AMITIAE - Friday 14 August 2015

Cassandra: Apple Watch - Remote Control of Camera and Keynote; and Other Comments

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By Graham K. Rogers


I picked up an Apple Watch a couple of days ago and have been playing with it ever since. Despite having seen two Apple event videos that had good demonstrations of the device, and being given a comprehensive run-through when I collected it, I keep finding new things. There is far more to the Apple Watch than some would have us think.

I travel a lot on public transport in Bangkok. If I take a phone call or message in a taxi or other means of transport, such as a bus, I have to dig into a pocket. It is worse if I am strap-hanging, particularly in rush hour. An obvious benefit with the Apple Watch is that messages can be viewed on the screen, small as it is. The Retina display actually compares well when I think about the first mobile phones I had: tiny screens, monochrome text only.

Apple Watch

The Watch screen is quite readable, and even when I tried with the bright sky directly behind me (thus reflected directly in the screen) I was still able to read. Real people don't actually do that, of course, and users naturally seek out a better light rather than suffer unnecessary glare.

With the Watch linked to my iPhone 6, I can also take and make phone calls on the smaller device. I did this in fabricated situations initially: the iPhone was beside me and I was in the same room as the others (calling or being called). The volume was good; the Watch did not have to be close to my mouth or ear; but there was a slight delay between speaking and the voice being heard. That would likely disappear in a real situation, especially if the phone were in my pocket.

Apple Watch Apple Watch Apple Watch

I have played with the Health app on the iPhone and now note distances and steps: trying to improve bit by bit. On the Apple Watch, I set some modest goals for the day and failed to reach them. Try better tomorrow.

It took a while to set up the basics and most of this is done using the Apple Watch app on the iPhone. Part of the trick here is familiarity: I was shown how to add friends, but when I tried to do it myself, I had to check on the internet (my thanks to iClarified). There are other ways to interact that I am learning, but it is clear there is much more to the Apple Watch than the Apple presentations and videos. (and the online commentators) have suggested.

Apple Watch Apple Watch

On the home screen of the Watch, I saw that some of my iOS apps have icons. In the same way that the iPhone was eventually opened up, there will be 3rd party apps for the Apple Watch "in Fall." I have yet to examine all of the apps I do have, but spotted the Camera icon and the one for Keynote. I wondered if the Watch displayed presentations: and if so Why, and How.


Like most of the functions that appear on the Watch, the Camera needs the iPhone. When the two are running in sync, the output from the iPhone camera appears on the screen of the Watch. There are several ways that this can be used.

The iPhone "selfie" has become a major feature of smartphone output, but the Facetime camera on the iPhone which takes 1.2-megapixel photos (1280 by 960), for example, does not have output as good as the 8MP iSight camera. With the Apple Watch I am able to see the output from the iSight camera and by pressing the shutter button on the Watch take a photo on the iPhone, no matter where I am: albeit that must be nearby for the connection to be maintained. This could make for some interesting candid shots.

Apple Watch Apple Watch

I have been able to set up a shot, once the camera was placed in a stable location or was held by another person, then move into (or out of) the shot, still viewing the iPhone image. Once satisfied, I can then press the shutter button on the Watch and the iPhone takes the picture. This could also allow a setup for surreptitious photographing of a scene with the camera and photographer separated. It would not then be apparent that anyone was taking photographs.

I think this is an Apple conspiracy to make me use more of my iCloud Photo Library space.


I use Keynote a lot while I am teaching and was inconvenienced when I found the latest MacBook Pro I have does not support the infra-red remote control. There are alternatives with the iOS devices and I can run a presentation remotely on the Mac from an iPhone, or similarly from the iPad using the iPhone. These options work fine at home, but in a classroom environment where the Wi-Fi is not as good as it might be and there are difficulties connecting two devices, things may not be as smooth as Apple intended.

My students - who use PCs in the main - resort to the inelegant solution of a Bluetooth mouse to control their PowerPoint output, with the occasional disaster. I could use the Bluetooth trackpad I have, but this is an unnecessary duplication. I might as well walk over to the Mac and press the keys.

With iCloud, the presentations are on the Mac, the iPad and the iPhone, so the device I use to present is almost immaterial. I tend to favour the iPhone as this means I have less weight in my backpack.

Apple Watch Apple Watch

When I pressed the Keynote icon on the Apple Watch, I was asked to start the iPhone app, then open a presentation. Once this was done, a simple Arrow control appeared on the Watch face and I was able to control the delivery of slides on the iPhone. This worked not only when changing the slides, but heading by heading: I favour these appearing one by one as I develop the presentation rather than all coming on-screen together.

All of my students are engineers and are acutely aware of technology developments. I am anticipating some positive comments when I use this one in the classroom.


Early use of any new device will never give a good indication of battery life, although if the usage is low, even with extensive access to features on the device, that is likely to be a good sign. Having posted some images that I took with the iPhone/Watch combination to Facebook I was asked about this. I put the watch on when I was ready for work and have been using it extensively.

By late evening, having checked heart rate countless times, taken photographs, talked using the phone function for a few minutes and replied to messages (with a quick tap) saving me from taking the iPhone out of my pocket while in a taxi and later a restaurant, 38% of battery remained.

Some I spoke to are disappointed that the device needs to be run with an iPhone 6 too, but this is a trade-off. I have begun to find that I do not need to access the iPhone for all the tasks I usually do (including phone and messaging). I am also more aware of the need to exercise: I know I should have been doing this, but the Watch now nudges me (literally, with its haptic feedback) to at least recognise that I should stand up and walk around every once in a while.

When the iPhone was announced in 2007, so many who had not seen or handled it (I did, the day after, at a press briefing in Moscone Center), dismissed the device and put out many unsubstantiated rumours about what it would or would not do. The same has happened with the Apple Watch which much expert comment being given by many online who have never seen the Watch, apart in online shots.

There is far more to this device than meets the eye.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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