It’s one of my oldest complaints about Apple Watch: It‘s just too bright at night.
I wear my Apple Watch 24/7. During the day the brightness on the lowest setting is more than enough for me. But at night when I want to check the time or set the alarm (Remember the Apple Watch is the best alarm clock I ever had.) it‘s just blindingly bright. I‘ve been asking since the very first Apple Watch for a night mode or at least an option to dim the screen even further.
Whoever I asked about this feature always mentioned the option to turn the crown to activate the screen at a lower brightness level. But that was only half a solution to my problem. Whenever I touched the screen to say open the alarm clock app the watch went back to normal brightness.
But last week I discovered something new: When you activate Theatre Mode and activate the screen by rotating the crown the brightness now stays low and doesn‘t go back to normal.
I‘m not sure which version of watchOS added that feature. But I‘m more than happy to finally have a proper night mode for my Apple Watch. And who knows maybe watchOS 5 brings an automatic night mode...
To show you how it works I made a little video:
I shot the Huawei in Aperture-Mode at 0.95 and the Sony A7 III with the 85mm lens at 1.4. What do you think? Who wins the bokeh duel? Let me know on Twitter.
If you couldn‘t tell already: The pictures on top are from the Sony camera. The ones below are from the Huawei phone.
Surprise! It‘s a red iPhone.
Today I had a look at the portrait mode of the newest phones. With each phone I took about 5 pictures and chose the best one. Trust me that was necessary.
Plus, I shot the same toy car with my semi-pro Sony camera at three different apertures. So you get a sense of what these smartphones can do compared to a real full frame camera.
I also added the aperture value for every picture from the exif data. Apple and Samsung show the aperture of the second lens. Huawei uses the simulated aperture value. After looking at the pictures I don't think these numbers are very accurate or useful for software optimized photos.
All cameras shot at maximum resolution. The Huawei and Nokia at around 40 Megapixel, the Sony at 24 Megapixel. The first image shows the full image and the second a cropped section of it.
What do you think? Let me know on Twitter.
What a beautiful day here in Switzerland! I took the iPhone X and the Huawei P20 Pro for a little walk. Here's a little zoom comparison I shot. All pictures were taken in full auto-mode without any post-processing. What do you think? Let me know on Twitter.
The inconsistent results of the Huawei P20 Pro show that the triple camera still needs some fine tuning.
As a bonus and since it was requested on Twitter I shot this little comparison with the iPhone X, the new Sony A7 and the Huawei P20 Pro.
As I‘ve written in my little lens guide I usually don‘t recommend buying new cameras. Get a new lens instead.
Yet that‘s exactly what I did. I had the opportunity to get a new A7 III early at our local camera store. And I took it.
I‘ve been shooting with it for nearly two weeks now. On journalistic assignments and in private.
My first impression: It‘s amazing!
I might write a big review later. But here are the things you‘ll immediately notice if you had the first A7 before:
All the buttons of the camera feel so much better. They are precise and very reliable. On the first A7, they always felt kind of wobbly.
Auto-Mode / ISO Auto Minimum Shutter Speed
Ever since I started using digital cameras I never trusted the auto mode or other automatic modes. They just made too many dumb decisions and ruined way too many pictures. On the A7 III I am beginning to trust the auto-mode. It really does a very good job as a backup option if I don‘t have the time to dial in all the settings or if I just want to take a quick snapshot. There is also very handy option to set a minimum shutter-speed in the settings. So the camera is always useable handheld. My old A7 always chose crazy dumb shutter speeds in auto mode or aperture priority.
Autofocus / Eye-Autofocus
I loved the autofocus on the Sony A9. It was so fast an reliable you just forgot to worry or even think about the autofocus. It was one of the reasons that I called the A9 the perfect allrounder camera for beginners at an unfortunately professionals-only price point. Being able to afford that autofocus system with the A7 III is nothing but amazing. Eye-autofocus is so good it‘s surreal. I can shoot at aperture 1.4 from more than 10 meters and still get all the shots perfectly sharp.
Touchscreen / Joystick
As I mentioned above I love the autofocus of the A7 III. But sometimes I want a little more control. That's when the joystick comes in handy. I also like to use the touchscreen to set quick focus points. I recommend activating the option to also use the touchscreen as some kind of a touchpad when using the viewfinder. It takes a little getting used to. But now I use it all the time.
