Apple products. You either love them or you hate them. I, for one, love them. This includes one of Apple’s newest products, the Apple Watch. I’m going to break down my thoughts and impressions of the Apple Watch. I will go over the hardware, design, software, the activity tracking features, and the battery life of my Apple Watch Sport. I purchased my 42mm Space Grey Aluminum Apple Watch Sport (isn’t that a mouth full) at the beginning of July. I have been using it almost every day for the past two and a half months. Keep in mind that in order to use the Apple Watch, it requires you to own an iPhone 5 or later.
Hardware and Design
The starting lineup for the Apple Watch series is the Sport model, which is the model I purchased. It is crafted from an alloy of 7000 Series aluminum that Apple claims is 60 percent stronger than standard alloys. The watch is offered in four different aluminum finishes; silver, space grey, rose gold, and gold. The rose gold and gold options have just recently been added to Apple’s lineup as of September 9, 2015.
On the side of the watch, there are two buttons; one is the Digital Crown/Home button and the other is the side button/power button. The Digital Crown is the smoothest and main way to navigate through the watch’s interface. The watch’s screen has touch capabilities, so moving the Digital Crown and using your finger on the touchscreen would be the way to navigate through this device.
The screen is made of an Ion-X glass, with Force Touch technology, that was made specifically for the Apple Watch Sport that is much tougher than ordinary glass. The more expensive models of the Apple Watch include a sapphire screen, which is almost as hard as diamond. Force Touch is a feature on the Apple Watch that can detect how firmly you press on the screen and it will reveal a menu that shows different options/actions.
If you click the side button it will automatically bring up a menu of friends that you pre-select, in which it makes it easier to contact certain friends or family members. It also acts as the power button. On the bottom of the watch is a heart rate sensor that also acts as the charging port for the watch.
When you purchase an Apple Watch Sport, it comes with a Sport Band. Since I purchased the Space Grey Sport model, I got a black sport band with mine. On Apple’s website and in their stores, they sell a variety of different bands made from either stainless steel, leather, and fluoroelastomer that you can alternate between. The option to change your band is a feature that I love about the Apple Watch. It gives your watch a whole new personality when you have different bands.
The Apple Watch is water resistant which means it will be safe in water that is 1 meter deep for up to 30 minutes. It has an official waterproof resistance rating of IPX7. An Apple representative told me that you’re safe to do dishes and accidently get water on it, or if you’re taking a shower, but they recommended that it should stay away from water all together, but this thing can withstand some serious water exposure.
When I lift my wrist, I am immediately prompted with my watch face, in which there are many options to choose from. I find it difficult, but fun, to change my watch face based on my mood or how I want my watch to look. On the watch face screen, there are icons called complications that reveal certain information about applications on the watch for easy and quick access to information like weather, battery percentage, calendar, etc. With Apple’s newly released operating system, watchOS 2, they added more watch faces to choose from, like the option to allow a photo or a photo album to be a watch face, or the time-lapse watch faces that are 24 hour time-lapse videos of iconic locations of all over the world.
Pressing the Digital Crown brings you to the home screen where there is an array of bubble like icons that allow you to navigate through them with your finger and choose an app to utilize or you can hover over the app and “zoom in” on it with the Digital Crown. From there, there are choices of all different kinds of apps like Messages, Phone, Maps, and other apps that are available from the App Store. If you are on the watch face and turn the Digital Crown, it activates the Time Travel feature, which shifts the time by however much it says and it will show you what your watch face will look.
The watch allows you to view and respond to iMessages or Text Messages via voice dictation, from a pre-set message, or by an Emoji icon. When an incoming phone call is coming through to your iPhone, you have the option to answer the phone call on the phone or on the watch. By answering the phone on the Apple Watch, there is a speakerphone system that allows you to hear the phone call from your wrist as well as respond back through the microphone on the side. Also, with watchOS 2, there is now an option to reply to emails from the Apple Watch.
