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Apple Watch 8 – a MASSIVE hit for me…and a surprise feature has come to light

Late to the Apple Watch party as I was, I’m happy enough to concede I was wrong

Apple Watch

So, that’s what all the fuss was about

Apple Watch – OK, OK, I was wrong. It’s a game changer.

It took me ages to buckle, and give the Apple Watch a fair trial. It’s one of those oddities, but the more you wear it, the further it integrates in to your life. And even now, if you sat me down as with a doubter, and asked me what are the benefits of wearing an Apple Watch, I’d be pushed to give you a convincing argument.

Getting to know you

That seems to be at the core of it…to get the most out of an Apple Watch, you need to wear it. I know that sounds obvious, but it really is the case. Apart from showers, and charging I have worn mine, a Series 8 Apple Watch, for every moment, of every day, since I bought it in the fall.

And the more it is on your wrist, the more information and feedback you’ll get from it. As a wearable fitness tracker, it gets to know your day, your routines, and, almost, what’s best for you. It helps with sleep, and your general well-being.

It is pretty-much a given, that at some point whilst writing today, my watch will gently chime-up, that it’s time for me to stand. Even that simple gesture has helped in making me more aware of my activity levels.

Look, I am not sitting here piously, stating that Apple Watch is the route to eternal happiness & fitness, but what I am saying, after three plus months of wearing one, is that it does make a difference.

All for one

Apple Watch comes with a free, three month trial of Apple Fitness as well. Yet again, this was a feature that I never really grasped, and as a result, I kept shunning it.

My background, in much younger days, was competitive sport. Firstly as a cricketer, then a bodybuilder (I know, not often common bed-fellows), so I had never sought motivation from anyone else to train. I’d assumed that Apple Fitness, would just be another way for Tim & Co to take money from my account. But hey, I figured I had nothing to lose…

As it transpires, it proved that I was wrong for the second time this year! Apple Fitness is a hit. I wrote about it a little while back, and, along with Apple Watch, it has been a game-changer for me this year.

I’ll sadly admit, to not being as young, or as fit as I once used to be, and the workouts in Apple Fitness, offer something for everyone. I have tried both core & Pilates workouts, and really miss the days, like yesterday, that I can’t workout. Decent soundtracks, beautifully shot, and with a duration, and equipment level requirements, for all fitness levels and goals.

Actually, it was after I decided to carry on and subscribe to Apple Fitness, that I then took a look at my subs that I was paying to Apple each month. After checking over what I was paying, I switched over to an Apple One subscription. Just a thought, but if you have a few spare moments on your hands over the holidays, look at what you are paying. I ended up saving around £45/year, which is not to be scoffed at.

Ultra and beyond

Will I eventually be trading up to an Apple Watch Ultra? I’m not sure yet. Where I had once ruled it out, now, I’ll leave it as a may be…

Having spoken to a few creators that own, and wear them, the big benefit they always drive home, is the battery life.

Few, if any of us, will ever use the extreme capabilities of the Ultra, and if it is purely for the battery, I don’t know if that is enough to convince me. The Series 8 I have, easily gets me through the day. It’ll track my sleep, movement, workouts, and walks, with battery left over. So, if the YouTube dollar starts to float my way (finally), next year, then for content’s sake, I may get one, but, besides that, I am thrilled with what I have.

I understand battery life to be greatly improved on Apple Watch Series 8, over its predecessors. And, I have learned this week, that there may be one simple reason for that. Although not a secret, it has not really received any attention.

GPS sharing

The reason that you may not have heard about the little tweak to GPS on your Apple Watch, is because the funkier functions got all the headlines. Crash Detection, Temperature Sensors, ECG tracking, and just the fact of the debut of Apple Watch Ultra, made any news about GPS, seem pretty lame.

In truth, though, it’s quite a big deal. Older watches piggybacked from your iPhone for GPS tracking. But Apple has now confirmed that Apple Watch SE second gen, Series 8, and the Apple Watch Ultra will now use their onboard GPS instead. DC Rainmaker, a respected endurance tech reviewer, found this added to the Apple Watch Support page;

Apple Watch Ultra, Series 8, and SE (2nd generation) use the built-in Apple Watch GPS even when your iPhone is nearby. To preserve battery life, older Apple Watch models use the GPS from your iPhone when available.

When available, older Apple Watches use your iPhones GPS to prolong battery life. Constant GPS tracking is a considerable drain on your watches’ battery, so if you have your iPhone with you, it makes sense to use it’s larger battery. And, as mentioned earlier, at the very core of the success of Apple Watch, is the basic need to wear it as many hours of the day as possible.

Making the best of it

Oddly, your iPhone may often not even be the most reliable, accurate, source of GPS tracking. It’s all well and good, if you’re holding your iPhone in your hand, and its antenna has a clear view of the sky, but that is typically not the case.

If your iPhone, as is so frequently the case, is in a rucksack, or buried in a bag, then the ability for it to offer true GPS data, is compromised. That point is even more relevant for Apple Watch Ultra owners.

The Ultra offers its wearers dual-band GPS tracking. It works on both the L1 and L5 standards (very useful in real-life, built-up, urban areas). If it were to pair to anything besides an iPhone 14 Pro, which is also dual-band, then the watch would be working at way sub-par levels.

Clearly, Apple is feeling pretty cocky about the improvements they have made to the battery in their watches. Even though the battery in my iPhone 14 Pro is not quite what I hoped it would be, it is good enough to get me through most days.

Since the changes to the lock-screen’s always-on display in iOS 16.2, the battery life has made a marked improvement anyway. If you do carry your phone with you on outdoor workouts, it is now one less anxiety, worrying if your watches constant tracking is draining the battery on your iPhone.

That would be all the more pertinent should you ever need to make an emergency call from your phone, only to find the watch had quietly been killing your phones’ battery with GPS tracking. The watch, as I said, lasts well enough anyway, but don’t forget, that now, in watchOS 9, there is a low-power mode available as well.

Wrapping up

I know this is not the sexiest news, but, it explains why your iPhone may be lasting that little longer than usual. If, like me, you wear your watch for Fitness tracking, it is even more of a win.

Although, in my latest video, I may be dubbing the AirPods Pro 2 as my Apple device of the year, the addition of Apple Watch to my daily routine, has changed the quality of my life for the better. And now, with more battery life on both the phone and watch, things are looking good for 2023.

There have been some decent discounts around online for both the Ultra and Series 8 Apple Watches. If you want to set your 2023 off to a great start, invest in you – an Apple Watch and a Fitness Plus sub will get your year off to a great start.

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2 Responses

  1. apple watch series 8 ultra
    Ultra appears to be a significant step forward for the Apple Watch line, with a focus on health and fitness capabilities. It remains to be seen how these new features will perform in real-world usage, but they certainly make for an exciting prospect for Apple Watch enthusiasts

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