Over the past 3 years, I’ve authored some of my most in-depth blog posts about each successive version of the iconic Apple Watch since it revolutionised the health and fitness tracking landscape back in 2015 (see review 1, review 2, and review 3); personally I’ve enormously valued the advances it’s enabled for me, arming me with data and awareness, reminding me to act, keeping me in contact with the community around me – and it did this whilst integrating seamlessly with my own ‘life technology stack’ in an un-intimidating, user-friendly way. Now, following an overwhelmingly impressive trip to the Steve Jobs Theatre in Cupertino, California, I have been introduced to my latest wrist companion, Apple Watch Series 4… Click MORE to see my full perceptions about this fascinating piece of kit, which represents a big hope for the future!
LOOK & FEEL:
The aesthetics of the watch have remained a consistent thread throughout the series’ evolution, and this iteration is no different in that sense. The familiar curved-edge rectangular form still declares ‘I’m an Apple Watch’, although this one is perceptibly thinner which removes a sense of stacked heft, and, even though a small touch, makes Series 4 feel a far more refined, and high quality piece of craftsmanship to the wearer. There’s a silver, gold, and space grey instance, with stainless steel versions in black and gold with even smaller bezels.
FEATURES I LIKE:
Under ‘the hood’ there are significant enhancements, with an infinitesimally small 64-bit dual core processor – on my wrist(!!!) – making functions lightning fast.
Whilst the device is thinner, the screen is almost a third larger with almost no bezel whatsoever, delivering me that satisfying technological holy grail of ‘more from less’. And beyond just size, the screen seems to have a far richer colour representation, a more imperceptible dot pitch for retina-style visualisations, and a more vibrant backlight.
I’m also a fan of the Walkie Talkie feature, where, if I’m on Wi-Fi or connected through cellular signal, and so are friends, we can just have an instant verbal conversation via the watch; the speaker is 50% louder, meaning conversation is far easier to hear, and sound quality is improved thanks to a relocation of the microphone
It’s got all the same fitness features I know and love from the previous instalments, plus a new Yoga and Hiking workout type, both of which are very much in keeping with my workout patterns. Whilst in Sweden on a Yoga retreat, I’ve been trialling these daily and have found them to be useful and necessary additions to the suite of options within the Fitness menu.
It also triggers workouts when it detects you’re hitting the trail, then gives you the retrospective credit for what you did just before it triggered your workout. That’s neat, because remembering to activate ‘workout mode’ can often slip the mind – this way, it’s harder than ever to forget.
For runners, Series 4 has several new features too which I’ve been appreciating – I get alerts if I run too fast or too slowly compared to my set goals as well as being able to see how many steps per minute I take. This is super helpful because rather than having to wait to look at the end of the run, you get real-time, cumulative feedback.
This is where the category-advancing features are delivered, and which is extremely exciting, as I’ve long believed a smart watch should and will be far more than a mere fitness tracker; Apple are going there. An ECG app draws upon the integrated electrodes and electrical heart rate sensor to monitor heart rates and patterns, storing the readings for easy sharing with your GP, and informing you if an irregular pattern develops. Given that Coronary Heart Disease is the single biggest killer in the UK, with 160,000 deaths each year, it is heartening that Apple are helping to consumerise the measurement of early warning indicators. I believe this is a blueprint of a serious revolution for preventative intervention, where the smart watch will one day monitor the vital stats perpetually, informing the wearer of early signs of disease and enabling early remedies.
Also, a warming feature of care is in fall detection, where the user is able to initiate an SOS call to emergency services when the watch detects they’ve fallen, conveying the coordinates. If there’s no response to the alert for a minute afterwards, an automatic communication takes place with emergency services, and key contacts; its quite nice to know someone’s looking out for you if you land in a spot of trouble!
Those are my initial thoughts following week 1 with my wrist-based companion. I will endeavour to test the farthest reaches of its new functionalities and report back anon!
P.s. Special thanks to Michaele Wissen for her beautiful photography!