The very first Apple Watch was released 21 months ago, in April 2015. It was to me, a revolutionary new product, and I just had to get it. So I did.
In September 2016, 18 months after the original Watch was released, Apple then updated the original model, naming it Series 1, while also releasing a whole new version, Series 2.
You could argue that the Series 0 (first edition) to 1 change wasn’t even worth noting, the only main difference was that the Apple S1 processor used in the Watch was replaced with a dual-core variant. However in the Series 2, they added a newer Apple S2 processor which was also dual-core, but also an ambient light sensor, 50 m water resistance, 2x brighter display, and a GPS sensor.
So we can all agree that Series 0 → 2 was a decent update.
Therefore, you would expect that because of this, along with the fact that the Series 0 is a version 1.0 of a new product, that the need and desire to upgrade would be huge.
Except for me, it wasn’t. And it still isn’t.
My Watch is a 42 mm Sport in Space Grey with the original matching Sport band, it still provides the same use as when I first purchased it, but now so much more.
At The Beginning
When I first started using the watch, the main feature that I used was the notifications. This was the major benefit for me, as it meant when I was on the move, be it walking or on the train for example, I didn’t have to keep taking my phone out of my pocket to find out what was trying to catch my attention.
Since then, I have rethought my take on how I manage notifications, but this has been a steady constant on the benefits of wearing the Apple Watch.
Of course, like everyone else, I thought the Apple Watch would be the kickstart I needed to become more active. I would start a new workout whenever I was walking somewhere, or maybe I’d try and jog, or maybe I would take an extra trip somewhere simply because I knew it was tracking me.
Then there was the apps, they took an awfully long time to load, and at the beginning they were run off the paired iPhone, so even at runtime they weren’t the best experience. Although in September 2015, Apple released watchOS 2, which meant that apps could be installed directly on the watch, and therefore would be faster. This was slightly the case, but it still wasn’t the best situation, as sometimes it would be much faster to take your phone out of your pocket, than it would be to just do the simple task on your wrist.
By wearing my watch more often, I was getting more comfortable with it, sometimes even forgot I was wearing it. Slowly I was realising that the things I was using my watch for, simply were being forced, and I didn’t actually want to do them. I just wanted to use the watch.
With the release of watchOS 3 in September 2016, the Apple Watch was suddenly brought back to life.
This update brought significant increases to the speed of the device, which was helped out largely by the new Dock. By choosing to keep apps in the dock, the system would automatically keep them in memory, and therefore would be quicker to load. Alongside the speed benefits, there was also a bunch of new watch faces, and a huge overhaul to the way that the watch worked.
It also meant that because of these updates, developers were more likely to spend more time working on quality apps for the device, since they were able to provide a better experience for their users.
This really was the rebirth of the Apple Watch.
This Moment in Time
So right now, my watch has become a really essential part of my life, and it’s started to feel like it’s providing me with a use.
Here are the main things I now use my watch for:
- Telling the time.
- Notifications (Only for certain apps).
- Checking what’s next in my calendar.
- Monitoring my activity and health.
- Tracking my sleep.
- Pokémon GO (yes I still play it).
Before I go into the “smart” side of the watch, it still is a watch, so I of course use it for the time. But very much like the iPhone, the “native” use of the device isn’t what brings people to use it.
Then there were the notifications, these have been narrowed down to the very few things that require my attention. So I have Messages, a select few email notifications from Airmail, and the occasional thing such as OneFootball when I want to specifically be updated about a game when I’m out doing something.
Recently I’ve been trying to use my calendar more and more, for university lectures, events, and time-sensitive events like flights. Because of this, knowing my next calendar event is essential, as the more I rely on the calendar as my primary schedule, I relinquish control over monitoring what I should be doing. Fantastical has a brilliant app for iOS, and I use their complication on the watch to check my next event, and with a simple tap I can quickly get a list of any other events in the future (made possible by the speed increases I watchOS 3).
It’s a similar situation to the weather, with DarkSky I can have a simple complication that updates super fast, so I can find out the weather in a few seconds.
In what has become a more silent feature of the watch, is the activity and health tracking. As I’m always wearing the watch, I get an accurate measurement of my activity throughout the day, how much I’ve walked, and of course my heart rate is also monitored. I don’t have any health conditions that I need to worry about, but it’s nice to know I have all of this data being logged without me doing anything.
In addition to the health tracking that is done automatically by the watch, by using an iOS app called AutoSleep, I can track the length and quality of my sleep by wearing my watch at night. It still of course needs to be charged, but as I’m sat at my desk, or when I’m not doing anything that involves moving around or needing to receive notifications, I pop it on my little watch stand, and it’s charges pretty quickly. The app uses a whole bunch of metrics to measure the sleep, such as the last time you used your phone, whether it’s on charge, or if you’re moving. But it’s the way in which you manage the sleep tracking is what got me, you just go to sleep. There’s no need to manually say “I’m going to sleep”, you just do it, and it knows. It’s the silent processes of the watch that makes me really love it.
So I’ve got the time, notifications, calendar, activity monitoring, and sleep tracking, there must be something I do on the watch for fun? Well, I do use the Pokémon GO watch app, in companion to the iOS game, in order to gain workout based rewards. It’s the closest to a game experience I have on the device, and it also doubles as a workout tracker, so there’s something else behind it as well.
I wouldn’t say there’s that much else that I use the watch regularly to do. Sometimes I control what I’m listening to, via the Music or Overcast app. As mentioned before, I use the OneFootball app to keep updated on certain football games. Once in a blue moon I use a timer, and that’s probably the only thing I use Watch Siri for. The only other thing I’ve been using is the iOS Wallet, which brings up my boarding passes whenever they’re needed.
When I look back at all of these activities that I now do on my watch, I can clearly see that it has become so much more than a time-telling, notification bringing device.
My Watch as an Appliance
Right now, I use my watch a lot. But even so, it’s not something I desperately need to get any better. I like it how it is.
With the benefits that came with watchOS 3, the device was given a new lease of life. Which made it feel like I’d already purchased a new watch.
I no longer need to worry about it syncing to my phone, whether the apps will be refreshed in time, or even about the speed of the hardware. It’s transformed to yet another computer that sits on my wrist, to a stable appliance that I can trust.
What I Still Don’t Like
Of course nothing is perfect, and I would like a few improvements to be made to the watch experience. But these are mainly down to the software, something that can be changed without the need for me to purchase a new device.
I really don’t like the grid layout of the apps, and I think that a redesign there would be a great improvement. But saying that, the way I interact with my watch is through complications via the watch face, or by launching apps from the dock.
I would also encourage the ability to customise the watch faces even further, so you would be able to have a more custom design and colour options.