If you own an Apple Watch you’re probably already familiar with the relatively slow process of updating watchOS on an Apple Watch. Some simple updates may install in a reasonable amount of time, but some of the larger watchOS updates can take an hour or much more. As a result, many Apple Watch owners will either postpone software updates indefinitely or install software updates to watchOS overnight, or when they know they won’t need their watch anytime soon.
But there’s another option, and you can actually speed up the watchOS software update process quite a bit by using a little trick.
This is a fairly simple trick, and it involves simply turning off Bluetooth on your iPhone, which in turn forces your Apple Watch to download the watchOS software update over wi-fi (remember, your iPhone is paired via Bluetooth with the Apple Watch). Here’s how it works:
How to Speed Up WatchOS Updates on Apple Watch
Before beginning, make sure the iPhone and Apple Watch are joined on a wi-fi connection, and that the Apple Watch is on the charger, and with at least 50% battery. Then you’re ready to try this out:
Start updating watchOS as usual by going to the Apple “Watch” app on the iPhone, then to “My Watch” > Settings > General > Software Update
Tap on “Download & Install” when a watchOS software update appears
When you see the “time remaining…” estimate appear, return to the Home Screen of the iPhone and then open the normal “Settings” app
Tap on “Bluetooth” and toggle the Bluetooth setting to OFF to completely disable Bluetooth on the iPhone
Return again to the “Watch” app and a message will appear about reconnecting to the Apple Watch, tap on the “Cancel” button at that popup
When the watchOS download finishes, tap on on “Install” in the Watch app to start the installation process over wi-fi
Essentially you’re forcing the iPhone and Apple Watch to use the speedier wi-fi connection to transfer the watchOS package between devices, rather than the much slower Bluetooth.
Note you can’t just toggle Bluetooth in the Control Center because of how the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Control Center buttons function in modern iOS releases, which just disconnect devices rather than turning off the service – that’s why you have to go to the Settings app to turn off Bluetooth on the iPhone.
This nifty trick comes our way from iDownloadblog, so cheers to them for the helpful tip.
Let’s hope a future version of watchOS or the Apple Watch iPhone app allows users to install updates through wi-fi directly without this workaround, but until (or if ever) that happens, you can simply toggle Bluetooth off on the iPhone and you’ll find the updating process is much quicker.
The Spring collection includes Apple Watch bands for every occasion.
Apple debuts a Spring collection of bands with vibrant colors and unique designs. This season’s updates include Woven Nylon bands with a fresh stripe that alternates white with color for a crisp, clean look, exclusive Nike bands that color-match with the latest Nike running shoes and a striking new edge paint color for Apple Watch Hermès bands. Later this month, all new bands will be available to order from apple.com and for purchase at select Apple Stores, Apple Authorized Resellers and carriers.
The Woven Nylon bands now include an updated stripe pattern.
Sport Band in Denim Blue, Lemonade and Red Raspberry
Woven Nylon in Black Stripe, Blue Stripe, Gray Stripe and Pink Stripe
Sport Loop in Flash Light, Hot Pink, Marine Green and Tahoe Blue
Classic Buckle in Spring Yellow, Electric Blue and Soft Pink
Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) will include new 38mm and 42mm Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sport Loop models.
Apple Watch Nike+
The Nike Sport Loop can be easily adjusted for the perfect fit.
The Nike Sport Loop will now be sold separately, joining new Nike Sport Band colors:
Nike Sport in Barely Rose/Pearl Pink, Black/White and Cargo Khaki/Black
Nike Sport Loop in Black/Pure Platinum, Bright Crimson/Black, Cargo Khaki, Midnight Fog and Pearl Pink
Apple Watch Nike+ (GPS + Cellular) will include new 38mm and 42mm Space Gray Aluminum Case with Midnight Fog Nike Sport Loop models.
Apple Watch Hermès
This season’s Apple Watch Hermès bands feature an accent color.
