As my first new post on the newly reborn The Loud Library, I wanted to share with you the awesomeness that is the Apple Watch Series 2 (sure I could have used a more poetic word than awesome, but it really is just that, awesome).
I’d been thinking about getting a new watch for a while, my old Fossil’s strap had discoloured and the face had a scratch. When I went to find out how much a repair would be I realised it was almost better to buy a new watch. So, I started thinking, if I’m going to buy a new watch, why not get one that can help my fitness and healthy living aspirations as well. Now I’ve never liked the look of sports watches and I am not a fan of how the Fitbit looks on my arm either, too bulky and square. I soon realised the prettiest and most functional alternative is, the Apple Watch.
I put a lot of research into the final Apple Watch purchase (ok, James put a lot of research in) as it’s not a cheap decision to make. It was very important to me that my Apple Watch could still look like a fashionable watch when I’m not exercising. I needed to be able to wear my watch with every outfit possible, gym clothes, casual wear, work clothes and wedding clothes (very important cause do you know how many steps you get at a wedding and the watch tracks them all!).
I ended up going for the gold and navy option in 38mm (the 42mm is really huge, especially on a woman’s arm I feel personally).
Of course, that was also one of the most popular colour combinations and sizes so we ended up having to go all the way to the Apple Store in Mall of Africa (terrible place, but that’s a story for another time). R6 899.99 later and I was the proud owner of an Apple Watch and as James put it, I now had the whole eco system, which in itself has been very handy and does make you feel a bit like the cool kid on the block.
The real question is however whether this new gadget on my arm actually lives up to the hype, and for me at least, it certainly has so far!
First thing’s first I set the watch face to the very playful Mini Mouse theme. I wanted to keep it fun and quickly discovered that Mini is actually really entertaining as well as cute. Tap on your watch face at any time of the day and Mini will tell you the time, tap for the first time in the morning, afternoon (after 12PM) and night (after 5PM) and she will add a “Good morning/afternoon/night” and a little giggle after her time announcement. It’s been a really cool party trick up to now.
There are however a lot of really nice other watch faces to choose from as well. Most of them are geared a bit more to the male and serious side, but I personally also like the one that allows you to see the movement of the sun and the solar system. Other options include adding your own photos from iCloud, a rose gold classic watch face, exercise and goal focussed faces and a time laps of places like London, Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Mack Lake (a really pretty lake in the US). Each face has their own unique features such as showing you the weather, your fitness goals, heart rate and more. The face you choose will depend on you as a person and the goals you bought the Apple Watch for, but for me what makes it so, well awesome, is that you have the choice to change your mind on the face you want, even after buying your watch. What other watch allows you to do that…
Speaking of customization, you can also buy different straps and add them to your watch and obviously there are the apps.
Your apps are linked to what you have on your iPhone or iCloud account, and what’s really nice, though pretty obvious but I still get amazed by the integration every time, is that everything is synched at all times. You do a workout on your watch, save it and seconds later (as long as your phone is in Bluetooth reach with your watch) the workout is saved on your phone and if, like me you are working on your Discovery points, also synched with your Discovery app as a workout.
Other handy apps on the Apple Watch include the email, Whatsapp and SMS apps which allow you to receive and read your emails (if the emails are very image based you have to revert back to the iPhone however). You unfortunately cannot reply to emails or Whatsapps or SMSs except for a few preloaded responses like “Got it, thanks” and “Working on this now…” as well as emojis and voice messages, which doesn’t work very well with the South African accent. You can also try the Scribe function by writing out your message with your finger and having it guess the letter you want to use. Some people love it, I haven’t gotten the hang of it yet. Personally, I don’t mind that you can’t really reply. It’s pretty convenient to see you have a message or email by looking at your watch, pretending to see the time, rather than pulling out your phone, much more acceptable in meetings you know.
