I have had the lovely Apple Watch on my wrist for exactly one week now. Yes, thanks to my son waking me at 3am one fortuitous night (which happened to be April 10), I got my delivery on launch day.
You guys, it’s awesome. I am the first to admit I am rarely a first generation tech adopter (I like to wait until the bugs have been worked out). I had been in the market for wearable fitness trackers for a while though, so when the watch was announced for less than $200 more than I would have paid for something that did far less, I was all over it.
I have heard lots of stats about who is purchasing the watch this early, and I laugh every time. I am not a young male that always waits in line for Apple launches, but here I am sporting this little gem. It has quite honestly been a little overwhelming the number of people that asked about it in the first week (I’d LOVE for my less-conspicuous band to come in some day soon….) but it’s well worth it for how much I am enjoying this thing.
So without further ado, here are the things I love most about the Apple Watch (in no particular order) for those of us that don’t quite fit the initial target demographic…
My husband and I are big fans of streaming music and podcasts in the car, to bluetooth speakers throughout the house, and to wireless headphones when out and about. In fact, where some women collect purses or shoes, I collect headphones and bluetooth speakers. It’s an illness, really.
Swiping up from the bottom of the watch brings up screens called “Glances”, one of which is a quick and easy way to control the playback and volume of whatever you’re listening to via your phone at any given time. So far I have used it successfully with not only the music on the watch or the phone (yes, you can store music directly on the watch), but I have been able to control the native iOS Podcasts app and even third-party apps like Spotify, Pandora, and Songza. Pandora (among others) actually has its own app for the watch, but I haven’t used it yet.
I knew I would like being able to control music while we have people over, but I underestimated just how much I would use this feature on a daily basis.
MAPS ON MY WRIST
The first morning after the watch arrived, I had to drive to a track meet. I wasn’t familiar with the location of the school, so of course I used navigation to get me there as I would have any other time in the last several years. This time though, I didn’t have to have my phone visible or even accessible for the entire drive.
You can initiate or continue navigation guidance on your watch (again, accessible from that “Glances” option or from the watch’s app/home screen). It uses a special haptic to alert you of an upcoming turn, then a quick look at your wrist (which is, you know, quite visible if your hand is on the steering wheel in front of you) tells you your next step. It is possible to view the route by scrolling down, but the best use of this option is simply getting true turn-by-turn directions without ever looking away from the road or having that annoying voice audibly telling you what to do 🙂
Additionally, a force tap on the map gives you the option to not only end your navigation, but to call the destination in many instances.
Apple Pay has been around for a little while now, and since we have had our current phones I have enjoyed using it (and lamented the shortage of places I can do so). Apple Pay is incredibly useful for me because I never carry a purse, and often just stick a credit card in my pocket when I’m running in somewhere. I venture to guess the more places that start using Apple Pay, the fewer times my card will go through the wash or get lost floating around my car somewhere. (Adulting is hard.)
Also? When you add a card, on either the phone or the watch, it shows a picture of your exact card. My husband and I both totally geek out over this every time.
Using Apple Pay on the watch is ridiculously easy. As long as you have a card entered and verified, you double click the button on the side of the watch and it’s ready for you to place your wrist near the reader. That’s it. You don’t even have to open Passbook, though you can if you’d like to select a particular card.
Speaking of Passbook, this was the app we found the most useless when it was first announced. Nothing used it (much like the initial launch of the Health app on iPhones last year), so we’d try to add cards, etc to no avail. It truly seemed to have no purpose.
Over the last year or so I have found a few additional uses for the Passbook app, presumably as the technology increased around my world to allow for Apple Pay. I use Passbook not only to access Apple Pay (or I did, before the watch graced my wrist), but for airline boarding passes, my Target Cartwheel card, etc. I know there are several gyms and other membership places around here that use it as well, so I can’t wait to see how the technology develops.
And you know, it’s only a matter of time before our Apple Watches double as Magic Bands at Walt Disney World. 🙂
I thought the “It’s time to stand!” alerts would be dumb and/or annoying, but I sort of love them. I am a big believer in some of the new research about the benefits of standing. I’m totally a list-checker, achievement-earner type, so I’m inherently motivated by seeing the little graph that shows how frequently I’ve been reaching the goal of standing 1 minute out of every hour.
