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Apple Watch 8 – I want it, but do I NEED it? Is it one gadget too many?

I am still an analogue watch man, but with your help, I may just change. Apple Watch 8 – will it be my first jump to the dark side?

Apple watch 8
image courtesy Ian Zelbo and author

I missed the boat

As we wait the release of Apple Watch 8, I am trying to think where I was in April 2015. That is not some random, arbitrary date line, rather the date we first saw Apple Watch.

Launched among much hype and press attention, the Series 0, as it was known, was a slow, cumbersome device. Available in two sizes, 38mm & 42mm, it was quickly updated a little more than a year later, with the series 1 and series 2. The major improvements in the Series 2 watch was the biggest leap forward to date, as it included built-in GPS and a waterproof construction.

Although, by that time, I was already a heavyweight Apple user, and fully entranced in their dear old…you’ve guessed it…ecosystem, still no watch. Why?

I never really got it

I thought hard before writing this blog, as it could ever so easily leave me looking plebeian, or a tech-twerp!

But, for some odd reason, Apple Watch never lit my fire. I think from the get go, I figured it was just a watch! I could never figure out where it would fit in with my everyday carry (EDC).

If I wanted to see the time, then I had a watch. If I wanted to read my messages, why use a tiny screen? When it comes to podcasts, surely, Apple Watch would be the last place I would search for them?

As Apple Watch developed, with features such as Blood Oxygen monitoring, Apple Fitness and the famous Activity Rings, I realise now, I had been guilty of taking my eye off the ball.

In that time, Apple Watch was clearly starting to become the pre-eminent health & fitness wearable. Last year, 40 million Apple Watch were sold, holding the number one spot in Counterpoint’s list of the top nine smartwatch brands (by shipment share). And the majority of the Apple Watch sold, were sold with fitness in mind.

I’d let myself go!

Well, kind of. I am only sharing this with you for context. As a youngster, I played cricket to pro-youth level, and after that competed nationally as a bodybuilder. So, sport, training, and fitness had always been a massive part of my life. But, there was a downside.

Which was, I wore out my left hip before the age of 35! That, in turn meant, due to the pain, I neglected training of any kind for too long. However, after hip surgery, I was a new man. Looking after the old body was suddenly an option to me again.

2-0

Oddly, I have bought two Apple Watch, but both as gifts. One, in fact, is sitting just to my side of my as I write this. It’s my daughters’ birthday at the end of July, and she wanted one to augment her daily, morning workouts at the gym.

The other went to my other-half for her birthday a few years back. I have seen first hand how addicted she has become to it – closing those damned rings each day has become a mission!

All of which, got me thinking, should there be a third one, and this time for me?

I need your help, though.

I should know better

I read pretty much all there is in the Apple press. I immerse myself in tech Twitter. I write about it day after day, and finally, I think I get it!

With fitness now something I can enjoy once more, and actually relish, may be monitoring my fitness would be another motivator for me. I love some metrics and data (blame YouTube Studio for that), so why not bring that to my health. Apple Watch 8 to the rescue!

As it will be on my wrist, it will be able to monitor my movements, offering daily health insights.

I am down with the fact that it can monitor irregular heart rhythms, and even give me an on the spot ECG! And, aside of the health benefits, useful little functions such as unlocking my Macs and using Apple Pay via Apple Watch 8 will be super useful.

Help!

It looks like my mind is set then – Apple Watch 8 should be part of my EDC. But, I’d love your help. If I were to buy one, what would be the first things you’d see me use it for? What health essentials would be a must for me? Productivity – can it help with focus and getting work done? Sleep…is it effective in tracking sleep and helping with my rest too? I have heard some negative things about the sleep app, but first-hand, what it is it like?

May as well wait now…

Having recently had Hartley Charlton on (twice in fact), as a guest on my Minus Sixteen podcast, I am all too aware, that the next generation of Apple Watch, Apple Watch 8, is on the not too distant horizon.

From what he told me, I gather there are three watches coming this year. Apple Watch 8, starting at $399 which will be a mid-range, standard Apple Watch. The SE, of which there has so far only been one, is expected to be an update of that. Slightly less health features, and a marginally inferior display, but a solid all-rounder. Then, we are expecting the newcomer…the Rugged or Explorer Edition. That, we expect, will have a tougher body & chassis along with toughened glass. This model has been rumoured for a while now, but, it looks like, we will finally be getting our hands on it this year.

The design will be a flatter, squatter design, making it more likely to survive the rougher lifestyle it is expected to experience. Now, much as I am fitter these days, I am not kidding myself that I will be needing the tougher Apple Watch any time soon!

But what else is there rumoured to be coming?

New to Apple Watch 8

The chip looks like it will stay un-changed, still running the S8 chip, so there will be no major improvements to speed or efficiency.

However, certainly as a newbie to Apple Watch, there is plenty coming that I may as well wait for. Low-Power mode looks a decent step forward, which allows more functions to work while battery life is preserved, and further health benefits are expected as well. There are the four ‘biggies’ coming on Apple Watch 8;

  • Temperature Sensor
  • Sleep Apnea Detection
  • Car Crash Detection
  • Atrial Fibrillation

Temperature Sensor

Yup – this could finally be on Apple Watch this year. The problem for Apple engineers has been establishing reliable data. As the temperature will be taken externally, from the skin, that causes issues. Skin temperature can vary greatly, and almost instantly, based on the environment, and as it’s a smart watch, is unable to monitor core body temperature.

However, Ming-Chi Kuo seems to believe that Apple has improved its algorithm enough, that Apple Watch 8 could include the body temperature monitoring feature.

Sleep Apnea

Using the blood oxygen sensor, Apple is aiming to detect sleep apnea. The issue they face is one of battery life, though. Taking the regular readings, required to give reliable data, could impact heavily on the longevity of the battery.

Atrial Fibrillation

In this year’s watchOS, OS 9, Apple are aiming to improve upon its atrial fibrillation to better calculate ‘burden’. It will look to measure how often a person is in a state of atrial fibrillation across a certain period.

So, is it finally time?

Having waited patiently since 2015, waiting a few more months for Apple Watch 8, seems neither here-nor-there.

I think the fog has lifted, at last, as to what Apple Watch is all about. Not only that, but my lifestyle has changed too, what with my Andy Murray bionic hip n’all! I am once enjoying the rigours of fitness and pushing myself a little each day.

I spend hours sitting, writing and filming, so getting those rings closed sounds a tempting daily challenge to me.

As I said earlier, though, I want your help. Let me know your Apple Watch success stories. How has it impacted your life and fitness levels? Are you converted, and do you think I ought to join the legion of Apple Watch devotees?

One thing is for sure, if I do buy Apple Watch 8, you’ll be reading about the journey here!

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