Three Months In – My thoughts on Apple Watch

When Apple Watch was first introduced in 2015, I was still situated firmly in the middle of this xkcd:

I quit wearing a watch sometime in the oughts, and never really missed it. Besides, I had this great $600+ pocket watch also known as an iPhone. The original Apple Watch seemed like nothing more than a gadget to me. However, with the introduction of Apple Watch Series 2 in the fall of 2016, my interest was piqued by its improved water proofing and ability to track my swim workouts.

Now, over three months into owning my Apple Watch, I find that I love it. It’s on my wrist all the time. Its activity tracking has made a difference in my overall fitness, and its quick notifications help to dispense with distractions from my phone.

My Favorite Feature: Activity Tracking

When I learned that Apple Watch Series 2 would be waterproof up to 50m, that turned me from casual observer to prospective customer. What’s more, during the original announcement, they showed how the watch can track your swim workouts, counting your laps and detecting your stroke. I love my morning swims, and being able to bring my Apple Watch along sold me on its utility. What I didn’t realize until I got my watch was how much I would enjoy and benefit from its overall activity tracking.

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Completing those circles each day has gotten addictive.

Apple Watch tracks my activity across three metrics represented by three concentric circles in the Activity app. The outer, red Move ring tracks my active calories burned each day. The middle, green Exercise ring tracks how many minutes of “brisk” activity I’ve completed so far. The inner, blue Stand ring shows how many hours I’ve stood for at least one minute.

perfect-week.400x443As you can see in the screenshot above, I wasn’t consistent in completing my circles during my first full month wearing my watch. However, just before January, the Activity app presented me with the “Ring in the New Year Challenge”. All I had to do was complete all three Activity rings each day for a full week in January. A digital reward was enough of a carrot for me to start my streak.

After completing the challenge I kept going. As of this writing, I’m currently at 69 days in a row where I’ve completed all three Activity rings. In order to do this, I’ve had to make a conscious effort to get in my exercise each day. Also, after closing my circles for a week, the Activity app suggests a new Move goal for the next week. If I accept the new goal, that means I’ve increased my daily calorie burn target. Over time this means I’ve gradually raised the amount of calories I’m burning each day.

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I’m currently working on my 3rd perfect month in a row.

Quick Notifications

I’ve always known that Apple Watch provides notification of things which show up as alerts on my iPhone; however, it wasn’t until I experienced receiving these as quick glances on my wrist rather than on my phone that I saw their utility.

apple-watch-notificationI get a lot of notifications on my phone (don’t we all?). I try to be smart about them, turning off notifications for most apps. However, that still leaves a lot of notifications that I like to see: Basecamp (for projects I’m managing), Reminders (e.g. “Change your contacts” every other week on Friday), alerts from servers I manage, important emails, etc.

Before Apple Watch, whenever I received one of these alerts, I’d often grab my phone and process the alert (i.e. read it then clear it/respond to it). Going through this same process on my wrist is much quicker. With many alerts over time, the time I save adds up. Apple Watch provides a nice “best of both worlds” approach where I’m able to keep my alerts and still focus on whatever I happen to be working on.

Final Thoughts, Should you get an Apple Watch?

I’ve definitely been happy with my purchase. Health benefits alone, the metrics Apple Watch provides have been a key part of improving my overall fitness and activity levels. Its integration with my iPhone make Apple Watch a truly useful tool during my workday and beyond. If you already have an iPhone and you’re firmly planted in the “Apple products eco-system”, Apple Watch will fit in seamlessly with all your Apple gear. Is Apple Watch a must buy? No, but as far as accessories go, it has become more integrated into my life than just about any other “optional” gadget that I can think of.

Bonus: If you’re in the market for another Apple Watch band, check: Curated collection of the Best Non-Apple Watch Bands

Welcome to Macintosh Season 3 – Coming Summer 2017

Recently I received a hand-written note, a t-shirt, and some stickers from Mark Bramhill, host of Welcome to Macintosh. Described as “a tiny show about a big fruit company“, Welcome to Macintosh has covered the history of Macworld Magazine, the use of skeuomorphs in Apple software, the Apple rumor mill, and more. If you’re a fan of Apple and you don’t subscribe to the podcast, stop reading this and add it to your podcatcher right now →.

Getting back to that note, t-shirt, and stickers: They were a thank you for backing Welcome to Macintosh: Season 3 on Kickstarter. When I pledged my support, I knew I would be getting the t-shirt, but the note and stickers were a very cool bonus, a perfect example of what I love about a good podcast.

By their nature, podcasts have such a great “indie” feel. Whenever I listen to an episode, it’s not hard for me to imagine the final steps of the host (or perhaps staff) as someone uploads the MP3 and publishes it for distribution. Then it’s “magically” whisked to eager ears everywhere.

In the case of Welcome to Macintosh, you can tell the show is a labor of love for Bramhill. Each episode is well-researched, diligently produced, and masterfully edited. The show is at the top of my favorites, and I can’t wait for Season 3, coming this Summer.

iPhone 7 Impressions – Marques Brownlee

Alright, if you’re a regular reader, my guess is you know all about the latest iPhone 7 Apple introduced yesterday. That’s not the point of this post. Rather I want to introduce you to self-made tech reporter Marques Brownlee. I love this kid’s hustle.

As you can tell from the video included with this post, Marques is talented. He’s got the gear for shooting great footage, and he knows how to edit. He has used his YouTube channel to garner over 3.6 million followers. That among other things got him press access to yesterday’s Apple event. If you want to check out more of his stuff, check out his YouTube channel or follow him on Twitter.

The Secret of Steve – Kevin Ashton on Medium

“For several years I was a member of the research advisory board of a company that made cell phones. Every year it gave me its latest phone. I found each one harder to use than the last, as did other board members. It was no secret Apple might make a phone: The risk was always dismissed, since Apple had never made a phone. A few months after Apple’s phone became available, the board met and I asked what the company thought of it. The Chief Engineer said, ‘It has a really bad microphone.’” via The Secret of Steve | Kevin Ashton | Medium