Flexible Spot Metering
Being able to have the spot meter follow the focus point is so useful. I use this function all the time. Too bad Sony won‘t add this to older cameras via a software update.
The viewfinder is apparently not as good as on the A9 and the A7R III. Even having used these cameras before I can‘t remember the viewfinder being dramatically better. But I sure notice how much bigger it is on the A7 III compared to my old A7. It‘s a very welcome improvement.
I never had problems with the batteries of my old A7. I have three of them but a single one usually lasted me a day or longer. I don‘t shoot like a machine gun and I also don‘t do video. So that surely helped. But now on the A7 III the battery lasts me a week. It‘s amazing how long it lasts. Plus, I like charging it with a USB-C cable.
This addition is super handy on paper. But in real life, I made the change to summer time manually and I also adjust the time zones manually when traveling. Old habits die hard. But I‘m looking forward to not doing all this stuff manually anymore.
The second biggest game-changer after the autofocus is the new silent mode. Suddenly you can shoot pictures without disturbing the people around you. No matter if it's a press conference, a taxi ride or just your kids, everyone is so much more relaxed without the constant noise of a mechanical shutter or even a mirror. By the way, pro-photographers might worry about something called rolling shutter when shooting silent. I haven’t yet had any trouble with it. I only miss the option to use one button as a toggle for silent mode. But at least you can use a button to open the menu to choose between silent mode on and off.
The last thing I have to mention is the much sturdier mount. Now the lens attaches very reliably to the camera. Even big lenses like the 85GM and the 90 Macro don‘t wobble the slightest bit.
With all those improvements come two things I miss with the new A7:
Weight and size
The new A7 is slightly bigger than the old one. But most of all it feels significantly heavier. People coming from big DSLRs might like that. I like my cameras as small and light as possible.
I loved the elegant retro-look of the first A7. Especially the two nice metal wheels. In comparison, the new A7 looks like something Batman would use. Matte black, rugged and a bit brutal. I prefer the look of the recent cameras from Fuji, Leica or Olympus. But the new look is obviously a nod to the DSLR guys who prioritize functionality and ruggedness over looks and ease of use.
Finally here is how I programmed the many custom keys:
Everyone might be raving about the newish black keyboards and mice for the Mac. But my favorite new Apple products are - who‘d have thought - the new watch bands.
Here are my favorites:
The new Woven Nylon feels a bit silkier and softer than before. Not sure if it‘s an illusion. Will compare as soon as I’m back home.
Here are some more wrist shots of the Black Stripe Woven Nylon band:
The most interesting thing about the new Galaxy S9 is its dual aperture. Here it is in action:
In theory it's a really great idea. But how useful is it in the real world?
To find out I shot a few comparisons. One image with an open aperture (1.5), one with a closed aperture (2.4), and a final image where I let the auto-mode choose the aperture.
What do you think? Do you see a notable difference? Let me know on Twitter.
Today I took the new Samsung Galaxy S9+ and the iPhone X to the local botanical garden. All images were shot in full auto-mode, handheld and no post-processing was done afterwards.
Which look/style do you prefer? The one from the pictures on the left/on top or the one from the pictures on the right/at the bottom?
Solution: The pictures on the left/at the top were shot with an iPhone X. The pictures on the right/at the bottom were shot with a Galaxy S9+.
Let me know on Twitter which you like better.
Footnote: I encountered a small focus problem with the Galaxy S9+. Sometimes I just couldn't get it to focus correctly at close distances. I tried my best to still get sharp shots. But sometimes I just had to give up. Here's an example:
Having to change plane due to technical issues is never fun. Unless you turn it into a photo op. All images shot on an iPhone X and a Sony A7. No post-processing.
Ikea recently lowered the prices of WIFI light bulbs. That allone didn't intrigue me much. Since I had already bought more than enough Philips Hue bulbs over the last two years. But when someone on Twitter mentioned that you could connect Ikea Tradfri bulbs to a Philips Hue Hub I couldn’t resist.
Connecting the Tradfri bulb to the Philips Hub wasn't as easy as I had thought. It didn't work at first. The new bulb didn't show up in the Hue app.
