Essays on Technology and Culture

I’m All In on Apple Watch

I’m in on the Apple Watch. All in.

Well, in for a $400 Nerd Edition Space Gray Sport with the black band. That’s pretty all-in though.

I wanted to hold off for a year, convinced my I needed to upgrade my iPad first, and that would cost the same. Then, on a whim, I decided to see if I could improve my iPad’s performance with a nuke and repave. It worked. My iPad 3 isn’t a speed demon, by any stretch, but it’s far more usable than it was before. Suddenly, I have a $500 surplus, and I know exactly what I want to waste it on.

So, why an Apple Watch? It comes down to three things:

Fitness Tracking

I wear a Jawbone UP Move and like it a lot. What I don’t like is the lack of integration with the iOS ecosystem in many ways. It’s HealthKit sync is limited to step counts and sleep tracking—the latter of which is flaky. It’s clear that if I want to use iOS and get the best fitness tracking experience, It’s going to have to be either an Apple Watch or nothing. (Or just keeping my phone on my person, which is a pain.)

I’m also planning to get back into running for fitness. The ability to use the Watch as a tracker for running alone appeals to me. It’ll be a while before I can use it on its own with, say, a Couch to 5K app, though, so it’s a good thing I still have my iPhone arm band, which will be a good stopgap until real native apps are available.

The only issue I can see with an Apple Watch over my Jawbone is that I can’t do sleep tracking with it. I can use my iPhone to track sleep, but I’ve found having an alarm right next to my head in the mornings is ineffective. I don’t hit snooze—I turn it off and go right back to sleep. With Apple Watch, I can just plop it on its charger and have that wake me up instead, and be free to do sleep tracking on the phone.

Contextual Computing

Smartwatches are the best expression of context-aware computing we have at the moment. I’ve seen a few Apple Watch owners on Twitter showing off the customized faces they use at various times of their life, and I love the idea. At the office, I can have a face that shows my work calendar, my activity goals, and current weather. At home, I can switch to one that just shows the current time with nothing else to distract me. If I’m out for a walk, I can switch to something that’s optimized for info I’ll need while out of the house.

And then there’s glances: all the info I’d want to see, and quick little actions that I can get to and deal with in seconds, with (hopefully) less distraction and Social Media K-Holes than before. Running errands? Check the OmniFocus glance. Buying groceries? There’s my list, right when I glance at my wrist (I presume). [1] Need to see if the trains are screwed up? Glance.

If there’s one thing I loved about my Pebble, it’s just the power of looking down at my wrist and seeing little bits of contextually relevant information. To have that again, only in a fully-integrated manner, would be an incredible boon. Which leads to number three…

I Miss My Pebble

Not going to lie. I really miss having my Pebble on my wrist. Not enough to go back to it, mind, but I miss the ability to just shove my phone in a pocket and not have to dig it out for stuff like switching music or even just to see what notification I just got. I’ve got my notifications pared down pretty severely, but that only means that when my phone buzzes, it’s probably something important. If I can deal with some of them from my wrist, instead—I’m thinking Due timers especially—that’s one less excuse to pull out my phone and fiddle with it.

Apple Watch looks to excel at all the things where the Pebble failed for me. It’ll let me interact with notifications from my wrist, be a fully-integrated fitness tracker, and let me get relevant, glanceable information without having to pull my phone out of my pocket. I don’t want to have to switch modes just to switch my music, see how far I’ve walked, or just find out what someone messaged me.

I don’t need a smartwatch, let alone a $400 Apple Watch. I just want one. I have a use case for it, and it looks like it will fit my life and my needs well. I’m already comfortable wearing watches—even before I got a Pebble, I would switch between an analog Swiss Army watch and a Casio F–91W. A watch has a natural place in how I live my life, and I want to expand on that. It looks like Apple Watch is the best solution for that right now, so it seems right to dive in.

  1. Okay, I could just use paper for this, granted.  â†©