The price of this photo

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To photograph the following image as seen above, with all my current Apple products that I own, it costs me S$4624. The 13 inch Macbook Pro (non-Touchbar), the Apple Watch Series 3 Nike Sports Edition (GPS) and my new iPhone X (256GB). I never realise until recently that just these three items would cost me a whopping S$4624. And on top of that, (which hopefully I will update this picture once the package arrives) I have ordered myself the Apple Airpods. That is going to set me back another S$238. The new total cost of all four items would be S$4862. That is nearly S$5000!

And don’t even make me start on the iPads….

 

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Applecare+ for Apple Watch

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After much deliberation, I decided to purchase Applecare+ coverage for my Apple Watch.  This is my second time buying Applecare to get enhanced coverage for my Apple products, the first being the Macbook Air many years ago.

Applecare+ would provide enhanced coverage for my Apple Watch. Aside from the additional year warranty (total of 2 years) Applecare+ provides, it also covers 2 incidents of accidental damage coverage, each subject to a S$98 service fee. For instance, if I were to drop my watch on the floor and the glass display is cracked, I can simply head to the Apple Store and get it repaired for just S$98. Any manufacturing defects would automatically be covered without paying the service fee. If any accidents were to happen to the watch, a service of S$348 would be charged to repair the watch. That is expensive. So for S$88 to get accidental coverage gives me a greater peace of mind should anything happen to my watch.

My previous Tissot Visodate mechanical watch had its fair share of bumps and knocks. On some occasions, it can be pretty violent. But it has held up remarkably well, only showing minor scratches on its stainless steel lug. The glass on both sides of the watch held up, mainly because its made of crystal sapphire glass.

The Apple Watch series 3 Nike Sports edition is made of aluminium and glass. That doesn’t inspire confidence in keeping scratches and cracks at bay under extreme stress (drops, scrapes, knocks etc). And judging from past experience with my Tissot watch, it will definitely get knocked around accidentally as you move your arm about in your surrounding environment. Scratches are almost a given since the watch is made of aluminium. So in essence, my decision to buy Applecare+ was driven by what I experienced on my Tissot watch. All in all, the additional year of warranty is an added bonus, since I see myself wearing the watch for at least two years before upgrading it.

One week with the Apple Watch series 3!

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The watch is with me when I run, work, walk, eat, sleep. So how do they perform? Fantastic! Absolutely fantastic. I am extremely pleased with how it performs no matter the situation. I am completely blown away by how much biometric data it records on the watch and to my iPhone. It records a multitude of readings from the number of steps I took daily, to my heart rate, be it working, sedentary or resting, calories burn, and the amount of sleep I am getting every night. It does all that by sipping power from the battery. I can go an entire day from 7am to 10pm draining just 15% of battery life from the watch. Battery life is just amazing.

With all these data and appropriate apps to help me visualise those data, be it heart rate, exercise or sleep, I am now greatly more aware of my daily activities and the potential impact it might have on my overall health. For now, after wearing the watch and scrutinising my daily activities of the day for an entire week, the good news is that I am pretty active on a daily basis. I have little to no difficulty meeting the minimum amount of exercise and time standing instead of sitting that is required each day. I fill up the rings pretty much almost to full for the amount of energy spent being active. It seems that commuting to work by walking to the train stations and to my offices constitutes exercise. I have always been tracking the number of steps taken using just the iPhone and it has been pretty easy to hit the 10 000 steps needed daily. With the Apple Watch, it is more accurate than ever before since it is on my wrist and with me all the time. In certain situations, especially at work, I would leave my phone on my office desk and it is those moments where my steps are not recorded.

Heart rate is another exciting feature and the primary motivation for getting the Apple Watch. So long as I wear the watch, it records my heart rate on an almost constant basis. Every few minutes, no matter the situation, it would record my heart rate. The data can then be used to visualize and determine your resting heart rate, sedentary heart rate, workout heart rate and even sleeping heart rate. It is pretty interesting to see the changes in your heart rate depending on what you are doing at what time of the day and to determine if you are over-exerting yourself doing a workout.