Since I didn't have an Ikea Hub and therefore no way to communicate with the new Tradfri bulb I tried a factory reset. I turned the bulb on and off six times. Lucky me it worked. And the Tradfri finally showed up in the Hue app.
Now that the Tradfri blub showed up in the Hue app I conducted a little experiment:
It turns out there isn't any noticable delay between the Philips and Ikea bulb. But the Ikea bulb takes a little longer to turn off. But that’s not bothersome at all.
The only downside: The Ikea bulb doesn't show in Apples Homekit app. Apparently that only works with an Ikea Hub. But that’s not something I'm going to try anytime soon. I just use my Ikea bulb in a lamp connected to a motion sensor. So I don't need Siri or Homekit to control it.
Tiny Thief is one of my all-time favorite games. Too bad the publisher dropped it and it‘s no longer in the iOS store. You can still get it for Android though. Lucky me, I still have it on an old iPad.
Now they launched their second game called Bring You Home. I bought it over the weekend without reading any reviews. That‘s how much I trust the team behind those games.
I wasn‘t disappointed. Even though the game looks similar the mechanics are completely new. Instead of controlling one character you have to control and adjust the level itself.
I’ve already finished the game. But there is so much replay value and so many hidden details. Highly recommended!
After I published an article about wishes and proposals for watchOS 5 the most talked about aspect were third-party watch faces. Some couldn‘t get them soon enough others didn‘t see a need for them.
My own position in this discussion is somewhere in the middle. Yes, I would like and even pay for very good watch faces for the Apple Watch. But I also see the risks of opening up the most important part of the watch to other companies or even users. Let me explain.
The watch face isn‘t called that for no reason. It‘s the face of the watch. It‘s the first thing you see and the one thing you see every time you look at your watch. One wrong detail on the watch face can ruin the look of the whole watch.
No wonder Apple is very cautious with letting others change such fundamental elements of their products. It‘s the same with the iPhone by the way. Developers may design app symbols (even ugly ones). But they can‘t change the home screen, do widgets or launchers like on Android phones.
But not everyone is as protective as Apple. In fact, other smartwatch systems like Android Wear and Tizen do allow third-party watch faces and even allow users to create their own designs.
I once asked Jean-Claude Biver, the legendary Swiss watch manager who made James Bond wear Omega and is now responsible for brands like TAG Heuer, Hublot or Zenith, if he was afraid of people creating horrible watch faces for his smartwatches. His answer: „Yes. But we have to give the customer this freedom. Every customer wants to identify himself with his or her watch. Plus, we can‘t forbid it anyway.“
I asked David Singleton, the former boss of Android Wear the very same question. His answer: „When you buy a beautiful watch, you obviously like the design. That's why people will choose watch faces that match the design of the watch.“
Apple obviously can and does forbid third-party watch faces. One of the perks of owning hardware and software.
But why? Ugly watch faces are only one of the risks of letting users design their own watch faces. The other risk is copyright complaints. A topic Apple should be familiar with. In the early days, the app stores of Android Wear and Tizen were full of replica/counterfeit watch faces. Some even used brand names like Rolex, Omega or Patek.
Nowadays you have to dig deeper to find such watch faces. But they are still around.
These are just some of the easiest to spot offenders. But if you know your way around watches you can easily find digital watch faces that resemble their mechanical counterparts a little to close.
Just for fun and illustration, I turned one of my all-time favorite watches, the Omega Seamaster 300 from 1957, into a digital watch face. All it took me was my iPad, Pixelmator, Affinity and a few minutes over lunch break.
Obviously, it's not a real watch face. Just a photo in the photo app on the watch. But it looks rather convincing.
Lawyers would have a field day if something like this turned up in Apple's app store.
But let’s assume for argument's sake that Apple does allow third-party watch faces. That immediately leads to the following question: How does Apple make sure there aren‘t any ugly or even stolen designs like in my example? They could of course school app reviewers on all the tiny watch design details and nuances.
I doubt that would get the job done in any consistent, objective and fair manner. The safest option would be to send every watch face to the legal department and most important through Jony Ive's design department. It doesn‘t take an Apple Genius to know how unrealistic that is.
