Watchscreen: Jonathan Norman of TheAppleFancast

Each week, I ask someone to share their watchscreen, examining how they’re using Apple Watch, what apps are useful, and tips or tricks they have. This week, I’ve asked Jonathan Norman (Twitter) to share his screen. Jonathan uses a variety of HomeKit & HealthKit-enabled devices with his Apple Watch and he also writes at TheAppleFancast, a site that examines Apple from the perspective of different fans (and the site that hosted my thoughts on Apple Watch a few weeks ago).

So, Jonathan, show us your watchscreen!

What watch/band combination(s) do you use and why?

I own the Space Gray Sport Apple Watch in 38mm. ss42blacksportI knew long before Apple even announced their watch that I’d want one. I was torn between the Steel model with the classic buckle and the one I ended up getting, but after going back and forth the cheaper one felt better for a 1st generation purchase. I would say I’m completely satisfied with that decision. I was also torn between the two sizes, but after trying on a few similar sized watches, and using the printouts found online, I chose the smaller 38mm. After ordering and then later going to the Apple Store for a try-on, my choice was confirmed correct for my wrists and style.

I mainly use my black Sport band, but I do have a few leather bands from a 3rd-party maker. So far the bands have been great and allow me to mix it up.

How is Apple Watch fitting into your life?

From day one the Apple Watch has fit into my life pretty perfectly. Part of this could be because I have been trying out other wearables leading up to it for a few years. Each morning I take it off my nightstand after my shower, put it on, and it doesn’t come off until bedtime. I’ve never had it die on me, and while some will say the battery isn’t good enough, the fact that it needs nightly charging is a plus in my book, not a minus. The habit of having to charge it nightly makes it easier to remember. With other wearables that lasted a few days or a week, I would randomly find it dead in the middle of a day, forgetting to charge it. It’s an odd thing, but nightly charging is actually a benefit due to the way I form habits. This of course means it doesn’t really track sleep, but if I’m being honest I don’t want a band for that, I am much more interested in something like the Sleep Number IQ in that regard.

[I’m a huge fan of SleepCycle, a terrific app for tracking sleep. They are also working on an Apple Watch app, which I’m stoked for. Stay tuned!]

I feel like it has really fit in with all the aspects of my life that it should. More on that as I move through the remainder of the questions I’m sure.

What watch faces & complications are you using and why?

Norman-faces

The Apple Watch faces are tall order in terms of explanation for me. I will try to keep it simple. I use the Utility face with complications for activity, temperature, and calendar, as well as the date for my daily watch face. I however change this up during work hours and go with the Modular face to simply have the extra complication and the time in digital. In my job I need to know the exact time at a glance, having the digital time instead of analog makes this a little easier. I also like to add the timer complication during work hours, as I’m often timing things during the day and this makes it a quick action. I also have a face using the Color face, that is very minimal. I don’t use it often, but from time to time I like to mix it up and go with this for a little while, mostly on weekends.

[I LOVE that Apple icon monogram. Here’s how to do it]

What Glances do you use and why?

Glances and I are in a love/hate relationship. Too many means it’s too hard, too few means I don’t have what I need. That said, my Glances right now are: Now Playing, Weather, Calendar, Heart Rate, Battery, and CPI. I know that kind of looks pathetic, but honestly, I could only stand to add one or two more to that list without it becoming too unwieldy. Again, if I’m being honest, Glances are probably the biggest trouble-spot for me. I love the quick nature of them, but yearn for an easier navigation.

What notifications do you receive on Apple Watch and why?

One of the things I did when I got the Apple Watch was turn the firehose on and let everything pour in. I did this just to see how much I was really getting. From there I slowly turned them off until the level of alerts made sense to me and were useful.

I have Twitter, Messages, Phone, Activity, Email, Calendar, and Reminders, and alarms turned on. The rest are off. These are the main ways I either communicate or use my watch.

What I also found was that these are really the only things I care about. Everything else isn’t important to me in the sense of a notification. So what I have done is turn off all my notification alerts on my iPhone and iPad, and simply use my Apple Watch. Apps like Facebook for example, which I want to know if something is waiting but don’t want a notification about, simply have the badge turned on for my iPhone and iPad. This has led to a great flow of the things I actually care about.

How are you using Apple Watch’s health and fitness features?

I’m by no means an athlete, but I do enjoy working out, specifically jogging. I also have a tendency to sit for long periods of time. Having the Apple Watch alert me when I’ve simply been too lazy or busy to remember to move is helpful, and being able to track my activity level throughout the day pushes me to reach my goals. I am not crazy about having to complete each circle, and make my goals higher than I can usually hit…for me, this stops me from having a false sense of how well I’m actually doing and kicks me to do more.