I think with all the talk and excitement about getting the Apple Watch, I am just primarily interested in the health and fitness aspects of the watch, rather than from a purely aesthetic or day-to-day functionality the watch might offer. Knowing more about your body, health and fitness through the Apple Watch just give you a whole new perspective on the things you do with your body on a daily basis.

Now that I have my Apple Watch, I’m officially a data junkie, obsessed with recording everything about my body. I can’t imagine that day when I have to part with my Apple Watch for an extended period of time. I think I will feel that a small part of me is missing. Not being able to see my current heart rate would be mildly uncomfortable.

My Apple purchases over the years

I have bought many Apple products over the years. It is not entirely inaccurate to say that I am a loyal fan of all most things Apple. It started with the iPod touch, then the iPhone 3GS onwards right to the recent iPhone X. All my mobile phone had been Apple iPhone starting with the iPhone 3GS. That is just on the mobile front.

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On the PC front, it started with the second generation Mac Mini. It got me through college. A hardy little beast back in those days. On the portable laptop front, the MacBook Air was my first ever purchase. It was about sometime during my senior year, as I had the need to write more and more assignments on the go, leading up to my graduation. For a short while (5 months) I bought a Windows laptop, the Lenovo 13 inch laptop. It was a good laptop. Great battery life, a huge factor when making my laptop purchasing decisions.

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But soon after, a new generation of Macbook Pro was announced, sporting the latest Intel Kaby Lake chips. I was smitten. I was sorely tempted. I had never owned their premium laptop before. The Lenovo worked perfectly. It suited my needs. I just needed a laptop for my part-time postgraduate studies. I don’t really need a fancy laptop. But within a couple of days, after the product launch announcement, I ordered the 13-inch with no Touchbar version. Within 2 days after clicking the ‘Order’ button, it arrived at my doorstep. I sold my Lenovo laptop on Carousell (at a pretty good price, considering it’s just a 6-month old product and still in pristine condition, including battery life). The selling price was enough to offset the hefty expenses made trying to buy the MacBook Pro. (at the same time trying to self-justify that it was a perfectly rational decision to get the MacBook Pro from a financial point of view when clearly it wasn’t) The MacBook Pro was also my first ever purchase to be made through an interest-free monthly instalment plan, which I am 6 out of 12 payment through as of this writing.

However, it was only the iPhone X (in-store pickup) and the Apple Watch Series 3 that were truly considered to be actual purchases made through an Apple Store. The iPhone X  was an in-store pickup that was originally an order made online. I placed the order, collected the phone and I was off. The Apple Watch, however, was different. I was on the fence about whether to get one or not. I had to try it physically before I made my decision. Thus, it was important that I made the trip down to actually try it out before deciding on my purchase.

The experience was fantastic. It was the first time that I actually had the opportunity to interact with the Apple Geniuses in the store. I asked questions regarding the Watch, took my time swapping out straps, all with the kind assistance by Asyiqin, the Apple Genius personnel who was with me throughout my time there. She was very professional, very patient and I had no pressure to make my decisions quickly. I was grateful to be given the opportunity to try out a large variety of straps laid out on the table, taking my time familiarising myself on how to swap straps on the Apple Watch and even trying out different watch sizes and strap sizes.

Soon after that, I walked out of the store with a bag, containing the Apple Watch. It was one of the most amazing retail experience I ever had.

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I wonder what is my next Apple purchase? The next generation iPad perhaps? Time will tell.

 

The Apple Store @ Orchard

When Apple announced that they were going to open an official Apple store in Singapore, I was stoked. For years I had been hoping for an official store to make their landing on this tiny island nation. Previously, I visited other Apple store around the world, like those in Hong Kong, and The Netherlands. Those stores were beautiful, airy and just fantastic, with great professional Apple Geniuses all around rendering their assistance to any customers who might need help in their purchase.

