I bought an Apple Watch Series 2 for Christmas. Most of the motivation for getting it was the struggles I had syncing my workout data. I was using a Garmin Vivosmart watch plus a heart rate monitor to get workout data. This method was extremely accurate, but syncing the data required opening an app and refreshing it every day (I wouldn’t always remember) and there was nothing smart about the watch outside of its fitness tracking. My wife had to listen to me gush about the watch and complain about it so I decided to share all of my feelings about it over the course of the month.
This is why I got the Apple Watch. Typically, I do a mixture of indoor fitness and stationary bike or treadmill all winter long. On average, the air quality is too poor for me to do anything outside where I would be exerting a lot of energy and breathing in the air rapidly. Further, it’s pretty damn cold this Winter. That being said, I need to accurately capture my heart rate in order to translate that into calorie burn with any measure of accuracy.
The Apple Watch heart rate monitor is great for resting heart rate and trash for workouts. This isn’t a surprise to anyone who uses it and cares about heart rate monitoring. You have to use a heart rate monitor if you care about the data, it’s that simple and even what Apple store reps told me to do. I’m used to wearing heart rate monitors (I cycle in warmer weather) so this isn’t a big deal. The Activity app is perfectly fine, nothing fancy. It provides that most pertinent data to the workout and allows you to still use other watch features or lock the device completely.
The battery life is actually really good for workouts. For an hour workout connected to a heart rate monitor, it’ll only use 10% of the battery. That’s on par with my Garmin which boasts incredible battery life.
Aesthetics / Comfort
I won’t lie, this is a good looking watch. It’s so crisp and the screen real estate is well used. More importantly, it cleans up very easily (I just wipe my shirt across it). My 4-month-old daughter loves to grab and hold onto it when she is on my lap, so this allows me to keep it on whenever we hang out.
As for comfort, It’s extremely comfortable; so much so that I forget that I’m wearing it sometimes. While it’s quite attractive I have to use it for anyone to really comment on it which wasn’t the case when I wrote a Pebble (RIP) or my Vivosmart.
Using the device feels mostly fast except for presumably some resource hogging apps that crash or in the worst case cause the Apple Watch to reboot. Fortunately, startup times are mostly quick and charging is very quick (Usually, goes from 10% to 100% in less than an hour for me). I’ve found it to be unreasonably sluggish at times, but I’m guessing that’s a resource management problem of the OS.
Hello, Eternally Loading App
Apps that are well made can be an amazing experience, but few of the apps I use on a regular basis have good apps. It’s nice to check an item off my Todoist checklist or to check out my calendar with Fantastical. It often turns into a waiting game whenever I try to use the Hue app for example. It’s much faster to talk to Alexa or open the app on my phone. That is slightly disappointing because it seems like the right use case but the app just isn’t reliable.
There are some features I haven’t used yet on the Apple Watch. The most notable of the bunch is the ability to listen to music by connecting to the Apple Watch directly rather than through the phone. This only works through iTunes / Apple Music from what I can tell and I don’t use either so I can’t speak to the features. I listen to a lot more books and podcasts than I do music on the run so this isn’t really important to me.
Overall the battery life is pretty atrocious. I’m not sure how the Apple Watch can use so little battery life for something intensive and continuously running like fitness tracking and then use tons of battery power to vibrate for notifications all day. Over time, I’ve been a little happier with the battery life, but that has come mostly as I’ve simplified the apps I used and I’ve cut back on the apps I allow to send push notifications.
- Haptic feedback
- Automatic Activity Syncing
I think the Apple Watch has an incredible future as a fitness device. Ultimately having its own LTE, ability to send texts without phones etc might be compelling, but really only for someone who is active. Even if I could interact with all my iPhone apps on my wrist, I wouldn’t really want to. All of the apps I used are input driven, which the Apple Watch only allows by voice at the moment. I feel uncomfortable talking to my wrist in public and voice input is still pretty inaccurate. Pessimism aside, I look forward to seeing what Apple can imagine bringing this forward.