Two Weeks With the Apple Watch

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Technically, I’m a day shy of two weeks, but whatever.

I wanted to get a good feel for the watch before writing about it. I think I have had enough time to be able to share my thoughts.

Let me give you the take away up front: you do not need it. But if you get it, it is worth it.

There are a ton of opinions I respect out there on Apple. I’m an avid reader of John Gruber’s Daring Fireball. I think it was John the other day who said there really isn’t a single killer feature on the watch, but an overall package.

I actually think there is a killer feature. And it has actually changed my whole household.

When I wake up before the sun to get the Morning Briefing done, be on Fox & Friends, etc. my wife inevitably wakes up with me because of the alarm clock. She can go back to bed, but it has thrown her out of her sleep rhythms. That has entirely changed now.

My Apple Watch does not make a single sound. I turned the sounds off. But I get woken up in the morning by a tap on my wrist. She does not hear it. She does not feel it. But I feel it and wake up. Apple’s “taptic engine” is the killer feature.

It’s changed family time too.

A few years ago I was struggling balancing family time with RedState. The site was growing, it was the 2008 Presidential cycle, and it had consumed me. My wife was on the verge of giving birth to our second and I didn’t know how I was going to make things work. I had this nagging sense that I was spending too much time at work and not enough time with kids.

Of all people, Dick Cheney gave me some pretty sound advice. He said it is not so much the time you spend with your kids as it is the quality of the time you spend with your kids. When you’re with them, put away the electronics and distractions and make sure they know it is their time with you.

Truth be told, I’ve struggled with that. If my phone beeps, I’m pulling it out. Often, on busy days and every day seems like a busy day, the phone is on the kitchen table. Not any more. I get a subtle tap. I can turn my wrist to see if it is really important. Most times it is not. Then I can go back to what I’m doing.

When I’m playing catch with the 6 year old, I feel the tap and keep on playing. I know I’m not missing anything, even if I don’t see immediately what it is. That is worth it to me.

For the rest of the watch, let me just say I’m not really a watch guy, but I wear one regularly. In fact, last year I bought a TAG after wanting one for years. It only left my wrist when I was making dough. I didn’t want it to get covered. I love the watch. It has no battery. It keeps perfect time.

I can imagine myself wearing it again, but I haven’t started wearing it yet. Maybe at some point. I do take my Apple Watch off when I shower. I look down at my wrist to check the time now and there is a blank screen at first. That’s the irony of the Apple Watch. It’s worst function is telling time. The screen has to light up.

Apple tries to make is easy, but the routine is not perfect. I wish I had a video of me flipping the pages of Garden & Gun the other day. Every time I flipped a page the watch lit up. I suspect this will improve with time, though Apple and its sensors are sometimes wonky. My iPhone is supposed to keep the screen off when it is up to my ear and that inevitably fails and my ear accidentally mutes me in mid conversation.

But the rest is pretty impressive. I started CrossFit a few weeks ago and the heart monitor and count down for exercises is terrific. The activity monitor is useful and I do like the watch’s insistence that I stand.

Dark Sky is my favorite app as spring/summer showers start. I was out walking yesterday and it tapped my wrist to let me know showers would be starting in 11 minutes. I headed home and got to the porch just as the rain started. Uber works well too.

For a guy in news and politics, the alerts from news sites are handy. Some are more useful than others. There seems to be a herd mentality. If one news outlet pushes an alert, the rest follow suit. But they remain handy. Most app designers have not yet figured out how to make well crafted watch apps in most cases, but that’s not Apple’s fault.

Look, I’m an Apple guy to begin when. I love their products and the deep integration between them. The Apple Watch is the next iteration of that and it makes me hopeful about the future. Siri works flawlessly on the watch to message people. I have talked on the phone via the watch. The speaker is lower than I like, but it was very cool.

All of that is secondary to me though. Tonight I will go to bed and get up in the morning before everyone else in my house. I’ll do it, finally, unheard and without disturbing anyone else. I’ll check for breaking news alerts, get done all that must be done, and then slide back into bed while my wife still sleeps. That makes the watch worth every penny.

ADDENDUM: Everyone wants to know what I charge it if I’m sleeping with it. Well, when I’m at my desk and not going anywhere for a while, I do it then. Usually during my radio show, 5pm to 7pm ET. Or I’ll do it when I doing my night time writing. That said, the watch has much better battery life than I expected and I’m still in the heavy use/exploration/playing with it phase.

About the author

Erick Erickson
By Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson

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