I’ve had my Apple Watch now for a few days shy of two months and I’m not giving it up. Back in March, I had thought,going to graduate school and working full-time, that the value proposition of Apple Watch was not worth the expense. Then, as an incredible surprise, my awesome wife contacted my family and friends and had them go together to get me an Apple Watch for my birthday. It has been life-changing.
Others have panned Apple Watch and “broken up” with it.1 In my assessment, most of those bad experiences were caused by wrong expectations. What are the right expectations? The ones that Apple told us at the very start: time-keeping, communication, and fitness. Though I’ve written about Apple Watch each week for the last two months, I purposefully haven’t written about those tentpoles as they’re not things you can assess in a week. Now that it’s been two months, it’s time.
I haven’t worn a watch in nearly 20 years, so I’ve realized the value of having the time on your wrist. But this isn’t just a watch that is unchanging. The options need to grow, but there are great ways to personalize the watch. After reading Lewis Smith’s experience about his watchscreen feature, I’ve settled into using three faces:
On the left is the Utility face I use at work and away from the house, with the calendar so I can see my next appointment coming up. I change the color to match whatever dominant color I’m wearing that day. When I quit work and get home, though, I switch to the Simple face, as I don’t need to know the time as precisely at home. The simplicity of the face is somehow calming to me and it serves as a visual reminder to be less stressed at home. I add in the sunset complication so I can see how long I have to go for my evening run before the sun sets. After my run, to celebrate, I switch over to the Mickey face as a reminder to enjoy the rest of the evening with my family. I keep in the activity setting to celebrate filling the ring, and I have an alarm complication there so I can set my alarm easily.2
What other watch can do that? What other watch can match your outfit, no matter what it is? What other watch can give you, not just time, but key information you can see at a glance? What other watch can completely change its entire face to symbolize the change in attitude you want to have based on different situations?
Though some thought the time-keeping segment of the keynotes was wasted, I’m finding, unexpectedly, that this is one aspect of the Watch that I’m enjoying the most! In fact, when I demonstrate the watch to others, I’ve started to make sure I start by showing them how you can change faces. That has gotten far better reactions than running apps. With one teenager, I showed her was how you can change the faces (I showed her the Mickey face) and she yelled out “I need to get one of those!” That’s all she needed.
I can’t tell you how convenient it is to send off messages from my wrist. I notice this most when walking, when shopping, or when driving. In all of those situations, it would be difficult, awkward, or dangerous to stop, pull out my phone, and type or dictate a message. But raising my wrist and using Hey Siri to send a message is great in those situations. Even at my desk, at my Mac with my iPhone beside me, I find that I send messages from my wrist rather than grabbing my phone or switching to the iMessage app. There’s something so natural about raising to speak, and it’s awesome.
I wrote previously about how getting pictures of my son on my wrist is indescribably heart-warming. Even still, when my wife sends me a picture of my son, I open it up on my wrist even if I’ve already seen it on my computer. There’s huge power in feeling connected to them even while away.
Now that I’m taking classes four nights a week, I’ve come to deeply appreciate the way Apple Watch helps me tell my wife I love her and am thinking of her. She doesn’t have an Apple Watch, and doesn’t really want one, so we can’t use Digital Touch, so I set up a pre-formed message telling her that I love her. At random times throughout the day, during meetings at work, or during class at night, I send her that message with just a couple taps–and hear back from her discreetly. In most of those situations, I couldn’t have pulled out my phone. Without Apple Watch, those little moments of connection between my wife and I couldn’t have taken place.
Health & Fitness
I didn’t grow up in a family that exercised, so exercise has never been a habit in my life. I can’t count the number of times I’ve tried to start exercising. With my wife’s encouragement, I’ve started trying this year, but I was rather inconsistent with it. I was glad to get iPhone 6 which had a pedometer (formerly had a 4s), so I started tracking my steps with Stepz. That helped. I found the app Human, which tracked my activity throughout the day and helped me more. I was being active and walking far more than I ever had in my life, but I was still inconsistent and nowhere near a healthy lifestyle. But then I got Apple Watch. As for its effect, all I need to do is show you this chart:
Because of Apple Watch tracking my fitness and giving me goals to meet, I’ve actually started exercising. I’ve finally visited my doctor to deal with knee pain that was my excuse for not exercising. I’m parking my car far away from building entrances and I’m taking the stairs. I’ve started to look for ways that I can add movement into my day. I now read my textbooks while walking. I’ve started running a few times a week, and, for the first time in my life, I’m starting to enjoy it. I’ve even gone for a run when I didn’t “need” to b/c I had already filled my ring! Exercise is starting to be, not just a habit, but something I want to do, and my life is infinitely better for it.
It’s been common for people to say that you don’t need Apple Watch. But in the last two months, I’ve come to realize that I really do. I should be disciplined enough to exercise without it, but the reality is that I’m not. I need that constant reminder. I need the tactful urging. I need the green circles. And the green circles are working:
No, I’ve not been perfect. I’ve missed some days–even an entire week when I was at a conference. But the blue you see is blue that wouldn’t be there unless Apple Watch told me to stand. The red you see is red that wouldn’t exist if Apple Watch didn’t give me a goal to reach during the day. And without Apple Watch, none of the green that you see would be there because I simply did not exercise before Apple Watch.
Apple Watch has changed me, not just for a day, not just for two months, but, by helping me exercise, I hope for life. If this were all Apple Watch did for me, it would be worth every penny.
When I reflect on the last two months with Apple Watch, what stands out is not anything related to technology. Apple Watch is technology, but it’s not about speeds or specs or sizes. It is about helping me be more fully human, helping me connect to the ones I love, helping me be the person I want to be. It is helping me to live better, not just to live faster. It is helping me to be fully alive, and not just to live.
So thank, you, Apple Watch, for helping me live better these last two months. Here’s to another two.
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If you enjoyed this, you might also want to check out the other weekly reviews of Apple Watch I’ve done:
- Week 1: You Can’t Put Delight In a Spreadsheet
- Weeks 2-3: Its Form Is Its Function
- Week 4: Foundation for the Future
- The Future of Apple Watch (WWDC & beyond)
1. Curious language, given how I’ve written about Apple using border-line sexual language to market Apple Watch. ↩️
2. I anticipate, in the future, that I’ll switch to a picture of my family after my evening run, even though it doesn’t have complications, just so I have the visual reminder to be fully present with my family.↩️
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