Cutting Loose: Unleashing The Power Of My iPhone 8

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Many years ago, my son's Boy Scout troop lost its collective mind. The boys decided it would be great fun to go rappelling. This involves stepping backwards off of a high cliff or tall building and then walking down the outside surface. Even though safety ropes are involved, I was concerned. Gravity is unrelenting.

Still, my son was really excited. I reluctantly tagged along with him to the base of the thirty-three-foot wooden tower. One of the other dads, trying to be thoughtful, suggested that I need not participate because I was blind. What? Now, I had no choice. I would have to rappel. But, if I went first, all the other dads would have to do it, too. Sweet.

I passed the leash of my guide dog to a more sensible fellow and moved to the head of the line. I stepped through the door. Discovering that I might just be a bit acrophobic, I shakily climbed the internal staircase to the top of the three story building. I ascended the gallows. I crawled onto the flat roof which had no fencing or handrails. I was told to stand up.

A gentleman I hardly knew began to wrap a piece of rope around my waist and between my legs. A couple of knots later, I was wearing a "Swiss Seat," an accessory that resembled a pair of tight white panties over my blue jeans. The safety ropes were attached to my new bikini bottoms. Okay, breathe. I felt much more secure. Kind of.

On command, I shuffled backwards until my heels were hanging off the edge. Balanced on my toes, I held the ropes taut and slowly leaned backwards until I was parallel to the ground. I stepped off and descended. Being attached by ropes was a very good thing. The experience was exhilarating, and addicting!

Although sitting in my office chair fails to evoke the same adrenalin rush enjoyed when hanging from a cliff, I used to feel safer at my desk when directly attached to my technology. During the early days of desktop computing, I knew my keyboard cable could serve as a bread crumb trail to my power switch and floppy drives. Tethered headphones meant that I would never leave a Talking Book machine on a bus seat without the wires tugging at my ears. And, power cords were useful as an equipment locator and as the occasional trip hazard that could yank items off a table and onto the floor. In truth, I just got used to being connected.

It took time to cut the cords. These days, I use my iPhone as my primary computing device. For many years, my safety ropes were the EarPod wires and power cables. I took my first leap without electronic apron strings when I bought a Bluetooth keyboard. I felt so grown-up, so independent. And, then along came AirPods. The experience was exquisite. I no longer had to look quite so dorky with tangled wires perpetually hanging from my head. I was nearly free. I wanted to sever the last umbilicus, but it still provided sustenance to my iPhone battery via a Lightning cable. Scissors would not do.

That last wire was tough to abandon. I kept power cables next to my comfy chair, adjacent to the bed upstairs, and in our minivan. Unfettered power to my iPhone was my next aspiration.

The price of liberty runs high. I went shopping last month and let my wallet bleed green. I was a bit tired of my old iPhone 6S Plus, mostly because it just weighed heavy in my shirt pocket and I really wanted something smaller and lighter. I also just love new toys. So, I bought a 256GB Space Gray iPhone 8. I opted not to wait for the iPhone X for a few reasons, but primarily because I like the tactile connection of a fingerprint reader rather than having my phone stare at my face.

My iPhone 8 has my favorite new feature, as do the other iPhones introduced this year. I can wirelessly charge this bad boy. When I visited my local AppleStore, I bought the Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad. Snip! I am now rappelling without ropes. I am totally spoiled and completely sold on the absolute utility of wireless charging. It even charges through my fancy leather iPhone folio case! I love being able to just lay my iPhone 8 on the charging pad, whip out my Bluetooth Keys-To-Go keyboard, pop the Apple AirPods into place and head out the door. Untethered computing is grand. Reading, writing and relaxing outside on my front porch is geek heaven!

I find the wireless charging speed quite acceptable. It feels as though the iPhone is juicing up as quickly as it did with the standard Lightning connector. Although the new iPhones also support fast charging through a special cable with a different adapter, I am content with the wireless approach. Going truly wireless is much more liberating. And, I have read that Apple will introduce even snappier wireless charging in a future iOS update. I am hopeful that my current Belkin wireless charging pad will deliver on this promise.

