First off, I was excited to see it start off with a Carpool Karaoke segment. Then I was interested to see Nintendo partner with Apple and introduce Super Mario Run. There were decent updates, and I don’t at all mind the headphone jack removal.

Apple Watch Series 2

The three biggest announcements for the Watch were: 1) GPS, 2) water resistance to 50 meters, and 3) that ceramic case, which is beautiful. GPS is a nice edition; the ViewRanger demo really solidified the usefulness of it for me. It also made me think about the offroad walks I take, and how nice it would be to have route maps. Even if I don’t swim, I think the water resistance is also extremely useful.

Nike+ Edition

I don’t really understand this. Why wouldn’t Nike+ be incorporated into every Apple Watch? Is the difference only the watch face and band? Or is there something else. I still feel like these unique watch faces should be available to purchase.

iPhone 7

The Headphone Jack

Can everyone get over this, already, please? Removing the headphone jack has several benefits:

  1. Optical Image Stabilization included even in the smaller 7
  2. Longer battery life
  3. Improves water resistance
  4. Will push improvement of wireless audio technologies

As the Buzzfeed article linked in the previous quote mentioned, Apple isn’t even the first company to eliminate the 3.5mm jack from their phone – they just happen to be the first major one, which is what causes #4 above to be true.

AirPods

These look like a great product. Five hours of listening (2 of talking – meh) and you can use one or both. The case holds several charges, and a quick 15 minutes charge will provide 3 hours of playback. Reports so far are that they stay in the ear quite well and sound excellent. They’re far easier to connect thanks to the custom Bluetooth chip, and after connecting them to one device, any of your devices will be able to use them thanks to iCloud.

Dat Camera, Tho

The 7’s camera is great; the 7 Plus’ camera is amazing – well, 2 cameras. Having this amount of optical and high-quality software zoom in the camera is wonderful, and the new Portrait mode looks like it will be a fantastic addition. It really is amazing the strides Apple is making in providing their customers the best pocket camera possible.

Goodbye, Space Gray

And good riddance, too. I much prefer the new Black and Jet Black options. Even though Black will likely be better at hiding scuffs and scratches, that Jet Black is just so sharp.

Upgrading

Right now I’ve got a 6S 64GB Space Gray. If I upgrade, I’ll more than likely opt for the 7 Plus 128GB in Jet Black, along with some AirPods. Although the new Watch is nice, I don’t see an upgrade anytime soon. Now to take a look at what options I have for upgrading.

Last year, T-Mobile ran a Jump On Demand promotion for iPhone 6S that included a bill credit so that the phone effectively costs $5/month to lease. As the 7 is preparing to go on pre-order, I’m considering my options:

  1. End the lease and buy in installments (EIP)
  2. End the lease and lease from Apple
  3. Upgrade through Jump on Demand
  4. Wait and buy the 7S Plus outright

Options

1: End the Lease and Buy in Installments

Ending the lease at this point in time would cost me about $400. T-Mobile’s EIP would likely be $200 down for the 7 Plus 128GB, then about $30/month until it’s paid off. On top of that, I’d need coverage like AppleCare+ which is initially $130.

2: End the Lease and Lease from Apple

So again, I’d still have to pay T-Mobile to get out of the lease. The 7 Plus is about $42 to $46/month (no down payment) on iPhone Upgrade Program, and includes AppleCare+. Unfortunately, you have to sign up at an Apple Store if you’re a T-Mobile customer.

3: Upgrade through Jump on Demand

T-Mobile’s pricing isn’t out yet, even though pre-orders start tomorrow. Jump on Demand upgrades can’t be done through the website because the phone has to be inspected first.

4: Wait and Buy the 7S Plus Outright

Cheapest option, for sure. The 6S works fine and is compatible with AirPods. This would give me time to save toward a newer phone.

Note on AppleCare+ vs. SquareTrade

In the past, I recommended SquareTrade over AppleCare+ due to the high number of covered incidents, matching pricing, and refund. While the refund option still exists, the pricing has become much less appealing: $90 for one year or $150 for two, along with $100 deductibles across the board. Meanwhile, AppleCare+ remains $100 for 2 years and only 2 covered incidents; deductibles are a low $30 for screens, then $100 for anything else. At this time, I would probably recommend AppleCare+ over SquareTrade for your iPhone.

Conclusion

Some on Reddit have said that T-Mobile is discouraging use of the Jump on Demand program. That plus the lack of pricing on their website encourages me to avoid any option that involves them. So I’ll probably move to the iPhone Upgrade Program or wait another year.

UPDATE: Availability quickly diminished, and ship dates from both T-Mobile and Apple are in November for the Jet Black 7 Plus. In-store reservations (at Apple) are currently unavailable for T-Mobile customers, so I’ll check again on 9/17.

Dripping Springs Trail

Dripping Springs Natural Area has a number of easy hiking trails, where you can see La Cueva where the hermit lived, walk through the location of an old mining town, and visit an old hotel and sanatorium. It’s located in the Organ Mountains just east of Las Cruces, and I went hiking there at the beginning of September.

From the visitors center, we hiked to La Cueva. The informational placard says that a hermit born to Italian nobility lived here after refusing to make his vows after seminary. He made a fire outside the cave every Friday to let friends in Mesilla know he was alive. When the fire didn’t appear in 1869, they sent a search party and found him face down, stabbed in the back.

La Cueva

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From here, we hiked around the backside of a large rock outcropping to reach the Fillmore Trail. This trail passes through an old silver and lead mining town that closed down in 1907. We were fortunate to hike while there was a stream of running water; the trail terminated in a waterfall with nice, cool water we definitely appreciated by this point.

After hanging out at the waterfall for a while, we headed back down the Fillmore Trail to the Crawford Trail, taking it south until it met up with the Dripping Springs Trail. Along it you’ll pass the location of the barn and livery for the Van Patten Camp and old hotel-turned-sanatorium, which are to the left and right – respectively – of the spring and reservoir, which has been filled over time. (Lame.)

All of this took us 3-4 hours at a comfortable pace. Dripping Springs Trail is the most popular trail, which is why we started in the opposite direction and finished there. The park also has a few nice picnic/recreation areas available. It’s always nice, but especially so when the water flows.

After switching between Apple Music and Spotify several times, I realize I can’t forgo an Explicit filter; however, I want two more things from Apple.

  1. Something to match Spotify Connect. I love that I can remote control what Spotify’s playing from any device (especially since Spotify Connect is on my AV receiver).
  2. Dark mode – I strongly dislike the white and pink, while I love Spotify’s dark interface. In fact, I’d love a system-wide dark mode.

If Spotify would bring an Explicit filter and Siri integration, I’d just as soon move back. I want one service that offers all these things.