Apple Watch

Apple Watch as a University Student’s Best Friend (Not as sad as it sounds)

Call it what you like… University, college, or school. They all involve trudging around campus from one class to the next. Staying organised is essential, and if you were to ask most students they’d probably say their phone is the best friend - a multipurpose device used for everything from communicating with friends to conducting research for an upcoming essay.

I’ve been known to say the Apple Watch isn’t a fantastic watch, and that a Pebble (which costs less than half the price) is better in many respects. This still holds true today, however much to my surprise the Apple Watch has become the most useful tool I have for coordinating myself around university. My laptop is by far and away the most important device to me, however it is a necessity. Apple Watch is a luxury, but one I’m very glad to have. Granted, a lot of what will be discussed below can be accomplished on an iPhone, however there are some things that are more convenient to do on a watch. This doesn’t make up for the countless third party apps that are horribly slow, nor the OLED display that isn’t lit up constantly, however it does make these tradeoffs slightly more excusable for the benefits the watch does provide.

Waking up
For any student, it’s essential to be on time to class. Apple Watch ‘Night Stand’ mode was a brilliant addition to watchOS 2.0, and has meant my Apple Watch has replaced my old alarm clock. The alarm is plenty loud and annoying, meaning you’re sure to wake up on time… even for those early starts on Monday morning!

Getting there
Here in Australia, few students live on campus and most travel for a fair amount of time by public transport to reach their chosen University. My journey consists of a bus and train ride, and for that the TripView app is an invaluable tool. TripView is one of the few watchOS applications that loads in a timely fashion, and is always quick and accurate with its data updates. The glance is incredibly convenient also. The colour coordinated interface makes it easy to view at a glance how long there is until the next bus or train, as well as whether that bus or train is running early, on time or late. No matter how far and wide I searched this type of app, with times for Australian public transport systems, was something I just couldn’t get on my Pebble.

Getting around
Fortunately my University has made it easy to import student timetables directly into the calendar app on the iPhone, which automatically syncs across to the watch. Using the ‘Modular’ Apple Watch face, I have a large portion of the screen dedicated to either my current or upcoming calendar event, and when walking hurriedly between classes a simple glance at the watch face tells me exactly what building and room the class is in. The only question remains… how to keep track of all this walking around the University? Well of course the absolute best way is with Daily Steps (shameless self-plug here!) The glance is the most convenient way for me to keep up with my step count throughout the day. As I sit here typing this after having spent over 7 hours at Uni so far today, my daily step count is 10998.

Time Travel
Just like the Night Stand mode, Time Travel was a new watchOS 2.0 feature. With a simple scroll of the digital crown, I am able to scroll through my class schedule for the day. This brings the information to me, instead of making me search for it as I would have to by pulling out my iPhone.

Surviving the travel
Seeing as though my commute is reasonably lengthy, I listen to a tonne of Podcasts to pass the time. While media playback controls aren’t exclusive to the Apple Watch (and I’d argue the Pebble does it better by way of physical buttons), being able to skip sections of a show, listen to the next episode or adjust the volume of a podcast without having to take my phone out of my pocket or bag is hugely convenient.

Setting reminders
Finally, not everyone remembers things all the time, and sometimes we forget the most important things. This is where I love to use Siri on the Apple Watch. If I’m likely to forget something, I quickly speak into my watch asking me to remind me about said task at a given time when I know I’ll be able to tackle it.

All of these points to say that, while Apple Watch isn’t perfect, it sure is a useful tool for students to stay organised throughout the year. If you’re a student and need a little more organisation in your life, I would suggest considering the Apple Watch. It isn’t like your iPhone - you can’t get distracted and quickly flick across to Twitter. (Well you can, but the Twitter app is so damn slow you’ll likely have graduated before it’s loaded anything.)

