More than a year ago I’ve decided to get Apple Watch in place of the popular smart band from Xiaomi I’ve been using for two years. People often ask me do I like my watch and do I recommend them buying Apple Watch or not, so I wrote this article in order to help people who can’t decide or are in doubts. I will share with you my thoughts and will tell you how do I usually use it in my everyday life.
Let’s start with bad things so that you might possibly stop reading this article and save your time.
First, if you are not an Apple user and don’t have iPhone you won’t be able to use Apple Watch, even Series 3, which supports LTE and can work without iPhone being nearby. So, unless you want to switch to Apple products and buy a new phone from this company, you can forget about buying Apple Watch. Just go buy Samsung Gear or another Android watch, or maybe a simple activity tracker will be enough for you.
Second, if you don’t want to spend too much money, Apple Watch (as well as their other products) is not for you. Even if you choose the cheapest version on the market - Series 1, with taxes it still costs about $300, but if you want the latest version with GPS and LTE the price starts from $450 (with taxes). Add here expensive bands (from $50 for the cheapest silicon/woven band up to more than $500 for steel and leather braceletes), then add expensive service (~$200 for the Series 1 repair and $300 for Series 3), then don’t forget the fact it’s not a normal watch, it’s a gadget, so it quickly loses it’s price over time and becomes an old-fashioned thing you won’t want to wear on your wrist in maybe several years and will need to spend money again buying a new Series 6 or whatever Apple will name it’s the new latest product.
Third, battery. Apple started to use OLED screens in watches because of their power efficiency, plus they designed their own very efficient chip, developed WatchOS specifically to be as much power-efficient as possible, but still battery life is not good enough. Since Series 1 the battery lasts 3 times more in the latest version (if you turn off LTE), but if you want to use it on the full - be ready to charge it every evening. If you hate the fact you need charging your phone and laptop every day, so maybe it’s better to get the old good classic watch and don’t think about battery just to be able seeing the time.
Despite those 3 facts I could come up with, there are tons of positive things I’d like to share with you:
1) Premium look and beautiful design. First release began in Spring of 2015 and since that time the design still feels modern and premium. Absolutely black display is amazing and with steel or leather band it looks nobly on any wrist.
2) Bands. There are tons of original Apple bands you can use with your watch even if you have the old Series 1: silicon, woven, steel, leather, any kind of preference, any color or size. In addition to the variety of watch colors and materials (aluminum, stainless steel, ceramics) with bands you can make your own custom look and feel more or less unique. Plus it’s always great to wear bands matching your dress or mood. With a sport band you feel comfortably while running, and then in the evening you use steel band to match your suit, because you have dinner in the restaurant.
3) Water and dust protection. It’s very convenient never worrying about taking off your watch when you take shower, wash dishes or even swim in a pool or ocean. I bought classic quartz watch for $150 which supposed to be waterproof and after the shower the glass fogged up, With Apple Watch I never afraid of putting my hand into the water.
4) Notifications. You will never miss an email from the boss or a comment to your Instagram photo. When you get a notification, there is no need to look for the phone to read or act, just raise your hand and Watch will show you the full content, you can even reply to message directly from the Watch or delete the email once you read it. From all the features, notifications probably are the best and most handy, from my experience. Imagine you left your phone on the desk and walking around the office, but still, you won’t miss any message from Slack, Skype, or whatever messenger you use to chat with colleagues. Brilliant!
5) Calls. The fact that I can answer a call directly from my Watch without going to another room to answer using the phone - pure magic. So many times I answered a call being in bed or in the shower with just Watch on my wrist. You can decline the call or send a quick message like “I’m busy. Will call you later”. Recently I have been at the Apple store waiting for the replacement of the screen glass for my iPhone and I had only Watch with me when I got a call and answered it. I don’t have LTE support, so I was very surprised that I could do that. Turned out Watch wasn’t offline without my iPhone nearby, it connected to the store’s WiFi, so I still could get notifications and make calls.
6) Music. Ability to control music from your wrist is one of the best features, especially if you use AirPods and need to adjust volume. However you’re limited to music services other than Apple Music, you can only see what’s playing now, adjust volume and switch tracks. With Apple Music you can also add a song to your library, like/dislike the current song and you have access to Music app where you can play all songs, albums and playlists from your Music library. If music is playing on your iPhone, then anytime you raise your hand with Watch you’ll see music control screen, it’s incredibly convenient, no need to open apps, it’s just there on the screen already.
7) Watch faces. Customizing your experience with only bands and colors is not enough. You can set up watch face to match perfectly well with your style or band design. Apple often adds new watch faces with every WatchOS release. It could be a chronograph, analog clock, digital, a 3D model of the planet Earth (or the Moon or entire Solar System), Siri watch face (it shows you cards with some information like the weather, your best photos, etc.), watch face with butterflies (or jellyfish, or flowers), and many many others. You can customize each of them, change colors and information you want to see on the screen.
8) Complications. You can display some widgets (Apple calls them complications) on the watch face. Almost every application can add new widgets to the system and you can add them on your screen. This is a great way of getting necessary information with just a glance on your Watch. It can be calendar (you’ll see your next event and can tap on it and Calendar app will open), current weather metrics, battery status, some activity metrics or almost anything can only imagine. With every installed app you’ll get new complications.