The Single Tour Rallye and Double Tour bands now display contrasting paint details:
38mm Double Tour in Indigo with rouge H polished edge and rouge H contrasted loop
38mm Double Tour in Blanc with rouge H polished edge and rouge H contrasted loop
42mm Single Tour Rallye in Indigo with rouge H polished edge and rouge H contrasted loop
42mm Single Tour Rallye in Blanc with rouge H polished edge and rouge H contrasted loop
Pricing and Availability
Apple Watch is available in two different case sizes, 38mm and 42mm. Apple Watch Series 1 will be available in silver or space gray aluminum cases paired with a Sport Band and starts at just $249 (US). Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS) will be available in gold, silver or space gray aluminum cases with a Sport Band starting at $329 (US). Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) will be available in gold, silver or space gray aluminum, or silver or space black stainless steel paired with a variety of bands starting at $399 (US); and Apple Watch Edition in gray or white ceramic starts at $1299 (US) from apple.com, Apple Stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers and carriers. For local availability, visit locate.apple.com. Apple Watch Nike+ starts at $329 (US) and Apple Watch Hermès starts at $1149 (US).
New Apple Watch models will be available to order on apple.com later this month in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK and the US.
Apple Watch bands will be available to order on apple.com later this month in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, the UK and the US. The Sport, Sport Loop and Woven Nylon bands are $49 (US) and the Classic Buckle is $149 (US).
New Apple Watch Nike+ models will be available to order on apple.com and nike.comlater this month in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK and the US.
New Nike Sport Bands and Sport Loops will be available to order on apple.com and nike.com later this month in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, the UK and the US. The Nike Sport Band and the Sport Loop are $49 (US).
New Apple Watch Hermès bands will be available to order on apple.com and Hermes.com later this month in Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, UAE, the UK and the US. The Single Tour Rallye is $439 (US) and the Double Tour is $489 (US).
New Apple Watch, Apple Watch Nike+ and Apple Watch Hermès bands will be available at Apple Galaxy Macau later this month.
Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) requires an iPhone 6 or later with iOS 11 or later. Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS) requires an iPhone 5s or later with iOS 11 or later. Apple Watch Series 1 requires an iPhone 5s or later with iOS 11 or later. Some features are not available in all regions or all languages.
Customers who buy Apple Watch from Apple will be offered free Personal Setup, in-store or online,1 to help set up and personalize their new Apple Watch with calendars, notifications, apps and more.
Anyone who wants to learn the basics or go further with their new Apple Watch can sign up for free sessions at apple.com/today.
Even if the weather isn’t cooperating, Apple is ready for spring with a new slate of Watch bands in bright new colors and designs to chase away the winter blues. Some two dozen new bands will be available later this month either as part of a new Apple Watch purchase or as an add-on accessory.
Apple hasn’t said whether any colors will be retired as a result of the new models, but several of the new colors seem to be variations on ones that are already available. For example, there’s a new Lemonade Sport Band, which looks very much like the current Flash model. All said, there will be 22 new sport, woven nylon, classic buckle, and loop bands that will join the hundreds of band-case combinations that are already available, as well as standalone availability of the Nike Sport Loop and four new Hermes models that now display contrasting accent details.
The entire lineup of new accessories will be:
Sport Band ($49)
Woven Nylon ($49)
Sport Loop ($49)
Classic Buckle ($149)
Nike Sport ($49)
Barely Rose/Pearl Pink
Nike Sport Loop ($49)
Apple Watch Hermes ($1,299)
38mm Double Tour in Indigo with rouge H polished edge and rouge H contrasted loop
38mm Double Tour in Blanc with rouge H polished edge and rouge H contrasted loop
42mm Single Tour Rallye in Indigo with rouge H polished edge and rouge H contrasted loop
42mm Single Tour Rallye in Blanc with rouge H polished edge and rouge H contrasted loop
Customize your OleksyPrannyk Apple Watch Band with over 10 colors of thread for a one-of-a-kind look.
A wristwatch is so much more than a means to tell time these days. It’s also the opportunity to accessorize and bump up one’s style with a unique, wonderfully constructed strap.
Heeding the call to individual style is OleksynPrannyk’s made-to-order and ultra-sharp Double Tour Apple Watch Band — the reasonably priced alternative to the ridiculously priced Hermès band. The Double Tour and all of OleksynPrannyk’s bands are completely customizable with more than five adapter colors and 14 thread colors from which to choose.
Best yet, the entire collection is available now in Cult of Mac’s Watch Store. Trust me, you will love this band.
The Double Tour in Chestnut with turquoise stitching.
