Ben Lovejoy’s diary series are an attempt to provide a real-life review of Apple devices. Not just first impressions of them as gadgets, but the role they perform in everyday use, and an evolving view over time. 

Read the diary entries from the bottom up to read them in date order.

Apple Watch diary Stories June 14

Much as I rely on my Apple Watch, I do need a good reason to upgrade models, and so far Apple has had a mixed track record in persuading me to do so.

I started with the original model, aka the Series 0. My next upgrade was to the Series 3, which sold itself to me primarily on the Siri improvements

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Apple Watch diary Stories September 7, 2020

My Apple Watch is so much a part of my life now that I don’t even notice I’m putting it on. The Withings ScanWatch is a very different type of smartwatch – which was why I thought it would be interesting to try one.

It’s a more sophisticated version of the Withings Steel, and is available in Europe now, but awaiting FDA clearance to go on sale in the US. It’s a predominantly analog watch, with a small digital display. And unlike the Apple Watch’s 1-2 day battery life, it claims a battery life of 30 days – with a further 20 days in reserve mode, where it switches off the digital display while continuing to tell the time and measure activity …

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Apple Watch diary Stories August 11, 2020

I mentioned last month that I’ve always avoided OS betas in the past, and that remains my firm and unwavering policy where macOS is concerned. However, testing the public beta of iOS 14 on my iPhone, and iPadOS 14 on my iPad, didn’t reveal any nasty surprises, so I’m hoping to have the same experience with watchOS 7.

The majority of you are doing the sensible thing and waiting for the official release. That’s especially smart with the Watch, as there’s no ability to remove the beta: once you’re on watchOS 7, you’re stuck with it. But I figure it’s a relatively low risk for two reasons …

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Apple Watch diary Stories December 3, 2019

Transport for London yesterday activated the Express Transit feature, designed to make it easier to use an Apple Watch or iPhone to pay for public transit journeys.

I got the chance to try it on a couple of short journeys across London last night, and it’s one of those tiny things which makes a worthwhile difference to the experience…

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Apple Watch diary Stories April 15, 2019

I wasn’t expecting to still be writing an Apple Watch Diary four years in …

As I mentioned last week, I managed to knock my Apple Watch off a bathroom cabinet onto a tiled floor, smashing the screen. The Watch was still fully-functional (well, pings no longer sounded, though Siri still responded), but the damage was pretty bad so wasn’t something I could live with for more than a few days …

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Apple Watch diary Stories October 12, 2018

We’ve seen quite a revolution in health and fitness tracking over the past few years, with the Apple Watch playing a key role in that.

Measuring fitness stats has been transformed from something done only by hardcore athletes to a routine part of life for millions of ordinary people …

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Apple Watch diary Stories September 24, 2018

The Apple Watch succeeded in converting me from a smartwatch skeptic to an Apple Watch convert, but I held out on upgrading until the Series 3 came along. There were two reasons that persuaded me to upgrade – improved Siri performance and the automatic monitoring of heart-rate, my Series 0 being the only model in the line-up not to support the latter.

I wrote before the launch of the Series 4 that there were likewise two reasons that would persuade me to upgrade again – and we turned out to get both of them …

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Apple Watch diary Stories August 20, 2018

We today saw a not-unexpected sign that we’re getting closer to some new Apple Watch models: new model numbers have been registered in a Eurasian database. In all likelihood, the new Watches will be announced in September, alongside this year’s iPhones.

Although I went from being a smart watch skeptic to not wanting to be without my Apple Watch, I would still say it’s not a product I get excited about. A new Mac or a iPad, yes. A new iPhone, somewhat less – though the iPhone X was a definite exception. But the Watch, not so much.

The Apple Watch is very much a utilitarian product for me. I’m really glad it’s there, but I don’t do anything more than glance at it as I use it …

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Apple Watch diary Stories September 26, 2017

Despite having made the journey from a smartwatch skeptic to an Apple Watch convert, I was – until very recently – still using my original model, aka the Series 0. It had become something I wear every day, and now wouldn’t want to be without, and Apple hadn’t shown me any reason to upgrade.

When the Series 2 was launched, I concluded that despite the improvements it offered in some areas, there would be no benefit to me given the four things for which I use it.

The Series 3 is, of course, a much bigger upgrade, but I was fairly sure that wasn’t going to persuade me either …

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Apple Watch diary Stories September 9, 2016

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I’ve never been one to shy away from admitting when my first impression of a technology turns out to be wrong. I initially saw smartwatches as a solution in search of a problem, and didn’t think I would keep mine. It took just four days of use to make me think that maybe I’d hang onto it after all, one week in I was tentatively sold – and by the three-month point, I had to call myself a convert.

The only question this time around, then, was whether I was going to upgrade to the Series 2. The new fitness features sold it (and the Nike+ version) to Zac, but after almost 18 months of ownership, my usage patterns mean that I can’t see any benefit in upgrading myself …

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Apple Watch diary Stories June 20, 2016

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Going out without your wallet or purse is something most of us have done at some time or another. When I did it four or five years ago, it was a complete pain as it was on a Saturday afternoon and no banks were open.

Picture the scene: I’m on my own in the car, call into a gas station to refuel, get to the till and … no wallet. Not the most convenient of times to discover one’s absent-mindedness. Fortunately I have a great bank. I called them, and they gave me an authorization number to give to the gas station attendant, who was able to put the transaction through.

