2 years with my favorite accessory: Apple Watch

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 7 min read

Two years ago today, I was sitting at home, waiting for UPS to deliver the device I had spent years waiting for Apple to make. After years of using a Pebble and being very impressed with Apple's September 2014 demo of the Apple Watch, I was amped up for this. It was a Friday, and I took the day off of work so I could be at home all day to make sure I didn't miss the delivery. UPS's website assured me it was "Out for delivery" all day, but the hours ticked by, my Twitter feed filling up with people unboxing their Apple Watches. I was growing a little worried.

But finally at around 6PM I saw the UPS truck pull up, and I knew it was time! The UPS guy handed me a peculiarly-shaped box and asked me "is this the Apple Watch?" He told me he'd delivered about 50 of these on his route that day.

At 6:28PM I took my first glee-filled picture of my new toy:

And it didn't stop there:

After 2 weeks with my new toy, I published my review, and I can say with confidence it's the best review for any hardware product I've ever written. Frankly, I think it's the best review I've seen of the original Apple Watch.

“It’s nice, but what do you do with it?” This is by far the most common question I get from people. It’s a hard question to answer, and it does make me sympathize with Apple’s struggles in marketing the Watch. It’s not just a couple things that it does incredibly well and legitimize the $350+ expense. There are dozens of little things that add up to an overall experience that I find incredibly useful. Because of this, the Apple Watch is impossible to properly demo in 30 seconds, so I’m going to cover what I’m using my Watch for thus far.

And on using Apple Pay:

Apple Pay with the Watch is a delight. If Apple Pay on the iPhone is 50% faster than using a credit card, then Apple Pay on the Watch is another 50% faster than the phone. It’s obscenely easy to do, and is one of the things on the Watch that really makes me feel like I’m living in the future.

Commenting on battery life:

The lowest I ever got the battery was 16%, and that was on a day where I woke up at 3AM and was awake until midnight. That’s 21 hours of use with plenty of juice left. Because the battery life has been so good, I haven’t even used the power reserve mode on the device.

To this day, I still have never used power reserve mode unless I wore my watch for more than 24 hours straight.

by the dollars-to-value metric, the Apple Watch is probably a bad buy right now. I don’t think it’s a bad product by any means; far from it. I hope you can tell from my review that I love my Apple Watch and I don’t want to go back to a world without it. It absolutely makes my life a little better and easier in many specific ways. It was worth the $400 for me, but that’s far from an impulse purchase for most people. If you read this review and saw some use cases you find appealing and you have $400 to spend on a luxury like this, then I think you should go for it. You won’t be disappointed.

My overall impression was that it was a good product, but at $400 for the 42mm model, you really needed to have a good reason to get one of these.

I have continued to write extensively about the Apple Watch and here's a couple choice samples.

First, did you know that getting podcasts onto the Apple Watch has sucked, really sucked, forever? Marco Arment just fixed this a couple days ago as Overcast became the first podcast app that lets you load podcasts directly onto the Apple Watch. From my complain-fest in May 2015:

My 2 episodes amounted to just over 50MB, but they took almost 15 full minutes to sync.

I made a mock up of what I thought we might see from 3rd party app complications in watchOS 2. I was a little over-enthusiastic about what apps would have the ability to do…

Running with Apple Watch is a piece that brought out all of the "serious runners" who were very grumpy that the Apple Watch was not suitable for run tracking. I understand the complaints (mostly that cell phone GPS isn't accurate enough), but respectfully disagree.

The Apple Watch is my favorite all around fitness device I have ever owned. I absolutely love that my regular watch is also my step counter as well as my workout tracker. That said, I do think that there is a lot of room for the device to grow as a workout companion. The Watch falls short specifically on long term goal planning, which can be just as, if not more important than your single workout stats. I also find it shocking that your workout history is not saved to iCloud, but only your local device.

I've fallen in love with the red, green, and blue activity rings introduced in the first Apple Watch. It's the best system I've found for making sure I am as active as I need to be. It's also the first system I've seen where your health goals are not based on steps. It's all about calories burned, how long you're active, and getting off your butt to move around.

I wear my Apple Watch every day, and these three rings are a big reason I do. They’ve spoiled me for other fitness trackers like the Fitbit, which I used up until I got the Apple Watch. Judging my fitness progress based on steps seems so archaic now that I can’t see myself ever using a fitness tracker that just uses that as a metric.

In March 2016 I wrote a love letter to my Apple Watch that got a surprising amount of play in the blogosphere.

There is no shortage of blog posts and podcast episodes with people discussing at length why they stopped wearing their Apple Watch or what drastic changes they think Apple needs to do to make the Apple Watch the least bit useful. I won’t suggest that the Apple Watch is perfect or that it doesn’t have big steps it can take to improve, but I will say that I love my Apple Watch and have not gone a single day since April 24, 2015 without wearing it. It is an absolutely essential part of my life and is something I never want to be without in the future. If Apple threw in the towel today and said they’re never making another Apple Watch, I’d keep wearing this one until it stopped working.

I had the only major full-length review of watchOS 3 on launch day back in September 2016. It was my most popular post of 2016, and again, I would argue it was the best review of watchOS 3 on the web.

This is an update that feels almost as much like a hardware upgrade as it is a software update. Everything is faster, and the software is more capable. I certainly have complaints with how far Apple went with some features and wish they had moved forward a little more, but I don’t think there are any places in this software update that I feel Apple has taken a step back. This isn’t just a minor update that you can wait on upgrading to, it’s an update you want to rip your watch off for, run to your charger, and patiently wait for this to be installed on your watch. You are about to start loving your Apple Watch a whole lot more.

And finally, I have not been hesitant to give Apple (I hope you're reading!) specific suggestions about how to improve their software on the Apple Watch. In February 2016 I made a pitch for watchOS 3, and I followed it up in January 2017 with another pitch for what they should do with watchOS 4.

The Apple Watch has proven to be an essential part of my life, and it's not something I see myself giving up any time soon. The Apple Watch has problems, it absolutely does, but none of those problems keep me from wearing my Watch everyday. I feel naked when I'm not wearing it, and it feels downright barbaric to look at my phone ever time a notification comes in to see what's going on in the world. Long live the Apple Watch!