I had a strong reason for becoming an early adopter of the smartwatch. It was a mix of two things — one, my inability to step out of the house without a watch; and two, my need to keep track of my activity and calorie burn since I had ended up with diabetes at a rather early age. My first smartwatch was the Pebble, which accommodated both my needs and did a little bit more, like offer a quirky watch face or a weather alert from the smartphone it was yoked to. I have tried a host of other smartwatches in the years since — from Android Wear to Samsung’s Tizen-based Gear series and even some flash-in-the-pan attempts by others — but have always come back to the Apple Watch as my primary smartwatch, and there are some time-tested reasons for it.
Like all other smartwatches I have used, with the Apple Watch too, I end up forgetting its ‘smart’ side and using only its horological capabilities and that too sparingly given that I am peering into the smartphone most of the time anyway. Given that, the Apple Watch is a good watch at the end of the day, one that I am comfortable wearing all the time, even to the bed once in a while. And, it does an excellent job of tracking my daily activity, calorie count and sleep, which as I mentioned earlier is one of my primary needs.
My typical day with the Apple Watch
I have been using Apple Watches since the first version a couple of years back. Things have changed a bit with the Apple Watch 3, which I have been using since end of September. That is because I feel the battery life has improved immensely with this version. Unlike the earlier iterations, I can actually risk going on a two-day trip without the charger in my bag. In fact, I have done this on a trip to Chennai because I forgot to pack the charger.
I did have to switch on the power save mode inflight on my way back to Delhi the second evening, but that doesn’t really matter. In fact, on a one-day trip to Bangalore, I realised at the airport in the morning that I had forgotten to charge the watch. I had to switch on the power save mode even before I boarded my flight , but with that I managed to stretch the power till the end of the day, by just checking the time when I had to.
For me a regular day starts with a 45-minute walk from 7.15 in the morning. The Apple Watch 3 is usually charged full at this point. During the walks, especially in recent weeks, I have been streaming music directly from the watch to Bluetooth earphones. I even have some playlists just for this. If I remember, I switch on the Outdoor Walk workout — there are many other options to choose from — so that I can see my heart rate and progress on the same card. Music comes on in one swipe and in that situation, this is the best interface to use.
However, my issue with this is that I usually forget to end the activity even when I’m done with my morning walk. Apple could do well if it suggests to the user, based on the tapering down of activity and heart rate, that it is time to end this workout session on the watch. At the moment, most of my workouts end up being hours long. Anyway, the morning exertion usually takes up about 10 per cent of the battery even before I start for work.
It is good that you don’t really have to bother about taking the watch off even when you are getting into the shower after your morning walk for this watch is waterproof. At work, the Watch is usually forgotten as I go about my busy schedule. It rarely needs to remind me to stand up, as I am anyway running around the office. It does help me read messages at meetings without seeming to be bored with the conversation, though there are those who might take this constant glances at the watch a sign of the same.
On the positive side, this could have made some of the meetings shorter. Another good use of the Watch for me is when I am away from the iPhone in the newsroom, usually when it is on my desk charging, I am alerted of incoming calls. I do use it to keep a tab on my heart rate and over the past few months, even with the earlier watch, I have become convinced that stress does have an impact on it. Going into the health kit and looking at my heart rate, I can actually correlate to the day and time I had a stressful event to a spike in heart rate. Not that it helps fix the problem, but at least you know.
The new Apple Watch 3 has a new feature that sends you an alert if your heart rate spikes when you are actually not active. Thankfully, this has shown up for me only twice in the past three months and on both occasions I was not wearing the watch. In fact, the heart rate sensor does give some false positives when you are not wearing the watch.
As a diabetic, the Watch has been helping me keep up with my 10,000 steps goal on an average day. Usually, the attempt is to cross this even before the day has started. In case the mornings are too cold to even attempt this, I end up pacing my day in such a way that I close my activity rings by the end of it. I don’t know what it is with the rings, but they are the only fitness goals I have really stuck to.
Apple Watch 3 apps
With the new Apple Watch 3, the interface of the watch App Store has changed a bit and for me it has become difficult to discover new apps. I have to search by name or by feature type to find the best apps as the listing are limited and don’t really change frequently. So discovering new apps and watch faces is not that easy.
Also, over the past few years of using Apple Watches, I have realised that most of my usage is still limited to the native apps Apple has packed in and not really the third-party apps. The exceptions might be some fitness apps like Endomondo which I have been using for years. I did try to download and use some of the featured apps.
There is Stand Land which is a gamified sort of way t0 make you stand more. But I found the app to a bit boring after a while. I did end up using a lot of the camera related apps, which are great to control the iPhone camera remotely. A lot of the apps that you download on the phone also have a Watch version, but how many of them are useful I don’t really know. So Apple’s struggle with the Watch will be to make people use the Watch for its app ecosystem.
Also, even if you do download good apps on the watch, it is tough for someone like me, who is not a digital native, to remember that there is a note taking app on the phone. But I do remember to change the straps once in while, and thankfully Apple has enough to cover all emotions, times of the year and even your daily mood.
So is the Apple Watch 3 worth it?
When you compare the price of the Apple Watch to other high-end watches available in the market, you would realise that the smartwatch at least justifies its price to a certain extent. So I suggest the Apple Watch 3 is a good buy purely as a watch, even if you are not that enamoured by its smart features.
At the end of the day — quite literally — it will impress you for its time keeping abilities. The smart features are a great add-on that make you better at maintaining your fitness, health goals and time management. And if like me, you have to manage diabetes, then it is better getting on to quantifying yourself as early as possible. The Apple Watch 3 is clearly the best smartwatch you can buy now. But are you really using a smartwatch this powerful to its full capabilities? I guess not. For that I presume the users will need to get smarter.
Apple Watch 3 Price in India: Rs 29,990 plus