A day in the life with Apple Watch

We've put up a lot of information, how-tos, thoughts, and reviews about the Apple Watch these past few weeks, but we haven't really talked about what our daily use cases for the Watch look like. So, two weeks in, Rene, Ally, and I got together to chat about how we actually put the Watch to work each day.


Ren: After two weeks, the Apple Watch has replaced my iPhone as the thing I reach for first thing in the morning. In part, that's to reduce the amount of time I spend in bed reading Twitter, but I really do like browsing any missed notifications and checking quick news headlines on the Watch; it prevents the temptation of trying to triage too much on a small iPhone screen.

I'll usually put the Watch on around 7-8, depending on the day, and spend the first fifteen minutes checking for any important notifications and reading news headlines from the New York Times. After that, it's get dressed, grab my iPhone and my Mac, and get to work.

Most days, I'll spend the morning working at home; while I'm at my Mac, my Watch gets little play, other than occasionally alerting me to things I've already seen on my computer screen. This is one Continuity-based area I hope Apple improves upon in Watch OS 1.1 — it knows when I've checked my iPhone's notifications, but it doesn't seem to reconcile those with my Mac.

I also use the Watch in the mornings as a reminder to stand up and get some quick movement in so that I can close that Stand Ring early. (Pesky Stand Ring.)

Ally: I wake up around 6 or 6:30 during the week and my day typically starts by about 7am. my partner and I take the dogs for a walk and head to the gym afterwards. On the days we don't work out, we take an extra long walk. We are both now tracking these walks on our Apple Watches. Each time we walk, the Apple Watch encourages us to go a little further. At the beginning of the week we were walking about 2 miles on no gym days, we're now up to about 3 miles.

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On gym mornings the Activity app on my Apple Watch is encouraging me to do the same thing, set new goals for myself. On days I want to push myself, I find this helpful. On some days, I find it annoying. I guess you can't win em all.

Rene: I'm all confused. Literally. I just got back from the west coast, so I'm time-shifted, and I barely slept during Apple Watch launch, so I'm not even sure when I'm going to sleep or waking up any more. That said, I've been strapping my Apple Watch on around 8am ET these last few days.

First thing I do is check for Sketches. Then I'm disappointed many of my friends have seemingly gotten over them. I still love them. I send a bunch every day. I'm working on my Batman, Spider-Man, Joker, Vader, Hulk, Bart, Cartman, and other cartoons, and I'll send them any time I can think of an excuse. Like now…

Today I went for a nice long walk before starting work. That's a trend I want to continue.

During the work day

Ally: Normally I start my workday around 10am. However, I've found myself starting earlier this week. I think this is because I'm not becoming distracted with my iPhone during breakfast, workouts, and morning walks. Typically, I get a work text, respond, and then start fiddling with Twitter and other irrelevant things. It slows me down. I guess I never realized how much.

This week, there hasn't been any of that. It was a nice change. And it resulted in me being done sooner in the evenings, leaving more time for family, friends, and my partner.

By midday, I've typically triaged my inbox, written an article or two, and perhaps had a few calls with some colleagues or developers.. While I'm on my iMac, I don't feel my Apple Watch has changed very much of my work routine. Since all my messages and important things come to my Mac, I don't find myself looking at my wrist very often.

I do however get stand movements throughout the day (even if I already am standing at my desk), which has led to me being more aware of the need to walk around, take a break, and drink more water. The dogs also seem to appreciate this as it results in more frequent random walks for them throughout the day. At first these stand alerts irritated me, but then I started realizing that they aren't there to just make you stand up, they're there to encourage you to actually move throughout the day.

I always have my afternoon tasks come through around 1pm via Todoist. Sometimes I set my phone down and I find task reminders get buried in other notifications by the time I pick it up again. Now no matter what I'm doing, I can view them on my wrist, mark them as complete, and even snooze them for later. Since I only let important things come through to my Apple Watch, the Notification Center pulldown has become the first place I look if I only want to concern myself with the things that are important.

