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Apple Watch 8 – brilliant but could do better!

I am one of those pain-in-the-necks that have come to Apple Watch late in the day and am now I’m a convert

Apple Watch – nearly perfect

Showing the love

We are told that there are some big plans coming for Apple Watch at WWDC in a few weeks.

Since 2015 the watch has gone from strength to strength and become a hugely profitable arm of their business model. The company is now easily the biggest seller of smartwatches and pulls in more than half the market’s revenue as well. The figures speak for themselves – in a Counterpoint survey last November they said that Apple Watch had accounted for almost half of all smartwatch shipments in Q322 and also accounted for nearly 35% of all smartwatch shipments in 2022.

Never ones to rest though

Apple didn’t get where they are though by sitting back and thinking ‘that’ll do”.

Those ‘big plans’ I mentioned sound as if we are about to see the first major overhaul to Apple Watch. They think it’s time to listen to the feedback they are getting and show Apple Watch some love.

There’s rumoured to be a ground-up fundamental change to how the device is operated with a far greater focus on widgets. In 2015 when the watch was first launched watchOS was centred around four main areas – watch faces, the home screen, contacts and something called glances which was basically a widgets interface.

That setup was quickly ditched as Apple decided to focus on multitasking and notifications instead. But now, Apple is trying something new with watchOS10 as widgets look like they are about to make a comeback. The idea this time around is to let users scroll through different widgets rather than launch apps.

And there are other big changes possibly coming as well. At the moment, pressing the Digital Crown opens your Home Screen, but in watchOS 10 it may well be that is re-mapped to open widgets instead. The whole idea is to give users the quickest possible route to the information they want.

All good

There is a lot I have learned to love about my watch since I started to wear it last fall.

From day one I decided to wear it through the night so it could build up as much data as possible on me. I’ve always been pretty motivated when it comes to exercise but the gentle prompts the watch gives I just love.

When I’ve been too long at the desk, it’ll suggest I move which sounds fairly minor and unimportant, but actually isn’t. We are all guilty of getting engrossed in what we are doing as time marches on so that simple prompt is always well-timed. Funnily enough, even my optician said what a great and useful message it was too as it helps freshen up your eyes to take those short regular breaks.

I think the route they are taking with going more widget driven is a smart one though. I can’t think of the last time I opened an app directly on Apple Watch – it’s too slow and too fiddly.

It’s because of that, or rather linked to it that I don’t often change my watch face either. I love the complications I’ve got set up on this one particular face and they do get used every day. The best use of shortcuts ever. I have workouts, battery percentage, camera and podcast set in the four corners of my face and they work well for me.

Good as they are though, they are not without fault. I’ll come back to the workout one in a moment, but first, let’s dive into the podcast complication.

Podcasts never seem to be in sync with my watch if I start off listening to them on my phone which I find super annoying and it works the other way too. If I’ve started to listen to a podcast on my Apple Watch, the chances of me being able to carry on from where I left off in the car on Apple CarPlay are next to zero.

And then there is the Bluetooth headphone problem I have as well. Sure, the watch will see all the AirPods I have attached to my account, but it’s potluck as to whether they’ll pair up when I want to listen to them. The number of times I have to stand around waiting for the watch to restart so that it’ll pair with the AirPods I have with me is so damn annoying.

So, they are good enough reasons that I don’t often use apps on Apple Watch but will generally reach for the phone instead – which is far from ideal. Part of heading out for a walk is to get some screen downtime – I don’t want to get my phone out. I’d much rather just use my Apple Watch.

Time to walk – or pause

It may well not surprise you to know that along with Apple Watch, I took up the three months free try-out of Apple Fitness when I got it – and have loved it from day one.

I now use it most days at home doing a core, strength or pilates workout, but the workout I love the most is their Time To Walk series. If you’ve never tried them, they are a series of walks with various celebs in which they chat about their careers and life and then play a few of their fav numbers. A really pleasant change from always listening to podcasts when I’m out on the daily walk – I’d highly recommend you give them a go. The Jason Segal one had me in stitches – the ice cream parlour bit…go take a listen…

Now they work just fine on the watch – hit play and they last for about 30-40 minutes and finish. But the Outdoor Walk app is not quite as peachy. Apple Watch is called a smartwatch, yet when it comes to understanding my walks, it occasionally shows itself to be anything but…

Like clockwork, when I set off on my walk I set it running making sure the pesky little tracking device captures every single one of my steps. If I simply walk a straight block, the ‘jobs a good un, but it’s when I decide to pop into a store or stop for a coffee that things start to break down. Even if I remember to pause the walk, the number of times I forget to un-pause it I can’t recall. It’s only as I’m nearly home I think damn, then set it running again for the last few precious steps.

But this is a problem that really shouldn’t be a problem. Why can’t the watch detect that I’ve started my walk again and offer to un-pause—my workout?

Not rocket science

It seems as if Apple think of walk workouts as a poor relation.

Apple Watch takes care of it if you are running or cycling. For those workouts, it will auto-pause and auto-resume. But even more baffling is the fact it can detect when you’ve forgotten to start a walk workout, and then offer a prompt for you to start it. Apple Watch will even figure out when you’ve stopped your walk and forgotten to turn it off or pause it.

I’m sure there is a valid engineering reason that the watch won’t un-pause itself, but of all Apple Watch idiosyncrasies, this is the one that hands down grates the most. It’s almost like they’ve forgotten to add the last bit of code!

Wrapping up

I was slow in coming to Apple Watch, but now I love it and would hate to be without it.

Yes, I know and realise it pulls me yet further into their walled garden, but I don’t care. The benefits it offers are hard to explain until you’ve experienced them. It makes me more aware of trying to take care of myself.

My days of extreme sport are behind me, but thanks to the watch, so too are my days of lethargy. I have a healthy competition with my watch most days almost trying to satisfy it and get the pat on the back – ridiculous I know, but there you go – it does its bit to make me a better me.

Would I possibly be tempted by Watch Ultra? Maybe not for many reasons other than even better battery life, and the larger, clearer display. The cost is hard to justify but I have to admit the watch is bloody gorgeous!

Yes to the potential widget-based future – a move for the good if you ask me. But come on chaps, put that last bit of code in and un-pause my walks. I have faith you can do it!

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