I also pay attention to my heart rate a good amount. I am by no means a “sickly” person, but I do find it interesting to see a correlation between stressful periods when my anxiety kicks in, and my heart rate. It’s a niche sort of use, but for someone who tracks health data using a variety of items like the Withings scale and blood pressure cuff, and smart thermometers, it helps me to understand myself a little better.

[One of the most powerful and disruptive elements of Apple Watch will be the way that it democratizes personal health.] 

How are you using Apple Watch’s communication features?

Outside of fitness and health the biggest thing I do with the Apple Watch is communicate. I am not one to actually take phone calls on it, but I do reply to texts constantly with it. I like the quick reply features and the dictation ability, they both work very well, and not having to pull out or find my phone to reply to something is great. I no longer get sucked into the greatness that is my iPhone, unless I want to.

The one thing I wish I did more was communicate with other Apple Watch users with the digital touch features. I’ve done it enough to form opinions on it (I like it), but it’s not a regular thing yet simply because I don’t personally know too many people who have an Apple Watch.

[I was the same as Jonathan until my wife got an Apple Watch and it totally changed my perspective on Digital Touch. It’s not meant to be used with random people on the internet who you would never let touch you in real life–or even good friends with whom you’re not on “touching terms.” But when you digitally touch someone that you love, it is powerful and transforming.]

How do you organize your apps and why?

Norman-apps

Simply put, I don’t. I have played with the layout a few times and found I just like them clumped together. I tried having my most used apps towards the center, but really, it’s just whatever. Part of this is probably due to the fact that I don’t use many apps. I have stated in many places…I don’t use my Apple Watch, I interact and move on. Maybe native apps will change my thoughts on this, but right now it’s not something I worry about. It’s also partly due to the layout of the apps. There isn’t a horrible place to put an app, it’s like they’re all “1st screen” apps to me.

[Other apps on Jonathan’s watchscreen not mentioned here: ESPN, Tally counter, Withings Health Mate, Swaive smart thermometer, & DayOne journaling app (which I recommend)]

What Apple Watch apps are you using most and why?

As I stated I’m not much of an app user. I do have a few that I find useful and look forward to seeing what having native apps will change for me. I do use the Hue app for controlling my lights, and the CPI app for unlocking the doors, opening the garage, changing the thermostat, and arming/disarming the alarm. Most everything I do within the Glances or simply through the Complications on the watch face though.

What app would you like that you don’t have yet?

I’m really looking forward to HomeKit becoming a real thing. I use Hue lights throughout my house, have some WeMo plugs, and my CPI locks, thermostat, garage door, and alarm. I’d love having these in a single simple location on my Apple Watch. In addition, I want some of the Apple apps on my watch. For example, the Apple Health app on the watch makes perfect sense and I can’t believe it’s missing. I also find the omission of the Reminders app and the Voice Memos app completely crazy.

If you could change only one thing about Apple Watch, what would you change?

It’s pretty spot-on for me. It’s not perfect, nothing is, but overall it’s been a great device so far, and I’m excited to see where it leads. Personally I think the two biggest things are the speed of apps and glances, and the dependance on the iPhone. Since the speed should improve with watchOS 2, the one thing I’d change is the dependance on the iPhone. Once Apple can make the Apple Watch less reliant on the iPhone it’s a whole new ballgame. I personally don’t have an issue with it, outside of speed over Bluetooth, but I know how much better it could be if it worked more independently.

What are some tips or tricks that you’ve picked up that others may not know about?

I have used the trick of putting in an empty world clock time for my own city so that I can use the complication to have the digital time in the corner of an analog watch face. It sounds dumb, but for me, I really like the look of the analog faces, but I must have the exact time at work…so having it in the corner is a trade-off I make from time-to-time.

What are your thoughts about Apple Watch as informed by your unique background/perspective?

I have been amazed at how well the Apple Watch has fit into my life and my workflow. I was a little concerned that it would feel like an iPhone on my wrist, but that is not even close to the case. It’s a completely different thing, and that’s what I love about it. As an Apple fan and someone who writes about Apple, the Apple Watch is exactly what I was hoping for. It could use some additional sensors, a few tweaks in software, and a little direction as far as how apps should function, but as a 1.0 product, I couldn’t be happier.

Thanks Jonathan (Twitter)! If you enjoyed this, check out his blog and the piece where he and I discussed Apple Watch.

Check back next week for another watchscreen or look now at previous watchscreens. You can subscribe to this site via RSSTumblr or by following MarkDMill on Twitter.


Recommended Apps: Great deals you shouldn’t miss

This week there are some great deals on apps that I highly recommend–and rather than recommending just one, I want to recommend them all!

