From nowhere, wearables have exploded into a multi-billion dollar industry, and fitness has been a massive driver. Stats say that if we buy one, there’s a 50% chance we’re under 30, and a 50% chance that we’ll use the device every day – but that’s still a lot of people who don’t use them regularly! I’ve tried almost all of them, I like some, I don’t get on with others; product reviews are rare on FitnessOnToast, but this post is about the only wearable that’s really connected with me, the one which has game-chagingly lowered the barriers to use, in which I feel emotionally invested, and which delivers the best quality of data to me, in the most aspirationally packaged way. It’s the Apple Watch, and this article is an illustration of “48 hours with it”, from my recent Maldives trip!
“I love what technology can do for me, but it’s tough to learn how to get the most out of it!” If that resonates with you, the Apple Watch invariably fits your requirements, as it does for me. In a surprisingly short space of time, it has seamlessly integrated itself into my active lifestyle (with minimal effort on my part) and gives me all information I want and need, in an easy-to-digest manner, with a sleek and sporty aesthetic.
Like most consumers, I have neither the time nor the appetite to constantly input numbers, add data, change parameters, document distances or tweak settings; I don’t want to amass technical knowledge such that I could then become a programmer and write apps! The Apple Watch is super intuitive to navigate, and effectively does all the thinking for me, operating unobtrusively in the background so that I just consume the fruits of its data. Here’s a little summary of my life with the Apple Watch over a 48-hour period at the start of my recent blog trip to the Maldives, showcasing some of my absolute favourite features that it has to offer.
16:30 – Checked in at Heathrow Airport – My British Airways boarding pass is on ‘Wallet’ and I just scan in at the airport!
16:45 – Buying a bottle of water – using my Amex card, loaded into the phone via Apple Pay. An easy double-tap on the case button brings up the card and I’m good to pay! A vibration lets me know the transaction’s been successful and I even get instant confirm on my iPhone from the Amex App that a charge has gone through.
17:00 Alert! Apple Watch alerts me to what’s happening by using the Taptic Engine which gives me a gentle tap on the inside of my wrist telling me that my plane is about to start boarding! I can ‘time travel’ scroll back or forward in my diary to see what’s happening or what has happened; scroll forward to see when my flight leaves, what my next appointments are, or when to have my midday snack – the below snack wasn’t at an airport, as you might be able to tell, but it seemed appropriate given the company who make the product ;).
17:30 Waiting for takeoff and checking emails / socials – a light tap on the underside of the wrist alerts you that you’ve received an email, and VIP addresses get special [unmissable] treatment, which is extremely helpful! You can reply to emails directly from Apple Watch, and my favourite, you can even speak your responses to Siri’s voice recognition function. Siri struggles with the name Faya (understandably, I regularly get called Fire, Fay, Fuy by human beings!), but apart from that, speech works a treat! When it’s takeoff time, iPhone goes into flight mode, and Apple Watch follows suit automatically.
17:35 Send a painting: If you’re feeling arty you can send sketches (using multiple colors in Digital Touch) to friends. There are also new animated emoji’s for communicating with your friends.
19:30 In air – to avoid the dreaded DVT, Apple Watch is suggesting that I get up and have a wander, which of course I did as well as a little stretch! Followed by a sleep until landing…
12:00 Midday (Local time, Apple Watch has adjusted for me) – Arrived at hotel – call family– ask Siri to face time family to say I’ve arrived safely! You’re able to connect to any stored Wi-Fi network and use Siri, as well as send and receive Digital Touch and iMessages; I can also make Wi-Fi calls from it too which saves on travelling expenses as it doesn’t engage me with roaming fees! The hardware is good enough that you don’t need to hold the speaker to your ear, and then switch the microphone to your mouth; you can do it all from waist height! This is one of the coolest features.
13:00 – Casual wander around the island, with Apple Watch automatically counting my steps, calories and heart rate all the way.
15:00 – Afternoon workout around the island… jumping squats up the stairs, lunge work on the pontoons, unstable sand-squats, some hit sprints up and down the jetty, and a little stretching to warm down.
19:00 – Sunset Yoga to unwind, followed by a light dinner & an early night!
06:00 – Morning wake up!
The Apple Watch is my bedside alarm clock, with the digital crown being used for ‘snooze’ (a function of which I make regular use!)
06:45 – Sunrise Boxing Class on the beach as the dramatic cloudscape reveals a stunning day in the Maldives. Apple Watch is measuring my every duck-and-dive to tally the calorie burn!