The case for a dedicated Heart Rate ‘mode’ in watchOS

The Heart Rate monitoring features of Apple Watch are simply great. It is that which sets it apart from other smartwatches at the moment (I write while looking sadly at my Pebble Time).

Currently as of watchOS 2.2, Apple Watch measures the heart rate of a wearer in two separate ways: Every 10 minutes in the ‘background’ - giving you an indication of general resting heart rate trends throughout the day, and when the watch is in a dedicated “Workout” mode - meaning a user has told the watch they’re currently exercising and want it to measure their heart rate and activity. The heart rate monitor is surprisingly accurate during a cardio workout, typically only a beat or two per minute off from the elliptical machine at the gym which also reports heart rate. During a dedicated workout, the watch will measure heart rate continuously (updating the reading approximately 10 times per minute, or every 6 seconds). This gives a pleasantly detailed and accurate view of your heart rate during exercise. Unfortunately the heart rate sensor - which shines green LED lights onto a wearers wrist, measuring their heart rate through a process known as photoplethysmography - cannot run continuously throughout the day due to battery life constraints.

The Apple solution to this is to take a “background” reading periodically every 10 minutes, so long as the wearer is still at the time of the reading. This works great for providing a general overview of trends throughout the day.

In a perfect world, the Apple Watch would measure resting heart rate continuously, however we probably won’t reach a point where this is possible for another few years at least. In the meantime, I’d like to propose a dedicated “heart rate” mode for Apple Watch. This mode would allow a user to tell the watch they’d like continuous monitoring of their heart rate for a specified period of time, while acknowledging they understand the watch battery will drain faster than normal during this time. The current solution is to start a workout, however this is less than ideal as a workout is meant for just that - when you’re working out - and only provides a single figure displaying “average” heart rate upon completion. A dedicated heart rate mode on Apple Watch would allow for this continuous monitoring and a nice interface to accompany the data. Perhaps a colour-coded graph displaying all recorded data on your iPhone at the end of the heart rate monitoring period.

There are many use cases for this dedicated heart rate mode - watching live sport, watching a horror movie, during a job interview, or even just wanting more accurate heart rate monitoring at certain times throughout the day (just after you drink a coffee, perhaps?) Personally, I’d love to see the dramatic swing of my heart rate while watching live football and be able to analyse the trends in this data later on - how high did my heart rate jump during extra time? There are undoubtedly endless useful ways in which this technology could be used, and it would be fantastic to see Apple introduce a feature such as this dedicated heart rate monitoring mode for Apple Watch.

Here’s to the changes coming in watchOS 3.0 at WWDC 2016!

Apple Watch Edition try on experience

Today I tried on an Apple Watch Edition. The 42mm Yellow Gold model, to be precise, with a black sport band.

Briefly, I wish to discuss the try-on experience…

I was greeted warmly by the Apple Store employee who would go on to be my Apple Watch expert. He lead me upstairs (middle level of a 3 level store), and not to some secret room as some other people have experienced. He took me casually to a table in the middle of the store, a part of the store where many customers pass through on their way to the Genius Bar or to One-to-One sessions. After filling out some details on his iPod touch communication tool, the employee spoke into his two-way radio and I heard him call for the model of watch I wanted to try on. About ten minutes passed in between this and the watch arriving, during which we made small talk about the Apple Watch, whereby he told me what he liked about his, explained just how much interest there really has been in the Edition model and finally his thoughts and opinions on Apple Music. Which, for the record, were as textbook as you’d expect from any Apple employee. It was apparent to me that he’d been well briefed on the features of Apple Music to point out to customers as he guided me through a discussion about the perks of Beats 1 and the usefulness of the Connect feature in Apple Music.

From a door which I presumes leads to the back of the store emerged another Apple staff member, carrying a small blue box - not unlike a fancy jewellery box. She headed towards the table where the employee and I were standing, and she was accompanied by a security guard. She gave the box to the employee I was with and walked off, while the security guard took his place about 5 meters behind me. Subtle and not hugely intimating, but his presence was still known to me.

