I didn’t have any interest in the Apple Watch when it first came out: I don’t get a lot of notifications on my phone, so I’m not going to buy a device just to shift them to my wrist, and I don’t have any desire in having a device that nags me to exercise more. (Not that I’m against exercising, but I can make my own decisions in that regard.)

Since Miranda went off to college, though, I’m getting (and sending) more text messages; and it sounded like Apple had done a particularly good job in general with their latest model of the watch? (Even some of the health improvements sounded like they might be useful.) So I got one; 44mm aluminum non-cellular.

And I like it! It’s not a transformational device, I certainly get more out of my phone and my iPad, but I’m glad I got it, and I’ve enjoyed it in ways that I didn’t expect.


An example of something that surprised me: using it to control what I’m listening to. Yes, it’s trivial to do that with my phone, the controls are almost always right there on my lock screen. But I spend too much time with my phone in my pocket; and, if I take it out to fiddle with it to control audio, I have a bad habit of continuing to look at my phone. Whereas, with my watch I don’t have that temptation.

And also: the volume controls are better on the watch! Turning a knob is a better user interface for volume control than a pair of buttons, and it also allows for finer control gradations. (I’m not sure why Apple uses as large volume jumps on phone button presses as it does, but it’s annoying.) And the knob feels good, too. So there’s a Marie Kondo thing going on here: to my surprise, using the digital crown as a volume knob does actually bring me joy in its own tiny way.


As to what I expected to get out of it: I do prefer using the watch for notifications. Part of that is not having to pull my phone out of my pocket; probably more important is that the notifications are silent but I notice them significantly more reliably than I notice my phone when it’s in silent mode. And, as an unexpected bonus: the handwriting detection works much better than I expected, so if I want to respond to a text message with a single word (which is a not-all-that-uncommon use case), I can do that from my watch without pulling out my phone.

And then there’s the health stuff. As expected, I don’t care about the move / exercise rings, but I wasn’t surprised to find that the stand rings is actually mildly useful. For a while, the nagging about the move / exercise rings was annoying, but it turns out that there’s a good amount of control over the exercise notifications, so I could turn off the notifications telling me to go for a walk to close my rings while still leaving on the stand notifications.

At first I was mostly bemused by the way it treats the exercise ring: one feature of this watch is that it’s supposed to detect workouts, but it almost never does that for me, even though I’ll spend an hour or two praticing Tai Chi and I go on decent length walks multiple times a day.

But then I visited Miranda and went up and down hills, and all of a sudden it was noticing that I was going on walks; and, actually, I was also noticing that that was feeling different from my walks at home, even though my walks at home are much longer. So the watch is in fact pointing out that I’m not doing much in the way of aerobic exercise: I’m moving a lot, and Tai Chi actually does get me sweating, but there is something that’s missing.

So maybe I should change that a bit? E.g. when I’m walking with Widget, I probably just want to go at whatever pace works for both of us; but when I’m walking to the train station in the morning, why not walk faster? I’m not going to take up jogging — I tried that for several years a decade or so back, and it just didn’t work for me — but I probably am missing something by always walking slowly, even if I do spend an hour or two a day doing that walking.


On a similar note to the stand reminders, the watch also periodically reminds me to spend a minute relaxing and focusing on my breath. And I like that, it’s something that I actually do want to spend a little more time doing; it’s probably more useful to me than the stand reminders? The timing of the reminders is a little random, they’re not particularly likely to show up right when I have a moment to relax, but still, I appreciate the prompt.

I’ve started using the watch to set timers, and I prefer that over setting timers on my phone. It’s particularly useful when doing standing meditation: I want a 20 minute timer so I’ve got a concrete goal, but I also don’t want a sound jarring me out of it; a vibration on my wrist works nicely for that. For a while, I was setting the timers by just raising my wrist to my mouth and saying “set a timer for 20 minutes”, but that doesn’t work super reliably; it was neat when it did work, though!

I’ve installed the watch apps for most of the phone apps that I have that come with watch apps, but they don’t add much. The Castro one is fine, but the only reason I use it is because it comes up automatically; the default playback controls would be fine if that app didn’t exist at all. The Streaks app is quite unreliable, so I’ve stopped using it: streak completions just don’t reliably make it from my watch to my phone.

I was going to call out the Duo app, but it’s not a separate app, it looks like it’s just a fancy way of showing Duo notifications on the watch; whatever it is, though, I definitely like being able to approve 2FA requests from my wrist instead of having to pull out my phone! And, continuing with authentication, I also like being able to log into computers just by sitting down in front of them with my watch on; one of the computers I use regularly has touch ID, which is similar and a little faster / more reliable, but the other ones don’t. (Though I’m not 100% at peace with the security model of watch unlocks; I haven’t thought about it super hard, though…)


I was thinking I’d play around with different bands, but the first one I bought was the Hibiscus Sport Loop, and I really liked it, so I stuck with it. It’s been getting dingy, though; I should look up the washing instructions, but that’s also a reminder that I should branch out and have a little bit of fun?

I’ve been wearing the White Sport Loop that came with the watch for the last two days, and I liked both the look and feel of that a lot more than I expected; I should put it in the rotation, and maybe get a more colorful Sport Loop? And I’ll probably get one of the metal ones, too; the last time I had a regular watch, it had a metal link bracelet, and I remember liking the feel of that, so I’m thinking I’ll probably get one of Apple’s Link Bracelets?

Which is a pretty expensive, but I’m liking the watch enough that I assume I’ll be wearing it and upgraded models indefinitely? And Apple has now kept watch band compatability through one size transition, so it should last for years. Not completely sure, though: it’s a lot of money, maybe I should explore third-party options, or just go with the Milanese? Or maybe I should explore third-party options just to be able to switch things up, no need to wear the same band every day…

Post Revisions:

This post has not been revised since publication.