I’ve had a long road with the Apple Watch. I bought the original one on release day, but sold it within a few months due to the slowness of watchOS 1. I purchased a Series 2 when it was released, but I ended up returning it a few weeks later. When the Series 3 Apple Watch was released, I ended up buying one to write a review, but returned it before the return period was up (it was around Christmas so I had a longer return period). In the entire time the Apple Watch has existed, I’ve probably owned it a total of six months. A month ago, I picked up another one. This time, I have a Series 4 Apple Watch with LTE. I know I am late to the Apple Watch party, but I do have some thoughts that I think are interesting based on my past history, and my thoughts on Apple’s health plans with Apple Watch. I’ve been around the watchOS scene from day one, but I’ve definitely come and gone for periods of time.
The Podcasts app is outstanding
I love podcasts, so being able to listen to podcasts directly from an Apple Watch with my AirPods is really a game changer for fitness. I love how I can stream a new show directly from LTE without having to sync offline.
On that same note, I do wish you could sync shows from Apple Podcasts on iPhone without having to be on the charger. I understand that Apple wants to save battery life, but if you are someone without an LTE Apple Watch, it would be annoying to always have to put your watch on a charger to download shows. If you’ve been at work all day, you might want to listen to the latest episode of 9to5Mac Happy Hour on an evening run. Since it usually comes out during the day, you wouldn’t be able to do that without finding a charger. If you find yourself in that situation often, you may want to look at Overcast as its Apple Watch app can download shows when away from the charger.
watchOS has improved dramatically since 2015
When the first Apple Watch was released in 2015, we were quickly met with software that was barely usable. Apps refused to launch, and it was just generally a pain to use. Apple has made dramatic improvements year over year to Apple Watch. As someone who vividly remembers the frustrations of watchOS 1, watchOS 5 is a dramatic improvement. Apps are fast at launching. I can easily be on a run, use Siri to send a text message, and then change my running playlist on Apple Music.
For those of you who’ve owned multiple Apple Watches, I am not telling you anything you don’t already know. My point is that we really need to take a step back and appreciate the engineering talent of the team building watch OS while also acknowledging Apple Watch Series 4 is fast. The current watchOS experience is smooth as silk, and that was anything but true with watchOS 1. I am really looking forward to seeing what watchOS 6 brings at WWDC 2019 this summer.
Apple Watch health and fitness are still killer features
When the original Apple Watch was released, Apple was trying to figure out what the Apple Watch was for. Over the years, it’s become clear they see it as a health and fitness devices. When you visit the Apple Watch section of Apple.com, this is the first text you see:
Apple Watch Series 4. Fundamentally redesigned and re‑engineered to help you be even more active, healthy, and connected.
When Apple released the Series 1 and Series 2 Apple Watches, it added heart rate monitoring for Apple Health. When you enable heart rate monitoring, you can also turn on heart rate notifications, so you know if your heart rate remains above or below a chosen beats per minute (BPM), or to occasionally check for an irregular heart rhythm. Irregular rhythm notifications are available only with watchOS 5.1.2 or later in certain countries.
With Apple Watch Series 4, Apple added electrocardiogram monitoring (also known as ECG and EKG). The ECG app on Apple Watch (Series 4 or newer) can record your heartbeat and rhythm using the electrical heart sensor and then check the reading for atrial fibrillation (AFib). It then records that information into the Apple Health app.
If you have an Apple Watch Series 4 or newer, here’s a how to guide on how to take an ECG.
Apple also includes a Health app on the iPhone where it easy to learn about your health and start reaching your goals. It consolidates data from iPhone, Apple Watch, and third-party apps in one place.
Apple’s health initiatives are clearly a priority going forward. With all of Apple’s other products, it’s about creativity, expression, and productivity. Apple Watch and Apple Health may end up transforming the company more than anyone ever thought. While Steve Jobs’ legacy will be the iPhone and the Mac, Tim Cook’s legacy will be how he ushered in an era of connected medicine in a way that allows users to trust who has access to their data.
Here’s a short list of past articles we’ve posted about major health issues being discovered/avoided thanks to Apple Watch:
- Apple Watch user discovers A-fib heart issue with new ECG app, ‘this probably saved you,’ says doctor
- How Apple Watch saved one man’s life — and how it’s empowering him after his heart attack
- Apple Watch again credited with saving a life as it leads New York man to discover erupted ulcer
- Apple Watch skeptic discovers Afib days after ECG app reaches Europe
- Apple Watch customer identifies A-fib heart condition after dismissing symptoms as ‘holiday anxiety’
- Apple Watch credited with alerting Seattle man his A-fib had returned, potentially preventing stroke
- Reddit user says Apple Watch saved his life helping detect supraventricular tachycardia
- Tim Cook shares story of user who discovered A-fib and other health issues with Apple Watch
Thanks for joining me on this journey. I’ve had a long road of using Apple Watches. The device is finally clicking for me. I am more aware of my health when wearing one. No, it’s not just about closing the rings daily (which I aim to do), but it’s more about living an active lifestyle.
As I write this article, I am waiting on the sun to come up so I can go on an early Sunday morning run. While I’ve been a runner since 2010, I am more motivated to lace up my sneakers with Apple Watch because I know my friends are going to get an alert when I’ve finished the run. If the iPhone was about being connected with those you aren’t with, Apple Watch is about putting all the other devices down and to get moving. I cannot wait for WatchOS 6 and Apple Watch Series 5. I think Apple Watch is the best fitness device on the market and will dominate the competition for the foreseeable future.