/ Pratik Mallya

Apple Watch

Note: This essay is a draft and will possibly change over the next couple of days as I refine it.

I started of as a huge skeptic of the Apple watch. In general, I try to limit the amount of devices I use that need to be recharged frequently. I also own a bunch of nice wristwatches, and the Apple watch didn’t really seem to me as fashionable (at least the basic models) or cost-effective: I couldn’t justify dropping over $250 on a watch (most of my wristwatches are around $100). So it really helped when I found that I received almost $150 off the price through a wellness program at work. The cost now seeming reasonable, I went ahead and purchased it.

After 3 months of continuous use, the skeptic in me has totally changed to an ardent fan. I couldn’t imagine myself not using my other wristwatches, but once you start wearing the Apple watch its hard to not wear it. It is an incredibly habit forming device, but luckily the habits are good. One mundane reason for using the watch is simply that reading time can once more be done using watches instead of flipping out my phone. But its the other integrations that make it so hard to not use it. Messages are readable by simply turning my wrist; there is even a rudimentary way to scribble and reply to messages. I didn’t think this would ever be useful until I got paged from work in the middle of an outdoor run and could acknowledge the page by scribbling the code via the watch…very convenient.

Then there is the fitness and wellness part, which deserves it own section. Apple has done a fantastic job with the Activity monitoring application; it has a very simple UI that tracks move, exercise and stand goals for the day. The exercise and stand goals are set; while the move can be changed by the user. One look at the calendar and I can see how many days of the week I have exercised. The best part though is that it needs no active input from me. I was curious as to how this worked and the documentation seems to imply that the watch can recognize the swinging motion of my hand when walking and uses that to determine if I’ve been walking/running (as opposed to driving) and adds that to my move/exercise goal. I absolutely love this as I am generally incredibly lazy about actively monitoring my activities; the watch tracks it, saves it and makes it available to me in an easy to use UI. This has had the effect of motivating me to always meet my activity goals everyday: a really good habit, which I did not actively cultivate at all.

With the Sierra update to macOS came yet another delightful feature: now, one can unlock a mac when resuming from sleep if an unlocked apple watch is being worn by the user. I find this feature especially useful since I use a pretty long password with many different character classes: great for security, but it makes it a nightmare from a usability standpoint, especially since I seem to suffer from “fat fingers”. Now that this feature is enabled, my MacBook unlocks in a second of being woken. This made me wonder if the watch could be used for more interactions with apps in the mac…I hope there are teams working on something like this. It would open up a completely new way to interact with my computer. Although, to be sure, we still have to see a MacBook with a touchscreen, so I wouldn’t bet on it.

As a person with rather geeky tendencies, I am fascinated by new technologies and devices, although I have become a lot more conservative as I’ve grown older in not buying a bunch of stuff that I would never use. I bought the Apple watch mostly because of the significant work discount and a vague idea of assisted workouts. But it really has changed some of my habits, most certainly for the better. I would highly recommend it to other users of Apple devices.