An opinionated, no bullshit guide to the Apple Watch.
You’ve set up your watch, you’re ready to go. Good for you. Now here’s how to use it.
The real interface. Use Siri as much as possible. Hold the crown down for a second then start talking once the Watch taps your wrist. Launch apps, send messages, start timers or alarms. Faster and less fiddly than swiping around the screen, especially when you’re walking around (keep your eyes on the road, kid).
There’s a bit of lag. It can take a second or so for Siri to figure out what you’re saying. Trust that Siri got it all and try not to repeat yourself.
Learn about Siri. Maybe you’ve been using Siri since it came out, but I haven’t. It’s much easier and natural to use on the Watch, especially if you get a hang of the commands and dictation. Learn a few and you’ll be good.
Stay casual. In my experience, even using Siri next to a busy road with the Watch down at below chest-height in a natural “watch checking” position produced good results. No need to raise it to your face. Plus: it looks kind of dorky to use it like a walkie-talkie.
Hint: the Watch is water resistant, so use it to check bus times, send messages, or whatever when you’re walking around in the rain. Guilt free.
Start with less. I only have 4 apps sending notifications to my Watch: Phone, Messages, Slack, and Sunrise. The goal should be to reduce the amount of times you check your phone for those important messages. Put your phone on the shelf at home, on your desk at work, or in your jacket at the restaurant and forget about it. The Watch makes notifications more of a passive experience, so take the time that you would normally be using checking your phone and, like, do whatever.
Time sensitive notifications work best. Notifications that you want to respond to immediately. If you’re an email person, sure put Mail there. If you’re big on Twitter, that’s cool. Twitterrific has a better Watch app, so you’ll want to get that too.
Turn off Activity notifications. I found the stand reminders and progress updates to be fairly annoying. If that’s you’re jam, and you don’t mind being prodded every hour to stand up if you’re being lazy, then sure turn that on. But you can always just check how you’re doing with your goals in Glances.
Turn off vibration and silence your phone. This is beautiful. Since you’ve set up the most important notifications to go to your watch, you can silence the more passive types going to your iPhone. The haptic feedback on the Watch is a much quieter, incognito way to receive notifications, so you’ll no longer annoy your neighbours with the loud vibration of your phone.
Go clean. I use Utility with the least amount of detail, showing battery life and weather at the top. Your Watch face will look like garbage with a bunch of things in each corner. If you do want more detail on the face use Modular, maybe Chronograph. Colour is great if you want a nice, clean look like Utility but a little bit bigger. Simple is alright, and looks neat with no detail as it blends in to the frame of the Watch. Motion and Astronomy are fun to show off. The others I’ve removed and forgotten about.
Different watch faces for different use cases. The Watch face names hint at this a little bit. I have a Chronograph Watch face that I use for timers or alarms. That’s all that’s on it. When I set a timer, I quickly switch faces to keep track of it and then when I’m done switch back to the chiller Utility, Colour, or whatever.
Switching faces is super easy. Press hard on the watch face to get to the picker. Swipe up on a face to remove it from your list— this makes it faster to go between the ones you actually use. You can always get them back by going to the end and tapping “New”.
Hint: you can tap on a piece of information on the watch face to quickly launch the related app. Awesome for Calendar or Weather.
Now Playing, Weather, Transit, Twitterrific, and the Settings Glances are the best. Clear isn’t bad. I wish Remote was available. But less is more here as it can take a second or two to swipe from one end to the other.
Hint: tap a Glance to quickly launch the app on your Watch.
Nike+ Running, Mint, Slack, Hue, Amazon, Clear, Transit, and Twitterrific are the most valuable right now in terms of third-party apps. NPR One is interesting, but essentially just a remote for the iPhone app. I don’t see the appeal of Instapaper, Instagram, Flipboard, and Twitter on the Apple Watch.
The Watch isn’t a consumption device. Use the bigger screen on your phone to read Twitter, catch up on Instapaper, or read your email. The Watch is more of a passive experience with the notifications, and excels most with small tasks that involve 1 or 2 actions when you’re trying to get shit done.
Battery life is surprising. Apple says 18 hours. I trust that. Even after a long day with a late night I had plenty of battery life left after using the Watch in — what I can assume will be — a pretty average amount of use for me. I have noticed a bit more drain of my iPhone’s battery, though, despite using it less. I assume it’s the constant Bluetooth connection.
Handoff is nice. If you close an app on your Watch (like I often do, for whatever reason), you have 15 seconds to open the app on your iPhone’s lock screen with Handoff. Plenty of time.
That’s pretty much it. Apple was right when they positioned this device as their most personal product yet. Having it on your wrist all day, ready to give you a tap at any time, is a completely different experience than a phone that’s in your pocket. So remember that and tweak your settings accordingly.