Extravagance, Necessity, or a Little of Both? Thoughts on the Apple Watch 3

The Apple Watch 3 is joyous technology; there is fun and fascination in everything it does. The 3 magically marries features in different Apple products, bringing more use to everything it connects with. The watch unlocks your laptop, controls your iPhone camera, and acts as a remote for your Apple TV. My watch has built in cellular so I have a phone on my wrist. After two weeks I am still learning what this watch does. It is expensive but I’ve seldom been happier with any product.

My old watch was a Garmin Forerunner 15 GPS. I tracked my running with it and it did a good job. It did such a good job that I bought two over the years, with its integrated watch band falling apart each time. You can’t replace the Forerunner’s watchband, its material is fused with its case. Spending $70 to have Garmin fix it seemed a waste of money for a watch now selling for less than $120.

In looking for a new watch, I briefly considered moderately priced dive watches like what Seiko offers, in the two to three hundred dollar range. I liked the idea of a rugged watch I could sweat on and swim with. But they were all clunky and heavy and dumb. Dumb in that they couldn’t do any tracking like my old watch. But what about Apple?

When they first came out, Apple’s watches seemed too light and dainty. They’re now making their third iteration, though, and I think they have achieved a fine product. Although I wouldn’t wear the watch while bouldering or prospecting, the Apple 3 is a fine urban watch, perfectly suited for my day to day routine.

Besides their original lightness, I was also put off by what you see on the left below. What’s called grid view. That’s a constellation of apps on a single screen, each represented by an icon that you have to guess at. I wanted none of that. That confusion has been cleared up now, with what’s called, simply enough, list view. What you see on the right. You can easily scroll clear and brightly lit text descriptions to find your music, messages, and maps. Or go back to grid view and hunt and peck.

Besides the fun quotient, the watch does a great job tracking my runs, indeed, it encourages them. If you haven’t run for a while, the watch asks if you are running today and if so, when. It then lets you enter a time, whereupon it later reminds you that your run  is coming up. The Nike running app is topnotch and you can download audio files from experts who will guide you through recovery runs, speed runs, and long distance runs. The model I have is called an Apple Watch Nike+. It keeps me motivated to get outdoors, its features turning from novelty into necessity. Why so?

I’ve suffered from decades of terrible sleep, a chronic condition I and my medical team have failed to solve. All I can really do is work on the problem with when I am awake, by trying to remain as healthy as I can. Although I sometimes lapse into months of inactivity, I am always aware that being fit is the one thing I control. This watch helps me with that, keeping me motivated and in a healthy routine. Running is always tough but this watch makes it less so. Although extremely expensive, at over four hundred dollars, I have no regrets and much happiness.

If there is enough interest, I can detail some of its features. If you navigate with your iPhone, you’ll find the phone communicates with your watch. The phone sends turn by turn text directions to your watch, and the watch also taps your wrist before each turn. (It has a pressure plate on the back to do this.) It also monitors your resting and active heart rate. And it can play music during your workout, while pausing the music briefly to say what distance you’ve run and at what pace. I was very surprised at the end of my first run to hear a woman say, “This is Alison. Running may not always be easy, but it is always worth it.” Apple is amazing.

By thomasfarley01

Business writer and graphic arts gadfly.

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