The design ethos of what makes an Apple Store anywhere in the world a fantastic place to not just make your purchase but to learn more about its products and services is one of the great hallmarks of retail. The Apple Store @ Orchard is no different. In fact, it has one of the more unique storefront designs as compared to other Apple stores around the world.

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I remember the day (May 26 2017) when Apple opens its doors for the first time in Singapore to customers. I wasn’t there at the opening hour. I was there sometime around 12 noon. The store was crowded, but not overly packed. They did a pretty good job with the crowd control, letting small batches of people in to maintain the crowd in the store at manageable levels. But boy, it was beautiful. I have never seen a more beautiful retail store ever. Imagine long massive panels of glass, three panels layered side by side spanning the entire 2 floors of the store’s facade from top to bottom. The second floor looked almost like it was magically hovering. On the second floor houses this huge LCD panel display, super high resolution and gorgeous to gawk at. Dotted throughout the store are real trees that give the store a very natural and equatorial ambience that much resembles tropical Singapore.

On launch day, I remembered receiving a free T-shirt with three red symbols; an Apple logo, a heart logo and a red dot. Put it together, it says, ‘Apple Loves Singapore’, the red dot referring to our tiny island nation, a small red dot on the world map.

And just like that on day one, I see so many people already making Apple purchases, from iMac, to Macbook Pro, to iPhones. Sales were no doubt brisk just like any other Apple store around the world.

Apple Watch Series 3 first impressions!

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After wearing the watch for 48 hours (not continuously, but I do wear it while I sleep, more on that later) I must say, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!

It seems that the more I wear it, the more beautiful it looks. I never realised how beautiful the watch is. From the overall design, build quality and meticulous design, the watch is one sleek device. It is a smartwatch but doesn’t scream smart, geeky watch. It really blends well with my wrist, making it look just like any other watch, albeit squarish than most watches out there. I am very impressed by the level of care in designing a smartwatch, especially the implementation of the watch crown. The crown inevitably retains the design philosophy of all watches out there, old and new. By using the crown to anchor the design ethos of what a watch should look and feel, it does not alienate new smartwatch users. It is completely understandable that one can feel intimidated or frustrated when it comes to getting used to using a new tech device. But the Apple Watch successfully managed to overcome the barrier by implementing certain familiar aspects of watchmaking.

After wearing the watch for a couple of days. I am now obsessed with recording everything my watch was able to record. From my sleep quality (hence the need to wear the watch while I sleep) to my heart rate while I am at rest, or when I am out for a run, even the distance travelled, steps taken and the number of calories I have spent doing all those activities. I am now obsessed. I feel sad when I have to remove the watch from my wrist to recharge or when I need to shower. And I realised that the new Apple Watch has fantastic battery life. Now, notifications are awesome on the Apple Watch, but I realised that I am not the kind who would meddle too much on my watch be it replying to a text, or reading news headlines through the small screen on my Apple Watch. It’s nice to do all that on your wrist, but I am not sold on the idea that it is a direct replacement for my phone when it comes to doing routine activities like reading emails, replying to texts and reading news. In essence, I don’t check my notifications that often on my watch. I just let the watch what it does best; tell the time, and record my heart rate and activity during the day (walking, running, sleeping) Thus, for my typical use, the battery can go a long way. On my first day of use, I started my day at 7.30am and did not recharge the watch till 9pm. The battery charge dropped from 100% to 85%. A merely 15%. And it does all the tracking (heart, activity etc) all day long. That is amazing! This is the reason why getting the Series 3 was a good call. The battery life of the watch has improved tremendously.

Regarding notifications, I realised one really smart feature that I realised wasn’t there. It was only when I started using it and experiencing it personally did I finally understand the beauty of notifications on Apple devices. Pushing notifications to my watch and actually receiving them depends on whether it detects the watch is on your wrist or not. If it is being charged, notifications go back to the phone by default. This is a pretty neat feature as you won’t missed a notification just because you were charging the watch somewhere else.

