by Joel Saltzman
Just when I thought I was going to upgrade my 4 year old Ripcurl GPS surf watch with their 2nd generation, a funny thing happened. Not only did Apple "meet" Ripcurl with the same GPS functionality, they one upped them with the help of Surfline's new Sessions feature. I gave up waiting for a decent day to evaluate this thing at my local beach. I always get my most amazing statistics while at Corky's paradise but next to there, San O usually delivers impressive numbers. Apparently, you can use the Apple Surfline Ap or the similar-to-Ripcurl Dawn Patrol Ap as that one also can be synced with Surfline. While it was easy to set up and launch, I found the accuracy was nowhere near as good as my old RipCurl search watch. Of course, I was wearing my new Apple 4 under my wetsuit as the factory sports band could easily pop open outside the suit. My Ripcurl had a traditional clasp allowing me to wear over the suit. That being said, the problem was not that it missed waves. I did two sessions and mentally counted about 8 waves each. When I synced my watch with my iPhone, it showed I caught 12 waves per session. If that wasn't weird enough, I was also clocked on one wave at 21mph and another at 25mph. Anyone who has ever surfed San O Old Man's knows they call it that for a reason. When jumbo, it has its moments but normally, it's a slow, baggy s-turny reform kind of long, long wave. So I have go call BS on the accuracy of this thing.
At the moment, this APP only works with iPhones and the 3rd party Dawn Patrol Application which more resembles the Ripcurl SEARCH statistics. The great news is it looks like RipCurl's watches will be compatible with Sessions soon. While the Ripcurl search is certainly more durable waterproof-wise and likely more accurate, it's not a sexy beast like the Apple Watch 4. In fact, the first version was enormous, ugly and uncomfortable to sleep with. So far, the only downside to the Apple watch is it needs to be charged every 1-2 days where I could go over a week with the Ripcurl, except in Mainland Mex where the waves are 500+ yards each. Had to charge every two days down there.
I did have a problem initially getting my sessions to load on my iPhone. It turned out I was a defective user though and it was not Apple or Surfline's fault. Apparently, my watch was accidentally put in Airplane mode and once I turned that off, the sessions came over. I had to figure out how to swipe up from the bottom to reveal the sessions. The great news is this s**t really works. The dude who invented this technology gets a set wave of his choice from me. Of course, there are bugs which I will go over below that need to be addressed. Here is a typical sessions clip..
As you can see, the biggest limitations are the image quality and range of the Surfline cameras. I found that the system did not miss any of my waves which was the great news. Surfline states that this feature will record you as long as the camera can see you. Well that may be true but it also continues to record your stats when you are out of frame. My 11th wave was 699 feet long. I'm the dude who starts off going right and turned it into a left. I go out of screen about 200' into the ride. The dude on the wave behind me ended up getting captured way better than me so it's all about staying in the camera frame. Aside from Malibu with multiple camera angles, I'm not sure it will be possible to capture a long wave in it's entirety. That being said, anyone who has wasted time fast forwarding camera rewinds while looking to find their waves will love this.
Once I set up my Apple watch complications properly, it is a way cooler surf watch than the Ripcurl. I can launch a session with one touch on the dial. I can launch my Pandora APP for my iPhone with one touch as well as make a phone call. The watch face also shows me wind speed, weather conditions, time, and date,
All it takes is the Surfline Application (about $70 per year), and an Apple 2 or later watch. As I mentioned, Ripcurl will have this soon so if you have one of their watches already, sit tight. I'm not yet convinced that the Apple watch is as accurate but I have only had two sessions on one day compared to hundreds on my Ripcurl. I will continue to play with this and report back. So far, the biggest disappointment was thinking I was really ripping and then seeing the videos that were not quite as fabulous as they were in my mind.
by Joel Saltzman
Most of my friends and clients know that I had been in the wireless business since day one, long before handhelds or even transportable phones existed. They also know that I'm an avid surfer and start my mornings at the beach. My friends used to joke about whether I actually had the technology to make and receive phone calls from the water while surfing. I usually responded that when that became possible, I was retiring. Well it did, and I am now retired from the cellular industry. I still do some wireless IT consulting in regards to business Internet providers, global data roaming, voIP cloud phone services, SD WAN, and Cyber Security though.
