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My first week with the Apple Watch

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My Apple Watch!

I got an Apple Watch! I am beyond excited, but probably for different reasons than you might guess. Read on for the saga so far:

(Warning: this post is somewhat long. I’ve tried to label the different sections, so if you want to skip over portions, it should be easier for you.)

Ordering

I pre-ordered an Apple Watch on April 11th — one day after you could first place your orders. Call me old-fashioned, but as excited as I was to get it on order, I wanted to actually see and touch one before ordering. There were simply too many choices and I wasn’t sure what I wanted. I ended up at the local Apple store on the afternoon of the 11th and decided on:

  • the 42 mm face instead of the 38 mm
  • the stainless steel version instead of the aluminum (the gold was always out of the realm of possibility!)
  • the brown leather band
  • and I really splurged by ordering an addition black leather band

After placing my order, I was immensely disappointed to realize that the projected shipping date was the end of June! I rationalized by telling myself that if I wanted it sooner I should have done my homework and made my decision and ordered it the day before.

Arrival / UPS Issues

Well, in a twist of really good news, I got notification that my watch was to be delivered on Thursday, May 21st, almost a month early. But as you would know, I had a lunch appointment, and UPS tried to deliver right in the middle of that appointment — ok, I’ll get it a day late… No such luck. For some still unknown reason, UPS scheduled to deliver it on the Friday the 22nd but they never showed up. Status showed “out for delivery” all day but no UPS trucks in the neighborhood… And they don’t deliver on Saturday or Sunday, and then the next Monday is Memorial Day, no deliveries then either… so it FINALLY gets delivered on Tuesday May 26th. And what with dealing with my First Career job, I finally get my hands on the watch in the evening of that day.

Packaging

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The Watch packaging

So the first thing that struck me was the packaging. Quality all the way. The shipping box was 7.25 x 7.25 x 4.5 inches – quite substantial for “just a watch”. It has a nice pull tab so that you don’t have to hunt for something to cut open the package. Inside is a form-fitting padded section holding a rectangular Apple white box — this inside box is 5.5 x 5.5 x 3.75 inches and surprisingly heavy. It’s covered in the somewhat traditional Apple cellophane — and surprise, it’s got a nice tab that you can pull so you don’t have to cut anything. It appears to be a heavy cardboard but it has a smooth feel like it’s been bonded with plastic. It has the Apple Watch logo embossed on the top, and on the front is the details of what I ordered. Get that box open and inside that is another box, this time covered in what looks like white paper but has a plastic feel — and it fits so snugly in the “cardboard” box that you are glad that they left tabs on each side that you could pull it up.

Underneath that is the semi-standard “designed by Apple in California” sleeve with the “getting started” guide, and underneath that is the charging cable.

Back to the smaller box. Yes, that “paper” has a pull-tab to let you open it easily. Inside that is a 5 x 5 x 2 white plastic box with just the Apple logo on top —  I’m beginning to feel like I’m opening a Matryoska doll. But that box opens easily in half, and inside is (ta-da!) the watch. Of course, all the parts are originally wrapped in more of the classic Apple plastic that they are using to protect screens, metal parts, etc. I got the sense that they were treating this as a luxury item. You can tell that they put a lot of thought and effort into this whole package and the overall impression that I take away is quality and care.

Setup

Close up of the Apple watch logo and my watch with the brown leather band

Close up of the box with the Apple watch logo and my watch with the brown leather band

So, I get the watch out and first thing is to turn it on – press and hold the button below the digital crown. It comes on and wants to sync with my iPhone. I bring up the “Apple Watch” app on my phone, give it a few bits of info, and let it go through the syncing process. Which takes what feels like forever, but in reality was probably 10 to 15 minutes. After that, I go through a pretty standard Apple setup process on the watch and I can finally start playing with it! All-in-all, very simple and Apple like. If you’ve done a lot of Apple, it’s very intuitive.

Play Time!

So I finally get to play around with it. It’s easy. No, let’s make that EASY. Things  work like you would expect. There’s some things you do on the phone that sync to the watch, and there’s some things that you do on the watch that sync to the phone, and there’s things you can do either place. It’s really beginning to feel like an extension of the phone, but more convenient.