08:00 – Breakfast = time to recharge!
09:30 – Time for a post-breakfast walk around the island!
11:00 – Going for a gentle run around the island under the shade of the tropical canopy, listening to some tunes! Button-pressing can take time, so before setting off, all I have to do is ask the digital assistant, Siri, to start my workout (e.g: “start five mile outdoor run”). If I need directions, I can ask her accordingly (e.g: ‘give me transit directions to the Beach Restaurant”), launch a Glance, (e.g: “open the Starwood Glance”)… it’s all on hand, literally!
13:00 – Lunch at the Beach Club – I can use the MyFitnessPal app on Apple Watch to keep me up to speed with how much of the various nutrients I’m still able to consume for the current day. I don’t live by it too closely, but it’s great to get an easy-to-understand overview of my nutrition at any given time!
15:00 – Music time! Back in the room, I can select my favourite tunes to have on the watch and use the Beats 1 button to play 24/7 radio. No need to keep the phone with me whilst relaxing in the sun, as the bluetooth system enables my Powerbeats2 headphones to connect to the Apple Watch wirelessly – no more fussy cables! I can store up to 2gb on my watch, which is perfect, as it’ll take all my ‘Current’ playlists with ease.
16:00 – Workout time again… I like that my favourite apps can be added to help track my progress – they’re supported by the heart rate and core motion engines in the watch, so it all counts towards my measurable goals, and displayed on the Activity Rings on the Activity App. That’s the sort of seamless integration that I want from my technology, as I don’t have to think about it; measurement just happens in the background.
18:00 – Afternoon Tea / Snack reminder: check!
Phew – that’s quite enough for one 48 hour period I think (even though much of it was conducted whilst on Flight Mode)! Here are some more of the features that I’ve found quite appealing!
The Style facilities; It’s pretty easy to swap wristbands to suit my mood / gym outfit / location, as well as quickly altering the face of the watch. I chose a dark blue band and an ivory white band to complement my gold powder-coated aluminium case. I’ve recently been experimenting with Photo Album as my watch face, where every time I raise my wrist, a randomly selected image from your photo-bank is displayed – great for stoking happy memories. In my shot below, it’s a simple Plain face with customised lunar / calendar / power-reserve complications and blue hue!
Maps! A new Transit view displays transit lines, stations and intermodal connections, and directions in list view for your current route, including step-by-step; view station placards with departures information right on your wrist
Share Achievements with friends and family via Messages, Mail or social network etc. Super easy to do from the My Watch tab in the Apple Watch app on iPhone. I found this quite motivating to share with others around me.
Security Alert! Given that it’s loaded with my credit cards, I am always pretty reassured that if you take your watch off and misplace it (or worse, it’s stolen), the Activation Lock will prevent another user from erasing or activating the device. With Activation Lock your Apple ID and password will now be required before erasing or re-pairing with another iPhone.
Deeper fitness features: There’s something called “average pace” in the Settings menu on iPhone, which means that calibration for Workouts is saved automatically and backed up to iCloud. Lock screen is enabled in the Workout app to avoid false touches that interrupt my workout’s continuity; Running Workout now includes splits in Activity app and Workout summary on iPhone; I get a neat little weekly Activity and Workout summary that usually comes through on Mondays, and I can check any time with a Force Touch in the Activity app. Also, if I really don’t want to stand up every hour, I can just “mute” my conscientious friend for the rest of the day, such as if I wanted to sleep all 10 hours on the way home! Also, there’s a vast ecosystem of apps that i haven’t even begun to explore yet – the likes of Pocket Yoga, 3 Minute Mindfulness, and Runkeeper are all high on the list!
THE CONCLUSION? It’s not perfect, but it is by far and a way the least imperfect of those available! It does the most, in the easiest way, whilst looking the most stylish. And whilst Apple yet need to make it waterproof for swimming, to improve the responsiveness of the on-demand heart rate monitoring, and to imbue the device with a power-generating kinetic rotor for serious battery life that goes beyond a daily recharge, they’re just leagues ahead of the competition in a realm that’s going to become an increasingly important part of our lives. Every piece of Apple Watch has clearly been designed to fit into my active lifestyle, in a classically functional and chic Apple way, and now that the dust has long since settled after the global Watch launch, I think they’ve done a great job with this piece of kit!
N.B. This is not an advert for Apple, nor have I received monetary compensation for this review. I am making these enthusiastic observations because I have found them to be true and valid. For more information, please see my Disclosure page HERE.