The lid comes off the box, with the employee explaining to me how it doubles as a charging case. By this point I just wanted to try on the watch – come on, I’ve read enough about this thing to know you can also plug a lightning port into the back of it. And there it is, the seventeen thousand dollar Yellow Gold Apple Watch, in all of its glory…

So I tried it on and yada yada, it’s nice. Its beautiful. It makes me wish I had a spare $17,000, yet even then I don’t think I’d be crazy enough to spend it on a watch…

First impressions:

- Oh my, the gold

- Looks great


- Sport band is an appropriate fit… not too flashy, and very comfortable


- Noticeably heavier than the Sport and Steel models. In a nice way, it felt like a very premium watch.

After a few minutes with the watch on, it had run through the demo loop a few times, I felt the haptic feedback and heard a “ding” from a few demo notifications and I decided I was done with the try on. I’d seen everything I needed to.

I took the watch off, thanked the employee, and went on about my day. Overall, it was a pleasant experience, and one which was a lot more casual and laid back than I’d expected. There was no secret room guarded by 10 pin codes and 3 security guards. Just myself and an Apple employee at a table in the middle of a busy Apple Store, with the distant presence of a security guard.

I’ve seen, held and worn a $17,000 Apple Watch Edition. Is my life complete yet? Certainly not, but I suppose I’m one step closer to being able to say it is…

I did not buy Apple Watch. Say it with me.

I did not buy Apple Watch. I did not buy Apple Watch. Say it with me. 

I decided against the purchase of Apple’s newest innovative product: Apple Watch. It took a lot of willpower to restrain myself from pressing the “Pre-Order” button but I think I’ve finally overcome my desire for this object. Now that it’s out in the wild, it’s been brought to my attention that it’s “cool” but certainly not necessary. 

Simply put, I couldn’t justify the price. $579 here in Australia for a 42mm Sport model… that’s ludicrous for something which is meant to be an accessory to my iPhone. With that money I can sell my current iPhone, buy this year’s model and still have money to spare! (I will not be doing this, by the way.) 

Yes it’s a well-designed, desirable product. But the second generation will be even more so and I think I’ll wait until then. Apple Watch does not have enough unique functionality. My Original Pebble can do the large majority of the things Apple Watch can, and it can do them a lot better at that.

As the date of shipment of my Pebble Time nears closer and closer, I become more convinced I made the right decision to buy the Time and wait until the next generation of Apple Watch. 


Apple Watch Sport on the left, Pebble Time on the right.

Apple Watch try on & first impressions

I’ve been meaning to write this up for a while now. Apologies that it’s taken so long.

This will just be a short post outlining my first thoughts and impressions of the Apple Watch. A bit of background: last Friday Apple opened up Apple Watch pre-orders. They also opened up their stores to try-on appointments. While I’m not pre-ordering or buying this first-generation Watch (happily sticking with my original Pebble until my Pebble Time order ships), I did book myself in for a try-on appointment. 

I tried on a multitude of watches, including:
- 42mm Space Grey Sport. This one was my favourite, as it was extremely comfortable & lightweight. The sports band feels amazing, and happened to fit my wrist perfectly - which is more than I can say for some of the other bands. I also feel as though 42mm is definitely the right size for me, as 38mm is just too small. 

- 38mm Stainless Steel with Milanese Loop. I was most disappointed by this one. To begin with, it was the only 38mm watch I tried on and I didn’t like the size at all. It felt microscopic. Secondly, the Milanese Loop wasn’t as comfortable as some people have made out and I also didn’t think it looked very nice. 

- I also tried on a few others, including Stainless Steel with both the classic buckle and Leather Loop. I don’t have too many interesting thoughts on those bands. 

After the try-on, if I was to purchase one I’d certainly be going with the 42mm Space Grey Sport model for the reasons listed above. 

