The best Watch in the World
Like any new device you bring into your daily routine, there’s a learning curve. You’ll feel satisfying highs when technology makes your life easier and head banging against the table lows when something doesn’t work as you’d like. Here are three positives and three negatives that stand out to me three weeks into my time with Apple Watch so far.
Plus: Battery Life
You could count me among the skeptics on how long a charge would last with the Apple Watch. By Apple’s guidelines, typical use should let the watch go for 18 hours with regular use and six and half hours for workouts.
I put the battery to the test during my first week with the watch by deciding I’d try it during the Big Sur Marathon. Using the Apple Workout app paired with my iPhone for accurate GPS distance and pace monitoring, I was stunned that my 3:17 time left my watch with about 55 percent battery life remaining off a full charge.
Some settings certainly help with that. First, I wasn’t constantly using my heart rate sensor. You can also put your watch into “Power Save Mode” in the Workout app on your phone to turn off heart rate tracking completely during runs.
The other thing about the watch—it does take some getting used to—is that the watch face always turns off every 15 to 20 seconds. When you put your arms down and just run, the screen will go black. When you raise your wrist to see where you are, the screen returns.
If you sit around and play with the watch and several apps all day like people do with their phones or play music while working out, sure, it will drain faster. But if you only use it for more specific actions, I’m finding that it has no problem lasting all day until I charge it overnight.
This app that can store your coupons, gift cards, boarding passes, and some credit/debit cards is not new. It’s been available on Apple devices since iOS 6. But with Passbook available on the watch, I’ve found myself using it almost every day.
I’ve documented how nice it was to not worry about paper boarding passes in the airport, but a recent run on a Sunday afternoon is a great example of its use. I completed a five-mile workout around my neighborhood that ended near a new Dunkin’ Donuts. With the watch I was able to finish out a low gift card balance and then finish off the order with my stored debit card.
The store had no issue scanning the device, making me feel less reliant on my wallet and all of my cards when I leave to work out or just run an errand.
I really didn’t think I would use the Activity app with its three colored rings showing active calorie burn, amount of daily exercise, and number of hours standing that much. However, it’s probably one of the most frequent apps I tap throughout the day.
The motivating part of it mostly comes from the taptic pulses to your wrist and notifications that you’ve been idle for a long period of time. Maybe you’ve been sitting at your desk for more than an hour, so you’ll get a note that it’s time to stand.
Late in the afternoons I’ve often gotten messages that I’m just short of my Move (calorie burn) goal. And it was pretty amazing that as soon as I arrived at work on a Monday morning, I received a notification that my weekly Move goal was adjusted down because I wasn’t reaching the higher mark. Apple doesn’t want to let you slip into lethargy.
Minus: Where are the Maps?
Last week I went over some of the top running apps that can track your workout. Because you have to use your iPhone in conjunction with these apps, they also store your running routes—something that is fairly important to runners or cyclists.
While I enjoy the interface of the Apple Workout/Running app, the fact that it does not store your route information—even with your iPhone on you to use GPS for distance and pace—is almost a deal breaker for the app. I even reached out to representatives at Apple to make sure I wasn’t missing something, but alas, it’s just not something that’s available.
Minus: Running Without Your Phone
When I was first introduced to the Apple Watch, I knew there was no onboard GPS. I was intrigued when I was told that if I paid my due diligence and ran with my iPhone for five to six runs—with slow and steady runs, race pace, some quicker outings—that the built in accelerometer would “learn” how I move, what my stride is, and how I run.
I did this, running for a week with my phone in hand. But when I went on my first venture with the Watch running with me solo … it was a little underwhelming. While the pacing in the accelerometer isn’t too far off from the GPS watch I was wearing on my other wrist, the distance calculation seems to be more of a guess.