When I saw Apple launch the Apple Watch Ultra with photos of desert runners, and that Ultra tag, I was the first to question its long-haul endurance credentials. I still think there’s a way to go before this watch is a genuine conquer-them-all ultra running tool. That battery life still isn’t there for multi-day or 24-hour races. The native navigation remains somewhat limited.
But my Comrades test convinced me that for races up to 14 or 15 hours, on a marked course, Apple finally has a watch you can rely on to go the distance, track with good accuracy and bring a whole load of extra smarts that you won’t find on your Garmin, COROS or Polar.
In 2003, the data visualization expert Edward Tufte traced that year’s Columbia disaster—in which seven astronauts died when their shuttle disintegrated—to a piece of software. It was PowerPoint, he argued, that prevented people at NASA from understanding the gravity of the risks facing the shuttle. PowerPoint all but forced “breaking up narratives and data into … minimal fragments,” “a preoccupation with format not content,” and “a smirky commercialism that turns information into a sales pitch.” Serious dangers got buried at the bottom of a multilevel hierarchy of bullet points under a bigger, sunnier title. If only the information had been delivered in a proper technical report, Tufte implied, the astronauts might still be alive.
Twenty years later, there’s a new office tool keeping us from fully expressing and processing important information: the digital whiteboard. These boards are vast canvases on which you can add and drag around virtually limitless quantities of text, images, tables, diagrams, emoji, and shapes. In their typical state, they are mostly covered with sticky notes on which people have written a word or three. What the words signify in context can quickly become hard to remember, but that’s OK. Like books used as decorations, they get their value from the fact that they signify something.
I have to keep reminding myself on my hobby project: don't compromise making what's right on the iOS just because SwiftUI + Mac Catalyst look like… something else.
Thanks for reading.