The Double Tour wraps twice around the wrist, offering a totally unique take on the average Apple Watch strap. The band is handcrafted from fine, vegetable-tanned Dublin leather sourced from the Horween Leather Company in Chicago, which has been tanning leathers by hand for more than 100 years. Marked by a high oil content, Dublin leather ages beautifully over time and has a beautiful sheen. Two pieces of this premium leather are held together with meticulous stitching, which makes the strap pop.
OleksynPrannyk is the combined endeavor of Viktor Oleksyn and Pavlo Prannyk, originally from Ukraine. Viktor is the master tailer and has a penchant for creating the perfect, straight seem. He began by crafting a simple pocket wallet — with a straight seam — and sold it the very next day. Selling out at crafts fairs and the like, Viktor found his calling: creating high-quality, handmade leather goods.
Every band is carefully designed and handmade for strength and comfort.
The demand for OleksynPrannyk products was so high, Viktor and his small, close-knit group moved to the U.S., setting up shop in the historic Mooresville Cotton Mills in South Carolina. The team of artisans take pride in creating beautiful leather straps for Apple Watch that are completely made to order and customizable for each wearer.
Choose from 14 different thread colors: black, navy, light brown, gray, light gray, blue, green, lime green, orange, pink, red, sky blue, turquoise and white smoky to complement your strap choice. Then pick your adapter in aluminum, black, stainless steel, gold or rose gold to best match the fittings of your Apple Watch.
The Double Tour Band by OleksynPrannyk also comes in Black, Cream, Brown Nut and Natural, as do its single-tour counterparts.
The made-to-order Double Tour in Black.
Available in short, regular and long wrist sizes for either the 38 mm or 42 mm Apple Watch.
The Double Tour is a gorgeous, modern, fine-leather strap we love and recommend. You won’t be disappointed!
On September 22, Apple Watch Series 3 with built-in cellular and Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS went on sale around the world at 8 a.m. local time. The new Watches add powerful health and fitness enhancements, a faster dual-core processor, a new wireless chip and watchOS 4.
Apple Union Square, San Francisco
A customer uses Apple Watch Series 3 to call his mother from Apple Union Square in San Francisco.
This week Apple released watchOS 4, the fourth major update to its flagship wearable device in the two years since it’s been available. While the Apple Watch had a fairly basic start with the first iteration of its operating system, Apple provided more frequent updates, with watchOS 2 redefining the experience and watchOS 3 significantly increasing performance and interactivity. With watchOS 3 having finally established a solid foundation for the wearable user experience, watchOS 4 seems to begin an era of more iterative improvements that refine, rather than redefine, the user interface.
Installing the Update
As with prior watchOS updates, you’ll need to start the update process from the Watch app on your iPhone, and you’ll need to already have iOS 11 installed to do so. You can check for new updates by opening the Watch app and choosing General, Software Update.
The installation process will first download the update to the Apple Watch, and then — providing your Apple Watch has at least a 50 percent charge and is connected to power — proceed to install the update from there. Note that this one takes a while; in our experience it was about a 30 minute install, and some users have reported it taking even longer than that, likely depending on how busy Apple’s servers are.
While watchOS 3 made some major changes to the Apple Watch user interface — introducing the Dock and Control Center and completely eliminating “glances” from the original design — watchOS 4 focuses more on adding polish in those areas. Everything remains where it was before, however Apple has redesigned the Dock with a vertical “stacked cards” style interface. Swiping to the left on an individual app in the Dock displays a “Remove” button that can be used to cast that app out of the Dock.
Unlike before, where the Dock combined recently used and favourite apps, watchOS 4 also now requires you to choose one or the other from the Dock settings in the iPhone Watch app. Selecting “Recents” will include only those apps in the Dock that you’ve recently used, ordered by when they were last opened. “Favorites” lets you specify which apps are included in the Dock, in which case only the single most recently used app will be included at the top, with a “Keep in Dock” button below to allow you to add it permanently to the Dock right from your watch.
Users who aren’t fans of the now-traditional app launcher on the Apple Watch will also appreciate that Apple has finally added an option to display your apps in a simple list view. This is accessed by pressing down on the app launcher screen and selecting “List View.” The Apple Watch will remember the last setting as your default, so if you prefer the list view, you can stick with it. Sadly, the list view is fixed to an alphabetical order with no visible way to customize it, although it will remain at the last-used position each time you return to it.