Side Note: I just heard Cliff Ravenscraft give a solution to a problem I had been having that may be a glitch or may just be different than I use the watch. If you find yourself standing for a while only to have the watch warn you that you won’t fill your little circle/bar this hour because you’ve been sitting, make sure you spend some of the time you’re upright holding your wrist down at your side. Who knows why this is, but it does seem to be working.
In addition to standing, I love that the Activities App tracks steps (goodbye Fitbit, you’ve served me (relatively) well), heart rate, exercise, and active vs passive calories. The watch face configuration I have chosen shows my “Activity Circles” at all times, so I am well aware how much I am moving – or not moving – throughout the day. That can only be a good thing.
MODULAR WATCH FACE
As I mentioned, my chosen watch face shows the Activity Circles. It also shows the date, time, next calendar event, current temperature, and battery life. There are a variety of faces that show more or less information (you can add other things like stocks, weather, moon phase, sunrise/sunset times, alarms, stopwatch/timer, etc). You can have just an analog timepiece, if you want.
I thought I would dislike what they call the “Modular” face, but I actually love it. I can see so much useful information at a glance, or touch any of the modules to go to the corresponding app for more detail or actions.
I told you I’m a sucker for achievements. The workout app on the watch is admittedly somewhat limited – right now it only tracks walking, running, elliptical, rower, and stair stepper. Hmm. In typing that out, I realize it does far more than most fitness trackers. For weight training, dance, spinning, and other things I do regularly though, it doesn’t actually have the ability to track all that accurately. You can, however, choose “Other” for your workout and it will at least utilize the heart rate information to give you some record of your exercise.
Then on the corresponding iPhone app, you earn notification badges. Hello, that’s the ONLY reason I used foursquare for the first however many months before it turned into something completely different. I also only run races for the bling.
KNOWING THE TIME 🙂
Yesterday, I looked at my wrist to see what time it was. I made a remark to my husband how weird that was after not wearing a watch for over 10 years, but you know what? It was pretty convenient.
Seriously, I’ve totally enjoyed being able to see what time it is without pulling my phone (and probably my loose credit card) out of my pocket. Sad, right? Sad, but true.
And the big one…
RECLAIMED TIME AND ATTENTION (CUSTOMIZABLE NOTIFCATIONS)
As with all other iDevices and Macs, you can customize the notifications you receive on the watch. When my husband first got his Pebble, it was pretty cool to see him get sports updates, etc throughout the day. On my wrist though, I get much less information.
I have set my notifications up so I only get notifications for text messages and calls, alarms, activity reminders, and – for the time being – NHL playoff updates 😉 Occasionally I use the alarm/reminder as well, but only 1-2 times in the past week, one of which was to test it out.
This means that when my phone is put away, I am notified when someone actually needs to talk to me or when I need to do something to take care of myself. That’s it.
Do you know how freeing that can be? To not pull out the phone to look at the time and then spend 15 minutes every time looking at twitter and browsing the internet? To be sure you won’t miss out on any important piece of communication, but to be even more sure your kids won’t see your face only around the edges of your smartphone?
I realize that technology addiction and how easily distracted we all can be in 2015 is a matter of the heart and that it is an absolute overstatement that the Apple Watch can break bad habits and restore families…
… but it’s kind of true. At least it can be.
There are a few things I haven’t had a chance to use yet that I am quite certain would also make this list at a later date:
REMOTE CAMERA CONTROL/PREVIEW
I love that the watch doubles as a remote shutter for the iPhone camera, and one that actually shows a preview of what is on your phone. No need for a selfie stick or 57 failed shots to get everyone in your family in the frame. Very cool.
PINGING A LOST PHONE
Do you ever lose your phone in the couch or leave it in the abyss that is your child’s floor full of toys? Oh, just me? Well when that happens again, I will be prepared. The watch can, from the first “Glances” screen, ping your phone as long as it’s in range.
This isn’t a replacement for “Find my iPhone”, and it absolutely won’t help if your phone is out of range. I don’t usually lose my phone outside my house, anyway 🙂
Oh – and in case you’re wondering? I don’t really dig the Mickey watch face. He’s cute (and even animated) but it’s a little too much for me. I’m more of a “subtle Disney touches” kind of girl when it comes to home decor and personal accessories. Blasphemy, I know.
Do you have an Apple Watch? Want one? Think they’re useless? I’d love to hear in the comments!