I love my iPhone 8 and my new unrestrained lifestyle. Even so, there are still times when I would prefer to stay connected. Occasionally, I just feel more secure with a rope tied to my waist.

Back in our Boy Scout days, my son and I went on a 12-day backpacking trip in the Colorado Weminuche Wilderness. Part of the trek had us traversing a very thin trail on the side of a mountain. There was a sheer rock wall to our right and an 800 foot drop to the left. At one part of this skinny footpath there was not enough room for me to walk next to my guide dog. I had to send my pup ahead with someone else. I was then forced to follow verbal commands so that I could independently guide myself through this most treacherous segment. There were no ropes.

One of the parents called out instructions, "Morgan, step out with your left foot!"

I had my doubts. I suggested that did not sound correct. I could hear a creek a long distance below me on the left. Stepping out with that foot seemed like a particularly bad idea.

He persisted, "Step out with your left foot!"

Again, I indicated that leading with my left might be a significant error. I demurred. However, I wondered, what if I was mistaken? Could the creek sounds I think I am hearing from the left actually be the reflection of sound from the right? Carefully, I started to lift my left foot as though I intended to follow his directions.

He nearly screamed. "Stop! No, I mean your right foot!"

I still think there are times when physical connectivity has its place. And, I really do hate long drops and sudden stops for me, or my technology.


G. Morgan Watkins spent thirty years at the University of Texas at Austin, most of it in information technology leadership, where he also co-authored a popular Graduate School textbook about a Macintosh programming environment, "The Educator's Guide to HyperCard and HyperTalk." He also served on the Guide Dogs for the Blind Board of Directors and later as their Acting President and CEO.

Morgan is now happily retired again, and playing with his new charging pad. Morgan has created 19 other blogs for AppleVis, including "Power Trip: Hurricane Harvey and My iPhone", "Down To Earth: My First Hundred Days With AirPods" and "Sounds In The Sofa: Learning To Love My AirPods". Morgan would love to hear about your own perspectives and experiences with wireless charging in the comments below.



Submitted by Kronos23 on Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Thank you Morgan for another wonderful and delightful story. I always enjoy reading them and they always bring a smile to my face and brighten up my day. Thanks and look forward to the next bit of delectable written treat!

Submitted by Tree on Wednesday, November 8, 2017

I'm glad your having a good experience with wireless charging. I myself would do almost anything to keep my wired headphones. I have a question about your experience with wireless charging, but first a little more about my situation.

My iPhone 6s is running very well, and I'm keeping it until it falls apart, because I will only get a phone with no headphone port as a last resort. Of course, I know that my 6s will not last forever, and I'm weighing the limited options I will have when that dreaded day comes. There are two primary reasons I do not want to have to deal with the lightening headphone adapter. The first reason is my job and use case requires me to go from my computer to my phone about 50 times a day; that's 50 times I disconnect my headphones from one device and plug them into the other. In this daily shuffle I find it almost impossible to imagine keeping up and dealing with a little dongle. Even though I have had good experience with blue tooth headphones and iOS, I have never had a consistent and reliable experience with blue tooth and desktop computers, so blue tooth headphones are not an option. I might be willing to try and play Apple's silly dongle game, but that brings me to my second issue with having no headphone port.

I have very bad Tinnitus, which can make it difficult for me to fall asleep. to deal with this I fall asleep pretty much every night while listening to things on my phone to drown out the ringing in my ears. Before wireless charging it seemed like the only way I would be able to listen to my phone while falling asleep, and charging the phone, would be with blue tooth headphones. As I have already said, I don't have a lot of interest or use in blue tooth headphones; especially the air pods; I can only hear with one of my ears, so I'm not going to give apple over one hundred dollars for air pods, because I would only be using one pod and it would give me terrible battery life.

