One Month with the Apple Watch

One month ago, I decided to purchase the 42mm Space Grey Apple Watch Sport. What prompted this wasn’t a whim, or split second decision to buy, but a calculated decision on what my next wearable would be.

This isn’t my first foray into wearable technology. Previously, I used a Pebble smartwatch, and a Jawbone UP 24 fitness tracker. I used them together, on the opposing wrists, and was looking for something to merge the two together so that I didn’t have to wear them both anymore. (Side Note: I am aware that Jawbone offers a Pebble smartwatch app, but preferred the accuracy of the UP 24, as well as chose to retain my sleep tracker by wearing the UP 24.) So I started looking at my options. The first logical step in my head was to look at the Pebble Time. I specifically favored the Pebble Time Steel. So that was at the top of the list. Now, at the time that I was doing my research, Apple approved the Android Wear compatibility app in the iOS App Store, which opened up my options. So I began to look at those. The 3 that stood out in my mind would be the LG Urbane, the Moto 360, and the Samsung Gear S2. I, however quickly discounted the S2 because of the disapproval of the design. Next I looked at the Moto 360, to which I finally decided No, because I knew the little black bar at the bottom would drive me nuts. So I was deciding between the LG Urbane, and the Pebble Time Steel.

Then my boss purchased a 42mm Space Black Apple Watch (the Stainless Steel).

After a whole 20 minutes of playing with his watch, my decision was pretty much made for me. I did a little final research on the fitness tracking side of the Watch, and decided to go with it. So next paycheck, I walked over to the Apple Store (Since I work right outside it) and made my purchase.

Now many people have asked, why did you choose the one I got?

First of all: I decided to go with the 42mm because my wrist is a little bigger, and I figured the bigger screen would be a little easier for my eyes to catch, since I already wear glasses.

Secondly: I decided on the Sport for a few reasons. One was the price difference, obviously. The other was my dislike of the Stainless Steel. My boss’ watch started sowing micro-scratches on the body of the watch, which the aluminum of the Sport has so far proved not to show.

Finally: I chose the Space Grey with Black Sport band because I liked that it was sleek, and low profile, and I preferred the color over the Silver and Rose Gold. I did however favor the Yellow Gold Aluminum just as much as the Space Grey, but didn’t want to stick with the Midnight Blue band until I could purchase the Band that I wanted.

Set up was really smooth. It took in total, about 45 minutes. The Apple Watch app on the iPhone was very straight forward, and easy to use and understand. And even though it had only been released the previous week, my watch booted with watchOS 2 already installed. (Side Note: It was posed to me that the Watch could have updated to watchOS 2 while set up was going on, to which I have found out the answer is no.)

After set up, I was ready to go. I only had to go into the Apple Watch app, and individually select which apps I wanted to show on my Apple Watch, which took about a minute per app to load over onto the Watch. Where I really noticed what took the most time, was loading a playlist over to the Watch.

One of my main wants to use the watch for was for working out and running with. So when I found out that you could sync a playlist over to the watch and connect a pair of Bluetooth headphones to it to listen, I was ecstatic. So I made my “Apple Watch” playlist, and set it to sync over Bluetooth from my phone. 25 songs (roughly 750mb) took almost 4 hours to complete, which to be honest, may be the actual time it takes, but to me, seemed very long. About 45 minutes into it, I put both my Watch and iPhone on the charger and watched some Netflix and Hulu. But in the end, it completed fully and successfully, and I was ready to go.

One thing that worried me about the Watch was the charger. It’s a magnetic connection that clicks onto the underside of the Watch body. My experience with wireless/magnetic chargers has been mix. While MagSafe on my Mac is nice and works very well, other devices, like the Pebble’s charger, and the Duracell wireless charging case I have for my old 5s has been less than stellar. They had to be just right, or they wouldn’t charge, and it was very easy to accidentally bump them off their connections. But my experience with the charger so far has been great. Usually, once I let it click onto the Watch, I turn it so that it is on its side, in Nightstand mode, and I’ve had no problems.

Integration wise, It’s a dream come true. One of the things that drove me nuts on my Pebble was how little I could interact with my iPhone on it. I could read and clear notifications and change my music. Beyond that, there wasn’t really much that I could do. The native integration of the Apple Watch was a big and welcome addition. I love the way that the notifications pop up and I can interact with them in a number of ways, either with my preset responses, dictation, or with the animated/regular emojis. One addition that I think would add a little bit of help is the predictive text that iPhones have. I find myself sometimes watching to be able to just tap out a sentence on the Watch rather than pulling out my phone. But none the less it offers a great deal of functionality.

One of the other things that I have found was how easily it disconnects and reconnects with my iPhone. I have a pair of LG Tone Pro Bluetooth headphones that I use. Quite often, I find myself walking away with my headphones on, but leaving my iPhone where I just was. If I walk out of the roughly 40 foot range, generally I have to go into Bluetooth settings and disconnect and reconnect, or turn my headphones off and back on again. The same thing happened with my Pebble. Id often have to disconnect and reconnect, or reboot the Pebble. But I don’t suffer from that problem with the Watch. I have left my phone at my work, walked halfway across the mall and upstairs to get food, came back, and it never had a problem. Not once have I had to disconnect and reconnect, or reboot my watch.

The wrist detection feature works very well. Raising and lowering the watch works about 90% of the time, with few errors. When I take it off my wrist, and it stops sensing my heartbeat, it locks itself up and requires my passcode before it can be used again.

Speaking of the heart sensor, it works extremely well and is more accurate than I expected. Due to the fact that my mother is a medical assistant, we happened to have a finger oximeter in the house, which are the little things that clip around your fingertip and measure your heartrate. When using them both at the same time, the Watch was never more the 3 beats per minute off, but then quickly adjusted to the correct bpm.

The fitness tracking is on par with my UP 24, and every day, I now find myself pushing to fill all of my rings. There are 3 rings, Calories burned, Exercise completed, and hours stood. The requirements are determined by your fitness goal. My current fitness goal, at the time of writing this, is 480 calories per day. So, ring number one fills up as I get closer to that goal. Ring number two, requires 30 minutes of exercise, that can be accumulated thought the day, as well as when you track and exercise in the Workout app on the Watch, those stats are added into the rings too. The third ring is hours stood, for it asks for 12 hours. How is that one filled? Every hour that you stand and are active for one minute, it adds an hour to your goal, if you haven’t stood that hour, it’ll send you a ping reminder to stand up. For example, if its 1:50pm, and you haven’t stood up for one minute, in the last 50 minutes, a “Time to Stand” notification will pop up on your wrist.

The battery life doesn’t bug me as much as I thought it would. I got annoyed thinking, man, this is one more thing I have to charge at the end of every day. And while I did miss having the sleep tracking, I had gotten used to living without it, as well as popping the watch on the charger every night. Most days however, I actually don’t end up using, sometimes, even half of my battery life, so I have started using it as a sleep tracker, and just putting it on the charger in the morning when I get up to get ready for work. It actually charges extremely quickly, generally in about an hour and 15 minutes from 0%-100%.

The customizability leaves something to be desired however. The included watch faces can be somewhat customized, but with the exception of the photo and photo albums faces, the only thing that can be changed are the Complications. I prefer the “Modular” watch face, and my customized face can be seen below.Watch

All in all, I’d give the Apple Watch an 8 out of 10 overall score. It’s absolutely phenomenal at what it does but it does leave a little to be desired.

Zac Murphy

Zac Murphy is a huge geek. He is a photographer, graphic designer, and filmmaker. He loves to search the web and report on tech news.

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