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TIMO ZIMMERMANN

balancing software engineering & infosec

The Apple Watch that finally won my heart

posted on Saturday 9th of February 2019 in

It was nearly three years ago that I blogged about the Apple Watch. Back then I basically had to get one to start an exploration of how we could leverage the Apple Watch for our app at FlightCar. I was nearly sure I would not like it very much, but I tried giving it a fair chance. Results were pretty mixed. I primarily used it as a fitness tracker when working out. But product development continued and the watch became more appealing to me.

I still do not consider it a watch, at the end of the day it is either an extension to my phone or a stand alone mini version of it, depending on the current usecase. I am not a fan of the “always available” mentality, so when going out with friends for dinner I usually leave my phone in DND and in my jacket and wear a real watch. I obviously have some people on my VIP list that can call through the DND setting, emergencies exist. But responding to an emergency does not happen very often and I rather have a nice conversation while happily munching Sushi than checking Slack to see if anyone pushed a new commit at 2am PST. My favourite watch right now for a casual evening is a Bruno Söhnle Glashütte.

Bruno Söhnle Glasshütte watch

The Apple Watch 3 with the LTE option paired with the AirPods changed the game. I could walk the dog, be reachable and listen to music, without carrying my phone with me. And not carrying a 1200€ phone with me while playing with my 62kg dog actually puts my mind to ease a bit, collateral damage is far less severe. I nearly never carry my phone with me when working out at the gym, except for when I am on call. With the Apple Watch LTE with me I was actually able to get an emergency call for an incident while I was not on call, but was able to help resolving it an hour earlier than I would have otherwise. Again, this does not happen very often, but when it does I am glad to be available and have a chance to engage as needed.

After getting the Apple Watch 3 with LTE I started wearing the watch more often, but still only during certain activities were I did not want to bring my phone. It just did not feel great wearing it all day. And since I do not really bother with counting calories it does not make a difference to me to not know how many I potentially burned.

The same way the Apple Watch 3 changed the game, the next iteration changed it again. When watching the keynote for the Apple Watch 4 I was not really impressed.

“Oh nice, it is a bit smaller. And a bit larger. Biiiiiiig deal.”

Since I had the chance to pass on my Apple Watch 3 and get my hands on the potentially useful new sensors I was interested, but did not really expect any significant change. Ohh, was I wrong. The new form factor actually makes it way more pleasant to wear the watch. I did not expect a few millimetres here and there to make a big difference, but it actually does for me. The slightly larger “edge to edge” display looks great and gives a more well-rounded look to the device and the overall responsiveness helps a lot to make the watch feel better when using it, the dimensions are clearly the defining factor for me. Weight actually went up a tiny bit, but I really cannot claim I have noticed the difference.

Another very important change was the availability of Apple Pay in Germany. Yes, we actually did it, even a year earlier than I predicted. What an amazing feat for a digital development country. Not only being available for the people I want to be available for, but also being able to leave my wallet at home is another improvement of my day to day life. By now I actually wear my Apple Watch nearly the whole day, except when going out – then I still have a phone in my jacket and a real watch at my wrist. Nothing beats the feeling of looking at a fine piece of mechanical craftsmanship.

Something I also learned when starting to wear v3 for a longer time (and really noticed with v4) is the difference in wristbands. You often hear people claiming a cheap third party wristband is as good as an expensive one from Apple. To make it short: no, it is not. I would try to compare a Nike sports band vs a 10€ no name one – but this would not only be unfair, but also completely pointless since there is no comparison. With one you already start sweating putting it on while the other keeps your wrist in a decent state during a whole workout. And the same goes for the nylon bands. Being cheap on your wristband is basically the same as being cheap on the case for your 1200€ phone. Sure, it kind of works, but it still sucks if your sense of touch if not completely distorted.

Apple Watch and sport wristband

Being actually happy with the Apple Watch made me reevaluate my opinion on what device I would actually like to see from Apple, but I came to the same conclusion – an Apple Wristband. Slightly longer, not square, integrated in a nice fabric for the actual band which I can wear on my other arm so the very useful device does not compete with my watch. I enjoy using the Apple Watch on a daily basis, but it will not get a permanent spot on my arm. A wristband on the other hand would.

(As a general note: I will also not start wearing two watches, even if one of them is a mini computer – for the same reason you will never see me carrying two phones. I am so not important enough for that.)