APPLE WATCH SERIES 3: MY TAKE

I’ll confess, I was not a fan of Apple Watch Series 1. At all. There was very little I liked about it and for those of you who know what an Apple fanboy I am, know that’s hard for me to admit. It was very slow and confusing to use. I wasn’t the only one who felt that it was a beta product at best and to be honest, I was really surprised that Apple released it when they did. Steve Jobs never would have allowed that to happen.

I gave it a shot for a few months and really tried my best — I wanted to like the thing — but after a period of time, I put it on my night table, never to be worn again until I finally gave it to my son. I will add that I tried using it singularly as a music device while running — a newfangled iPod if you will — but the interface was simply too janky. We’ll get back to that idea shortly.

I sat out version 2 too, something I rarely do, though I thought that the GPS chip was very much a step in the right direction in terms of untethering the watch from the iPhone and at minimum, allowing one to run without a phone. But, I decided to sit it out because I was (and am, today) very pleased with my Garmin Fenix.

But the Series 3 announcement stood out to me in a big way; it’s almost like that product was designed for me specifically. While I don’t think LTE in a watch really matters to 99 percent of the phone carrying population, it does matter a great deal to me. The fact that I can stay connected and receive important calls and/or text while running while no longer having to carry my bulky iPhone 7 Plus is an absolute game changer. And the fact that it plays music almost seamlessly and also (will eventually) enable me to access Apple’s entire iTunes library — that too is a big deal for us runners. It made the decision to buy one a near no brainer for me. And to be honest, I was more excited about the watch than I was about the new iPhones.

So, I got mine (42 mm silver, aluminum) on Friday (I am glad I woke up at midnight to preorder and they seem to be pretty sold out)and have been using it pretty vigorously since. My MAJOR LTE activation issues aside I’ve been very, very impressed

And for the record — the activation issue was nothing to scoff at. I came very close to returning it and just being done with it all. AT&T customer service is a story for another day. It’s just terrible. But — their in person staff was equally helpful and finally helped me to resolve the issues after only about four hours or so on the phone in customer service hell.

Back to the watch. As a watch guy who owns more watches than he is proud to admit, I say this: the Swiss watch industry should be afraid. Very afraid. This device has come so far along, it’s scary. It’s fast as hell and the OS had made a radical leap forward in terms of both features and more importantly, use ability.

In a nutshell, I love the damn thing and I’m fearful I might not be revisiting my other watches for a long while.

Here’s an example of how I used the watch today:

I woke up and used it for a run. I simultaneously used Strava for the running aspect and listened to a playlist. During the call I responded to two texts via Siri, which works amazingly well. I went to the office and immediately jumped into a three hour client meeting. I was able to be engaged in the client meeting but was able to surreptitiously remain connected via discrete glances at my texts. I saw a very important call from a family member and was able to step outside and make a quick return call — using the watch (and AirPods). I then headed to the airport from the office and used the watch for directions. Looking at my phone was far easier than a phone. At the airport I — you guessed it — used the Southwest phone app to check in.

And it’s only 4:30. I’m in the air heading to Denver for a meeting, and once I land I will try using the watch to hail on Uber to my hotel. You get my point: it offers fairly valuable (to me, anyway) all-day utility.

It’s not perfect, but it’s getting close. For example, I wish battery life was better (don’t we all, with all of our devices). I’d use it for runs of 6 to *maybe* ten miles, but not longer than that. For long runs I will stick to my Garmin which has both a better battery and more accessible data fields. However, I suspect I will take the Apple watch on virtually every run I go on. If I don’t use it for running per se, I will as both a connected device (again, so I can get messages, calls etc) and as a music device. And yes, that means I will be the guy wearing two running watches. Dorky as hell, I know — but better than carrying a phone and iPad and connected EarPods.

So, if you’re thinking of an Apple Watch, I give it two thumbs up but with the caveat that outside of us fairly hard core runners, I really don’t know why anyone would need the LTE feature. But even taking LTE out of the equation, it’s a winner.

There’s no question that this is the watch Apple should have introduced from the beginning, but that’s not how they roll. They always need to have a migration path and typically, they nail it in version 3. In my studied experience (as relates to Apple products, anyway), that’s definitely the case in this instance.

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