It’s been almost 4 weeks now since I received the long brown UPS box that contained the long white Apple box that contained the long white case that contained my Apple Watch Sport. Since then, the watch has had a significant impact on my workouts, prompting me to buy my first pair of Bluetooth headphones, which are amazing, and to completely change the tech I use when I exercise. The effect it’s had outside of the gym has been more gradual and nuanced, making it easy to miss and dismiss its impact everywhere else in my life. But it is nothing short of a welcome invasion of my daily habits that ensures I’ll continue to have an Apple Watch on my wrist for years to come.
When I first got the watch, I very excitedly and hurriedly opened the box, found the perfect sizing for my wrist, set it up (taking a moment to appreciate the beautiful pairing process with the phone), and then thought, “now what?”
I played around with the settings, adjusting a few other details to my liking, and a few of the 3rd-party apps, but I didn’t have an immediate job for the watch. It didn’t fill an obvious gap, like the smartphone, which made it possible to be connected all of the time. So I decided to go for a run and track it with the watch in order to do something with it. That took me into the fitness aspect of the watch, which has dominated most of my interaction with it since then.
But the fitness component alone isn’t enough to justify the purchase in my mind, especially since you can get other fitness trackers that accomplish the same thing for significantly less money, so I kept looking for that thing outside of exercising that made the watch a must-have item; something I could use to justify its place on my wrist and to wholeheartedly recommend the watch to anyone that asked if they should get one.
What I didn’t realize until recently is that there isn’t one big thing; there are actually a lot of small things that I used to do on my phone but now do on the watch. Checking the weather in the morning. Knowing when my first meeting is. Skipping to the next song. Starting another podcast. Paying for things. Responding to text messages. Setting reminders for myself. Taking a quick phone call. And, yes, checking the time. I had overlooked all of these moments when the watch absolutely shines because they were small interactions that were interspersed throughout my day. Things that I needed to get done, not as a destination unto themselves (like writing an email, watching a movie, or building a seasonally-adjusted forecast in Excel), but in order to get back to, or support, the task at hand.
It turns out that there are a lot of these moments each and everyday, but you don’t think about them too much because you aren’t focused on them. Instead you fish your phone out, direct your attention to the screen, unlock it, do what you need to do, maybe check a few other things, and then put it away. Once you’re done, you get back to whatever you were doing. And you repeat this over and over again throughout the day. It’s a surprisingly large amount of friction that you can remove with the watch.
This all occurred to me earlier this week when I was walking to the train station to meet my fiancé. She texted to check if I was on the way. Without skipping a beat, I pulled up the message on my watch, dictated a quick response (dictation on the watch with Siri works surprisingly well), and sent it off.
It wasn’t seamless, but it was significantly better than trying to use the phone while walking on a crowded street.
As I made my way to the station, it became super clear that the watch has been covertly changing the ingrained habits that I developed over many years for the better. And I’ve only had it for a month. I’m certain that I will continue to use the watch even more as it becomes more capable over time (I’m pretty excited about the native SDK). While the watch may only be providing small, incremental improvements at this point, when taken as a whole, it’s a super promising sign of what’s to come (and more than enough justification to feel good about its home on my wrist).