Therefore I wouldn‘t expect Apple to broadly open the watch face to developers or even users anytime soon if ever. It‘s far more realistic to expect a few new designs from Apple with every new version of watchOS and maybe other partnerships like the ones with Nike and Hermès.
But if you really want new watch faces right now I suggest you start experimenting with the kaleidoscope watch face. I have many different versions of it. Nearly one for every occasion and every watch band. All you need is the right photo as I explained in my review of the latest Apple Watch. Use photos and drawings with a lot of black and bold colors.
I love iOS 11 and all the updates and features it brought with it. But one thing keeps driving me crazy. When I install a new app it gets automatically placed on the first position (top left) on my second home screen. Sometimes even already installed apps end up in the same place after they got an update.
Why does this bother me? Because my second home screen isn't a random selection of apps. I selected and placed each one very purposefully.
For instances, I have some of my most used apps on the bottom row of my second home screen. There I can reach them faster then I could on the first home screen in one of the top rows.
Now, whenever a new or old app gets placed on my second home screen it messes up my layout and I have to fix it manually.
If someone has a solution for this problem please help!
Update: Twitter to the rescue!
Guess I'm officially an app-messie now. Thanks guys!! Will clean up my iPhone now.
Matt Birchler has published a very interesting wishlist for the Apple Watch and watchOS 5. I couldn‘t resist to comment on most of his proposals and add a few of my own.
Third-party apps for Siri watch face
Every proposal with Siri and third-party apps in it has my full support. Since I don‘t use many Apple services and apps Siri isn‘t very useful in my life. I only use it to set timers and turn the lights off. For the same reasons I never use the Siri watch face. It‘s just not useful to me - yet. I‘ve been hoping for a Google-Now-like watch face since day one. The watch should know what information is useful at which moment and adjust accordingly. With third-party support, the Siri watch face would be a step in that direction.
Always-on watch faces
From a practical point of view, I fully support that proposal as well. Turn to wake usually works flawlessly. But still, there are situations when it doesn‘t. That‘s when I sometimes have to use my nose to activate the screen. Always-on watch faces would solve that problem. From an aesthetic point of view, I have to admit I like the Reverso-like empty watch face. It‘s black, quiet and only turns on when I want to. An always-on screen might be a bit of a distraction or an eye catcher.
Third-party watch faces
Having seen some of the ugly or copyright infringing third-party watch faces on Android Wear or Tizen I see why Apple is very cautious in that regard. As a watch nerd, I love new watch faces and can‘t get enough of them. But I‘d rather see third-party developers come up with decent complications first. As a second step, I could see myself paying for new watch faces or maybe a digital version of the hands of a famous mechanical watch. By the way, did you notice the Apple Watch uses the same hands as the famous Nautilus from Patek. Update: I wrote a whole article about this topic.
Automatic workout detection
That's dearly needed. I really don‘t want to tell my watch, that I‘m going for a run. It has plenty of sensors and smarts to know it.
Living in Switzerland I fully agree. Shoveling would be especially helpful.
More seasonal activity badges
I love earning badges!
„Rest day“ function
I have asked for that quite a few times in the past. I have a suspicion that‘s very high on many users list. You could even make it fun by letting users earn rest days by completing certain goals or tasks.
I really don‘t know what Apple is waiting for. It‘s one of the best features of wearables in general. Thanks to apps like AutoSleep I‘m already tracking my sleep with an Apple Watch. But I‘d prefer a built-in and therefore more secure version for such an important function.
Can‘t happen soon enough.
Always listening to „Hey Siri“
I really don‘t like always listening microphones. Maybe I‘m a bit old-fashioned.
Custom notification sounds for third-party apps
That’s a smart (and maybe a bit annoying) idea! My watch is always on silent though.
Improve Dock with some sort of grid system
I‘m really happy with the new Dock. I just wish all the Apps would open faster and not just the ones that have been automatically or purposely placed in the Dock.
Improve Breath app
I used the app quite regularly when it was new. But soon forgot about it.
Read full Apple News articles on Apple Watch
Apple News isn‘t working in Switzerland yet.
Display iPhone battery life
That has been on my list since the very first watchOS. Back then I used an Android phone. To use the Apple Watch I always carried an iPhone in my backpack. The iPhone often ran out of battery because I forgot about it. A little warning on the watch would have been helpful. Today I would like to know on my watch when the phone is fully charged and ready to go.
