Apple Watch Series 4.0: They Finally Got It Right
I’ve come to resent having to carry my phone with me wherever I go.
It’s this large, bulky thing sitting in my front pocket that takes great pictures, it’s true, but most of the time just sits there, unused. I don’t even like to make calls with it anymore, the quality is so bad. If I want to read, or write, or watch a movie, I reach for my iPad.
So when Apple first announced the Watch, I was excited. Here was a chance to finally let it go, to be free of the phone.
And then they started describing the new Watch’s limitations. No cell service. No Siri without being near the phone. No text messaging without the phone. No…anything, really, without being near a phone.
Wasn’t till the Watch 3 that they made one that seemed to finally be an independent product. One that I could use to drop my phone habit.
But it was too bulky, the UI was too weird, and the watch interface itself wasn’t very responsive. I shelved the idea of getting one, and told myself to be patient.
That patience has finally paid off. Three weeks ago, I took the plunge, and bought a Series 4 Watch.
It’s exactly what I wanted from a mobile workout device. Finally, I can slip out the door in the morning and head out, unencumbered by any keys (we have an electronic deadbolt) or phone, and yet I’m never out of touch (I bought the Watch with cell service), and I always know exactly how far I’ve got left to go in my workout.
I don’t have to guess if I’ve been out at least 30 min. I don’t have to speculate about how long my route is. I can change my route on the fly, and still get the right amount of exercise. I’ve even been able to do some interval training – 3 min on, 2 min off – thanks to being able to time myself with the Watch.
I stopped taking calls on my phone. I just take them on my Watch, now, and no one seems to have noticed a difference.
Except me. Every time I take a call on my wrist, I feel like Batman.
You know, it’s just nice to be able to look at my wrist and know the date and time. No more fumbling to fish my phone out of my pocket.
Holy crap, this works so well. If I know I’m going somewhere that takes Apple Pay, I don’t need my phone or my wallet. It’s surprisingly liberating, to have such empty pockets.
Texting with Handwriting
Took a little getting used to writing with my fingertip, but now I don’t hesitate to write out a response to a text. Nothing near as fast as typing on the iPad, mind you, but the handwriting recognition is pretty good, and improves over time. And again, it’s so much more convenient than having to pull out my phone.
What Doesn't Work
I know, I know, everyone likes to complain about Siri. But while the speech recognition seems better on the Watch than on my iPhone (which, huh?), it’s just so frustrating to have it fail to do some (to me) basic things.
For example, you can’t add a reminder to anything but the default list. So if, like me, you keep track of your Groceries as a separate reminders list, you can’t add to it with Siri. Which means you can’t add to it with the Watch.
Siri also can’t take notes. Nevermind that Apple’s own Notes app is pretty well integrated into all their other OSes. It’s not even present on the Watch, let alone something you can tell Siri to just “take a note real quick” for you.
Siri can set a timer for you, though. I mean, that’s 2018 for you: robots that can set timers for you via your voice. Well done, Apple.
There’s no Lyft app. If you want to get a ride, you’re going to need your phone.
And the Uber app, while it exists, is broken. I made the mistake of going downtown without my phone, and had to have a friend call a Lyft for me to get home (like a barbarian!), because the Uber app insisted I needed to “setup a payment method” before I could use it (nevermind that I called an Uber to get down there, which presumably was paid for somehow).
So what seems like a natural fit for the watch (damn, I lost my phone somewhere, let me call a cab home) isn’t something Uber or Lyft cares about.
I’m keeping the Watch. It’s still not perfect, but it is ideal for most of the things I need it for: tracking exercise, staying in touch when I’m away from my desk, and leaving my phone at home.
It’s still frustrating that I have to manage the Watch itself (settings, notifications, etc) with my phone. And it’s weird that Siri can lookup the location of a random city in Norway, but can’t add “Apples” to a grocery list. But these are quibbles, and fixable ones at that.
Now I just need to get one of those new Mac Minis so I can start writing my own Watch apps…