JC's Rant List

What tech experts often get wrong or 

vendors choose not to make obvious! 

#1. When 'Compatible' means 'Sort-of Compatible'

Samsung Watch Partial Compatibility with  iPhones & Other Android Phones

Vendors can legally claim a device is 'Compatible' with another device needed to make it work, even if it's just partially compatible. They are not obligated to tell you what does or does not work. And do not be surprised if you don't get a straight answer when you ask directly through chat, email or telephone support.   

Here is a recent example. Samsung product information states their Galaxy Active 4 and Galaxy Watch 3 are compatible with iPhones and Android phones.  What they don't tell you is the ability for these Smart Watches to work like a phone - conenct directly to the Mobile cellular network - only works if your pair the watch with a Samsung phone.  You must pair your Samsung Galaxy Watch with a Samsung Smartphone if you want the ability to leave your phone at home.  It will not connect to thte mobile network directly when paired with iPhone or Androids Smartphones made by other companies.

You cannot always trust what customer support agents tell you. Samsung Online Sales told me several times that i'd have not problems when paired with the iPhone. Once my chat session with Samsung agents was escalated from sales to tech support, I received confirmation this compatibility limitation described above was true.  I received mixed responses from Telus Mobility. Two confirmed the limitation.  I had to educate the 3rd. 

Recommendation: If a service provider is involved (mobile, telephone, internet) always call to verify the device will work as expected.  And always test a new device during the return period. Be prepared to return the device if it does not work as expected! 

#2. Limits to Calling 911 from a Home Speaker  

Most 911 centers cannot accept calls from home speakers

911 response agencies cannot accept calls from your home speakers. Calls from your home speaker go through the internet like any other data.  911 systems need the call to come from a regular cell phone or home landline so they can identify your location.   This may change in time, but it won't happen over night.

A Work Around In the United States. There is one work around supported by Amazon for the Echo Speaker line.  If you have a home landline for telephone service, add a $35 Echo Connect to your landline and Echo speaker set up.  If you do this, Alexa will route requests to call 911 through the home phone and they will accept the call. The Echo is acting like a remote speaker for your home phone.  

Amazon does not yet support the Echo Speaker for this use in Canada and we have no news of it being supported in other countries. 

#3. Smart Watch Differences for SOS Services

Samsung SOS Service Not as Automated or Integrated as Apple Watch

The Emergency Alert Services on Samsung's connected Galaxy Watches are not designed to automatically call 911.  Many people assume that it does. The feature will prompt you to approve sending a preset message to your emergency contacts when you need help.  If you're using the Galaxy Watch 3 for it's Hard Fall detection, you must be alert after falling because you'll need to approve sending the message to your emergency contacts.  Regrettably, many expert tech reviewers do not identify this limitation and just say something like 'includes emergency SOS notifications". 

This is very different from the service provided through Apple Watches.  Apple sets a high bar, integrating their SOS feature with response agencies around the globe, not just 911 in North America.  The Apple Watch  SOS feature triggers a call to 911 if you press and hold the side button until you hear the countdown, or press the side button then swipe to confirm call 911.  With the Apple Watch Series 5, you also have Hard Fall detection.  If a hard fall (like a trip) is detected and you don't cancel within a minute, the watch will automatically call 911 and send a message to your emergency contacts while also telling them where you are.