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The Apple Watch: So far so good, but the sky's the limit

I've had a scant two weeks with the Apple Watch, but it's already changing the way I act — and because of that, the way I feel too. Now I can't wait for watchOS 2.0, because it's going to change everything.

I was the last of the iMore crew to get my Apple Watch. In fact, it arrived only days before I left my home to travel to San Francisco for WWDC and AltConf. For a while, I had that vaguely troubling memory of being the fat, awkward kid who was always picked last in gym class. June 1st rolled around, and Apple finally delivered my watch, ordered on April 10th.

Now that I've had some time to get used to it, I've found that the watch is doing what I expected it to do — and to that end, it pleases me greatly. It's doing a lot more. My impetus for getting the watch was pretty simple: I was looking for an assistive device to help keep my health on track.

Following gastric bypass surgery last November, I've had to stay on a much more regimented schedule of pills, supplements and exercise than I ever had to before. You'd think that after seven months I'd have the routine down by now, but I'm easily distracted. I've set up a calendar with frequent reminders, but I often missed them if I step away from my computer and don't always notice when my phone buzzes in my pocket to remind me.

The Apple Watch fills that gap. I get a gentle tap on the wrist when a reminder pops up. I raise my wrist to see that it's time to take a med. The exercise and activity tracking is working out spectacularly well for me. It helps me stay on track with standing, walking and working out in ways that my iPhone simply wasn't well adapted to.

All of these positive changes were particularly apparent to me when I was out in San Francisco for WWDC week. Typically I get off track very fast during trade shows — the irregular, late hours, the strange food, and sleeping in a strange hotel bed combine, and I'll get way off my schedule. Not so this year: I was able to stay much more regimented and on schedule than I have in past years.

I've taken and made some calls on the watch and regularly respond to messages too. The Apple Watch has become a very useful accessory for my iPhone 6. This is a point a clueless editorial at Slate about whether or not you could use an Apple Watch all by itself seems to have missed entirely. The idea isn't to replace any existing device with the Apple Watch. It's to make the overall experience better.

I'm getting and staying healthier, thanks to the Apple Watch.

The fact is that using the Apple Watch right can have an absolutely transformative effect on its wearers. Take a look at what Jim Dalrymple recently had to say about his experience using it. He's a bit more hyperbolic than I am: He says no product has had such an impact on him as the Apple Watch. I wouldn't go that far, but I do recognize the impact the Apple Watch has had. And it's all positive.

I haven't loaded up the Apple Watch with a ton of third-party apps yet. I do have a few on there, mainly for conveniences' sake. I've installed the Avea app from Elgato, so I can control a Bluetooth light bulb in my office which I use for mood lighting (no more fishing with the iPhone app). I connect to MyFitnessPal, a popular calorie counting and exercise monitoring app. And I also use Authy for quick access to two factor authentication I use on some of my Internet accounts. I'm also using Shazam, so I don't have to fumble for my iPhone to get info on a song I hear.

Right now watchOS is limited in what it allows third-party apps to do. It is, with a few exceptions outside of Apple apps themselves, mainly just a device for receiving notifications. This will change with watchOS 2.0, announced at WWDC last week and due out later this year. The new OS will let third party app makers create audio and video apps that work on the watch. "Complications" — enhancements to the watch faces — will also be put in the hands of app developers. They'll be able to tap into input from the Digital Crown, Taptic Engine, accelerometer and microphone — all things they can't really do too much with now.

The Apple Watch feels slow when I'm working with some apps, and a lot of that has to do with its dependence on the iPhone to do ... well, pretty much anything. Once app logic comes to the Apple Watch, things are going to change again, only for the better.

I am looking forward to the transformative effect that real, interactive third-party applications are going to have on this tiny device on my wrist. In fact, I can't wait for watchOS 2.0's release. It's going to be great.