A new “flashlight” option has also been added to the Control Center, which turns the watch face into an LED light, with three modes available — simple white light, a flashing white light, and a red light.
No Apple Watch update would be complete without a selection of new Watch Faces, and this year’s release doesn’t disappoint.
The Siri face attempts to bring Siri’s “proactive assistant” to your wrist, displaying relevant data such as reminders, calendar appointments, weather, and alarms, as a series of vertical cards. It can be a useful option for those who are always on the go, but right now the data sources are limited to Apple’s own built-in apps,
The Siri faces only offers two complication slots, one of which is used by default to trigger Siri, and customizability is limited to choosing which data sources will be included.
Toy Story Faces
Last year’s update gave us Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and with watchOS 4 this year, we get the cast from Toy Story. Four new faces are available, featuring Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, Woody, and all three as the main faces, which will change slightly each time you look at your watch, and are each also backed by a set of unique animations that can be accessed by tapping on the watch face. Unlike Mickey and Minnie, these don’t announce the time — or play any other sounds — but they’re cute and fun nonetheless, and add a bit of personality to your Apple Watch.
The new kaleidoscope face leans more to the artistic side, allowing you to choose from one of seven photos — or your own custom photo — and three patterns to create a round kaleidoscope background behind an analog watch. Turning the Digital Crown will rotate through the kaleidoscope patterns.
The Activity app has been enhanced to get a little bit more personal and proactive, with additional notifications that provide a bit more encouragement and coaching, and include full-screen “ring of fire” animations when you close your rings.
New monthly challenges have also been added that are customized based on your previous activity levels, and can include things like setting a new daily average move goal or daily average exercise goal, rather than simply hitting set milestones.
The Workout app has also gotten a nice redesign, with quick start “Open Goal” options for each workout type, and a menu button in the top-right corner to choose specific goals such as distance, calories, or time.
Workout controls can now be accessed from a workout by swiping over to the screen on the left, and music controls can be found on the screen to the right of the main workout status display. On the Apple Watch Series 1 or later you can also now automatically start a synced playlist when beginning a workout. A new option under Do Not Disturb settings in the iPhone Watch app also allows you to automatically enable Do Not Disturb during your workouts, although unfortunately this cannot be customized based on workout type.
watchOS 4 also adds a new High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout mode, and updates Pool Swim workouts with auto sets to track distance for each stroke type and pace for each set.
The Heart Rate app now includes visual graphs that chart your heart rate throughout the day, as well as your heart rate during workouts and walks, and recovery time. Users with an Apple Watch Series 1 or later also get a resting rate chart.
A new option in the Notifications section of the iPhone Watch app lets you enable alerts if your heart rate suddenly rises to a user-specified threshold while you appear to have been inactive for ten minutes or more.
The Health app on the iPhone also now tracks additional heart rate details, such as Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and VO2 Max.
The Music app probably represents the most significant change in watchOS 4, with a complete redesign that basically takes it from what it was before — basically a combination of an iPod shuffle and iPhone remote — into a standalone Music app in its own right.
You can now sync multiple playlists — as well as whole albums, artists, genres, and compilations — to your Apple Watch, and Apple Music subscribers can automatically add their curated playlists. Music syncs when the Apple Watch is charging, and is stored locally on the Apple Watch so it doesn’t need to be in range of your iPhone to listen to your music, although of course you’ll still need to use Bluetooth headphones with the Apple Watch.
Unfortunately, with these advances the Music app also loses the ability to start music playback directly on your iPhone, so you’ll only be able to search for and play music that’s on your Apple Watch — although Apple Music subscribers will soon gain the ability to stream any content directly from Apple Music, that feature hasn’t yet been rolled out, and it’s unclear whether it will be limited to the new cellular-capable Apple Watch Series 3 or available on older Apple Watch models.
Although the Apple Watch can’t directly access your iPhone’s music library, the “Now Playing” app still retains the ability to control music that’s already playing on your iPhone. “Now Playing” will come up automatically by default on your watch whenever you begin playing anything from the iPhone Music app, however you can turn this off by going your iPhone Watch app and toggling off “Auto-launch Audio Apps” under General, Wake Screen. The Now Playing app can also always be found in the Dock whenever music is playing on your iPhone.