Fantastical (iPhone / iPad) is a calendar that is simply, well, fantastic. For years I was perfectly happy with Apple’s calendar app, but I bought Fantastical a few months ago on a friend’s recommendation and I am so glad I did. The marque feature of Fantastical is their natural language input that saves me so much time when I’m making calendar entries. In Apple’s app, I would have to write “Lunch with Bob”, then tap the location and type “1 Infinite Loop,” then tap “date” and scroll to get next week, then tap time and choose 12 as the start time, then tap” end time” and scroll to get 1:30, then tap “alert” and set it to 15 minutes. All in all, that is an 11-step process that, when I did it just now, took 30 seconds. With Fantastical, I can enter all of that information in one place, no tapping and no selecting, just by writing what I want. I can write “Lunch with Bob next week from 12-1:30 at 1 Infinite Loop alert 15”–a process that took less than 14 seconds when I did it just now. Natural speech is awesome.

The folks at Fantastical have simply thought through all the things that would make a Calendar app great, and they have nailed it–a terrific (and customizable!) Today widget for iOS and an awesome app for Apple Watch. Their Apple Watch app is a great example of an app well suited to the form factor of Apple Watch. Their Glance is absolutely terrific, showing you the time until the next event, and the app is exactly what you’d want on a watch.

Fantastical for iPhone is just $2.99 (orig $4.99); Fantastical for iPad is just $4.99 (orig $9.99). Both are absolute steals at those prices–so get them while you can!

Workflow (universal app), an 2015 Apple Design Award winner, is an app so incredible, I can’t believe it exists. The simple way to explain the app is that it automates tasks on iOS, but that sounds more geeky than it actually is. They’ve designed it with a brilliantly simple, yet immensely powerful, way of combining actions together to do things that would be tedious otherwise. Here are just a couple examples of how I use it so you can see how powerful it is:

  • For some reason, Siri is unable to understand the command “Give me directions to my next meeting.” No worries–using Workflow’s new Today widget (or the Apple Watch Glance!), I can launch a Workflow that finds the location of my next event and gets driving directions. So, with one tap as I leave, I’m good to go.
  • My son is adorably cute and my family all wants to see him, but some are on Facebook, some on Instagram, some only SMS, and some only email. I’ve written a workflow which takes a picture, edits it, posts it to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, sends via SMS to my Mom, emails it to my Grandma, adds it to my journaling app, DayOne, and then into WeChat so my Chinese in-laws can see it–all that with just a couple taps
  • Multiple days a week, I tweet a curated list of terrific App Deals (like these)–I have a workflow that gets the app URL, adds my affiliate code, gives me the option for a campaign, easily adds in prices, and sends out the Tweet (or Buffers it if I found the deal late at night!)

If you do anything on your iPhone that is even slightly repetitive, chances are that you can automate those tasks with Workflow, giving you time back. If this sounds too geeky for you, don’t worry–they have an incredible gallery of workflows that are already made that you can just download!

Workflow is one of the best apps you could ever get and has the highest recommendation I can give–it is that good. It’s a universal app (now with syncing between devices!) and it, too, is a steal right now at just $2.99 (org $4.99).

1Password (iOS / Mac) is last, but certainly not least. 1Password is simply the best password manager out there that combines convenience with robust security. We all know we should use different passwords for every site, but there’s no way you can remember all that unless you make the passwords really easy–which we also shouldn’t do. It might feel like you have the option of being hacked or of going crazy–but 1Password completely solves that problem.

You create and remember just one password (thus the name) to get into the app–and the app remembers everything else so you don’t have to. 1Password will generate long, random, strong, nonsense passwords for you–like DK.yrn4FXKY9ktU2kW+nT)UgFKL.XdiyNuve))NUM9X2cWwReM–that would take years to hack, but then 1Password also remembers what website the password was used for so you don’t have to remember that either. Then, when it comes time to log in, all you have to do is open the 1Password browser extension (or iOS extension) and click on the password that 1Password automatically found for you in its vault.

I balked at the price of 1Password for a few years before I finally bought it and I wish I had bought it sooner. It is worth every penny, not just to prevent your accounts from being hacked, but because it is seriously is faster and more convenient than using just one password everywhere! It is rare in life that you can get something more secure and more convenient, but 1Password manages to do just that.

You can get 1Password for Mac 30% off, just $34.95. The 1Password iOS app is a free download, but the in-app upgrade to Pro (highly recommended) is 50% off, just $4.99 (orig $9.99). I know it is pricey, but, trust me, you won’t regret it (and if you do, they’ve got a money-back guarantee!)–get convenience and security today!

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