Apple Watch after 3 months: It's still personal

The Macworld staff weighs in on how the Apple Watch has—or hasn't—impacted our lives.

apple watch mickey mouse

The night before the Apple Watch launched, April 23, I found myself at a gas station, filling up my Subaru. I had left my iPhone in the car’s cupholder, so while I stood there listening to the gas rush into the tank, I wasn’t looking at Instagram or Twitter, or checking my notifications, or taking another stab at a tricky level in Two Dots. I just stood there.

I noticed how the evening sky faded from pink to purple. I took a deep breath. I wondered if this evening would wind up being notable, the Last Day Susie Didn’t Have an Apple Watch—if after I had strapped on the smartwatch, moments like this would find me poking at whatever would make my wrist computer so engrossing? Would I annoy my family, alienate acquaintances, and stop noticing the mundane glory of a color-changing sky?

I needn’t have worried.

After three months of wearing the Apple Watch, things are more or less the same as they were on April 23. I’m still strapping on my Apple Watch every day, and it’s made a significant difference in a few areas of my life, but it hasn’t turned out to be another screen fighting for my attention. It’s still got unrealized potential, but I’m glad to wear it, and I’m sticking with it. So are the rest of my colleagues here at Macworld, but for different reasons—read on for our impressions of the Apple Watch on its three-month milestone.

Susie: Obsessed with closing the circles

The biggest impact for me has been fitness. At first I thought it was strange that the Apple Watch tracked your daily movements in calories, rather than in steps taken, like the activity trackers I’d tried from Fitbit, Fitbug, and Jawbone. I also thought it was odd that there was no social function, no teams or leaderboard where you could compare your activity to what your friends were doing.

apple watch activity 580 Apple

I try my darndest to close all three circles every day, but sometimes that red Move ring gets sluggish on me. 

But now, I’m glad Apple went its own way. The calorie counting is probably a better measure, and it really does, as Jim Dalrymple pointed out, reinforce the notion that it’s a lot of work to burn calories, which makes you realize the importance of the calories you’re consuming too. Seems obvious, but no other activity tracker has helped me make this connection, and like Jim, I started keeping a food diary in My Fitness Pal. And it’s working.

Except when it doesn’t. I’ve had trouble with a sluggish Activity ring (the red one, which tracks calories), which sometimes lags way behind the green Exercise ring in a way that makes me wonder if it’s underestimating calories or just malfunctioning somehow. Someone on Twitter suggested the “fix” is to switch the watch from one arm to the other occasionally—and that seems to help, as does making sure I keep the bottom of the watch (where the heart rate sensors live) clean. But I wish Apple was more transparent about how the calories are counted, so I would have a better idea if my own counts are accurate. Worst case is that I’m really burning more calories than it says I am, which isn’t a huge problem, since burning calories is what I’m trying to do.

Leah: Sport Band faded, but the love is strong

After three months, the Apple Watch is still something I wear daily. Well, almost daily: Sometimes, I forget to throw it on its charger before I go to bed, which means it’ll likely be dead in the morning when it’s time for me to put it on. If it’s dead, then it won’t track all the sweet steps I’ll get during my morning commute across San Francisco via walking and public transit. And if I can’t track all of my activity for the day, I’ll be short of my Activity goals, even though I’m technically not short on my Activity goals. So, I’ll just leave it at home that day to avoid my (unnecessary, overly dramatic) frustration of not getting credit for all of that walking I just did. Yeah, it’s silly, but still.

apple watch leah

Leah's Sport Band seems like a slightly different color than when she bought it. (Or maybe she just likes the color a little less after three months.) 