Rene: I have very few notifications enabled. VIP email, messages, calendars, alarms, and phone calls are the only things that can buzz or beep my iPhone, and social messages — sans sound — the only other thing that can send me alerts. The Apple Watch is the same.

I used to keep my iPhone next to me while I worked, so it could serve as a secondary notification screen. Since notifications on the Mac have become a thing, I haven't really bothered to do that anymore.

But now with the watch, I don't have to stop what I'm working on to switch apps, or pick up my iPhone, or do anything that's majorly disruptive. I just have to glance at my wrist.

I tend to get lost in work. Sometimes I forget to eat and sometimes, like in T2, I'm standing as the sun rises and falls. It's beyond stupid, and the Apple Watch's activity alerts at least make sure I take a break every hour on the hour.

I've also installed apps to help make sure I remember to drink more water, and the sheer joy of using the Apple Watch to pay for everything from Starbucks to movie tickets has been a great motivator to get out and do more.

A year ago, while training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I went for a sweep and my foot basically stayed behind. That resulted in a detached ligament in my ankle. I'm going to need to get it repaired, but in the meantime it's destroyed my workout regime and served as an all-too convenient excuse to become less mobile.

Again, I'm hoping the fun factor of the Apple Watch helps me find other activities to keep me busy and get me back into shape before I go in for repairs. It's going to involve walking more, rowing more, and doing more, but it's something that needs to be done. If the Apple Watch really does help with that, then it's even more valuable than I hoped.

Ren: Since we've all been writing about the Apple Watch a great deal, mine is getting a fair bit more play during the afternoons and work day than I think it will going forward. When I'm not photographing it or trying to write how-tos about its features, I find that I'm largely using the Watch for notifications triage, like Ally, and Stand notifications.

Recently, though, wearing it has prompted me to walk or take my bike on afternoon errands I would normally do with my car. Dropping off my rent check, going to my local cafe, buying groceries — these are all routine afternoon errands for me, but because I know the Watch is tracking my movement and exercise, I've been making a conscious effort to use transportation that will help close those rings. It's been an awesome experience (and the fact that the weather is finally nice on the east coast doesn't hurt, either). I don't know if the Watch will keep me doing these things after the initial novelty of the rings wears off, but I'm hopeful. I like being active even if I'm not a huge gym-goer, and any activity that helps me stay fit without having to run on a treadmill is a-okay by me.


Ally: Around 5 or so I start winding work down for the day and think about what we're having for dinner. Typically this process gets interrupted numerous times by Twitter, work stuff, emails, and other odds and ends. This past week I've found myself much less concerned with where my iPhone was, which made this process go a lot quicker.

I owned a Pebble and found it very distracting in terms of notifications. It almost screamed "Look at me now!" The Apple Watch's Taptic system doesn't do that. While making dinner, cleaning the house, and being engrossed in a great conversation, I don't find myself noticing alerts. And I think that was Apple's intention all along. When you want or need to notice, you do. Otherwise real life takes precedence. This has led to weekday evenings being filled with more conversation and less iPhone. I've also noticed that my iPhone battery isn't nearly as depleted at the end of the day as it normally is, which solidifies the fact that the Apple Watch is indeed curbing my usage.

Ren: I play and coach roller derby four evenings a week, so once 5PM rolls around, I'm focused on that until I come home around 10PM. I was both excited and nervous to try out the Watch on roller skates: I've been coaching with my phone for a long time, and the idea of being able to run drills without having something gripped tightly in my hand (or shoved in a hoodie pocket) has been a big motivator for my interest in wearable technology. I also was curious to see how a device largely made of glass would do on a derby track — would I have to wrap it in something? Put it elsewhere on my wrist? Would I notice wearing it? I've traditionally never worn jewelry on the track, and it was a huge concern.

After a week and a half of using it on the track, though, I'm happy to report that it works fantastically both as a coaching device and fitness tracker. The Watch is slender enough that it hides right under my wrist guard; while it's there, the Sport Band keeps it so snug to my body that I don't even notice it. I do wear a sweat band on top of it, to protect the screen from any accidental scratches, but the wrist guard gives it almost complete protection from being hit or shattered against other people or the ground.

