolocation

That would pretty much bring it to feature parity with the amazing iOS version of the app. I chipped in, and if you love using Twitter and want to support a team that truly cares for the platform, you should too.