Apple Watch, A Year On

September 12, 2016  —  Filed under: apple, apple watch, technology, gadgets

I’m quite happy that I’ve been able to retain an almost Jeb Bush-like appreciation for my Apple Watch after nearly a year of owning it. Whether it’s in having notifications on my wrist, easily viewable the moment they happen, or in tracking my health and encouraging me to be more active, it’s worked itself into an indispensable role in my life.

On the eve of the release of the first hardware refresh for the Watch, I figured I’d do a bit of a recap about my experience with the Watch over the past year. Here are some things I’ve learned.

Software Is Essential

I’m glad that Apple is doubling-down on the Watch, and that it is getting an important refresh. (I’m even more glad that the brand new device I paid a lot of money for last year is still included in the current line up.) While there’s not quite enough in the Series 2 to make me consider shelling out again so soon, I’m certainly not troubled by that. The bigger development in Watch-world is arguably the release of watchOS 3. Fresh on the heels of a similarly blockbuster release in watchOS 2, this iteration of the Watch operating system provides significant performance improvements, both in the general operation of the device and in how easily you can use your favourite apps. It’s unlikely that all future hardware refreshes will have such a good series of accompanying software releases, but at least for now the device has gone from a good proof-of-concept to a fast, enjoyable and intuitive device, largely because of its software updates.

Third-Party Watch Bands, FTW

I’m not huge into fashion. Anyone who’s met me in person, especially during the summer, can attest to this. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have an aesthetic, though; and being someone that loves customizing the intricate details of their technology on a regular basis, I can confirm that this carries over into how I wear my Watch. Apple charges an arm and a leg for most of their coolest bands, but I’m happy to say that there are some great third-party alternatives on the market. Whether you are looking for a cheaper yet still quality replacement for a Milanese Loop, or sport watch bands almost indistinguishable from the originals, the non-OEM Watch band market is a must see. And being able to customize this piece of technology as easy as any other fashion accessory goes a long way into working it into your daily routine.

Being Better

But by far the best part about my experience with the Watch thus far has been in health and fitness tracking. Being a software developer isn’t the most physically active profession in the world. Being seated for long periods of time and generally having my eyes glued to a computer screen for much of the day tends to inspire a lot of restlessness and wishing I was doing something else. The token amount of times my watch asks me to stand during the course of the day do actually make a difference to how I feel, both physically and mentally. If nothing else it reminds me to take a break from work for a moment and take a look at what’s going on around me. Perhaps even more important to me is the Workouts app and how well the watch is integrated with third-party workout apps like Strava. It’s been a fun little game to play against myself over the course of the summer – how far can I go on my bike today? Can I pass 60 km total this week? What kind of neat routes can I build and try out in my local area? I wouldn’t have been empowered to do any of this without the convenience provided by the Watch. It’s constantly inspiring me to be better and healthier.

Favourite Apps

My favourite apps for the Apple Watch, other than the built-in ones that are great, include: Transit App for getting around the city, Strava for biking, Authy for two-factor authentication (2FA), and Instagram (which is surprisingly great on the Watch)!

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While there is still certainly some room for improvement for the Watch (better Siri comprehension and processing time, for starters), I’m still very happy with it. And with the new Series 1 pricing tier available, there’s no reason for potential new adopters not to take a look!


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