The Mail app in watchOS 4 gains the ability to compose messages directly from your wrist. You can address messages by dictating a name to Siri or choosing one from your contacts, and fill in the subject and body using any of the usual watchOS data entry techniques — canned messages, Siri dictation, scribbles, or emoji.
Additional left and right swipe gestures in the Mail app also provide options for trash, flag, and mark as unread. Sadly, like the macOS Mail app, these options are fixed rather than customizable as they are in iOS.
Unlike last year’s watchOS 3 update, we wouldn’t say that watchOS 4 breathes new life into older Apple Watch models; it’s a mostly iterative update that adds some nice improvements to the experience, particularly for health and fitness users. It also makes the Apple Watch into a more usable portable music player. The good news, however, is that even if you’re still wearing an original first-generation Apple Watch, you’ll find that watchOS 4 still performs very well and offers a host of new benefits, with only a few relatively minor features limited to the newer models. While most users won’t find themselves in a rush to update to watchOS 4, we can’t find any reasons to avoid the update either. It’s a solid update regardless of which model of Apple Watch you own.
Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, presenting features of the new Apple Watch at a company event last week. Cellular connectivity with the smartwatches is likely a luxury that most people probably will not need.Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times
To understand why you might want the new cellular Apple Watch, put yourself in the shoes of a wealthy person who drives a weekend car.
In this situation, your iPhone is like your everyday workhorse vehicle, with the muscle to speed through emails, calendar invitations and social media posts. But when it comes time to unwind, you can leave the house with just a cellular Apple Watch — the equivalent of the weekend car — and still have access to a lightweight phone that can handle calls and text messages.
In other words, wearing the Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular connectivity, which Apple will release Friday, is like owning a leisure phone that is excessive but situationally useful. Apple’s first wearable to include cellular may come in handy when you are at the gym and want to leave your phone in the locker, or when you go out for a run and want to remain reachable.
After testing the cellular watch for a week, I found it to be an excellent smart watch that is a significant improvement over the first Apple Watch, which was slow, confusing to use and deeply flawed.
But the cellular version is a luxury that most people probably will not need. The price you pay for those brief moments of respite from your iPhone is steep: at least $399 for the hardware, plus $10 a month for access on your cellphone plan for some carriers. And I seldom found reasons to use the watch without my iPhone to justify the extra cost.
There may also be some early kinks for Apple to work out with the new cellular Watch. Some reviewers discovered that the device occasionally lost its cellular connection, for example. Apple said on Wednesday that the issue was related to the watch inadvertently connecting to open Wi-Fi networks that lacked internet connectivity, and that it was investigating a software fix.
In the end, some people who want a wearable device for things like fitness tracking and a quick glance at mobile notifications will probably be happy with the Series 3 without cellular, which costs $329.
Like its predecessors, the Apple Watch Series 3 is a computer worn around the wrist, with a miniature touch screen.
The main difference with the cellular Apple Watch is that some important features, like placing calls, texting and streaming music, will work when you are not near your phone.Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times
The device requires an iPhone to set up and work properly. Notifications like text messages or social media alerts that come to your iPhone appear on the watch first if you are not actively using the phone. The watch runs apps, including some built-in software for fitness tracking as well as third-party widgets you can download from the App Store.
The main difference with the cellular Apple Watch is that some important features, like placing calls, texting and streaming music, will work when you are not near your phone; the watch shares the same phone number and cellular plan with your iPhone.
To help determine whether the cellular watch is right for you, I abandoned my iPhone to test the watch in a number of common situations. Here’s how that went.
Over the weekend, my partner and I made plans to go to dinner at a sushi restaurant. I used the Apple Watch to summon a Lyft car to pick us up at home.
At the sushi bar, I liked that I didn’t have a smartphone constantly buzzing in my pocket, though I got a text that I quickly responded to on the watch using an emoji. My partner and I enjoyed 90 minutes of intimate conversation over omakase with minimal distraction, though I was a bit envious that she could Instagram our gorgeous nigiri.
Verdict: I could have had roughly the same experience with just an iPhone put on Do Not Disturb mode — and a bit of self-discipline.
