It was there all the time but forgotten
Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the blindingly obvious. It’s easy to lose view of what’s in your line of sight.
Last week I was sitting chatting with a tech friend when the subject came around to our smart watches of choice. He had been one of the legion of Apple fans that had flocked to get an Apple Watch Ultra and loved it – I mean adored it…for the first few months anyway.
But as quickly as he fell in love with it, it seems as if the love affair abruptly ended as he switched to a Garmin Fenix Pro 7.
I did smile – I don’t know if it showed on my face, but I was sure grinning inside. Was it then purely a case of the emperor’s new clothes? Was it just the bold new design and flashy presentation that hooked him?
I’ve never worn an Apple Watch Ultra.
A few reasons stopped me – and I’m not ashamed to admit that money was one of them! £850 for a watch is a chuffing lot of money. As much as I consider myself a full-time content creator (as it is how I spend my days), it is not yet paying me too well. So any purchases I make I have to consider carefully as it’s me that’s funding them.
It wasn’t only the money though – the jacked-up price was justified because of its intended use. It was aimed at those ‘outdoorie’ people and extreme, endurance athletes. Now, as much as I like to stroke my ego and think of myself as a highly trained, buff athlete, in honesty, sadly, I’m not.
Fit for purpose
So while other tech reviewers flocked to the Watch Ultra last year I decided to make a rather more muted entrance to the smartwatch arena and bought my first Apple Watch – a series 8.
Apple Watch is odd – great, but odd. For most of the time it just sits there unnoticed doing very little. Truth be told, I don’t even use it as a watch! As I sit in front of a Mac for way too many hours of the day I have a clock in view most of the time, and I don’t know about you, but generally, I have a pretty locked-on idea as to what time it is roughly anyway.
So Apple Watch is not a timepiece then.
We know that I’m no Bear Grylls either – so I figured that dropping £400 on a Series 8 made way more sense – not only would give me a feel of what benefits wearing a smartwatch would bring but I’d also get used to how it fitted into my day-to-day life.
If you wear an Apple Watch then you’ll know its benefits are subtle. You get reminders to stand and move which are useful but not life-changing. Then you hear other devotees espousing how great it is for sleep-tracking.
I wear mine through the night and have done since day one. I’m a tech geek right, so naturally, I wanted all the data it could throw at me. Brilliant – but do you think I ever check it? Of course I don’t and I’m pretty sure most of us don’t.
I just opened the Health App on my phone for the first time in what seems like forever whilst writing this story. I don’t know if it’s just me, but all those wiggly lines and graphs don’t explain much to me – they’re bloody confusing, aren’t they? Isn’t the best barometer of whether you got enough sleep whether you feel tired or not?
I’m alive – honest!
My blood oxygen metrics tell me that it ranges from 86%-100% (I think) is that good or bad? And I’ve not carried out an ECG test this year – and you know what…I’m pretty sure I’m still alive!
So we have information overload on our wrists then. I guess it’s great that it’s building up all this data on me in the background and we are told that health professionals can use it. Luckily I’ve not had to find out, but as I said, it’s great it’s all there just in case…
So, it’s not a watch, I don’t use the health data that’s available and I only glance at the notifications – yet a year in I wouldn’t be without it. For a device that I look at or notice so little, why do I love it so much? Does that strike a chord with you too?
Underused yet overlooked sums it up.
As I said, I am all but a year into wearing the Apple Watch now, and with Apple season just around the corner, will I be tempted to swap or trade up? If I were to change watches, I’d stay with Apple. I’ve written a lot recently about the fun I’ve had playing with Android, but the watch just fits too sweetly into the – yup, you’ve guessed it – the ecosystem and I’ll explain how & why in a bit.
So if I am staying Apple then will I lay down some cash for the Watch 9 when it comes out in September? Probably not – the changes are so iterative as to not be worth my while in changing. Indeed, the yearly upgrades of the Apple Watch are not aimed at owners of the more recent models. Yeah, if you’ve got a 4 or 5-year-old watch, then the new processors and features that come along with it make a new watch more sense.
The annual watch refresh is more aimed at bringing new customers to Apple Watch. Apple wants you to buy theirs and not Samsungs – the age-old phrase ‘in it to win it’ comes to mind. This year there will be changes to the processor and some fresh colours to brighten things up, but the design and sizes will all be unchanged.
With next year being the tenth anniversary of Apple Watch (although it didn’t go on sale until 2015, it was launched in 2014) there seems a chance we may be getting something more remarkable with Watch X – a new band fixture system, microLED display, a slimmer design and even the ability to monitor your blood pressure could all come to next years watch – but for now, I’m happy with what I’ve got.
So why the newfound love?
I said earlier that I’ve fallen in love all over again with my watch and there are three simple reasons why that is. They are all ecosystem linked…but I may just be about to set myself up as a fool. Nothing new there then! Be gentle with me…
Now, I am pretty certain that when I first got my watch, I tried both of these things out with no joy, but over the last few weeks, two of the three features that have made me fall in love with the watch again have come into play.
First up – podcasts. When I do head out the door I’m a massive podcast listener. So if I’m heading out for a walk or a run, I’ll always pop in my AirPods and load up a podcast. I swear, absolutely swear that a year back when I tried to play podcasts I couldn’t without my phone – suddenly now, I can! When did that happen and how didn’t I know about it? My watch is a non-cellular model. But a phone free listen is just brilliant – so liberating! Does that make sense?
When I go out part of the deal is wanting some screen-down time and just to walk away from my digital world – if only for 40 minutes. With no phone in tow, that has now become a reality. I can’t be reached or contacted and once the podcast is playing, I do not need to look at my wrist again.
In tandem with stumbling across the ability to listen to podcasts without my phone led to another discovery – I can also set workouts running without my phone. Now, there may be a caveat here – I listened to virtually all of Apple’s ’Time To Walk’ episodes and I’ve not tried that without the phone, but I can now launch a walk workout – again, I swear that’s something else I couldn’t do a few months ago. Is my mind playing tricks on me – I’m starting to wonder.
Lastly, one other tiny little thing I love is that by wearing my Apple Watch I have now been able to join the ‘mute’ brigade. Yup, my phone is now flicked to silent 24/7 and I just rely on my watch to let me know. It seems somehow less intrusive.
You should know me by now – I always try to be honest with you in these stories.
I know I set myself up to be a tech reviewer and creator, and possibly the fact I have only just stumbled across two of these three ‘to-die-for’ features means I will be wearing the dunce’s cap for a few days and serving my penance – feel free to hurl your comments at me…
But I stand firm in the fact that when I tried to listen to podcasts or workout without my phone before I couldn’t – and now I can! And you know what, even if it is my bad, I don’t care – because of these simple things I have fallen in love with my Apple Watch all over again – so much so in fact, I have just treated myself to a new watch face too after nine months!
I may not be at the front of the queue this year for Watch 9 – but don’t judge me for it!
Me and my Apple Watch 8 have a happy year of podcasts and workouts together ahead.
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