My Apple Watch arrived yesterday afternoon. I was fortunate to receive my watch on release day as I know many friends who also woke up early to order and are still waiting for theirs to process. My theory is it’s simply a matter of supply and having so many variations of the watch and band available didn’t help. Based on totally unscientific Twitter observations it seems those who received their watches on launch day either were very early orders or were among the less popular models. I ordered a 38mm Stainless Steel Apple Watch with a black Sport Band. A few days later, after my try on appointment I ordered a Milanese Loop which is scheduled to ship sometime in May.
I couldn’t help but notice how simple the Apple Watch packing was with very little customization. Again, the variety of watches and bands would make custom packaging cost prohibitive. Though people have pointed out the packaging of the stainless steel and the sport models differ. My box for my stainless steel watch was much larger than boxes on the sport models and I also received the fancier charger with metal clasp.
Setting up and using the watch has been as expected. Like most Apple geeks I watched the guided tours and consumed as much information as I could about the watch before delivery. Although I would say the watch is generally responsive, I noticed that startup takes longer than I expected, significantly longer than my iPhone or iPad. I’ve also noticed that launching certain third party apps can take a while, especially for first launch they’ll spin for several seconds before coming up. Subsequent launches seem to be faster.
Of course the first few hours I spent a lot of time playing with the watch, going through all the apps, settings and menus and seeing exactly what it could and couldn’t do. I also spent quite a bit of time, both before the watch arrived and after tweaking my notifications. But as some of the newness and need to fiddle wore off, I found myself leaving the watch alone and only checking it when I wanted to check the time or in response to a notification. I was more disconnected today from my iPhone than I generally am on a typical Saturday and that was nice.
As I’ve discussed before on this blog I initially planned on ordering the entry level sport watch but later decided on stainless steel after concerns that the sport watch may not be dressy enough for my day job. After a day and a half with the stainless steel watch, most of that time spent in a suit, I’m very happy with my decision. I’ve received a number of comments disagreeing with me, but I feel the stainless steel watch has a less causal look. Today I had the honor of attending a small luncheon with the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, a fairly formal event. As I was getting dressed I thought about leaving my Apple Watch at home and wearing my standard business watch instead. Of course, I didn’t. But had I ordered the Sport model I’m not so sure I would have made the same decision. I realize this is largely a personal preference and will vary depending on your circumstances, but it’s an important consideration for some.
I was also looking forward to the fitness aspects of the watch. I have been tracking my activity and diet recently using apps like My Fitness Pal and questioned how accurate some of their calorie estimations were for my workouts and suspected they may be high. This morning I strapped on my Apple Watch and set it for a 30 minute session on the elliptical machine. The Apple Watch monitored my heart rate throughout the process and at a fairly moderate pace showed I burned 279 active calories and 84 resting calories for a total of 363 calories. (I’m really not sure what the resting calories were - maybe the warm-up?) By contrast the calorie monitor on the elliptical machine estimated 356 calories burned while My Fitness Pal’s default setting estimated over 500. I suspect the Apple Watch is much more realistic. The information from the Apple Watch was automatically saved to the Health App on my iPhone after my workout session which in turn synced to My Fitness Pal, just as I had hoped.
I set my active calorie goal in the Fitness app to 400 calories a day thinking that would be my goal for workouts. But apparently you can earn “active” calories in daily life. I worked out around 9:00 this morning and otherwise had what I would consider a fairly sedentary day. By noon I had reached my 400 calorie goal and as I type this post at 9:30 p.m. I’ve reached over 600 active calories. I don’t consider myself to have been that “active” today so I’ve already adjusted my active calorie goal upwards accordingly. Apple explains this a bit more on this page. Tomorrow I plan to take my Apple Watch to a spin class at the gym and look forward to monitoring the results. My only complaint is that the sport band did get pretty sweaty after my workout which I guess is to be expected given its material. Though wearing the Sport Band all day I’ve found it to be very comfortable.
I’ve found dictation and using Siri to be hit or miss. One thing I’ve noticed is when I wore the watch tighter dictation was less accurate, possibly because the microphone, which is on the lower portion of the case, was obstructed. Wearing the watch one hole looser still allowed all the sensors to maintain contact and seemed to help with accuracy. I was also more comfortable.
Although I don’t expect to use the feature often I tested the phone application when I needed to refill a prescription and my iPhone was in the other room. I decided to place a call to the pharmacy on my watch. Turns out this didn’t work well because to refill a prescription you use an automated system that requires you to type your prescription number. There’s no keypad on the Apple Watch, so I had to disconnect and go get my phone and call again.
Although I enjoy receiving notifications on my watch, I have found it helps to customize them so only the most important notifications appear on the watch. However I am disappointed that it doesn’t appear that notifications sync well between the watch and phone. I’m finding I sometimes have to dismiss notifications in multiple places. I’ve also found just as it’s helpful to limit notifications the same is true with Apps. I initially installed every Apple Watch comparable application from my iPhone on my watch. I’ve since paired down quite a bit to include only the apps I realistically expect to use. I’ve also customized my home screen layout to essentially divide it into two sections, my commonly used applications on top, with less frequently used applications on the bottom. This means I can be “zoomed in” on the more commonly used applications and keep their touch targets larger.
Overall I’m very happy with my first 24 hours with the Apple Watch and have already found myself integrating it into my life. Though I’m not sure I will go so far to say this is a life-changing product as the iPhone was or even as the iPad. As more apps are released and as I learn more about the watch I expect it will become even more useful over time.