- Last Friday I bought the latest Apple Watch Series 4.
- The last Apple Watch I had used was the original model, which I’ve had since 2015, but stopped using after several months of use.
- The first Apple Watch didn’t really grab me, but the new Series 4 has made me an Apple Watch believer.
On April 27, 2015, at 4:15 in the afternoon, I ordered Apple’s very first smartwatch. It arrived at my doorstep nearly three months later, on June 2.
I was immediately taken with the watch’s cool hardware, and I absolutely loved being able to pay for goods with my wrist.
But I eventually stopped wearing my Apple Watch daily, and then in general.
Three main reasons for that: the software was slow, applications felt limited, and it was not very comfortable to wear. “Guess I’m just not a watch guy,” I told myself.
Four years later, I’m now married and thinking about my health more often. Given the passage of time, and the fact the Series 4 was also the first real Apple Watch redesign since the first-generation model, I decided to buy Apple’s latest wearable.
Here’s what I think of the Apple Watch Series 4:
I picked up the 40 mm Apple Watch Series 4, with the black sport loop, from the Apple store inside the Oculus building in New York.
Here it is, back in my hotel room, packaging and all.
The Apple Watch generally looks the same as it did four years ago, but much has changed. The entire package, especially Apple’s approach to Watch software, makes way more sense now.
Setup is incredibly simple, in true Apple fashion. Press any button on the watch, and it will recognise your iPhone nearby. Point your iPhone’s camera at the watch, and it’s paired. <a href=”https://youtu.be/0EFLnvjG7-A”>That’s it!</a>
Using the watch also feels incredibly intuitive. You raise the watch to wake it. You’ll see the watch face you’ve chosen, or your most recently used app.
You swipe up from the bottom to see the Control Center, which has a handy assortment of shortcuts like Do Not Disturb, or the button that turns your watch into a flashlight.
You swipe down from the top to see your notifications. A red dot will appear on the top of your watch if you have notifications you haven’t looked at yet.
The knob on the top corner of the watch is the digital crown. Twist it, and you can zoom in or out, or scroll up and down.
Pressing the digital crown lets you see all the apps you have available on your watch. Pressing it again brings you back to the last app you were looking at.
Pressing and holding the digital crown summons Siri. I don’t use Siri often.
The button below the digital crown is also neat. Press it once, and it summons your dock — either your recently used apps, or a list of up to 10 “favourite” apps that you choose.
Pressing the side button button twice brings up Apple Pay. Add a credit card, and you’ll be able to pay for goods at most places with an NFC reader.
If you press and hold the side button, you can contact emergency services, or shut off your watch completely.
Between the touchscreen, the digital crown, and the single button, it’s pretty easy to figure out how to navigate and use applications.
Most of the fun really takes place on your iPhone, though, which controls the Apple Watch experience via the watch app that automatically appears on your phone.
The watch app on your phone lets you pick out and customise watch faces, your app layout, and your dock.
The watch app has a channel called “Face Gallery,” which lets you explore various watch face styles and looks.
Once you pick a face you like, you can customise its “complications,” or little bits of information to see at a glance. Complications include things like the date, the weather, services like Spotify, or health details like your current heart rate, which is really cool.
I made three watch faces I particularly like: My “work” watch face shows the time, date, weather, and my current heart rate. It also has shortcuts to start a workout, see my activity levels for the day, and a single button to contact with my wife via Messages or FaceTime.
A less busy watch face I like features just two pieces of information: The hour, and a shortcut for my heart rate.
This is easily my favourite watch face so far, though. It just shows the time in extra-large letters.
Customising my dock was also a lot of fun. I personally chose to keep a list of favourites, instead of recents, and picked 10 apps I found myself using most in the first few days of owning the Series 4 Watch.
I have three favourite (and recommended) Dock apps: The Remote app lets me control my Apple TV faster than the time it takes to find the actual remote; the Home app lets me control my smart-home lights from my wrist; and the Reminders app makes crossing items off my shared grocery list incredibly easy.
One of the more subtle ways I appreciate the Watch is its emphasis on fitness, and its ability to be a “coach.”
The original Apple Watch told me to occasionally stand up, but the Series 4 Watch is helping me pay attention to my activity, but also my mental health. I really appreciate the multiple daily reminders to perform 1-minute breathing exercises, which helps to relax but also focus. It’s a powerful mindfulness tool, and a kind feature.
Perhaps the most important and underrated upgrade, though, is the wristband that comes with the Apple Watch Series 4. You can still get the rubbery Sport Band, which I got with my original Apple Watch, but I never liked how it felt on my wrist.
Thankfully, the Apple Watch Series 4 can also come with a Sport Loop, which consists of smooth nylon fabric and a Velcro-type attachment that allows for infinite adjustments. It is, in my opinion, far superior to the Sport Band, and the Apple Watch band everyone should be ordering by default.
Apple also sells several other wristband styles, but they all cost anywhere from hundreds to several hundreds of dollars, and I’m no Karl Lagerfeld.
The Sport Loops and Sport Bands, if you want separate versions, cost $US50 apiece.
After a few days of using the Series 4 Watch, I’m really enjoying it. As a convenient way to get personal feedback on your health and fitness, it feels second to none.
One of the main reasons I bought the new Apple Watch was to get better feedback about my personal health, so I’m looking forward to really testing it as a fitness tracker over the coming weeks. I’ve already tracked some some brisk walks outside, but I’m looking forward to taking it to the gym and swimming pool.
But the most important indicator of the Apple Watch’s success, at least for me, will be time. Will I feel the same way about the Series 4 Watch in the coming months, or by this time next year? Will I use it less often over time, or take it off on some days, or for prolonged periods at some point? Will I return to not being “a watch guy”? Or will it feel as invaluable as my phone feels to me right now?
These are questions I’m hoping to answer in a full review. But based on my first several days of usage, I’m feeling way more optimistic about the Apple Watch than I was before – you might say I’m a believer now. Given how good it is at tracking and giving feedback about your personal health, the watch can benefit people in both great and poor health equally. Overall, the Apple Watch Series 4 is a markedly evolved experience compared to the first-generation watch, and it’s a really nifty piece of personal tech with a whole lot of promise.
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