Of course, I have to bring up the Mickey watch face. I haven’t found anyone that I show that to that doesn’t smile. I play with several of the watch faces. I rearrange the watch apps. I go through the settings — just looking for now. By now, it’s time for bed and I plug in the inductive charger — which has a really long cord, compared to the ones you get on the iPhone and iPad — and I go to sleep and dream of the possibilities…

Wednesday, more playing. I start using Siri a bit more. I’ve used Siri on the phone and pad a bit, but it really becomes handy on the watch. I really love the notifications coming to the watch, and the text messages. I’ve still got my day job, so I’m only doing a little bit off and on. Well, maybe more than a little, but not as much as if I had the day off…

Neat items typical of Apple: you can scroll by touching the watch face, but while you do that, your finger is hiding what you want to see. Enter the digital crown – you use that to scroll and you don’t cover up the screen. And you have a passcode on the watch, but you don’t want to be entering that all the time — so as long as you don’t have to take off the watch, you don’t have to (re)enter the passcode. Or if your paired iPhone is on and unlocked, you don’t have to enter the passcode on the watch.

First Disappointment

So mid-afternoon I get a notice that the watch is low on battery! Whoops! Well, maybe I didn’t plug it in right last night — I don’t remember checking how much power it had when I got up.

Thursday: I make sure I’m fully charged before heading out. I’m really digging the convenience. I’m out and about, sending text messages with Siri, dismissing calendar invites, going for a walk using the Watch to track the activity, and really enjoying life — until after the walk when I look at the battery and it’s at 15%. I quit “playing” with the watch but in another hour it goes into “Power Reserve” mode, which means that it’s just a watch, none of the other “smart” features work. And before I get to bed, it has totally shut off! I plug it in, make sure it’s charging, and resolve to see what I can do about this tomorrow.

Solution?

Friday: I “research” (i.e. Google) how to conserve the battery power. I look through several articles, but the one I go through the most is at BGR. It goes through an exhaustive list of things you can do to conserve power, even down to selecting a watch face with less pixels so that the watch doesn’t have to render as much. I knew that some of them were overkill, but I was determined to do what I could to save power, so I implemented several of them. Including lowering the brightness, selecting a simple watch face, and disabling the “wrist raise” which automatically turns on the screen when you raise your wrist. And although Friday wasn’t as heavy a usage day as Thursday, when I go to bed I still have 45% power. Success!

Saturday: I’ve checked the Watch app on the phone for updates, and I see that there is “Watch OS 1.0.1” which has performance enhancements. OK, get that downloaded ASAP! It warns to have the watch plugged in and at more than 50% before starting, and that’s easy, so go ahead.

I decide that I really like the wrist raise and turn it back on. The watch is becoming just another cool gadget. I don’t go for a walk but I do a lot of cleaning around the house. I still have like 50% power at the end of the day.

Sunday (today): Church. Lunch. Nap. Chores. Finances. Walk (tracking with the watch). And I start writing this blog. Which was going to be really quick but as usual I have become long-winded. And I want to provide good details, and this seemed to beg for pictures.

As I write this, it’s after 9:00 p.m. and I’m still at 55%. I would say the performance issues where corrected by either the update, by running the watch all the way down on Thursday, by the things I configured, or by some combination of all three. I will start “undoing” some of the configuration changes I made and see how those affect the power usage over the next week.

It’s interesting that in researching this article, I went to the main BGR web site, and right on the front page was “Stop Whining – the Apple’s watch battery life is fantastic.” I encourage you, if you are interested in the watch, to read this entry. It really makes a lot of sense. Key takeaway:

The Apple Watch is not a smartphone. It’s not meant to be used for extended periods of time. The duration of an interaction with the Watch can be counted in seconds, not minutes.

Final thoughts for today

To me, the quote is the key concept to “get” about the watch — it doesn’t replace the iPhone and certainly doesn’t replace an iPad or a notebook. But it fills a niche that you didn’t even know you were missing. The convenience of having quick communications right there on your wrist is just so handy!

I am excited about what new apps will help expand this niche to places we haven’t even imagined yet.

In my opinion, the close interaction of the watch and the phone is something of a game changer. I don’t know if you’ve used hand-off to move between an iPhone, an Ipad, and/or a notebook, but imagine that so seamless that you don’t even notice it — that’s what the watch and phone do.

I’m glad that I took the plunge and ordered it when I did. I’m definitely loving it.

And I’m sure I will have more to say about it in the next few days… Stay tuned…

About Coach Dale

"Coach" Dale Young specializes in Executive, Leadership, and Teamwork coaching and has a passion for helping people figure out their purpose and passion -- and then how to pursue that. Dale holds a Certified Professional Life Coach (CPLC) credential from the Professional Christian Coaching Institute (PCCI) and is actively pursuing accreditation with the International Coach Federation (ICF). See the About page for more information.

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