I’m a latecomer when it came to getting an Apple Watch.
While most Apple devices made sense to me, the Watch never appealed to me.
After all, the watch seemed to be focused primarily on an audience who were active and health oriented.
It wasn’t until last year, when I was dealing with bouts of anxiety that the Watch suddenly became interesting to me.
I had experienced chest pains from the anxiety and so I naturally was worried also with my heart. I had read that the Apple Watch had a way to track heart rate and warn against any irregularities.
So for a few weeks, I used my wife’s Series 3 Watch to track my heart rate. Thankfully the watch never detected anything and I restored my wife’s watch and gave it back to her—without much interest of getting one for myself.
It wasn’t until this year when I started to incorporate more walking and exercise into my daily routine that I was interested in getting an Apple Watch of my own.
I ended up getting the Apple Watch SE.
The watch definitely delivers on the health benefits and data that I bought it for, but I quickly found out that it provides a lot more value to me than just the exercise perspective.
Improved sleep schedule
In iOS 14, Apple introduced a new feature called Sleep Schedule. While the idea of Sleep Schedule was interesting, on the phone it wasn’t that compelling to me.
Setting a target sleep amount and then working on alarms for when to go to bed and when to wake up wasn’t really habit forming.
I had set up the feature when it first arrived on my phone, but I always bypassed it.
Then I got the Apple Watch and noticed that the Sleep Schedule is also tied to Watch. The Sleep Schedule feature does two things, it tells you when you should go to bed via a prompt and then also tells you when you should wake up via a prompt. That prompt is usually an auditory alarm.
While it was acceptable in the evenings, in the mornings, I always felt bad because it would disturb my wife’s sleep. For this reason, I always kept the alarm off. Which meant my kids were the ones to wake me up in the morning.
I didn’t enjoy this as a dad, because instead of getting my best in the morning, the kids often got my worse. I woke up groggy, sometimes annoyed because I was snapping out of sleep. While all they want is breakfast.
With Apple Watch, I’m able to set an alarm an hour before my kids usually wake up. It silently vibrates on my wrist in the morning, enough to wake me up and not my wife. I roll out of bed, spend some time to myself in the morning and when the kids find me—I’m fully awake.
The kids are able to get some of the best part of my day.
In the same line as the Sleep Schedule, what has been really compelling to me about the Apple Watch is that it provides insights into your sleep habits.
As a dad, I’m waking up throughout the evenings for various reasons—kid has nightmare, kid goes to restroom, kid needs water. While my phone is nearby and I could check the time. But I usually answer to my children’s needs, then go right back to bed.
With Watch, it tracks everything for me so that I can review it at a later time. The Watch tells me when I woke up, how much sleep I got and when I was restless.
While the default Sleep app does a decent job tracking your sleep, I found that it doesn’t pick up an accurate picture of what my sleep really looks like. I think this is because Sleep is bound to the Sleep Schedule that the schedule you set, skews the data around your sleep.
Instead I started using an app called Sleep++.
I found that Sleep++ gives me a more accurate picture of when I fell asleep, when I woke up and all the different stages of sleep that I experienced throughout the night. Having a more accurate picture of my sleep has allowed me to be more willing to follow the Sleep Schedule in iOS because I know how many phases of sleep I’d need to feel rested from the data.
Answering a call on my wrist like Dick Tracy
In the 90s there was a film called, Dick Tracy. In it, the title character by the same name had a wrist watch that had a built in two-way radio. When I first saw the Apple Watch, it immediately made me think about Dick Tracy.
While I chuckled at the thought of answering calls with my watch, it wasn’t until I finally had an Apple Watch, that I understood the extreme convenience of having this feature.
Again, as a dad, my hands are sometimes tied up and I’m in the middle of something when someone calls. It is much easier to tap my watch to answer a call versus, reaching into my pocket and fumbling to retrieve my phone.
I also love being able to tell Siri to send text messages and make phone calls for me via the watch.
Magically unlocking stuff
Perhaps my favorite part of owning the Apple Watch is being able to unlock things with it magically. And when I say magic, it’s the same level of user experience magic you get when multiple Apple devices just seem to work seamless together.
In this case, I use my Apple Watch with my MacBook Pro.
In my current desk setup, I usually keep my MacBook Pro’s lid usually closed. What this means is I can’t unlock it using TouchID. A minor but inconvenience nonetheless when you’re used to getting into your laptop with a single touch.
Well with an Apple Watch, I can simply sit down at my desk, and the watch unlocks my laptop for me—magic.
Where the magic gets even better is that, I can also use Apple Watch to unlock my password manager of choice 1Password.
1Password has the option to unlock using the Apple Watch.
When it is set up, instead of asking for your finger to unlock, a prompt shows up on the screen to unlock with your Watch.
Lift up your wrist and double-pressing the side button unlocks 1Password—more magic!
There are many benefits to being part of the Apple ecosystem, but Fitness+ to me felt like a drawback. Not so much for the content, but the forced necessity to only access the content via a Watch.
Around the time we got the HomePod Mini, Apple One came out. Seeing that I had already a few of Apple’s services, the cost of bundling with One was appealing to me.
To my disappointment when we first signed up for Apple One was that to use Fitness+ you needed a Watch.
It wasn’t until months after Fitness+ was released that I was able to actually use it.
The programs themselves by the trainers are top notch and quite impressive. And while I admit the tight integration with Watch and the Apple TV is impressive, I honestly don’t think it necessary to gate such a positive service from those who are without a Watch.
But then again, Apple is a technology company, so maybe that’s their push all along, selling more hardware and not a health service.
Once I had the Watch I do feel like it was a motivator to open up a Fitness+ workout to close my rings and see my rings interact on my television, but not a super value-adding feature.
I still think Fitness+ has much room to grow, for example I’d love to see the ability to support multiple Watch users simultaneously. My wife and I workout together, to be able to see both our individual vitals and metrics on screen would be magical.
Bought it for health, but found more value out of it
I bought the Apple Watch for its intended use case which was health oriented, I found that there were a lot more other use cases for it.
While the Watch isn’t the most value producing product—in terms of being able to produce work—from Apple that I own, I do agree, with what Tim Cook claimed when releasing the Watch to the world, that it is the most intimate of devices.
It’s the one device that is with me much more than my iPhone and the one device, that surprisingly has become my favorite Apple device.