27 Comments
  • Thanks Peter for the write up! Yours are the most sensible articles imo. I am confused if I should get one once it launches here in India? I LOVE running and I hope  watch helps me in this! Take care and have a lovely weekend! Sent from the iMore App
  • Thanks for reading! If you can come up with justifications for the purchase, I think the Apple Watch is well worth getting. Up until a few weeks before it came out I was, quite frankly, scratching my head and still trying to figure out how I was going to use it in such a way that would justify it. Once I understood better how the Taptic Engine worked and how the Apple Watch integrated with my iPhone calendar, offered activity tracking and so on, it made a lot more sense. For me. As in all things, your mileage may vary. Some people I know are very happy with considerably less expensive devices used for fitness and activity tracking specifically. But it's the infinite possibility of the Apple Watch that excites me the most.
  • Hey Peter, I agree that the watch has surprised with how it helps with health. Even though I've been fortunate and been in great shape all my life without having to watch weight or struggle to exercise etc., I've found the watch has enhanced my fitness and health. For example, having the visual record of what I've done so handy and also the reminders to stand has made me even more motivated to reach my goals and I actually enjoy those little reward icons. Weird. Like I say, I've never had a problem keeping up my healthy lifestyle, but now it's a little better thanks to the watch. By the way, if you have a complex login password for your Mac (and I'm guessing you do!), check out the automatic login app, "MacID." My password is long and I often screw it up due to impatience etc., so just tapping my watch to login to my Mac (or vice versa) is alone worth the price of the watch!
  • I agree! Just loaded Mac ID on my phone, and can now lock/unlock both my Macs with my watch. Sweet! Check out my review in the Watch Apps section in the Forum.
  • If anyone's looking for tips on how to get the most out of MacID, check out our feature: Get the most out of MacID: Unlock your Mac with Touch ID and much more
  • Apple Watch Unboxing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzmGPEigHHI
  • Thank you, Peter. This is a good article. I'm not saying the Apple Watch is 100% responsible, but I've started taking better care of myself and exercising more since I purchased the watch. Like you said, "...it's already changing the way I act..."
  • I watched the imore show the other day. You look great Peter well done. I only have my watch a week now. The first day I taught I had made a mistake buying it. Now one week on I love it. I can only imagine how cool they are gonna be in a couple of years. I just love getting notifications on my wrist and mostly ignoring them. Sent from the iMore App
  • Thanks! :)
  • On another note... Speck has a sitewide 1-day only 30%-off sale today, the Apple Watch case is part of it, picked a 2nd one up for $20. Great to snap it on for doing housework, yardwork, or anything where you might bump your watch into something. Overpriced at $30, the sale price is closer to what it should be ;-) https://www.imore.com/e?link=https2F2Fi2F852...
  • Thanks, Benjitek. I just ordered one. I've only had my Apple Watch (42 mm, Stainless Steel) for a couple of days now, but I have had some near accidents by brushing too closely to walls and doors and such. Just ordered my $20 watch case, I think it will be money well spent. I have AppleCare Plus for the watch, but you can't be too careful! I think using the case while exercising or doing anything strenuous is a good safety net! For $20, you can't really go wrong. Thx!
  • Yeah -- until my Watch, I didn't realize how often my arm hits stuff -- like the washer drum when taking clothes out, etc. I like the case except for one thing -- swiping the screen, whether it's up/down/left/right -- you do get a lot of mis-swipes with the case on -- better than a scratch though ;-) Something to keep in mind with stainless steel though, it always scratches -- but after a few months use, all the scratches create what is it's final texture. Sort of like stainless eating utensils, shiny when you first get them -- you notice the first scratches, but after a while all the scratches equal the actual look -- not quite as shiny anymore, but not so scratched looking -- 'brushed' stainless ;-) I have the sports model, and got the case primarily to prevent damaging the glass or nicking the metal. Surprisingly durable though, as before the case arrived I brushed my arm (and watch) against the exterior stucco of a building, not a scratch -- just a minor heart attack...
  • The biggest single delight I've gotten from the Watch was when I was taking a walk while listening to music on headphones. Not only was I able to see what was playing by raising my watch, but I could use the digital crown to adjust the volume. I can't stress enough how easily and precisely I could adjust the volume, and how much more satisfying making that adjustment was compared to tapping the headphone dongle or digging my iPhone out. That crown brings back the best parameter adjuster there is for many uses, turning a knob.