For several days, I wore just the watch while walking my dogs. Not having a phone freed up valuable space in my pockets for other items, like my keys, my wallet, dog treats and bags. I liked that the Apple Watch tracked my steps and walking distance to make dog walking feel more like exercise than a chore. I placed a call to my partner with the watch to tell her where to meet me at a park; she said the call sounded crystal clear.
It was also nice that with just the watch, I could still be reachable via phone or text by my colleagues during morning walks — but emails took several minutes to show up after they were sent. It turns out that while texts and calls are done directly on the cellular watch, emails still rely on the iPhone’s pushing emails to the cloud, which then transmits the message to your watch.
Verdict: The watch is good for staying reachable via phone or texts. But in those brief moments when you need to step away from a computer during work hours, a smartphone is still necessary if you rely heavily on email, as I do.
I wore the watch and took a pair of AirPods, Apple’s wireless earbuds, to a rock-climbing gym. Again, I left my iPhone behind.
At the gym, I opened the Workout app to track my heart rate and calories burned throughout the workout. During breaks, I used Siri to write a few quick texts to some friends to make plans for the week. I put on the AirPods in the hope of streaming songs on the watch from Apple Music, only to realize that this capability has not yet been released. Apple said music streaming for the cellular watch will come out next month.
Verdict: It was nice being able to stay in touch with people at the gym without a phone bulging in my pocket, but I’d be happy unplugging for a while and tracking my workout with a noncellular Apple Watch. As for whether streaming music makes a cellular watch worth owning, I unfortunately can’t tell you yet.
Here’s where leaving my phone behind and relying only on the watch did not make sense: during grocery shopping. The watch doesn’t have a web browser, let alone a big enough screen, for looking up recipes. But when it came time to check out, I hit the side button to activate Apple Pay and quickly paid for the groceries.
Verdict: A smartphone is a better shopping companion than a watch.
The Bottom Line
The value of the cellular capabilities on the Apple Watch is questionable considering the price you pay each month.
AT&T and Verizon Wireless, for example, charge a network access fee of $10 a month to share your phone plan’s texts, minutes and data with an Apple Watch. That’s about the same as a Spotify subscription, but with the exception of avid joggers and gym rats, people may not use the cellular features frequently enough. Hopefully, over time, Apple will negotiate with carriers to bring the monthly rate down.
Although I think most people can skip buying the cellular model, the Apple Watch Series 3 is the first smart watch I can confidently recommend that people buy. While I don’t personally find it attractive enough to replace my wristwatch, the new Apple Watch is a well-designed, durable and easy-to-use fitness tracker for people who want analytics on their workouts and general health.
Important features like the stopwatch, calendar and Siri work quickly and reliably. And unlike its predecessors, the watch has impressive battery life — on average, I had more than 40 percent battery remaining after a full day of use.
So the final verdict? The Apple Watch Series 3 is the first sign that wearable computers are maturing and may eventually become a staple in consumer electronics.
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One year ago Apple finally decided to get into the smartwatch game. Nobody was surprised that it happened, but the reaction it inspired has caught a few off guard. Some were shocked that it failed to explode on the scene with the same ferocity as the iPhone or iPad. Others have been amazed at how it has stubbornly clung to life, like the Apple TV did for years.
The Apple Watch has been somewhat divisive, even around the Engadgetcompound. Some of our editors ordered theirs on day one, others became converts later. Many still wear and like their Apple watch, while others are wondering how much they can get for it on eBay. Let’s see how seven Engadget editors feel about the Cupertino’s first stab at wearable now.
I regretted buying the Apple Watch. And while I haven’t resold it, it’s not something I wear every day. The best features (message notifications, music player controls and the surprisingly consistent fitness apps) aren’t enough for something that costs just shy of an entry-level iPhone — especially since you need the phone to make the wearable worthwhile and anyone that says different is kidding themselves. Then there’s the cost of everything else: You’d better not lose that charging puck-cable. And how do they get away with charging so much for plastic straps? (Although it is a particularly velvety-soft plastic.)
There’s been a weird side effect to it all, however. I’m constantly poring over watches and have added three more to my humble horological collection. Don’t get me wrong, the Apple Watch remains the most expensive purchase I’ve made — writing at Engadget doesn’t bring a timeless Omega within my budget. Well, at least not yet. But I do like the idea of wearing a watch, having the time there, something that looks nice on my wrist. The Apple Watch is a beautiful “smartwatch,” but that’s the problem — it’s still a smartwatch. It’s chunky and normal watches just look better to me.
