About that Apple Watch


I have the Apple Watch now for nearly 2 weeks. The excitement is still there, but the newness slowly rubs off and the day to day features and real life usefulness are coming out more clearly.

First, I still love how the watch looks. In person, and more so: on person, the design is absolutely great. It’s possible that I will look at it in a few years like I look at my original iPhone today, which I consider now bulky with a really tiny screen (though I still love that principle design language). But today, I am just so blown away how that thing looks and feels. And I really like the back sports band. This looks just so good. Still, once Apple sells the watch in Singapore, which is only 12 days out, I will certainly buy one or two additional bands, to be able to match it more with what I wear (beyond the watch faces, that is).

I still play and use the watch a lot. This has decreased, of course, which can be measured by how much battery life I have left at the end of a day. In the beginning, when I fiddled around with it a lot and also used it during a work out, battery life at the end of the day was between 10 and 20%.
Now I am playing less and battery life is in the 20 to 30% range. Solid, but I wonder whether this will become tight once third party apps and other goodies come with watch OS 2.0 in the fall.

I stand by my earlier impression: I do not understand why you would not want to have an Apple Watch. The power of having notifications on the wrist, having a remote for music and podcasts (thanks Overcast), setting timers or glancing stocks of interest (and yes: telling time) without having to pull out your phone from a pocket is super compelling.
Sure there are some bad experiences: there are a few wrinkles in the UI when it comes to glances and what should the watch show when it turns on the screen. And some apps are just not there, yet, which is hard to explain even if I acknowledge that native apps are not possible, yet. Take messaging apps, I mean: why can WeChat apparently provide a similar experience to Apple’s iMessage, but WhatsApp and Hangouts cannot. And Threema is not even close to provide a decent experience (but that’s due to poor design of the iPhone app, of course).

All considered, the best indicator that shows how much the watch has already become a significant piece of technology in my daily life, however, can be judged by how I track my activity. Up to now, I have tracked my activity with Withing’s Health Mate app. I started using it when I bought the Withing’s scale and the app is great. Way better than Apple’s Health app, by the way.

I’ve been absolutely religious using Health Mate. I made sure I would always have my phone in my pocket, so it would count my steps. I checked my weight every day and when I did so, I had the phone lying close-by with the app launched, even though this is not necessary. When I got my new iPhone and it was far less stable in the pocket of my running trunks, I made sure to find a solution to that, because I was so addicted to have my steps counted as accurately as possible and then displayed in Health Mate.

I have done this for months.

Not anymore. Yes, I still use Health Mate, but mostly because it is my gateway to make sure that weight measured on the scale feeds into Apple’s Health app. I do not carry my phone anymore when I am running in the gym: it’s now next to the treadmill and I do not stress anymore about how much the phone is bouncing in my pocket. The daily check of Health Mate has been replaced by the daily check of Apple’s Activity app, which is installed once an Apple Watch is activated on your iPhone.

Yes, I know what you think: the Health Mate app on the left looks a bit friendlier. And I agree. Apple adopted a black interface, arguably to match with the mainly black watch user interface that is key to help preserve battery life. But the interesting thing is this: Apple’s Activity has virtually identical overview features as Health Mate (okay: not the weight, I need to look at this either in Health Mate or Apple Health and I am missing a good status overview of weekly activities in Apple’s software) and adds a daily challenge. You have to meet a given activity goal (i.e. numbers of calories you commit to burn every day), training goal (30 minutes of decent movement) and standing goal (at least once per hour, 12 times a day).
This is cleverly represented by the circles you see on the right and it is a minimum goal every day to complete each circle at least once (for activity and movement it might be completed twice or more often, depending on how active you are).

I take that rather seriously.
Tonight, I was once more running outside, because I was missing 5 minutes on my training goal (and wanted to combine this with another attempt to further calibrate the watch to my stride). Yes: I was intentionally more active to close the damn circle!

In the Health Mate app my single goal in terms of activity was to clock in as many steps as possible. Apple’s Activity app also counts steps, but steps are not considered a main goal, which means you do not earn credits for them. What you do earn credits for is when you consistently meet and beat aforementioned activity goals. I am not an expert, but I this seems to make sense (you can walk 10000 steps, but this does not mean you did a good work out). Health Mate gives distance badges for numbers of steps and thus distance covered. Apple gives badges for (hopefully) meaningful activity.

This totally got me hooked, at least as long as there are attainable credits left to conquer.
And it happened quickly. In the beginning I was worried to lose the credits and tracking with Health Mate. Despite having the Apple Watch I was of course still carrying the phone with me at all times. This week I stopped carrying the phone when working out in the gym, enjoying my podcasts over Bluetooth (and yes: I hope Overcast will eventually be able to store these directly on the watch, so I can go running with nothing but the watch and the headphones).

Now, I am actually happy leaving my phone somewhere on a table or charging early on the nightstand, because I am not going to miss any steps or come out short on activity goals. The watch takes care of everything.

Not your cup of coffee? That’s okay.
I think it’s totally brilliant!

2 responses »

  1. Sitting at breakfast with a cup of coffee, no this is not my cup of coffee, but I’m happy that you like it.

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