I personally use an iPhone, not because I love Apple but because they are more stable and secure than Android devices. I hate the way Apple regularly sneaks nasty features and functions into their software upgrades and never recommend doing a software upgrade just because they pushed it out to you, ...unless it addresses a critical issue on an app you use. I had always recommended my clients to disable the auto upgrade feature and wait a few weeks before doing these software upgrades. I would google "problems with new iOS 12.4" or whatever the new version was and look for the same kind of problems listed. If dozens of people noticed that their battery life now sucked, Id wait for the upgrade "patch". What makes matters much worse this time is Apple burned the bridge of return down so it is no longer possible to go back to iOS 12.3 or anything earlier.
Last week, there was even an article about how Apple modified a standard Texas Instrument chip to give error messages when customers changed out batteries, even if they were genuine. This was done on the new XS, XS+ and XR models in an attempt to make sure all battery upgrades were done at APPLE stores and not 3rd party stores, even those using the same exact OEM parts.
There is no doubt that the android camp is far more advanced in hardware innovation, after all, Samsung makes Apple's top of line Apple X displays. Qualcomm and Intel make the engines (processors). Where Apple excels though is with their Software (operating system), interconnectivity between Apple devices, and security.
So a funny thing recently happened. I've been using a RipCurl watch for the last three years that has the ability to use GPS to track lots of cool information while I'm surfing. It would show me how far I paddled, how far I surfed, how long each wave was in yards and minutes and lots of other cool stats. At the time this product was invented four years ago, it was quite revolutionary. In four years, Ripcurl has upgraded the software numerous times and but only recently came out with a new 2nd generation of the device which was essentially the same, albeit a tad smaller. Meanwhile Apple has had four different iWatch models with tons of software upgrades.
My RipCurl search watch would capture all of my surf session statistics which I could then sync to transfer to my Ripcurl iPhone application so I could see the information more completely than the summary given on the watch itself. As I mentioned, the technology world moves fast and while this was a game breaker four years ago, Apple not only just took took RipCurl's technology, they just advanced it and here is how.
Most Southern California core surfers know about Swellmagnet.com. They are an amazing FREE resource that provides live HD camera feeds at many of the major breaks from Mexico to Malibu. They are my first choice when checking the surf online. Their biggest competitor, Surfline, a corporate conglomerate, offers very quick glimpses of their cams with annoying commercials, unless you subscribe to their "Premium" service for $69.99 per year. While Swellmagnet has far more reliable cameras at my home break, they only have a couple dozen, whereas Surfline has over 500 globally. This meant that I still needed to rely on Surfline cameras for San O, Trestles, C-street, 15th street Del Mar, and Ponto jetty in Carlsbad. Even still, if it weren't for the fact that Surfline also offered a feature called "Camera Rewind" that enabled me to go back and actually see my waves on their pre-recorded camera videos, I would have dumped them by now. While this added feature was cool, it was a time consuming and a pain in the butt process sifting through all of their footage.
Enter the game changer... Surfline's "Surf Sessions"! Here’s how it works: when surfing with a smart watch, your GPS points and timestamps are sent through an algorithm to determine exactly when you’re riding waves…and when you’re not. For each wave the algorithm detects, Surfline generates a clip from its Cam Rewind product and delivers it to your Surfline app. The system then adds approximately 10 seconds to the beginning and end of each wave so you can see your paddle, takeoff, and kickout. As of launch, Surfline Sessions works with Apple Watch (Series 2 and higher). You can choose to track through either the Surfline app or Dawn Patrol. Surfline Sessions is now available following two and a half years of passionate research and development. Ironically, this technology will be coming to Ripcurl too.
Well, I just bought my iWatch four and would have been reporting back how well this thing worked except for one small issue. Mother Nature decided today would be the smallest day of the year for surf. It's ankle high and nothing out there to ride. I'll follow up on how well the Surf Sessions application works ASAP.
Joel Saltzman has over twenty years of wireless industry experience. He is currently CEO and Chief Wireless Analyst for Dr Wireless.