When I bought the Apple Watch on launch day, I had no idea whether it would be useful. I knew I loved the way it looked, and since I use an iPhone, compatible wearable options were limited. So I spent the $400-plus on the Watch Sport. I liked it so much I’ve since swapped that for a stainless steel model with a black leather band — it’s much fancier.
I’m happy to say I have no buyer’s remorse. My favorite thing about the Watch is that it keeps me from taking my phone out of my pocket every time I get a notification. Plus, the reminders to stand up and walk around throughout the day keep my body from atrophying.
My one complaint: I wish the apps for it were faster. Sometimes they take so long to load that it’s actually quicker to take my iPhone out instead. Hopefully that will get addressed with the second-gen Watch.
Confession time: I didn’t want an Apple Watch. I only bought one because a notorious former colleague wouldn’t shut the hell up about it, and we eventually agreed it would be funny to send obscene doodles to each other. It was… for about a week. To my surprise, the Watch stayed on my wrist well after that first puerile jolt of novelty wore off, and not for any of the reasons Apple was so keen to talk about.
I never talk to Siri. My list of favorite friends is empty, so I don’t send anyone drawings or heartbeats. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used it for directions. Even getting notifications got to be sort of a hassle. In fact, most of the time I glance at a notification on my wrist, I regret it. That’s mostly due to the abhorrent state of my work inbox, but also because glancing at my watch mid-conversation makes me feel like a dick.
No, I like that it tells me the time. It’s a pretty accurate step-counter, too, and having all data that fed into iOS’s Health app to mingle with “calories Chris gorged on today” and “how much sleep I got” helps paint a picture of the state of my union. And perhaps best of it all, it’s nice to know if I have to put on a jacket before I go outside. For someone who slobbers over wearables on the regular, it turns out my needs are actually very basic. My low bar for features also means something eventually might slip in and replace the Apple Watch, but for now this setup is just the right amount of smart.
I stopped wearing my Apple Watch almost immediately after I wrapped my review last spring. It wasn’t until seven months later, at the start of CES, that I would put it on again. By that time, I had fallen into a funk, during which I all but stopped exercising and put on about eight pounds in as many weeks. I was just starting to cheer up when it came time for my annual, week-long trip to Vegas for the world’s premier consumer electronics show. I knew that I wouldn’t have much time on my work trip to go running on the hotel treadmill, so instead I brought my Apple Watch, with the idea that I could at least console myself with seeing how many miles I had walked around the Las Vegas convention center each day.
It wasn’t perfect — one day when I ended up crying in an hour-long taxi line after the Watch nudged me to “stand up” — but on the whole, it was helpful to see how much walking I was doing every day. Pretty soon, I was competing against myself. Sure, I walked seven miles yesterday, but what about today? I quickly remembered just how well-designed Apple’s fitness-tracking app is. Something about the color-coding and the animated rings and the different badges you can earn. Maybe I’m just a sucker for games.
Nearly four months have passed since CES. I’ve long since left Vegas, and I’ve lost all of my “sad weight” and then some. Barely a day has gone by that I have not worn the Apple Watch. I still won’t use it as a running watch due to the inaccurate distance tracking, which means that on days when I go running with my Garmin, I end up syncing the Garmin data to my calorie counter of choice, MyFitnessPal, and then I manually add my Apple Watch data by subtracting the Garmin calorie number from the larger Apple Watch one. I know, I know: Apple Watch can sync with various apps, including MFP. The point is that I’m trying to avoid having the same data sent over twice, since I tend not to take off my Apple Watch while going for runs. (I want to meet my daily step and calorie-burning goals, after all.)
If that sounds complicated and tedious, it’s because it is. But such is life when you like the Apple Watch as a fitness tracker and not as a running watch. I think my willingness to deal with that every day is a testament to how much I enjoy the UI of Apple’s Activity app, even if I can’t trust it to accurately track my workouts.