But when I managed to leave my wallet at home on Friday evening, Apple Pay made it a non-event …

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Apple Watch diary Stories June 2, 2016

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It’s been a while since my last Apple Watch diary piece, prompted by the experience of losing access to Apple Pay for a couple of days. Unless you get excited by straps, we haven’t seen much in the way of new developments of late, but one thing did change yesterday: that was the date from which only apps using the native SDK would be accepted into the App Store.

The sluggish performance of the Watch was our most immediate complaint when a few of us here looked back at our experience of the wearable over the year. All too often, you open an app or select a Glance and then spend several seconds – and sometimes much longer – staring at those spinning dots. Less a Glance and more an Impatient Stare.

I’d hoped that the switch to native apps might improve things notably, but so far I can see no evidence of this – which means that, of the eight different ways in which you can use the Apple Watch, I’m only using a subset of them …

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Apple Watch diary Stories February 29, 2016

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I said last summer in my Apple Watch Diary series that Apple Pay arriving in the UK was the tipping point for me in transforming the Watch from a useful device into something I was reluctant to be without. That was confirmed last week when a fraud attempt left me without Apple Pay for a couple of days.

I received a text from my bank asking me to call them as they suspected my card had been compromised. I call them to find that they’d blocked an attempt to use my debit card for a £1200 ($1700) online transaction. As it was for a gadget purchase, I was impressed that they caught it – though perhaps it was the surprise at a large purchase from a non-fruity company …

Having confirmed that I didn’t make the transaction, they put a stop on my card and said they’d send a new one out within a few days. Interestingly, the UK seems to lack one Apple Pay feature the US has …  expand full story

Apple Watch diary Stories December 22, 2015

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Steve Jobs famously said that people don’t know what they want until they see it. To which I’d add that sometimes we don’t know what we want until we’ve used it for a while.

I’m old enough to have been around when the first Macintosh was launched. In that case, I knew I wanted one the moment I saw it. This was how computers were supposed to work. The total cost of the Macintosh plus second floppy drive plus ImageWriter printer was a frightening amount at the time, but I didn’t care – I had to have one.

The iPad was a different story. I originally bought one intending it to be nothing more than the movie equivalent of the Kindle, yet within a very short time it became my primary mobile computing device.

The Apple Watch was different again. As someone who started out as a total smartwatch skeptic and has now been fully assimilated, I thought it might be interesting to briefly look back on that journey and also think a little about what the future might hold for the device …

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Apple Watch diary Stories July 31, 2015

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After my first impressions, lengthy update, decision point and one month update, this week is when I have to officially lose the ‘skeptic’ prefix to my Apple Watch diary series and relabel myself as a fully-fledged convert.

The trigger for this realization was a fairly small one, but one which clearly demonstrated to me that – little by little – the Apple Watch is transforming itself into a gadget I eventually won’t want to be without …  expand full story

Apple Watch diary Stories June 10, 2015

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I described my own journey with the Apple Watch, from smartwatch skeptic to daily user, in a four-part diary (parts one, two, three and four). My uncertainty was less to do with the specifics of the Apple Watch and more to do with whether there was a role in my life for any kind of smartwatch.

But there are those who have been holding off for another reason: they steer clear of first-generation Apple products of all kinds. Their thinking is that the 1st-gen model tends to have a bunch of glitches, with the 2nd-gen product not just getting those worked out but also adding significantly to the functionality too.

This is a perfectly reasonable viewpoint, with significant historical evidence behind it – from the original Macintosh onward (one could even say from the Apple I). But with Apple having added a whole bunch of functionality to the existing Watch via watchOS 2, has the company managed to give the first-gen refuseniks enough reason to reconsider … ?  expand full story

Apple Watch diary Stories May 25, 2015

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When I decided that I was keeping my Apple Watch after my arbitrary one week trial, several of you wondered whether that would still be the case once the novelty had worn off. Indeed, I wondered that myself.

Well, it’s now a month in as of yesterday, and I can definitely say the novelty has worn off – and, somewhat to my surprise, I’m still wearing it every day. Perhaps it’s time to drop the ‘skeptic’ part of the title.

Given the kind interest shown in my earlier pieces, I thought I’d update you with a few additional things I’ve noted and the reasons I’m still wearing it …

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Apple Watch diary Stories April 30, 2015

weather I outlined in my first diary piece why I decided to put an Apple Watch to the test, despite being skeptical about the value of smartwatches. The short version is that there’s only one way to judge a new product category, and that’s by living with it for a while.

I set an arbitrary test period of one week because I think that’s long enough to determine if and how I use it, and what difference it makes to my everyday life. I do recognize that a week isn’t long enough for the ultimate test: will it have been consigned to a drawer two or three months down the line? But I figured you wouldn’t want to wait quite that long for my verdict.

Let’s start with what have now been very firmly identified as non-issues …

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Apple Watch diary Stories April 27, 2015

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I gave my first impressions of the Apple Watch on Friday. Three-and-a-half days in, and halfway into my one-week experiment, it’s time for an update. You may want to get a cup of your preferred hot beverage before reading this piece: it’s a long one!

It appears I was entirely alone in my uncertainty over whether or not the watch would win me over.  Strangers commenting here, and friends commenting on Facebook, spoke with one voice: I was, they all confidently predicted, going to keep it.

Are they right? Let’s begin by updating my first impressions …  expand full story

Apple Watch diary Stories April 24, 2015

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I’m a self-confessed smartwatch skeptic. The first one I ever tried, the original Pebble, struck me as an extremely ugly solution in search of a problem. The Apple Watch, when it was finally announced, looked like a rather attractive (if too thick) solution in search of a problem.

Which raises the question: why was I up at the crack of 8 am (time zones can be useful things on occasion …) to order one? Three reasons …  expand full story

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