Custom colors for flashlight
I would really like that. I use the flashlight a lot. Usually white. But sometimes white is too bright. So I use red. But it looks really scary. The option to pick a friendlier and less bright color would be very welcome.
Theatre mode should activate „Do Not Disturb“
Absolutely! Whenever I go to bed I have to swipe up and press these two buttons. Coupling these two buttons would be very helpful. But I have an even better solution in my own suggestions below.
Ability to watch Youtube
This is indeed a rather crazy request. But hey, why not? Don‘t think I would use it much though.
Now for my additions I already mentioned in my review of the Apple Watch Series 3:
More brightness options and Night Shift
In direct sunlight, the bright screen of the newer models is very handy. At night it's way too bright. I would love to have more options in the brightness settings. Whenever I go to bed I activate Do Not Disturb and Theatre Mode. The Apple Watch should do that automatically and dim the screen. It should either be possible to set a certain time to activate this Night Shift mode or even better the Apple Watch should use sleep tracking and all its other sensors to activate it automatically when I go to bed.
It happens at least once a day: The Apple Watch displays a red dot to tell me there’s a notification waiting for me. But I can't open it because my other hand is occupied with carrying an umbrella for example. Wouldn't it be cool to be able to turn your wrist twice to open notifications? Some kind of finger tracking with radar like Googles Project Soli would be even cooler. But that's still a few years in the future. It might eventually end up in watches as the Android Wear boss recently hinted at in an interview with me. Can't wait for better control/input options for smartwatches.
I would really like for the Apple Watch to become completely independent from an iPhone so you could use it even with an Android phone. I doubt though that Apple likes that idea as much as I do. But what about the iPad? Wouldn't it at least be great if the Apple Watch would work with an iPad? Just like it does now with the iPhone. Having an iPad in your backpack could replace the need for a connected smartphone. If you need the big screen get the iPad. For everything else, you have your watch and Airpods.
Two years ago today David Bowie died. I still remember listening to Blackstar on the way to work when I got the push alert with the sad news.
A few days later I played a Bowie-only DJ-set at the local cinema turned club/concert hall.
There is a Spotify playlist with most of the songs I played but without the rarities and special mixes. So to honor the occasion I dug up my old DJ-laptop and recovered the full playlist from this rather wonderful evening.
David Bowie - Memory Of A Free Festival
David Bowie - A Better Future
David Bowie - Tis a Pity She Was a Whore
David Bowie - Buddha Of Suburbia
David Bowie - Aladdin Sane
David Bowie - Oh! You Pretty Things
David Bowie - Hang Onto Yourself
David Bowie - African Night Flight
David Bowie - I'm Afraid of Americans
Tin Machine - Tin Machine
Iggy Pop - Lust For Life
David Bowie - Let's Dance (Extended Remix)
David Bowie - Changes
Mott the Hoople - All the Young Dudes
David Bowie - I Can't Give Everything Away
David Bowie - Something in the Air
David Bowie - Lieb Dich Bis Dienstag
David Bowie - Moonage Daydream
David Bowie - D.J.
David Bowie - Diamond Dogs
Bowie, David & Mick Jagger - Dancing In The Street (Extended Dance Mix)
David Bowie - Life On Mars?
Lou Reed - Satellite of Love
David Bowie - Boys Keep Swinging
David Bowie - Helden
David Bowie - Absolute Beginners (Extended Mix)
David Bowie - Cat People [Putting Out Fire] (Australian Promo Extended Version)
David Bowie & Queen - Under Pressure
David Bowie - Queen Bitch
David Bowie - Cactus
David Bowie - Never Get Old
David Bowie - Little Wonder
David Bowie - China Girl (Extended Version)
David Bowie - Space Oddity
David Bowie - Blackstar
David Bowie - Ashes To Ashes (Ultrasound 12 Inch Version)
David Bowie - Rebel Rebel
David Bowie - The Laughing Gnome
David Bowie - The Jean Genie (Original Single Mix)
David Bowie - Fame
David Bowie - Modern Love (Long Version)
David Bowie - Golden Years
David Bowie - Sound And Vision
David Bowie - Dancing With The Big Boys (Extended Dub Mix)
David Bowie - Starman