The only bad part of a 9 AM Apple event is that I don’t have the entire morning to sit around reading predictions for said event.




In Defense of the Apple Watch Honeycomb App Picker

Since watchOS 1, the default honeycomb app picker has been derided as one of weakest parts of Apple Watch. A lot its criticism stemmed from the fact that watch apps were pretty useless before watchOS 3, but it is still considered a bad interaction model for launching apps now.

Basically, it looked cool but was horrible to use.

watchOS 3 introduced the Dock, which let users put their favorite apps in a short list for easy access (with the added bonus that apps in the Dock were kept in memory and did not need to be relaunched every time the user opened them). watchOS 4 added an option to replace the honeycomb with a simple alphabetical list of all the apps on the watch. Once that option was available, I switched to it and promptly forgot about the honeycomb.

Until this summer.

As apps on the watch became more useful, I find myself using them more than I used to. I now regularly use more apps than I can keep one my dock, so I end up having to go back to the full list of apps more often that I would like. While finding an app by name in an alphabetical list is easier than scrolling around the honeycomb finding the right icon, it is still too slow for the watch (where total interaction time should be under five or ten seconds).

The solution to this problem ended up being the honeycomb.

I made a list of apps that I used regularly and put them into three categories:
– Apps that I primarily interacted with via complications
– Apps that had useful display info
– Apps that were only useful when using

Complications

For the first group, I just set them up as Complications. Notable apps here include the Activity app, CARROT Weather, and Streaks. These apps just live on my watch face, so they are not included in the Dock or near the center of the honeycomb.

The Dock

For apps that I use often that have valuable information to display even when I am not using them, I use the Dock. I use the setting to show my Favorite apps instead of Recents (for consistency and muscle memory). My dock consists of Now Playing, Reminders, Fantastical, RadarScope, and HealthFace.

This option was a bit more useful with my old Series 3 Watch than it is on the Series 4. The Dock has been slightly redesigned on the Series 4 to only show about half of the apps at a time. This makes using them for quickly glancing information much less convenient. So I could see myself switching the dock to the Recent setting and spreading these apps among the honeycomb (more or this in a minute) and my watch faces. Adding these apps to watch faces is much easier with the new Infograph face (but I would prefer that Apple just fixed the dock to be more useful on the Series 4)1.

The Honeycomb

The last step to my organizational strategy is the home screen. I switched it back from the list to the honeycomb and organized how the default view looks (before you scroll anything around). I broke my other apps that I routinely used into categories and organized them around the center by those categories. I have audio apps (Music, Podcasts, and Radio) on the bottom right. I have communication app (Messages, Phone, and Radio) on the bottom left. I have health apps (Workout, Streaks Workout, Heart Rate, and Breathe) on the top. And I have other miscellaneous apps (Maps, Wallet, Alarms, 1Password, and PCalc) filling in the missing spaces.

The rest of the honeycomb is not organized at all, because I never have to use an app that is not already covered above.

Unlike the apps launched from Complications or the Dock, apps on the honeycomb are not kept in memory and must be launched from scratch when tapped on. Before when launching took 5 seconds or more, this was enough to make me never use them. While using the Series 3 over the summer, I realized that I was able to launch apps in under a second. Now on my Series 4, it is instant.


With this organizational system, I have build up muscle memory for launching apps. I no longer have to navigation an alphabetical list of apps to find the one I am looking for, because any app I am looking for is either release showing on my watch face or is quickly accessible through either one tap of the crown or one tap of the side button. Four years into using the Apple Watch every day, I finally enjoy using the honeycomb.


  1. This has already begun a little. With my current watch face, I already have 3 of the apps that were on my dock before represented by complications (in addition to still being in the dock). 

Today was a “the kids are growing up too fast” day. Both kids moved up to the next class at daycare and I had to drop the mattress on Caleb’s crib to the lowest setting.


Boom Town

I recently finished reading Boom Town, Sam Anderson’s new book chronicling the history of Oklahoma City.

It starts in the beginning with the land run and moves through the boom of the oil industry. It tell stories of how OKC quickly jumped back and from periods of scarcity to abundance.

I learned the stories behind the people whose names adorn our roads, lakes1, and football stadiums; names like Draper, Couch, and Gaylord.

