Wednesday, 20 May 2015

My Time with the Apple Watch

A bit more on the Apple watch plus the fact that its still the only smart watch that is accessible for blind or low vision.


The Apple watch interface again is basically: clock face screen (can choose different clock faces), home app screen (from which apps are run), apps, notifications, Glances, friends, and Siri.


In this blog post you’ll find:

Podcasts and blogs on the Apple watch and a link to the Apple watch user guide,

My confirmed 12 reasons why I want to keep using the Apple watch,

3rd party apps that I have found useful, and

Bugs with the Apple watch/VoiceOver.



Some resources: podcasts, blogs and the Apple watch user guide from Apple


My 34 podcasts on the Apple watch ranging from setup and navigation, to using most of the apps onto Apple watch such as the Activity app, Mail, Music, Phone, Remote etc.


My podcast page for Apple watch demos: 

I have done a podcast with DR Robert Carter who does the Tech doctor, podcast and Allison Sheridan Nosilla podcast.


Link to the Tech Doctor podcast: 

Link to the Nosilla Podcast: 


Presentation at the Apple Store Sydney May 19 2015 for Global Access day 21 May 2015



A Blog from Tim Noonan on his continuing experience with the Apple watch: 

Apple watch users guide from Apple 

12 reasons why I thought (and confirmed) I needed an Apple watch


1. Conveniently being able to check notifications from Mail, Calendar, Messages, and Twitter.


Yes: certainly happening.


2. Being able to pick up calls on the Apple watch rather than on my Mac or iPhone is again going to be very handy.  I.e. I don’t have to go back to the iPhone or Mac to answer a call, particularly if I’m gardening or washing the car.


Yes: certainly happening plus the benefit of making calls out from the Apple watch.


3. As I usually have my iPhone plugged in to my Mac via the lightening cable for charging, use the iPhone as a personal hotspot, and use “hay Siri” because the iPhone is powered, it again seems natural to expect the “Hay Siri” hands free functionality  on the Apple watch by just raising my wrist.


Yes: certainly happening.  Raise on wrist activation for the Apple watch and consequently Siri handy, but VoiceOver tends to speak to much if I move my arm and the Apple watch wakes up, so I usually only use this when cooking for using the Timer or when using Maps.  Otherwise, have raise wrist turned off, tap the Apple watch screen to wake it up, and then use hay Siri.


4. I use GPS a fair bit on my iPhone, and I am very curious to use the haptic feedback on the Apple watch maps for turn by turn directions.

Yes: certainly happening.  Actually presently surprised on how well the audio and haptic feedback works when you need to turn left or right when walking around.


5. As I work in a several story building, my partner has to either ring me or iMessage me when she is approaching so that I can meet her down stairs on the street just in case she can’t get a parking spot.  With haptic vibrating taps on the Apple watch, she can just notify me as it were, which will be a lot more convenient particularly if I am on the phone, which being on a help desk is most of the time.  Oh and yes, she will be getting an Apple watch as well.


Yes: certainly happening.  Partner did get an Apple watch sports 38mm, and tapping me to let me know she is outside works extremely well.


6. My partner and I some times have to let each other know that we’re running out of time to do something: e.g. get off the phone we have to go: being able to send different haptic vibrating taps I’m assuming is going to be a lot more polite (smile).


Yes: certainly happening.  This functionality like tapping me to let me know my partner is outside, works well for this type of situation as well.


7. This is one thing which my Fitbit flex doesn’t do for me, let me know when I’ve been sitting for to long and its time to move a bit,this is exactly what the Activity app will do, and make my work day that bit healthier.



Yes: certainly happening.  Vision Australia is very big on cultivating a healthy work place and work practises, and one of our items we are supposed to do is make sure you stand for a little bit at least every hour.  So, having a personal reminder is great, as I tend to sit to long at my desk and forget the time.


8. Speaking of the Fitbit flex, I won’t have to weir two devices any more: my iPod nano and the Fitbit Flex: just the Apple watch.


Yes: certainly happened.  Both my iPod nano watch and my Fitbit flex are now back in my tech box.  When Blind Square GPs gets an extension happening on the watch as well, my BEM Speaker band will go in to the box as well.


9. Being able to control my Apple tv from the Remote app on the Apple watch is going to be great.  Rather than having to grab my iPhone or worse, find where my boys have dropped/hidden the physical Apple remote.


Yes: certainly happening.  Actually this reason is amazing me as my Remote (Remote app on the Apple watch) is always with me, no more mucking around.


10. For the last several years I have been using my iPod nano 6th generation as a watch with wired ear phones.  besides getting a much more stylish device on my wrist, I can do away with the wired ear phones and use Bluetooth ear phones instead: i.e. my bone conduction head phones or my Beats Wireless head phones: much safer.


Yes: certainly happening.  Whilst I loved my iPod nano watch, having to use wired head phones was a bit of a pest when walking around.


11. As I do most of the cooking in my family, I use the timer function in Siri to time how long things have to cook, and for items that have to be put on so I can arrive with everything being cooked at the same time, I often have to check how the timer is going.  I either have to have my iPhone plugged in to use Siri or hold down the Home button to use Siri, which if you been cooking, can be a bit messy.  With the Apple watch, I can just hold up my wrist and ask away.