I like my Apple Watch a lot. But it hasn’t become a necessary gadget for me yet, and as such, it hasn’t become a part of my daily routine. Sure, I like the wrist-based notifications, the easy access to Siri and messages, and using it to buy my morning coffee via Apple Pay. I love its Activity features (I never leave it at home if I know I’ll be hitting the gym or going on a hike) and how well it integrates with my favorite fitness apps. Digital Touch taps and drawings still make me crack up, so I enjoy using them to badger my Apple Watch-wearing friends. However, I have access to most of those features on my iPhone—which is, of course, my most-used Apple device—so I don’t fret if the watch gets left at home. That’s why I’m really looking forward to seeing what kind of native Apple Watch apps developers come up with when watchOS 2 launches later this year—I want more reasons to wear and use my watch every day.

I do have one regret, however: My band selection. I bought the neon pink Sport band to go with my aluminum Sport watch, but its color has faded and warped a bit in its short lifespan. It has always been an obnoxious hue on the coral color spectrum, but now it looks almost orangey. And, I’m not gonna lie, I sometimes refrain from wearing it because the band doesn’t go with my outfit for the day—which I knew might be a problem when I first made my choice, but I didn’t realize it would be that much of a problem. I’m going to copy Caitlin McGarry’s preferred Sport look and get the white Sport band, and perhaps the soft pink Modern Buckle, too.

Oscar: Naming that tune all over town

shazam apple watch

Shazam works when the song is great and you want to remember it for later, as well as when the song is terrible and you want to make fun of it on Twitter. 

Although it’s nice to know via the Activity app that my walk to work every day counts as legitimate exercise, the only other way I find myself using the Watch is to discreetly Shazam what songs my Uber drivers happen to be playing. I wouldn’t say that’s enough to justify its expense.

Overall, though, I’m happy with the user interface, battery life, and the look and feel. But I’m ambivalent about how integral the Apple Watch is as part of my daily routine.

Caitlin: My running/commuting companion

I still wear my Apple Watch almost every day, three months after it arrived at my doorstep. The days I leave it plugged in are the days I know I’ll be a total coach potato, and I don’t want the watch’s judgey rings to mock my lack of activity. (Sometimes I don’t want to meet any goals, let alone caloric ones.)

sensoria watch

The Apple Watch has been a better running buddy for me than these sensor-laden Bluetooth socks.

But I still use the watch mainly as a fitness tracker that has bonuses like music playback control, iMessage and HipChat notifications, and calendar reminders. A Fitbit can’t do all of that. Every morning before I go for a run, I strap the watch to my wrist, open the Workout app, tell Siri which playlist I want to listen to, and hit the pavement. It’s easy, fast, and helps me track my pace, mileage, and heart rate, plus it logs all that data in visually stunning charts that are easily accessible on my wrist or phone.

I was already an active person before I started wearing the watch, so I can’t say whether or not it will inspire people to become more active. But I love that it does all of that work and also lets me check the New York Times headlines on my way to the train, respond to texts, and control my music without having to take out my phone.

My one complaint: the white Sport band. It gets so, so dirty. But now that more third-party bands are on the way, I can easily swap it out for a new, more interesting strap.

Roman: Taking one for the team

I had never been a watch wearer. Before cellphones, if I wore a wristwatch, I usually took it off after a few hours and carried it in my pocket. So just the idea of wearing an Apple Watch was something I had to get over.

At first, I was really excited about the Apple Watch (like I am with a lot of new gadgets I buy), checking it constantly and finding excuses for using it. But my fascination started to fade after two weeks—and now, I really only wear it because I feel like I should as a Macworld editor.

apple watch first text

The novelty wore off kind of quickly, but maybe watchOS 2 can bring some of the magic back. 

The Apple Watch is all about notifications for me. But since I’ve had the watch, there have been only a couple of times where I needed to immediately know about a notification. So I’ve learned that I’m OK with not having instant access to my iPhone notifications.

I’ll keep wearing Apple Watch, but I don’t feel like I always need it. I have hope for it; I think its functionality will grow over time. Maybe then I’ll think about the Apple Watch as I do my iPhone: A device I don’t want to leave home without.

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