This Week in Tech 631: This One’s for Jerry

Apple will release the new iPhones on Tuesday. Thanks to leaks, we already know most of the details – does this spoil Apple’s big day? Red Sox busted for using Apple Watch to steal signals from the Yankees. Moto X4 will be an Android One phone. Google may buy HTC. Equifax leaks 143 million records, wait more than a month to tell anyone. Facebook finally admits that Russians bought $100,000 worth of election ads. Solaris employees laid off from Oracle. Farewell, Jerry Pournelle.


Apple Watch gets its first software update

Apple has released the first update for its Watch to address performance issues and support seven new languages.

The Apple Watch went on sale last month and the company has already issued a software update for the operating system powering the device to improve performance of certain applications, display new Emoji and support new languages.

It is unlikely for a software update to fix the recently discovered problem faced by tattooed Watch users, but most other issues seem to be fixed in this update by Apple for now.

According to the changelog, the following features have been implemented in the version 1.0.1 of Watch OS:

Improved performance for:


Measuring stand activity

Calculating calories for indoor cycling and rowing workouts

Distance and pace during outdoor walk and run workouts


Third party apps

Display support for new Emoji characters Additional language support for:

Brazilian Portuguese







The 51.6 MB update is already rolling out but in order to install, users need to use the Apple Watch app on their iPhone and follow the instructions.

via Apple Watch gets its first software update.

Review: The absolutely optional Apple Watch and Watch OS 1.0

If you’re wondering whether to buy an Apple Watch, consider your computing life as a hierarchy of needs:

At the bottom sits your must have device—a computer, tablet, or phone—capable of independently accessing the Internet and storing useful quantities of data. And one step above that is Internet access itself. You need a device to use it, but your device can’t do much without it.

Every tier similarly builds upon the one below it. Next comes useful apps—browsers, productivity software, whatever you need to work and play—and these all extend your device’s functionality in basic, useful ways. Services for work (Dropbox, Office 365) and entertainment (Spotify, Netflix) follow. The line between software and services is increasingly blurry (especially if we’re talking about software-as-a-service) but most of them feel more optional. Everyone needs a browser. Not everyone needs Dropbox and Netflix and Facebook.

The Andrew Cunningham Tech Hierarchy of Needs. Note the Mickey Mouse watch face at the very, very top.

Finally, we get to the top of most users’ needs—accessories. This encompasses anything that wouldn’t work (or would be drastically less capable) without everything toward the bottom of the pyramid: standalone cameras, iPods, printers, scanners, input devices, and—yes—watches.

Make no mistake, the Apple Watch is a thoroughly optional accessory. Even if you think you want it, wait if there’s a shadow of a doubt in your mind—if not for the inevitable hardware revision, then at least for the OS and the surrounding app ecosystem to firm up. A $349-or-more pricetag is still a lot of money to spend on a question mark.

But after spending a week with an Ars-purchased 42mm space gray model (and spending a substantial amount of time with Android Wear), I can tell you that unnecessary things can still be useful. If you buy or like using your Apple Watch, you’re not an idiot who is wasting both your money and your precious time on this earth.

So the Apple Watch isn’t something you need, but does it make things “quick” and “convenient,” as Apple’s own marketing suggests? As the heir apparent to the smartwatch throne, does it live up to its advance billing? And as a version 1.0 product, what still needs to be fixed—and how?

Read More: Review: The absolutely optional Apple Watch and Watch OS 1.0 | Ars Technica.

Some tattooed users are getting bad readings from the Apple Watch’s heart-rate sensor [Update]

It seems like every new Apple product for the past several years has been plagued with some kind of issue. Well, don’t be surprised but Apple’s latest wearable is now suffering from what users are dubbing “Tattoogate”

According to iMore, various folks around the Internet are experiencing issues with the Apple Watch and its photoplethysmography sensor. The photoplethysmography sensor is located on the back of the watch and is used to measure the heart-rate by utilizing green LEDs and light-sensitive photodiodes. When the sensor encounters tattoo ink or specific pigments, it has an issue with accurately establishing readings. Naturally, this issue would be encountered by those that have heavy art around their wrist or the region of skin the sensor would come into contact with.

While accurate readings are naturally affected, there are some other functions of the watch that are also impeded when the watch cannot detect contact with your skin. Some of the other issues have to do with the watch’s auto locking feature, Apple Pay and workouts not being tracked properly. Although Apple has yet to comment, it looks like those with tattoos might have to endure the occasional misreading or abandon the Apple Watch entirely.

Update: Well, it looks like Apple has finally chimed in on the situation by updating their support page for the Apple Watch. Apple states:

“Permanent or temporary changes to your skin, such as some tattoos, can also impact heart rate sensor performance. The ink, pattern, and saturation of some tattoos can block light from the sensor, making it difficult to get reliable readings.”

Currently, Apple is suggesting the use of an external heart-rate monitor. While this would certainly fix the issue for inaccurate readings, it still wouldn’t solve the auto locking and Apple Pay issue.

via Some tattooed users are getting bad readings from the Apple Watch’s heart-rate sensor [Update].