The stopwatch app is a great asset when coaching, and I use it constantly. I customized a clock face with stopwatch and timer complications specifically for derby, and it's awesome to have that at a moment's notice. I do wish there was some sort of Notes app for the Watch, though: Currently, I have to stick my practice plans in a text message to myself if I want to be able to access the text on my wrist. I'd also love a version of the Camera app for video to start my iPhone recording from a tripod, as right now, it's limited to photographs.

When I get home, my Watch is usually around 15 - 40 percent battery, depending on how long the practice or scrimmage went. I track everything with the Workout app — under "Other", sadly, as there's no Skating Sports option — and the longer the practice, the more of a battery drain I'm putting on my Watch. As I don't shower with it, though, I just drop it on its charger on my way to clean up and it's usually back to half charge by the time I'm done.

Most days, I'll leave it on its charger for the evening and get a little bit more late-night work done; if I'm watching Hulu on my Apple TV, though, I might pick the Watch back up and use it as a remote.

Rene: I try to make sure I go out and see friends and family in the evening. I used to lug a computer bag with me, in case anything happened that required me to jump back online. Once the iPhone 6 Plus came out, I stopped carrying the bag all the time, because I could do enough with the iPhone that my MacBook or iPad weren't always necessary.

Now I'm trying to go out just with the watch. I can't run iMore on the Apple Watch the way I can even on the iPhone 6 Plus, but I can stay in contact in case of emergencies, and if there's anything critical, I still have my iPhone in my pocket or across the room, and I can get to it if I need to.

Rather than a leash it's become a string. I'm still bound to the internet, but less like an animal and more like a kite.

Weekends and off-time

Ally: I've been trying to make a conscious effort not to concern myself with email and mundane tasks over the weekend lately. The Apple Watch is helping me accomplish that. It also helps me remember to stay moving, even on a lazy Sunday. Even if that just means a walk around the neighborhood, I'm always determined to get those stupid little progress rings to move — which isn't a bad thing.

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When I'm out and about, it's great having Apple Pay right on my wrist. No need to pull out my iPhone and get distracted by all the apps that don't need my attention right that minute. Now I find myself wishing that the people I'm talking to also had Apple Watches so they could put their iPhones down!

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Don't get me wrong, when I'm off duty, I'm off duty. I enjoy reading news feeds on my iPhone, playing games, and getting sucked into Twitter conversations. I just find myself not doing it by accident or at times when it may not necessarily be as appropriate. To me, that's a pretty good compromise.

Ren: I am so much more active on the weekends outside of derby thanks to the Apple Watch. Those stupid Activity rings may be a gimmick, but I love them: I'm walking more, biking more, and generally doing more about my neighborhood when I might otherwise have stayed in and sketched, or marathoned TV (or both).

I also love how easy triaging the important from the non-important has become. I only have haptic notifications enabled for Messages and certain third-party apps; as such, I get pulled out of my weekend activities due to needless notifications much less often. It feels oddly freeing, and I play with my phone a lot less than I used to. (I do send a lot of sketches and Morse Code taps, though. It's a lot of fun.)

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I was also lucky enough to have the Watch when I was on vacation in California last week, which allowed me to test out a bunch of third-party apps for travel, wandering, and general exploration. The highlights: Uber, which really exemplifies how good a Watch app can be; Carrot Weather, for quick (and snarky) weather overviews; and Yelp, which might work better as a Watch app than it does as a full-fledged iPhone app.

Rene: Since I work at home, weekends aren't much different for me than weekdays. My parents are retired, my siblings live a town or more away, several of my local friends work from home, and so the classic divide doesn't really exist for me.

That's why I use my Apple Watch on the weekends pretty much how I use it during the week. To stay in touch, to pay for things, to sketch with, and to otherwise enjoy.

Serenity Caldwell

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.