Monkey’s Apple Watch – Navigation, Workout and Update

It’s been about a week since I received my Apple Watch as an unexpected gift from my family.  This is a series of continuing posts on my experiences with the Watch, with this one in particular being about navigation, maps and directions.

The Apple watch is a confusing thing for me.  First, I traditionally stopped wearing a watch regularly years ago.  It would get in the way of my computer typing, so I would remove my $19 Massimo Target brand watch and lay it on my desk while working, and only pick it up when I left for the day.  There’s clocks and watches everywhere, including on my iPhone and displaying on my Macbook at work so there wasn’t much of a need to have the time affixed to my wrist.  Thus, the addition of the Apple Watch to my wearables (of which I guess technically this is the first?) is an odd feeling.  Right now as I type this, I’m not wearing my Watch as it is docked and recharging as of last night.  For the first night since receiving my Watch, I’m not wearing it to sleep.  And honestly, I sort of miss wearing it.  Hmmm…

My take on the Watch thus far is that it’s useful and frankly it really has kept me from pulling out my iPhone on a regular basis.  It reminds me of things that the iPhone used to, and gives me instant access to snippets of information that I usually had to garner from my phone or other devices, only after removing the phone from my pocket and unlocking it.  I think it’s overpriced.  MSRP is $499 but I think it should be around $199.  It does a lot, but is not ¾’s the functionality and value of my iPhone.

It’s solidly built though the rubber wrist band is cheapish.  I wonder if I can replace it with another watch band.

It’s scratch free thus far, and I’ve unwittingly banged it into door jams and such, only to peek at the watch face in fear, hoping there was no damage.  And there wasn’t.

Navigation

I’ve used the Watch a few times for navigation and it is pretty useful if you can get past the setup.  Perhaps obviously, setting up navigation on the iPhone is much easier.  On the Watch, you have to use Siri to tell it where you want to travel to, and this can be frustrating.  Something as simple as “Home Depot” is repeatedly misunderstood by Siri, with the reply “I don’t know what your home address is”.  So then I tried “The Home Depot” and received the same response.  Finally, the use of the phrase “Take me to the store called The Home Depot” worked.  Sheesh!  Suddenly I’m speaking like Data on Star Trek.

Additionally, when I asked it to direct me to my home address using my street name, because the map it displays initially showing the overall route is so small, I didn’t realize it was sending me to a similar address near Buffalo, New York (I live near Orlando, FL).  So here it was, repeatedly trying to get my on the Interstate for a 2,000 mile drive, when my home was a few miles away.

Once you’re underway, the turn left (TICK-tock) and turn right (tick-TOCK) is useful.  A quick glance at your wrist shows you the name of the turn (road, exit, etc.).  It’s still not perfect because it has no way to tell you (like the iPhone app does) to stay in the middle lane.

I’ve not tried it for walking to a destination yet, but I suspect it is probably more useful that way.  What’s missing is the ability for the Watch to “speak”.  I realize that this would make it quite the annoying device in public places, but used in specific areas (like navigating) it would make the Watch much more useful.

So in summary, Navigation works pretty well.

Workout

Having just purchased a family membership to LA Fitness, and having been strong-arrmed into considering (and re-considering and re-considering due to the trainer running after me and my family each time I/we walk into the gym) and having avoided paying for a personal trainer ($2,400 per year!!) after turning down the “car salesman” tactics over and over. , I attempted to use my Phone for my personal workout.  Much like I experienced on my biking trek, it pairs up with my heart-strap (Polar) immediately and allows me to put in a target calorie count.  It tracks my calorie burn, etc.

Also, once again it gave me the benefit of keeping my phone in my pocket, being able to control the music playback on my Watch.  I can select a play list from my Watch face, or simply Play and skip songs without removing my phone.  That’s a bonus, and it also keeps me from strapping the phone to my arm.  Another bonus.

The Watch is water resistant, so sweating on it is no big deal.  The wrist band is rubber so it doesn’t obviously absorb sweat, though I wonder if after a while it won’t absorb some sort of smell.

In the end, it continued to track my fitness throughout the day, long after I left the gym, reminding me to stand up after periods of sitting, and tracking my steps.

My family bought FitBits for each of them and it seems to the do the trick on monitoring health, heart rate and calories.   It’s sleek size requires an app to be running on the Phone for tracking purposes.  It does, however, do a better job of reporting fitness metrics to other apps (My Fitness Pal, DigitFit) than the Watch does.  Apple tries to funnel all that through it’s Apple Health app, which appears to have connection points to third party apps, but this is either misconfigured for me or just does not work.

Overall Update

As I mentioned in the introduction, I still see the Apple Watch as useful, though over priced. There’s apparently an OS update coming soon that will allow it to run untethered from the phone?  I’m worried that soon some new Apple Watch 2 will come out that includes things like Voice feedback and I’ll immediately have an outdated appliance strapped to my arm.  Oh technology, why doth ye vex me?

I do wear a watch now more frequently.  Interestingly, I don’t get people saying “oh is that an Apple Watch?” so I guess folks are not surprised by its proliferation.

I found some interesting apps like a “Pill Minder” and a simple Tip Calculator that may prove useful.  In general, there’s a lack of interesting apps for the Phone.  And it feels like developers still have not devised that killer app.

This experience reminds me of when I first purchased an iPhone.  Initially, it was excitement in getting something so cutting edge, and interest in using the various features, downloading new apps, playing games on it, sorting my music, taking pictures and videos – setting the wall paper, etc.   And just like my experience with my iPad and iPad2, ultimately, it became just another tool that I lugged around with me.    The excitement has dulled (in a good way) into making it just another device that is useful at very specific times. Unlike my 17-year-old daughter, I don’t have my face planted on it, reading Tumblr, Instagram, Snap Chat, Twitter feeds (though I have most of those setup) for hours at a time.  The iPad now is a remote Macbook for me when I don’t want to carry (or don’t need to carry) such a large device with me.  I’m not quite ready to leave my Macbook at home during business trips, but it’s close.   My vision deteriorating also has made me use my iPad more than my iPhone.  And that’s also a challenge with the Apple Watch, as I’ve set the font to “Bold” and made it a little larger, it’s still tough on the eyes.  There are somethings that I really can’t read on the Watch.

All in all, I think the Watch, iPad, Macbook, iPhone all become various ways to consume information and use specific functionality at the appropriate time.  If there was a fitness monitoring app for the iPad, I would not lug the iPad to workouts.  And the only reason I lug my phone to workouts (and strap it to my arm) is to track calories and listen to music.  Now that my Watch does that, while I still have to lug the phone in my pocket, I don’t plan on taking it out.  Now all I need is bluetooth headphones and I’ll be completely untethered.

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