3 Months with the Apple Watch

September 12, 2020

Why Series 3 ?

The Apple Watch series 3 is Apple’s affordable take on the smartwatch. I chose it over the series 5 for the sole reason that I was experimenting with this whole smartwatch thing and the price difference was quite substantial. Series 3 starts at $200 while the series 5 starts at $400.

Perhaps the best feature of Series 5 is the always on screen. At the time of purchase I didn’t think that was something I needed. After using the Series 3 for 3 months I’m certain that this is a feature I need. The sole reason being that raising your wrist to see the time does not always work as promised. An always on screen would solve that nuisance.

Other than that the Series 4 & 5 have a larger screen but does that even matter in a smartwatch? You will always reach for the really big screen of your smartphone.

Apple Watch unlocks your Mac

This is my favourite feature of the Apple Watch. You just got to have the same AppleID both on your iPhone and Mac for it to work. Every time your Mac goes to sleep and brings up the lock screen it unlocks automatically without you needing to type a password.

Your watch must be near your computer for it to work. It won’t unlock if you are across the room. This is very handy in situations where someone else may try to wake your Mac with you being in the room. He won’t be able to.

Your Mac will require a password only during the initial login after booting. This has the positive side effect that you can now create a more complex password. You will only enter it once every few days. Meanwhile, every time you want to reach out to your computer you can do so, instantly. This is great user experience on Apple’s part.

Better notifications

When you wear your first smartwatch, the first think you’ll notice in the first few hours is the huge amount of notifications. Those are exactly the same in number as the ones right before in your phone. But the fact that they are now in your wrist makes them much more obtrusive.

I’ve put up with the annoyance for the few first days. At some point when I got a notification from my bank about a purchase I made, I got a great idea. I said to myself: “Hey, I don’t need to be notified about that. It can go into a label in Gmail and I’ll check it later if and when I got the time.”

Fast forward a few days and 90% of my emails were set to be stored automatically into labels, skipping the inbox entirely. The rest 10% were essential emails I had to be aware of right away. The next step was to cut notifications from apps. Even seemingly important ones like incoming PayPal payments were eliminated.

The result was a new digital lifestyle. I used to do things mostly because of external events which arrived to me in the form of emails and notifications. I now plan my day the way I choose. I reach out to my computer or phone for data only when I deem it important. In a way I became master of my digital self.

The rings habit

I will make the assumption that you are not aware of the concept of rings in the Apple Watch. As you can see in the picture above there are three rings in the activity app on the watch. Move, Exercise, Stand.

Stand 12 times in separate hours within a day. Exercise 30 minutes in a day. Move enough to burn 450 calories. While you make progress towards those goals the rings fill up slowly. Once you hit a goal the corresponding ring closes.

When you got your activity data and goals all available anytime, anyplace at the comfort of your wrist, it becomes extremely easy to get in the habit of working out.

When you complete all your rings, a nice animation acts as a reward. The next day you get coaching messages from the watch like “Great work yesterday, I bet you can do it again today”.

Since I got the Apple Watch I have increased the number of times I workout on the treadmill or the walks on the countryside. Furthermore there is a companion activity app on the iPhone which allows you to view your progress over the course of weeks or months.

The small things

There are other small details in the Apple Watch that make it a great experience. The breathe app for example asks you to take deep breaths for a minute (or more) and helps you reduce stress.

Heart rate alerts come up when your heart beats at more than 120bpm or less than 50bpm for 10 minutes. This can help in case you have irregularities in heart beating. I have heard of many cases where people found out they have a condition because of the Apple Watch.

It works in conjunction with Apple Music bringing the most important controls at your wrist. Turning the digital crown is the (very intuitive) volume control and of course you get to see the artist/song info in the screen. It’s very convenient while laying in bed listening to music to avoid reaching out for your phone in the dark.

Do I recommend it ?

I have to say I wholeheartedly do. From working out more, to a better digital lifestyle or even typing less passwords, the Apple Watch had a totally positive effect on my life. I will watch the virtual Apple event this September to see what new features the series 6 will bring and perhaps I’ll get the new one mostly for the always on screen.

Oh! It tells the time as well.