I learned how, through a misguided program called urban renewal, OKC demolished many of its historic builds only to let their lots sit undeveloped for decades until the new MAPS programs that started in the 90s finally started to fix that mistake. I learned about a complicated history of racism that led to over a year of sit-ins led by Clara Luper that eventually ended segregation across businesses downtown.

In addition to self-inflicted setbacks like urban renewal, I learned about external tragedies that hit the state. The sections that covered the OKC bombing and the tornados of May 3rd, 1999 and those of May 20th and 31st, 2013 were especially hard to read.

Fortunately, the books ends on a happier note: the city is currently thriving due to the success of the MAPS program and the OKC Thunder. The city is still far from perfect, but it is heading in the right direction.


If you want to get a taste of what the book is like without reading the whole thing, check out the episode of 99% Invisible featuring the author Sam Anderson. It covers the land run and Operation Bongo, the daily testing of sonic booms over OKC for 6 months in the late 60s.

After reading this, it left me wanting to learn more about the history of OKC, so I have added Funny Money by Mark Singer, The Next American City by former OKC mayor Mick Cornett, Big League City by current OKC mayor David Hold, and My Life, My Fight by OKC Thunder’s Steven Adams to my reading list.

Even if you are not from OKC, Boom Town was a great read. OKC has one of the strangest histories of any city in the work, and Sam does a great just telling it’s story.


  1. For the longest time, the only thing that I new about Stanley Draper is that I saw an EF-4 tornado form on the west side of the lake named after him before crossing the lake on May 10th, 2010. It is easily the best tornado I have ever seen. 


The tagline for Apple’s iPad event is
“There’s more in the making”. Everyone is making the connection to Photoshop coming to the iPad, but I think that there could be more to it. This would be the perfect event to surprise some people and announce or release Xcode for the iPad.





My Totally-Real-And-Not-Influenced-At-All-By-Being-A-Thunder-Fan Predictions for the 2018/19 NBA Season:

MVP: PG
ROY: Diallo
DPOY: Dre
6MOY: Schröder
COY: 2Patt

WCF: OKC over GSW
ESF: IND over BOS

Finals: OKC over IND
Finals MVP: Why Not?


RadarScope for Apple TV

When Apple sent out $1 developer units for the Apple TV 4, we were right in the middle of our big RadarScope 3 release. When we got our test unit, we still took a couple of days to prototype what a TV app could look like. We got a demo working pretty quickly and saw that there was potential to do something really cool, but we figured that re-writing the entire app in Swift and adding a dual pane display was ambitious enough without adding a whole new platform to the mix. We put our TV code off to the side with the intention of revisiting it at some point in the future.

Late this spring, that point arrived. I started working on what was going to be a quick port of the iOS app to the TV. Our goal was to get a basic version of our iOS code running on tvOS. The more we worked on it, the more we realized that we could do way better than just take the iOS app and stretch it out to fill the TV.

We decided to throw out our entire UI and rethink it as a TV-first app instead of an iOS port.

Every other version of RadarScope1 has had the map as the main screen of the app. The more we used the TV app, starting at the map didn’t feel right.

We designed a landing page that showed you a preview of the map along with with badged buttons showing you any interesting data (like number of warnings) across the country. If you have a Pro subscription, we also show a grid of tiles showing the radar for your favorite radars, locations, and every active warning. These tiles are presented similarity to how a video app would show your TV shows or movies, so the UI should feel familiar to anyone that has used an Apple TV before.

One click on one of those tiles (or on the preview at the top) presents a full screen map that feels right at home for any RadarScope user. It has almost every feature from the iOS version. Using the remote, you can pan and zoom around the map. If you have Pro, you can enable Dual or Quad pane display to view multiple products at once. If you have Pro Tier 2, you can view Archive Data or custom products like hail contours and size or azimuthal shear.

Using RadarScope on the TV has become my favorite way to check in on big storm events when I am at home in the evening. When storm season gets back to Oklahoma, the local news stations are really going to have to earn their spot on my TV during outbreaks.


The best part is that the TV app is included for free with the iOS app. So if you already own the iOS app, you now own the TV app for no additional charge. Any Pro subscription you have on iOS is also shared. So if you are not a Pro subscriber yet, now would be a great time to fix that2.

Get it now by downloading on your iOS device or by searching for RadarScope on the tvOS App Store.


  1. Except for Apple Watch. 
  2. I had to plug it at least once. 



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