Mobile / Hands-on Review

Apple Watch and Me

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When the Apple Watch first launched in 2015, the rumors surrounding it had reached such a fever pitch it was difficult to discern fact from fiction; to parse all the buzz and marketing buildup from the Watch’s actual bona fides. Now, a year later, with several million units sold and more than 10,000 apps available for purchase, we finally have a clear picture of what the Watch can do and how it fits into your life. With all that knowledge at my disposal (and a few preconceived notions of my own), I took the Watch for a two-week test drive to see how it would affect my day-to-day. Here's what I learned.

It made me more active

Full disclosure: When the Apple Watch first debuted, I already owned a fitness tracker. In fact, since 2015, I’ve gone through three. Blame my unique blend of fairly intense workouts with the general coordination of a toddler for the ruined bands, crushed module, and one that just flew off my wrist during a run over the Brooklyn Bridge. I now know what separates the good fitness trackers from the bad, and the Watch definitely falls on the positive end of that spectrum.

The Watch’s Taptic engine gently nudges you when it’s time to move or whenever you’ve hit a milestone. Tap, tap, tap—goal achieved!

To start, it does what all good fitness trackers should do: motivates you to be more active. From monitoring daily activity to reminding you not to sit so long to helping you set and reach fitness goals, the Watch met or surpassed my previous trackers in all the areas that mattered most to me—namely, helping me avoid becoming a piece of furniture once I got in to the office. The key to its motivational power is the simple, yet totally effective, three-ring system, which lights up to show your progress as the day goes along. I became so obsessed with paying fealty to my new three-ring overlords that I frequently found myself adjusting my daily behavior, even postponing sleep, so that I could satisfy their activity mandates.

Beyond general activity tracking, the Watch relies on a combination of native software, sophisticated motion sensors, and third-party apps to track other sport activities, everything from running to lifting weights. A built-in heart-rate monitor will satisfy users who use HR data to inform their workouts or want a better understanding of their cardiovascular health. As someone who previously was not fully sold on wrist-based heart-rate monitoring, I was surprised to learn that in a comparison test performed by Consumer Reports, the Apple Watch scored just as well as dedicated heart-rate monitor straps. Hardcore runners won’t be able to ditch their iPhones if they want GPS-based distance calculation (Apple left a GPS sensor out of the Watch to spare the battery), but for those of us who like to run without an exact mileage count or can make do with a rough approximation, there’s no longer any need to bring your phone along. Which brings me to my absolute favorite thing about the Apple Watch…

It let me listen to music without an anchor—finally

For me, the beauty of the Apple Watch doesn’t lie in grand gestures, but rather the small conveniences it affords (more on that later). However, there was one game-changing feature that completely solved one of my biggest gripes: onboard music storage. Look. If you’ve never snagged your headphones on a dumbbell or been tangled up in a piece of gym equipment, if you've never been in a slap-fight with your iPhone, desperately trying to skip those Miley Cyrus songs that “accidentally” got into your iTunes library, well then bully for you. But for anyone who has waged the cable war and lost, you know how frustrating it is to be tethered to a separate device or headset. Yes, you can solve the cable issue by going wireless, but you’re still beholden to a separate media player, whether that’s carrying it in hand or strapping it somewhere on your body. Apple Watch solves this issue by allowing you to save up to 2GB of locally stored music to the device, which you can then listen to by pairing a Bluetooth headset (I recommend either the Powerbeats² or the JayBird X2, but any Bluetooth headset will do). No more wired headphones, no more running with my beloved but enormous iPhone 6s Plus strapped to my arm. Now it’s just me and the road and Miley. Or, uh, whomever. 


My workouts really started to pop once I was able to incorporate pop music conveniently into my routine.

 

It streamlines just about everything

Obviously, fitness isn’t the only purpose of the Watch. Apple made it so that you can harness the full force of iOS directly from your wrist. Once it was set up, I was able to read and transcribe texts, check calendar appointments, get subway directions, and ask Siri all of my pressing questions: "Hey, Siri, when can I wear my white linen pants again?”

Although I spent a lot of time watching Vines and scrolling through Viki articles (Wikipedia on your wrist!), there are plenty of other tools available for making you a productive member of society. Everything from the ultra-useful Reminders app to a streamlined version of Slack to my personal favorite, Cheatsheet, which helped me remember all those things I so often forget: anniversaries, birthdays, computer passwords (settle down, Security Administrator—I’ve got two weeks, I’ll change it tomorrow).

Thanks to the Apple Watch, I was able to have a quick text-chat with my mom without having to pull out my phone. Side note: My mom’s Bitmoji game is on point.

The Watch offers full camera support, as well. Admittedly, I've never been much of a photographer, but a quick tour through the Watch's camera capabilities and some of the more popular apps showed me there was plenty for photogs to love and make use of. With the right applications, you can edit photos, use the Watch as a live viewfinder and shutter trigger, and share your best shots with family, friends, and social media.

Now, I know you’re saying, “OK, these all sound like things I can do on my phone,” and that’s true, but there is something so liberating about not having to reach for my phone every time I need quick info or to send a text. And when you’re on the go, having that ability to stay connected without breaking stride is pretty much unbeatable, especially in New York, where stepping out of the herd to access your phone for directions is the emotional equivalent of someone pointing at you and yelling, “Shame!”

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1 Comments

For me I  sleep wearing my AW and having an alarm on my wrist is great. I can change my wake time w/o getting out of bed if I have second thoughts. The timer is wonderful. If the laundry is 55 min I set it and no longer forget. I have some heart issues and my AW logging my heart rate to my iPhone produces reports for my doctor. Also the 38mm sport band AW is comfortable. 

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