When the watch does get pinged with notification, the Haptic Engine in the watch will vibrate, which is pleasant, not too strong or weak. Notifications pushed to the watch will not get pinged on the phone, which I find it to be another neat little feature. I was concerned that I might get double pinged, on both the watch and phone, which can be annoying. But that wasn’t the case. Somehow the watch and phone know where is best to ping the notifications depending on the usage condition. It even knows to ping the notifications to the phone instead of the watch if I happen to be using the phone and actually looking and interacting with it, keeping the watch silent. It might seem a small feature, but this smart allocation of pinging notifications to the right devices blew me out of the water.

Previously I mentioned that while it is nice to get notifications on the watch, I recently realised a new found appreciation for those notifications to reach the watch instead of the phone.

As a research officer who spends a considerable amount of time in the lab with gloves and lab coats, sometimes while doing experiments, it is not practical to fish out your phone in your jeans pocket underneath your labcoat while wearing your dirty gloves. With the notifications now pushed to the watch, I am now able to read them and if it is deemed important to respond using the phone, then I will fish it out of my pocket. I am not able to determine if the notifications are worth the effort to pull out my phone. Notifications on your watch have found a new purpose for me.

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I bought the Nike watch edition that comes with the rubber straps with lots of holes. I find the strap pretty comfortable with great breathability because of the holes. This is particularly important while I am working out. All the sweat and grime can be cleaned easily with a clean cloth.

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I bought a second strap that I would swap out when I am not working out. The Apple Sports Loop is a nylon strap that is amazingly light and soft to the touch. The strap is my daily driver, wearing it to work. It’s simple looking and extremely comfortable with a little stretch to it. Wearing comfortable straps just like the Sports Loop is important if you plan to wear the watch for the entire day, and the strap serves its duties well.

I look forward to wearing my Apple Watch diligently for years to come. At the same time, I am quite sad that it has replaced my Tissot Visodate automatic watch that I have been wearing for the past few years. To see it being replaced kinda saddens me somewhat because I have a personal attachment to that beautiful mechanical watch. (with a sapphire glass backing!) I am definitely not selling that watch, but to see it being delegated to some drawer in my room, pains me somewhat. To me, there is still some appeal to wearing a fine Swiss-made mechanical watch, handcrafted and assembled and being able to tell the time by purely mechanical means.

 

So I bought an Apple Watch series 3 today

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After a month of intense deliberation, I decided to pull the trigger and buy myself an Apple Watch series 3. This purchase would certainly blow my spending budget for the month. Not to mention the iPhone X that I recently bought a few weeks ago. I silently shudder as I wait for the credit card bill to arrive.

Anyways, back to the Apple Watch. So what made me decide to buy one? I think it all boils down to one thing, and that is to try out new tech. I have been fascinated with the Apple Watch since it debuted sometime in 2015. It was new, different and in some ways radical. It opened a whole new avenue on what a smartwatch can potentially do. So now that I have it, I am extremely curious as to how a device like the Apple Watch, a smart device on my wrist would affect my daily life. Will it enhance my day to day living, transforming to a better me than I was before? Or will it be a source of frustration as I try to fit this device into my life? Will it enhance living or diminish it? Will it help me achieve some of my New Year Resolutions for 2018, or will it simply serve as a distraction?

I bought the watch, solely with the intent of improving my health and fitness. I want to see in granular detail my activity level as I go about my life. I want to make better decisions as to what I do, or what I eat. I want the watch to be a companion, in helping me achieve fitness and health goals. Will it truly achieve all that? Only time will tell.

Right now I am charging my watch. I will be using it later tonight as I go about my routine night funs around the neighbourhood. I am looking forward to that. It’s been a while since I looked forward to a run!

I bought the 42mm Nike space grey aluminium version with black sports band. I also bought a black sports loop strap as my daily driver. I will only use the black sports band for exercise, as it will be easy to clean after a sweaty running session. I might consider looking for a good leather band to accompany to Apple Watch to suit for formal settings. But I am in no hurry. In fact, I really like the sports band. It really goes well with anything you wear and on most settings.

I will be giving a brief review in a couple of weeks. Right now I need to just enjoy the watch and see how it will change my day to day living.