Yes: certainly happening.  AS I said above, I tend to turn on Raise on Wrist on in order to use hay Siri and launch apps such as the Timer when cooking.


12. As both of my boys are on medication, I have reminders on my iPhone to make sure that they take their medication throughout the day.  Sometimes if we go swimming etc, I usually leave my iPhone in the car for safety, and then usually forget about the medication.  Having the Apple watch on the spot as it were, will again be helpful.


Yes: certainly happening.  Like the Apple Remote app, having alarms/reminders to keep me on track with my boys medication is fantastic.


Four things I didn’t expect about the Apple watch:


The first thing I did not expect is how handy the Apple watch would be for my partner, in being able to contact me if she can’t reach her iPhone due to her having a fall: i.e. partner prone to falling due to a particular physical disability.


The second thing was (and I didn’t realise it was going to be in the Apple watch) was the ability to be able to Ping My iPhone and locate where in the house I put it down: very very nice.


Thirdly, the digital crown navigation which can be turned on by doing a two finger triple tap, allows you to use the digital crown to scroll (flick back) left and right through the Apple watch interface rather than having to flick left or right on the screen.


Fourthly, the set of gestures that VoiceOver uses on the Apple watch are a sub-set of what you use on VoiceOver on the iPhone.  The main gesture differences are:

iPhone -  3 finger flick down on status line for Notifications from status line, and 2 finger flick down on Clock Face for Notifications.

iPhone - 3 finger flick up on status line for control centre - 2 finger flick up on Clock face for Glances.

iPhone - 3 finger scrolling - Apple watch 2 finger scrolling.

There is also no rotor, no keyboard to use (you voice dictate or choose preset/custom responses), and half of the VoiceOver settings are split between the Apple watch and the Apple watch iOS app running on the iPhone:

Screen curtain and volume adjust on the Apple watch (two finger double tap and hold slide up or down to adjust volume), and

Screen curtain, voice rate, voice volume, speak hints, and speak on wrist raise.

Got a quite a surprise, when you adjust speech rate and volume on the Apple watch iOS app and if the watch is awake, you hear the volume or speech rate adjust as you move the slider on the iPhone.


VoiceOver gestures still the same from iOS (iPhone etc):1 finger flick left or right move by item,

1 finger double tap activate item,

1 finger flick up or down adjust slider or use action item, and

two finger double tap answer/hang up a call (not start/stop playing music).



3rd party apps that I have found useful:


Initial list.  With OS 1.01 update, a number of these apps became more accessible: eg Double Post for posting to Twitter, buttons report correctly.


Note - These apps install on your iPhone with a corresponding app running on the Apple watch.  To manage apps on the Apple watch, use the Apple watch app on the iPhone.


Alo - hear yourself speak immediately in a different language


Animal Watch -fun animal sounds (on iPhone nothing accessible on screen for VO users, watch app is ok)


Apple Store


 Around Me (what’s around me for services, shops etc)


Binaural Sleep Beats


BlackJack for Apple Watch


Browser for Apple Watch


BitList: grocery shopping list etc


Calculator Watch Pro free 


Carrot Weather: talking weather


CNN News


Decibl (sound metre)




Double Post (post to Facebook and Twitter)


FlipBoard (news)


FourSquare (find places to eat, drink etc) 


Google News


Just Big Text (communicate by “big text”)


iLight Flashlight




Life Line (text adventure game)


Metronome M1


Navigon (Australian version)


Ny Times


Overcast (podcast player)


Pandora Radio (music streaming)


Phone Mate (check iPhone battery from watch)


Speech To Notes (saved dictated notes back to iPhone)


Simple Mic (save recordings back to iPhone)




SMH Skim (Sydney Morning Herald top stories)


Tiny Tic Tac Toe


Time For Zombies (text adventure)


Remote Sounds (play sounds on your iPhone  via your Apple watch)


Tripview Sydney (bus, train, and ferry time tabling)


TuneIn Radio Pro


Tweetings (Twitter client)


Units Premium (convert a range of units)


Ventriloquist (make your iPhone speak)


Watch Out - find your phone with fun


Yellow Pages






Bugs, some of which were squished in the May OS 1.01 update plus improvements to VoiceOver to work better with 3rd party apps that hadn’t previously been working with VoiceOver: e.g. buttons not being identified correctly.


Fixed in 1.01: Get stuck in Notifications screen after force touch to clear all notifications.


Fixed in 1.01: In the Calendar app, again, get stuck in the screen after force touch to change view between day and list view.


Not fixed: Can send, but can’t playback a heart beat.


Fixed in 1.01: In the Mail app, 1 finger flick up/down for actions, deleting a message doesn’t work.


Fixed in 1.01: In Messages, deleting a Message doesn’t appear to clear it from the Apple watch.


Not fixed: In the Workout app, minutes is read out as seconds.


Not fixed: In the Timer complication, Timer value reports as 15 minutes remaining.


When replying to a text message, the dictated text gets sent straightaway with no chance to change or cancel as when replying to an iMessage.


Not a bug as such, but if you go in to Power Reserve mode, you won’t get any speech with VoiceOver as its only the time shown when the Friends button pressed.  Hold in Friends button for 4 seconds to restart back to standard operation.

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