  • For me it made everything easier. Just being able to switch songs while doing dishes. Or being in the shower makes a bigger difference than one might think. Also being able to have sori define a word or calculate something for me makes a difference. It doesn't do anything huge for me but when you add up all the little things it helps me with it was definitely worth buying. Sent from the iMore App
  • I dont live in wawe 1 country but was super lucky in Dover Street Market Tokyo three weeks ago got 42mm stainless milanese as I wanted. The watch comes to its own for me during a busy working day with notifications of calls, meeetings, texts and VIP emails. I managed to get it to work on office wifi as well as in our house and garden with several wifi routers - ability to go round phone-less is the a great feature for me. We don't have apple pay in Europe yet but some POS will accept it - I was able to pay coffee with my US issued credit card and it is cool, but other times the POS declined the transaction so will have to wait some more.... Using the flight boarding pass is good on the watch on the gate before security but at the gate just before boarding I found many readers are constructed in a way that the wrist wont fit in and a phone has to come out... Health features make me exercise more as I dont like days when my actvity goals are not met.... So a lot of great stuff, look forward to watchOS 2 when hopefully third party apps come at the moment often somslow as they are unusable but they will fix it. Overall very happy customer;)
  • Good article as always, I love the apple watch (would prefer Iwatch) , love the activity app and it is definitely motivating me to do more excercise, also the convenience of notifications is great. Will admit though, I would feel a bit foolish taking a phone call and speaking into my wrist however that's probably more about me than the watch itself. I need to utilise Siri more than I do which I think would enhance my experience Sent from the iMore App
  • I agree with you about feeling a bit foolish taking a phone call on my wrist, but only in public. However, at home I love it! Sometimes my phone is in the bedroom charging while I'm at the other end of the house in the kitchen so this is where answering 'your wrist' comes in handy. I used to miss calls because I couldn't hear my phone ringing from another room. Now I can answer on my watch, walk back to the bedroom, pick up my phone and use the 'hand off' to continue my conversation on the phone. If I get a call in public and don't feel like digging my phone out to answer, I tap to send a 'can I call you back later' message.
  • Absolutely loving mine got it on Thursday and today I doing my chores around the house without having the phone anywhere near me, I am paranoid about severe weather and now I can let my office mates when they need to dash outside to close car windows ahead of the weather even in a meeting where the phone is unwanted
  • How did you get the complications to display in color on the Utility watch face shown in the heading?
  • Thank you Peter. I've been waiting for this review. I know most of it has been already said but was still a nice article to read your take on the watch. I would like to know though, how much of a distraction do you find your watch? Do you ever feel like now there is another gadget besides your phone that you need to be aware of?
  • How did you change the color of the complications? Thanks Sent from the iMore App
  • I still wish I could get notifications come to the watch AND phone instead of one or the other. I drive a lot for work and the vehicle vibration and noise means I mostly miss the tap on the wrist and I can't see it on my phone either unless I check it. A notification tone from my 6 Plus would be loud and I could just hold up my watch to see the notification. Pretty big bug bear for me so far Sent from the iMore App
  • When I'm driving or someplace noisy and miss the haptic tap, my watch shows a red indicator at the top. Once I swipe down, I can see my notifications. I especially like that I can see any e-mails received from those on my VIP list.
  • Nice article! I can relate as I injured my back not too long ago and now that it's better, the watch is helping me ease back into an exercise regimen. I was sitting a LOT with a heating pad so I particularly like the 'stand' reminders. I also like the convenience the watch has brought to my day-to-day activities with less reliance on my iPhone. Initially, I was on the fence about whether or not to purchase the Apple Watch; but after using it for nearly two months, it has definitely paid for itself in usefulness.
  • Nice article! I love using the work app with the music app, switch between them with double crown tap. Having prominent notifications is a most. I hardly miss any notifications now. Can wait for watchOS 2!!!!
  • Your article is a good read Peter and has me actually looking at the AW, but I will likely hold off to see what 2.0 offers and unless Apple plans a larger battery the rumors of a Facetime Camera would have a negative impact on the battery wouldn't you say.
  • most sensible use of the watch I have ever read of.
    good job Peter and keep up the good work.
    Rene could take a ton of lessons in thoughtful writing from you.