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The little things in the 2.0 Apple Watch update enhance the experience

October 21, 2015

Before the release of the 2.0 software update, there were a few tech writers like Troy Wolverton of the San Jose Mercury News who declared they had already abandoned the Apple Watch. In his article, Wolverton states that he does not have a compelling enough reason to keep it from gathering dust in his drawer, which is fair.

I continue to wear my Apple Watch and the 2.0 software update makes it just a little more enjoyable. Because I purchased it with purpose, it continues to be my primary piece of wearable tech.

Heart Rate Monitor

My main reason for purchasing an Apple Watch was for the heart rate monitor. Prior to purchasing the device, I used the Polar Heart Rate Monitor exclusively for endurance training. I wanted to have record over time of my average resting heart rate without having to continuously wear a chest strap. Because of some family history of heart disease, I wanted to be able to baseline my heart rate and use that data comparatively to get a feel for perceived overall health, energy and the effect of exercise and diet. I was able to do that after a month. I noticed that the weeks when the volume of exercise was increased coincided with a feeling of higher energy level and the days seemed to go by more quickly.

Activity Monitor

Using the Apple Watch as an activity monitor, I am also able to put numbers to my kinesthetic sense of health. Wearing the watch during exercise is a given but using it as much as possible gives me data on everyday activity, which may contribute to my overall health. For example, walking 1.5 miles to work counts toward my overall activity level, which is great, and so does walking a quarter mile to a client lunch. This enables me to determine if I should increase my activity in the evening or increase the intensity at the gym the next day. I enjoy the activity monitor because it has become a way to help gauge what an acceptable level of activity should look like over the course of a week or month. This combined with more comparison to my perceived level of energy has helped me to make adjustments and increases my motivation to be less sedentary.

It may be the case that the simplest changes can have the largest impact on my user experience.

Notification Triage

Every email, app notification, calendar reminder and text message at one point buzzed on my phone and took my attention away from the task at hand. One of the second-most important functions the Watch serves is to help determine which notifications are deserving of immediate attention. Junk email goes to the back of the line and work-related email to the front.

A buzzing of my phone in my pocket followed by the tapping of the Watch on my wrist tells me that I’ve just received email from the server at work. A glance tells me if I need to address it right away without pulling the phone from my pocket. When in company, I can promptly excuse myself from the conversation if required. Just a buzzing phone with no tap on the wrist tells me there isn’t an immediate need to look at the phone face and the task at hand can continue.

Of course, even looking at your Watch when in a conversation may seem rude so situational awareness is necessary when your wearable taps you for attention. But just knowing where a notification fits in your attention hierarchy when the task at hand is finished keeps me from incessantly pulling the phone out of my pocket just to see that someone commented on a Facebook post I’m tagged in or that an item similar to one I looked at on eBay over six months ago is now on the auction block.

Telling Time (and bringing a smile to my face every time I do it)

The Watch first and foremost is a time piece but Apple does a cool thing on it that doesn’t even happen on the iPhone 6s. In fact, it SHOULD happen on phones as well. Every moment I wake up the face and tell time, a different picture from my favorites folder is displayed. THIS is what brings a smile to my face. A different picture from my collection of favorites means I see the ultrasound of my daughter, my dog’s wet nose taking up half of the frame, and that time in Hawaii when my wife and I used our hands to put a heart around the moon. It’s kind of neat to think I am seeing both the past and present AT THE SAME TIME! Yes, pun intended, but I didn’t realize how much happiness this small feature brings to my interaction with the watch.

More software updates should hopefully make for a better user experience. In my case, the addition of the watch face option that allows me to see a different favorite picture whenever I check the time can have a noticeably dramatic effect on my mood. With such a small amount of real estate, it may be the case that the simplest changes can have the largest impact on my user experience.