9) Apple Pay. Sometimes I can go for a walk to think about something and on my way back home come into the supermarket to buy some food. Funny thing - I don’t have my wallet or even phone with me, only my Watch. How do I pay then? Just make a double-click on the side button and choose the card you want to use. Easy! To my disappointment, only few places support Apple Pay, but I hope soon it’ll be better.
10) Heart rate monitor. This feature is useful not only for those who run or work out, but also for those who have any heart disease. During your sports activity or when you open Heart app the Watch will monitor your heart rate and show your current metrics. But it also does monitor your heart rate during the day every 5 minutes, so it can analyze the data and find some bad patterns. Recently Apple has launched the application (it’s called Heart Study) that does this analysis using neural networks and will inform you or doctors if something goes wrong with your heart. Seems like a dream gadget for old people. If you like running, then seeing the heart rate during the run can be very helpful either. I use it often when I’m running and I try to keep my rate below critical.
11) Activity tracking. Watch tracks your every movement and you can see results in the Activity app. It shows 3 circles (move, exercise and stand) which fill after you make corresponding activity. I’m not a fan of this app, but I like how it warns you when you sit for too long and asks you to move for a while. Mostly I use Nike Run app to track my runs and I love it: it shows all the metrics on the screen (and even your heart rate) and uses GPS to measure your speed and track your route.
12) Sleep tracking. Out of the box Watch can’t track your sleep, but 3rd party apps can. In the App Store you can find a variety of sleep tracking apps and my favorite is AutoSleep. You don’t need to do anything, just go sleep anytime and it will detect your sleep automatically and will measure tons of things to build a detailed map of your sleep. When you wake up it’s always great to know how well did you sleep and how long (even if you went to bed early doesn’t mean you’ll get asleep at the same time). Try to sleep at least 8 hours every day to stay healthy and full of energy.
13) Weather. You can see detailed forecast for the next 12 hours or approximate forecast for the next 10 days. There is a weather complication you can add to your watch face and see current conditions every time you look at your Watch. If you tap - opens Weather app with 12 hours forecast. I use it all the time.
14) Timer. Every time I cook something I use Timer to know when I should turn off the stove or add some ingredients. Also, I use Timer during my work to stay focused for 30 minutes and then take 5 minutes break. This technique is called Pomodoro. With Watch on your wrist it’s so handy to use this technique. Timer is one of my most used apps.
15) Alarm. What’s great about alarms, is that Watch vibrates gently on your arm without waking up all people around you (if any). I rarely set up alarms on my iPhone, because I can do the same using Watch, no need to get up from the bed and go look for your phone. What’s even better, if you don’t set up alarms on the Watch and use Alarm on your iPhone, the Watch will vibrate when iPhone’s alarm has started to ring. You can turn it off or snooze without getting up and picking up your phone.
16) Applications. There hundreds of different applications designed for Watch, they all extend standard capabilities of WatchOS and can add new features to your Watch experience. Most of them are useless because it’s hard to interact with an app on such a small screen, but sometimes they can be extremely helpful, like my favorite sleep tracking app AutoSleep or calculator CalConvert. What I hate about apps on Watch is how slow they are. In most cases, it’s faster to open it on the phone. But if it’s a very simple app like calculator it opens pretty fast.
17) Unlock your Mac. Yes, it’s very convenient to open your laptop and it’s unlocked automatically without necessity to enter your password or even touch anything at all.
18) Find your phone. In the Control Center on your Watch there is a button which makes your phone to make sounds so that you can find where you left it. Many times it helped me to find the phone in some weird places like under the couch or in the laundry basket in bathroom.
19) Flashlight. In the same Control Center (swipe up upon watch face) there is a button to turn on the flashlight (it’s just a very bright white screen). You can make it blink or turn on the red color. It’s really bright enough in full darkness, I am always surprised to see how well it can light your path when needed. When I am going up by dark stairs in my house I prefer to make swipe-up + a single tap on my Watch instead of getting to my phone.
20) Calendar. If you use Apple Calendar a lot then being able to see all events for today and next days is priceless. You can see event location, time, accept or decline it and read the description.
21) Camera control. It’s not what I use in my everyday life, but if you’re a mobile-photographer (or a spy) it can be helpful to control your camera from your wrist. Camera app shows you the picture from your iPhone and you can even control the focus.
22) Home control. You have access to the Home app like you have on your iPhone, so if you have some smart-home accessories you can control them directly from Watch. I don’t have any accessories, so if you do I think this app will be useful.
23) Emergency SOS. If you hold on the power button for 3 seconds you’ll see a slider to make Emergency call, which could potentially save your life one day. Hope that day will never come. Watch will send your coordinates to 911 and they will rescue you.
24) Siri. Same as on your iPhone, you can ask Siri to add a reminder, play some music or maybe tell you about the weather for tomorrow. I find it helpful only when I’m driving and need to call somebody or open some app.
25) Power reserve. In this mode your Watch can last for many days, but it will show only time in screen corner and only when you press the button. When you have only 10% of the charge Watch alerts you and asks if you want to use Power Reserve. When the battery gets too low, your watch automatically enters Power Reserve. This can be helpful in a long trip if don’t have access to Watch charger, so at least you will know the time.
I think this list is pretty impressive. Everyone can find something for which it is worth having your own Watch. And with every WatchOS update we’ll get new possibilities and features. I consider this gadget one of my best purchases ever and I’m looking forward seeing what’s new we’ll get with the WatchOS 4 and Watch Series 4.