Notifications on the iPhone are mirrored onto the Apple Watch when they are received, which causes the Apple Watch to vibrate and make sound, but it can be muted if you want. If you’re familiar with the iOS operating system, then swiping down from the top of the screen should be no new task for you. The same goes for the Apple Watch. All you do is swipe down to see all of your missed notifications.
Swiping up from the bottom of the watch face screen opens up your Glances, which are previews of certain apps that you can pre-select the order of and choose what you do and do not want to see. Glances act as a quick way to view certain information at a more in depth point of view from applications that you use most frequently. Some Glances include a quick weather view, detection of your heart rate via the heart rate sensor, you can change the song you’re listening to, or even view your Activity rings.
The feature of Activity Tracking is debatably the highlight feature of the Apple Watch. This is meant for tracking your physical activity with a whole bunch of sensors that detect your movements and heart rate. When first stumbling upon the app on your home screen, you are asked to set a daily move goal to determine the amount of calories you would like to burn on a daily basis.
There are three different ways that the Activity app tracks your movements. Move, Exercise, and Stand. The Move section of the app tracks how many calories you've burned in the entire day. The Exercise section tracks how long you have exercised per day (the goal is 30 minutes a day). The Stand section is, out of a twelve-hour goal, tracking how many hours you have been standing. A really fascinating feature about the Stand section is that the watch can detect if you have been sitting down for too long and it will vibrate and tell you that you should stand up for a minute and walk around. It definitely makes me stand up and walk around when I get that notification.
If there are fitness apps that you use on your iPhone or Apple Watch, you can use them to coincide with the Activity app and all the tracking goes to one place. Apple has also included a Workout app that is integrated on the home screen, in which you can pick different workouts that you are doing at that very moment and it will track your movements and heart rate based on what exercise you have chosen.
There is an iPhone app for Activity that gives you a calendar view of every day that the watch has tracked your activity and it shows the different activity rings according to what you did each day. Also, there are achievements you can receive by completing certain tasks they ask for.
Apple claims that the battery has an all-day lifespan. From my experience of using this device, I can vouch that they are indeed correct. Some people have been complaining about the battery life, but I guess I must not be using it as much because I have had little to no issues with worrying that my Apple Watch is going to need to be charged. Keep in mind though that battery life most certainly varies upon use and what you are actually doing and using your Apple Watch for.
I charge my Apple Watch every night via the magnetic charging cable that they provide for you that attaches magnetically to the heart rate sensor.
Things Not Covered
Apple introduced and brand new technology in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus called Apple Pay, which allows you to put your credit/debit cards on your phone and use your phone to pay for transactions instead of pulling out your physical card from your wallet or pocket. This is a feature that is also a big part of what the Apple Watch can do; however, my bank does not support Apple Pay yet so I am not able to utilize this technology at this very moment.
With the Apple Watch, it allows you to communicate in fun and engaging ways with your friends or family who have an Apple Watch as well. This is called Digital Touch. I unfortunately do not know any friends or family who own an Apple Watch so I was not able to test this feature. This feature allows you to draw small sketches to someone, send a tap or vibration to someone, or even send your heartbeat to someone.
My overall experience with my Apple Watch has been fantastic. I find myself staying in the loop more and utilizing my phone less, and with that there is extended battery life on my phone. When you use the watch, you can decide instantaneously if you need to respond to a text or if you can hold off on responding; it keeps you in the loop without having to constantly check your phone. When something comes in, it just shows up right on your wrist in a discreet manner and you can look at it briefly and continue on your day or you can look briefly at it and decide to take action at that very moment by responding on the watch or picking up your iPhone to do the rest of the work.
If you are at all interested in owning an Apple Watch, I would highly recommend going to your nearest Apple Retail Store and tell them that you are interested in the Apple Watch and you would like to try it on. They will walk you through everything there is to know about Apple Watch and you will be able to get a feel for what it is actually like to have an Apple Watch on your wrist.