With all of that said, the wireless charging in the iPhone 8 does seem like it gives me at least another possible option for charging my phone while I listen to things to fall asleep. This brings me to my question. My worry with charging my phone with wireless charging, as I fall asleep, is that my phone will come off the charger during the night. I do a lot of tossing and turning, and my phone often ends up moving around a lot during the night; when I woke up today, for example, it was on the floor. This is not a problem with a wired connection; even if my phone ends up on the floor it pretty much never disconnects from the wired charger and I always have a full charge in the morning. If I used the lightening headphone adapter to plug headphones into, and keep my phone on a wireless charging pad on a bed side table during the night, do you think my phone is likely to shift off the pad? In your experience, how exact does the phone need to be positioned on the charger to keep a connection?

I suspect that when I have to get a new phone I'm going to have to use one of those battery cases that provide a headphone port to the newer phones. I don't like having cases on my phone, especially bulcky battery cases, but I guess that is better then having to keep up with a dongle and buy a blue tooth ear piece that I will only use as I'm falling asleep. I'm also considering switching to Android, but iOS is a very stable and accessible platform and I don't think I am quite ready to deal with the shortcomings of Android accessibility.

I'm sure this sounds a little winy, I guess my situation is somewhat unique, but I thought it gave helpful context to my question. There does not seem to be any great solution for my needs, which is just how it goes for those of us who are trapped in the iOS world because of accessibility.

Submitted by Kronos23 on Wednesday, November 8, 2017

I don't know if this could help, but I was listening to the iOS Today podcast last week and Leo Laporte had recommended the Tylt VU charging mat. He called it an eazel mat, guessing it means that the phone would be propped up in an angle and stay on the mat during the evening. This mat also has three coils, so you can position your phone any way and it will still continue to charge. I too am looking at possibly buying a charging mat in the future for my 8 Plus and the Tylt is one option I am considering. HTH!

Submitted by Weather Gods (Scott) on Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Love it, made me chuckle :)

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Wednesday, November 8, 2017

So when I bought my iPhone 8 plus, I got a wireless charger. It is circular, and I guess you could describe it as being cookie-shaped. Basically, the phone lies across the middle of it as it charges. However, and this is certainly true with my wireless charger and all the rest that I've felt, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND NOT falling asleep with a wire sticking out of your lightning port. More than likely, even if you just toss and turn a little, it will still be enough to yank the phone off the charging base and send it careening to the floor with a potential glass-shattering SPLAT!!!

Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Thursday, November 9, 2017

Hello Morgan. I so enjoy each post because I get to learn just a little bit more of your antics throughout your life with your family and dogs. Your creative writing style always amazes me in how you look at things such as cutting the ropes from your tech. Keep em coming. I always look forward to reading your stuff.

Submitted by Kronos23 on Thursday, November 9, 2017

Hi Morgan, glad I could brighten up your day. Keep these stories coming, they are always a delight. I am always impressed on the things you've acomplished, like walking on a narrow path on a mountain, and with your dog, that took a lot of courage, not sure if I would have had the strength and gumption to try that. When I read stories like yours, I find myself encouraged and keep telling myself that if some persons who are blind can do extraordinary things, then I can certainly overcome the obstacle I may be facing that particular day.

Thanks again for the stories and I look forward to reading your next tech journey!

Dear Tree,

Thanks for sharing how the iPhone works best for you. Here are a few of my thoughts.

When I was using both my phone and my computer, I found it much easier just to buy another set of headphones for the office. I agree with you that switching headphones out constantly would be a pain.

You asked about using wired headphones and a charging pad when you go to bed. You are right that the iPhone could easily get pulled off the pad if you move in your sleep.

I currently use the BeatsX Bluetooth headset at night. For me, they work well. No wires means the phone will not move in my sleep.

I also own a Plantronics Bluetooth ear piece that holds about 7 hours of talk time. I actually use it when I am out and about because I do not want to lose my AirPods. If you look for something from Plantronics, make sure and check the version of Bluetooth and the expected battery life. That might present you with another option.

You also wrote, "In your experience, how exact does the phone need to be positioned on the charger to keep a connection?"

With my Belkin wireless charger, the iPhone needs to pretty much stay in the center of the pad to be charged. My iPhone lets me know with both sound and vibration when it is properly centered. It's really easy.