I also enjoy the Watch for its notifications but only to a point. I’ve been accused on multiple occasions of being one of those people who’s on their phone too much, and having a smartwatch makes me seem… less rude. Glancing at my wrist is a more subtle gesture than pulling out my handset, and I get just enough information from the notifications to sate my curiosity. It’s been a trial-and-error process figuring out which notifications I actually want (hell no, Tinder and Slack), but I think I’ve landed on a setup that’s useful, not distracting.
All that said, the unit I’m wearing is one I have out on a long-term loan from Apple. Would I have paid my own money for this? A year ago I’d have definitively said “no.” Now I’ll upgrade that to “probably not.”
The best thing I can say about the Apple Watch is that I still wear it. And that’s more than I can say for other wearables — even those that I truly loved, like the Jawbone Up 2 and Misfit Shine. Once the novelty and joy of obsessively tracking your activity wears off, it’s pretty easy to give up on a typical wearable. But the Apple Watch has managed to make itself a key part of my daily workflow: it’s the main way I track my many appointments, view and respond to texts, and deal with a plethora of other notifications. I’ve grown to appreciate how it helps me cut through the never-ending onslaught of electronic noise (ironic for an expensive gadget, I know).
There is, of course, plenty of room for improvement. Apple needs to make future Apple Watch models more independent, and less reliant on being tethered to an iPhone (recent rumors suggest it might include cellular data connectivity). I’d also like some faster hardware to get rid of those interminable loading screens. They’re annoying enough on phones and computers, when you’re trying to quickly glance at your wrist load screens are absolutely infuriating.
I still can’t recommend the Apple Watch. It’s a device for a particular lifestyle of digital addiction. By its very nature (and price), it’s just not for everyone. But I wouldn’t call it an outright failure, as so many have. Analysts estimate Apple has sold around 12 million Watches over the last year, twice that of the iPhone’s inaugural year. It might not completely reshape the digital landscape, as the iPhone did, but there’s clearly a market out there for a smartwatch that helps you survive the digital hellscape.
Straight-up: the Apple Watch feels like an essential part of my body at times. I can certainly go without it if I have to. But I’m so used to turning to my wrist for notifications and apps that I miss the Watch when it’s gone. For someone who gets dozens of work-related emails every day, it’s a lifesaver. It’s also doing a lot to improve my fitness routine — there’s an almost Pavlovian urge to go on runs just to hit my fitness goals. Apps like Swarm and Transit are that much more useful when I don’t have to fish my phone out of my pocket.
Having said that, this is very much an early adopter gadget in the vein of the original iPhone. For one, it’s slow… horribly so, on occasion. Native app support in watchOS 2 made life a lot easier, but there are still times where I’m left staring at my arm while an app loads. And while I’ve grown to appreciate the Watch’s design, its thick body still screams “gadget” a little too loudly. Also, I’ll be honest: many of the things I appreciate can also be found in Android Wear or Samsung’s Gear line. It’s Apple’s implementation that makes the difference for me more than the features. I just happen to prefer its approaches to things like app navigation and haptic feedback.
For year two, I want to see Apple focus on speed above all else. I want interactions to be so quick that I rarely stop to think about reaching for my phone. That doesn’t just mean faster processors and data links, either. Frankly, Siri feels underused on the Watch — it’d speed things up if I could command any app with my voice, not just a handful of official programs. If Apple can make it so that the Watch is almost always the quickest way to get something done, it might appeal more to the everyday person, not just tech-savvy types willing to put up with a few flaws.
I got my Apple Watch more than 6 months after it launched, so I was well aware of both its good sides and bad. As such, I’ve been quite happy with it — I thought a lot about whether it could do the things I wanted, and by and large it’s been as good or better than I expected.
Fitness tracking is by far my most-used Apple Watch feature. For my purposes, it’s as good or better than most Fitbits I’ve tried, and the fact that I like the Watch’s physical appearance means I’m more likely to keep wearing it and get better data. I’ve quite simply been a lot more active since I got the Watch — part of that coincides with the time when I started focusing on running more, but the Watch has definitely helped me with that goal.
I do wish apps worked better, but I never really thought they were going to be a killer feature, so it hasn’t been a deal-breaker. And while getting all of your phone’s notifications on the Watch is a horrible way to live, if you take the time to set it up, you can get actually useful and timely info pushed there. All in all, I don’t regret my purchase at all and expect I’ll keep wearing it for a good long time.