Having Google Maps on your wrist is also very handy when walking, rather than having your phone in your hand the whole time. Obviously when driving the phone is still number one but when walking Watch trumps phone. If you like Instagram as much as me you can also view your feed on the watch, no posting but still cool. Keeping track of the finances is key and you can link your FNB app and authorise payments straight from your wrist, no need to have your phone nearby. Other apps like Deezer music app, your eWallet (very handy for those Vitality Rewards) and the camera app, which sees what your phone camera sees but can make selfies so much easier, are also pretty nifty.
But the actual reason for forking out all that cash for the Apple Watch Series 2 just when the Series 1 came on special, was for fitness reasons, and in my case specifically swimming.
The sports app allows you to do a number of activities like Outdoor Running, works pretty well for Parkrun, Indoor Cycling, Rowing, and Elliptical. And if you can’t find your activity, like for example Yoga, you can set the exercise as Other, setting the same Time, Calorie or Distance goal (or a combination of the three) as with other workouts and save it as Yoga at the end of your workout. I’ve found the heart rate tracker to be quite accurate as well.
Being able to use the Apple Watch Series 2 in the pool to track my swimming was what won me over. You can swim with your Fitbit, but there’s no point as it cannot track your swimming and most of the sports watches out there you can swim with are just plain ugly (yes, I am still worried about what the watch on my arm looks like when I’m under the water). The Series 2 was designed to not only be water resistant, but waterproof and has a cool function where it locks the whole watch so the screen is completely unchangeable for the time it is locked, but the watch itself is still working in the back. This means that if you set up the swimming exercise in your sports app, to track your swimming based on time and the length of the pool, it will keep on tracking, but will be completely safe to swim with. I’ve done more than 30 minutes with my watch in the pool and it’s worked perfectly. Once you’re done with your swim you simply turn the dial on the side (make sure the watch is relatively dry) until the circle on the screen is complete, and then you’ll hear your watch spit out, yes it literally spits, any stray drops that might have snuck into the microphone. It’s actually super cute if you ask me. Here’s a little video demonstration.
Make sure your Apple Watch is synched with your iPhone Health app for any workouts and then after completing your workouts they are saved on your iPhone Activity app. You will have a full record of all your workouts there and you can even earn cool badges. They don’t really do anything but I enjoy shiny badges on my phone from time to time.
Now, of course, the Apple Watch isn’t perfect and I have gotten angry at it a few times. The most frustrating part is that, just like any other electronic device, you have to charge it. The wireless charging unit is easy enough to use, but unlike my other Apple products, the Watch can’t share a charging cable and I need to remember to take the tiny charging disc with me whenever I go away for more than a day. If you are using your Watch to track your exercise and use other apps regularly you need to charge it almost daily. I was doing a swim once and had forgotten to charge my watch. In the middle of my swim it went into battery saving mode, which is at 10% of battery life and also means no additional functions except that of a normal watch, telling the time. Imagine the frustration. That brings me to another frustration when swimming with the Apple Watch. The lock system is great and keeps the watch safe, but if you are trying to swim in a certain time the only way to stop your swim activity is by unlocking the watch and stopping the activity manually. To do this, you need to be out of the pool and have dried your watch slightly to keep it safe. It might seem like a small thing and maybe I am nitpicking on a product that is very near perfect, but when you have something this good, it’s easy to find irrational small irritations.
Overall, I love my Apple Watch. I love that it helps me lead a healthier life because it reminds me of the commitments I made and the goals I’ve set for myself. It’s helped me realise I need to breathe to keep my heart rate down (there’s a Breathe app) which has really helped me become a bit calmer in everyday life. I like having everything connected the way it is and I like knowing my progress but I also like that my Apple Watch is still pretty and fun. I believe a watch tells a lot about a person and if you can customize it in such a way to become an extension of your personality, even better. It is a lot of money, but I am someone who believes that when you pay that much money for something you have to take 110% out of it, and I definitely do.