Ask Rene: Watch locks, smaller iPhones, USB-C replacing Lightning, and more!

Chargers (Image credit: iMore)

When you combine Twitter, email, forums, and all the other channels, Rene gets sent dozens and dozens of questions a day. Since it's not even inhumanly possible to answer, let alone research, them all, we're starting a new column where he can post answers for everyone. So, if you want to share your questions and concerns, hopes and gripes, send them to or tweet them to @reneritchie with #askrene.

I have the Apple Watch Sport and it's asked for my passcode several times today. Why? — S.B.

The Apple Watch—all collections—stays unlocked for as long as it stays in contact with your skin. If you're getting locked out, make sure nothing is covering the sensors on the back of your Apple Watch, and that your Sport Band isn't so loose that the sensors are intermittently coming off your wrist.

Since picking up the iPhone 6 last October, I've never loved it. Albeit a beautifully designed object, the difficulty of one handed use has just been too much. Yes, I know about Reachability, which to me feels like a solution for a problem that should not exist.I'm not a small guy (6') and while my hands are not large, they're certainly not small but I found my (extremely) preferred method of interaction with the iPhone is one handed use. I work as an international airline pilot and travel a lot, almost always pulling a suitcase but even if I'm at home just carrying a cup of coffee (or nothing) I veer towards one handed use. To use two hands to feel comfortable feels hugely debilitating.I really feel that bigger has not been better and has been a misstep on Apple's part. Or at least give people a real choice. If before the 6, the iPhone was just great and dandy at 3.5" and then 4", why not continue to offer this option on the same chipset parity as the 6 and 6 Plus?Surely I can't be the only one. Do you get other readers voicing these concerns? — DH

How to use the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus one-handed with Reachability

How to use the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus one-handed with Reachability

You're not, and we do indeed. Though, admittedly, fewer and fewer as time goes on. (I'm not sure if people have gotten used to the big and bigger sizes, or just stopped complaining about it.)

Personally, I love the new sizes. I've been using an iPhone 6 Plus almost exclusively since it launched. So much so the iPhone 6 feels small, the iPhone 5 feels claustrophobic, and the iPhone 4 feels like a toy. I don't travel anywhere nearly as much as you do, obviously, but I do use it in airports and while walking down malls, and I've gotten okay at using it one handed.

But I absolutely feel for your frustration.

Apple is filled with smart people and it's their business to know which screen sizes will be the most popular (and hence the most profitable). Right now, that seems to be bigger than 4-inches. If that ever changes, and it seems like smaller phones will be in higher demand, we'll likely see them again. (My guess is we won't actually see smaller screens, but smaller casings around bigger screens.

If it's something that's important to you, by all means, let Apple know how you feel.

I wanted to share a breakthrough moment I had with the watch, recently. I have advanced ataxia, a degenerative nerve condition. I'm in a power chair and have difficulty walking. As far as IOS it's been great! Even the swiping on remote is doable. But now, Apple is getting reliant on mini swipe, force touch and digital crowns. I love and envy them and have found a much easier way for people with poor fine motor skills to use apple watch.My fingertips suck, they're huge and numb, also I have slow reflexes. Double clicking the crown is undoable, I can't get a firm grasp on the watch either. But, last night, I thought that orientation in the watch app, may be my answer.I'm a rightie, wearing the watch on my left wrist. But, I realized that the digital crown needs to be on the lower left. I can use my finger to stabilize the watch while my thumb can more easily control the crown and power button, even simultaneously. Of course, like all IOS devices, the screen rotates. Try It! - Joe Martignetti

I'd heard of people switching the Digital Crown around because they found it easier, but hadn't considered the accessibility angle. That's for sharing and for increasing awareness!

I wondered if you noticed that Dashboard on OS X appears to be killed off in El Capitan. If this actually true, I think that this is a late move as Dashboard has been depreciating over the last 5 years (or more). What are your thoughts? — SPF

If I'm reading you right, you think Apple should have killed off Dashboard sooner? Personally, I haven't used Dashboard for years. The purpose it originally served—creating a dedicated space for glanceable information—has been subsumed by the iPhone and now the Apple Watch.

I'm sure some people still use and love it, but no one seems to be paying much attention to Dashboard. Whether or not Apple is killing it off soon enough, it's relevance seems to have died a while ago.

You've probably gotten this question before, but thoughts on Apple going with USB C on the iPhones/iPads this year? — James Wimmer

Leo Laporte, Andy Ihnatko, Serenity Caldwell, and I talked about this at length on MacBreak Weekly 459. (We tend to talk about everything at length, though.) Here's a quick recap on my thoughts:

USB C is a not-coincidentally Lightning-like connector that removes some functionality in the name of standardization. Apple likely went with it on the MacBook because the advantages of a standard connector outweighed the advantages of the more adaptable but proprietary Lightning connector. Namely, the availability of tons of third-party peripherals from a market where Windows PCs are still strategically dominant.

For Apple to bring USB C to the iPhone and iPad—replacing the Lightning side, not the current USB A side, which seems inevitable either way—the company would need to see similar benefits. Since iPhone and iPad are strategically dominant in mobile, those benefits would also need to more than exceed the cost of transition.

There are other ramifications as well, including the hardware differences, the Made for iPhone program, and the willingness of customers to transition again, only 2-years post 30-pin transition.

Never say never when it comes to Apple, but again, they'd have to see significant benefit to switch to USB C.

Do you know if Apple Watch have a 'cinema mode'? Or is powering it down the best option? — Marc Wickens

A cinema mode would be great. The last thing I want when there's a bunch of lights flashing in front of me is for a light to flash in front-er of me. It would add yet another button to the increasingly crowded Settings Glance, though. Maybe the Mute button could have 3 stages—audio, audio+visual, and none? For now, I'd mute it at the very least—I keep my muted all the time—and either keep it covered by a shirt sleeve, or, yes, you can power it down during the movie.

That's it for this week! To get your questions in for next week, email them to or tweet them to @reneritchie with #askrene.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.