A few observations about the watch:

- Apple Watch looks INFINITELY better in person than it does on Apple’s website or in any other photos of it. I went in with the intention of not wanting one, but if there’s one reason as to why I slightly want one now it’s because of just how good it looks on the wrist. Seriously, I encourage you to go and check it out in a store - Apple Watch looks incredible. 

- However, it is small. I mean really small. I did not expect it’s size. Even the 42mm is feels tiny on my wrist. Apple’s marketing material don’t show the size of the watch in comparison to any other objects, hence I was fooled into thinking it was the size of an average male wristwatch. This is not the case, and took me by surprise. 

- The Sport band is insanely comfortable, and *feels* more premium than other bands even though it’s the most simple looking one. 

- The leather loop felt more solid and more magnetic than I thought. The layer of leather was really thin which made the band feel cheap, in my humble opinion. 

- The stainless steel Apple Watch collection is noticeably heavier than the Apple Watch Sport. Not in a way which is uncomfortable however, it’s just worth noting for the sake of this post. 

- The Apple Watch Edition loops surprisingly good. I thought the Gold might look too fancy for my tastes, but that was not the case. If I had the money I’d go for the 42mm Gold Apple Watch Edition with the black sport band. Unfortunately that costs A$17,000 here. 

With regards to the try-on appointment itself, I made a few observations. I didn’t feel rushed at all. I felt as though I was allowed and able to try on every watch I wanted without being rushed away. I did, however, feel restricted in what I could do when I had the watch on. I know this hasn’t been the case for everyone, but the particularly Apple Store employee who was focusing on me made sure that I didn’t loosen/tighten any of the bands myself, and whenever I would try to take a watch off or put a new one on she was sure to assist me. It was as if I was a toddler who wasn’t trusted to play with a fancy collection of toys. She was nice about it, however I did want the experience of fiddling with the straps on my own. The only exception to this rule was when I was trying on the Leather Loop and the Milanese Loop - she put the band on most of the way and told me to “lock” it in place at a tightness which felt comfortable. I also didn’t get to swap any of the bands, or try out different band combinations other than the defaults which I was presented with. Who knows - maybe if I’d been able to put the Milanese Loop on a 42mm Steel Watch my opinions of it would be completely different. 

Overall, my experience last Friday afternoon inside of the Sydney Apple Store on George Street was a pleasant and enjoyable one.

It’s worth mentioning that at the time I went into the store, there was no new MacBook to look at. At that time, Australian stores had no idea when it was getting released in Australia - they couldn’t tell me that or when they would be getting stock. As I left the store and Apple Watch pre-orders began around 5pm local time, the MacBook magically became available on the Apple Online Store in Australia, so I presume it’s now available to look at in stores. From the online photos, it truly looks like an amazing machine and I imagine I’ll be writing up another post about it when I take another trip to the Apple Store to check it out (hopefully soon!).

I’ll leave you with some photos from my journey to the Apple Store:

The above image contains A$48,000 worth of Gold Watches.

Was surprisingly unimpressed with the above combination - 38mm Stainless Steel Apple Watch with the Milanese Loop. Behind my wrist you can see the store employee taking out another watch for me to try on. The display case is standard for every try-on - all of the watches are lined up inside of it. Here, they are attached to chargers until they are taken out of the case. All of the watches inside the case are available to try-on during the appointment, however the employee will ask you a few questions to get to know you and your interests before suggesting only a few to try on. The idea is to pick something based on the style you like and then they begin the try-on based on that. 

Last - but certainly not least - the above image shows my favourite watch combination: 42mm Stainless Steel Apple Watch Sport. It was the appropriate look of style meets stealth. In conjunction with the sport band, it was also very lightweight which made it the most comfortable of the watches I tried on.

At the beginning of this post, I said it was going to be a short one. I’ve gotten a bit carried away here - oops! I do hope, however, that you’ve found this post enjoyable and informative in some way or another. That’s it for today folks.