As I write this note to you, I am using my Bluetooth keyboard and Bluetooth headphones. The iPhone is on the table next to me, charging on the pad. When I need the phone, I pick it up, do whatever I need to do and lay it back down. And, when I leave the house, I always have a fully charged phone with me. That's handy.

Thanks for writing,


Submitted by Morgan Watkins on Thursday, November 9, 2017

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

In reply to by Weather Gods (Scott)

Dear Scott,

I'm glad you enjoyed the blog. I should note that your app, "Weather Gods" is something I look at every morning after I make my first cup of coffee. I have nine apps in my "Good Morning" folder that I launch after sitting in my comfy chair shortly after sunrise.

Thanks from someone who enjoys knowing there will be a waning gibbous moon rising later tonight,


Submitted by Morgan Watkins on Friday, November 10, 2017

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

In reply to by sockhopsinger

Howdy Sockhopsinger,

Great to hear from you again! And, I agree with your assessment. Anything that has glass on top and bottom is best served by not hitting the floor. So far, I have never watched one of my IPhones bite the dust. I choose to remain hopeful, and to always keep my phone in a leather folio case.

Happy November,


Submitted by charles on Friday, November 10, 2017

Hi, Morgan: I'm working my fifth Guide Dog. I've gotten 4 Shepherds and my current guide, Purdue, a Yellow Lab from the San Rafael campus. He appreciates my iPhone having a good GPS app, because it always tells us which way to turn fairly soon. Although I haven't gone wireless, I just got a 256 gig iPhone 8 plus the other day. I agree with you about using a case. Not doing so is just asking for a very expensive accident to happen. Anyway, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this article. It was a great way to wake up. To show how long I have been a Guide Dog handler, my first class number was 333. I wish that Shepherds were still issued.

Dear Roxann,

DD and I look forward to your notes whenever I post a new story. It means a lot to us. Over the years, I have documented different events in my life and when I think of a story to tell, I try to come up with some family history that is fun and that helps personalize the message that I will share. I am glad you enjoy it. And, your thoughtful messages mean a lot to both of us. Your comments make the blogs complete.

Grandin, my dear guide, sends his tail wagging best wishes to your pup.

And, we send our warm wishes to you,


Submitted by Morgan Watkins on Saturday, November 11, 2017

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

In reply to by Kronos23

Dear Blinken223,

Your most recent note meant a lot to me. Thank you. I get a kick out of talking Apple technology with this community, but I also enjoy embedding these stories inside remembrances from my past. They are fun for me to remember and they are fun to share. When they make you smile, then they are doing their job.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

Best wishes from Texas,



What a fun note. Congratulations on being a guide dog handler for such a long time. My first class at San Rafael was #550 in 1995.

You are so right. The latest GPS apps are really handy nowadays. We are very fortunate. The iPhone is such a delightful tool.

Thanks for sharing a bit of your own history. That was great.
Best wishes,

Morgan and Grandin

Submitted by Mister Kayne on Thursday, November 16, 2017

I would not recommend that you keep your phone in your shirt pocket. Pant pockets are safer to keep the phone in provided you don't have your keys in the same pocket. Radiations to the phone if kept in your shirt pocket could effect your heart; call me paranoid. Besides you have a greater chance of dropping your phone from your shirt pocket while bending down etc. Enjoy your technology!

Submitted by Morgan Watkins on Thursday, November 16, 2017

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

In reply to by Mister Kayne

Mister Kayne,

Thanks for your very thoughtful note. Although I do it more for comfort and convenience, my iPhone spends less time in my shirt pocket these days. With AirPods and my Bluetooth keyboards, I can still have total access to the world throughout my home while my iPhone sits on the table next to my living room comfy chair. The new charging station for my iPhone 8 makes this arrangement even sweeter.

Happy Holidays,


Submitted by Nicholas on Thursday, November 30, 2017

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Hi Morgan,
This is an excellent post. You are an amazing guy! Thanks so much for sharing this and your adventures. You are very inspiring. I would follow you on any adventure, even repelling. And I would promise to, uh, wait for you at the bottom. :-)
I also like how you are going wirelessly with everything. I'll be watching for future posts.
Thanks again for another wonderful post!
Best regards.