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Less Is More With The Apple Watch

5 minutes to read.

I’ve had the Apple Watch for a while now. But being someone who ordered the day of launch and had to wait a couple month before it was delivered, I watched a lot of videos before I got to used it.

And now that I have it and I’ve been using it, I think all the videos I watched were of people using the watch wrong.

Since then I’ve developed strong opinions on the utility of the watch. And I’m going to share most of those here.

This isn’t a tech review so much as it is a lesson in productivity.

Let me also point out, this goes for Android Wear watches too. I’m just speaking specifically to the Apple Watch because that is the only smart watch I have used.

First, let’s talk about what the watch isn’t.

It’s not a tiny iPhone, and if you treat it like one, you will hate it.

While it does support apps like Twitter and Instagram, it should not be used for any kind of content consumption.

Let’s not forget, it is at max a 1.5 inch (3.9 cm) display that you need to have your wrist raised and at an uncomfortable angle to use.

It’s not meant for long interactions.

If it takes more than 5 seconds to do, use your phone.

If you’ve watched any other reviews you might be thinking, “Well, if I can’t check twitter and play games, what is it good for?”

Before smart watches, regular watches were just used for any quick glance-able data it had access to.

  • Time
  • Date
  • Alarm
  • Stopwatch

Never have I seen a watch – that didn’t come in a happy meal – that had any kind of game or large amount of text to read on it.

So use it as just a watch that is now connected to the internet allowing it to have more options for glance-able data.

How can you get the most out of your Apple Watch?

(Or any smart watch)

Watch Face

As much as I appreciate the beauty behind a mechanical watch, the Apple watch simply isn’t that. You’re limiting yourself with those fake analog faces.

The first iPhone didn’t try and make it look like a rotary phone did it? So why are we limiting the functionality of our watches to look analog?

Use a digital watch face to show data you would like to know throughout the day.

watchface

There aren’t many digital watch faces to choose from, but my favorite is modular.

The complications I use are:

  • Timer: I set tons of timers throughout the day to stay productive. It’s nice to have that time quickly available on my face when it is running, and to be able to quickly get into the app right from the face by tapping it when I want to set a new one.
  • Date: I think I have short term memory sometimes, I’m constantly forgetting the date and day of the week so it’s nice to have nice and big.
  • Temperature
  • Activity
  • Sunset: I like having this quickly viewable as well because I run right before sunset. But this will probably change when winter starts.

I’m not saying these are the best, but these have the most utility for me. Just follow the rule of using the watch for quick glance-able info.

It’s not a tiny iPhone, it’s a connected watch.

Notifications

Actionable notifications only.

You don’t need to know the second someone likes that picture you posted on Facebook of the cloud that looks like an elephant or when someone retweets the relatable meme you posted.

My notifications only tell me text messages, emails (so I can archive them as they come in), calls, and very few other things. That way I know, if just my phone vibrates, it can wait. I won’t miss the important stuff.

The problem with notifications on your phone is that it forces you to pull your phone out for everything and not just the important things. Then when you pull it out thinking it might be something important and it just turns out that Two Dots is missing you, and you think “well I already have my phone out, I might as well play some.”

Glances

Reserve glaces for only the most important things you want quick access to.

If you have all of the apps you think you need access to in here, this it will quickly become unwieldy and it will take you forever to find anything since the current design does not make it easy to find what you want.

So until Apple discovers a better way to navigate glances, I recommend keeping it under 5.

Glances

Apps

I already talked about apps. But again, if it takes more that 5 seconds to do then do it on your phone.

Also, the way Apple chose to display the apps isn’t super user friendly. I’m not sure what a better way would be, but until someone figures it out on such a small screen, don’t have too many apps on there.

I have all of the apps I use the most around the center, then the Apple apps I can’t get rid of on top.

Remember, it’s a watch with extra features. Not an iPhone.

watch-home

Other Features I Enjoy

Health Tracking:

The health tracking stuff is great. I might be in the minority, but I love the “stand up” warning.

I use the Nike app for running and it’s great. I put my phone in my little water bottle fanny pack thing and then can see my distance and pace right from the watch. As well as control my music or podcasts without having to pull out my phone.

Timers and Alarms:

Like I said above. I use timers and alarms a lot. And the best part is, they are silent and don’t bother the people around me. So the only alarm on my phone anymore is to wake up. Then the silent alarms on my phone remind me to run, take medicine, read, and work out. I have each alarm labeled and assigned to go off on certain days at certain times.

Music:

I enjoy bouldering, so it’s really great to be able to walk around the gym and not have to carry my phone with me. At a weight lifting gym it might not matter as much, but having your phone in your pocket when you’re upside down on a wall doesn’t work out very well. So it’s nice to leave my phone in my car or locker and be able to climb and listen to music with nothing but my watch.

 

If you dis-agree with anything feel free to leave a comment. I’m always open to changing the way I do things.

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Thank you for reading,

Gil

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