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Watch and learn: we spent a day wearing the Apple Watch

Posted at 12:30 pm, April 19, 2015 in Shopping & Style, Technology
apple watch

The much-anticipated Apple Watch has almost arrived. It looks after David Phelan for a day in London: waking him up with butterflies, leading him by the wrist to a meeting and giving him a workout as a tiny personal trainer.


My iPhone alarm wakes me and I lift my Apple Watch off its charge cable. Animated butterflies are fluttering across its face, but I give them the digital swat ñ you don’t get the must-have gadget-of-the-moment for its decorative niceties. I change the display to show my next calendar appointment. Like most of the watch’s functions, this relies on the companionship of my iPhone to work. But fear not, it can still tell the time on its own, no sweat.


Only 45 minutes until my first appointment, reminds my wrist-bound PA. The reminder comes courtesy of the watch’s ‘Taptic Engine’: a vibration so subtle it feels like someone’s gently tapping you on the wrist. It’s friendly, rather than creepy. But if you prefer, grandad, it can be accompanied by an old-fashioned audible alert.


No sign of rain, so I walk to my meeting, the destination of which I read out to the watch. It shows a map and taps my wrist as I’m approaching a junction, with a simple tap for left and a busier tap for right. It’s like having a guide dog and 20/20 vision all at once. I don’t have to take my iPhone out of my pocket to see where I’m going, which could come in handy if you’re finding your way through a sketchy part of the city late at night.


Darn, I’ve just realised I can use this walk as part of today’s exercise – one of the watch’s key features (it’s big on fitness). I tap the Workout app, choose ‘outdoor walk’ and we’re off. The watch counts my steps and uses the iPhone’s GPS for accuracy, while the app measures my heart rate with the sensor on the back of the watch.


I found the meeting! Well, the watch did. I tap ‘do not disturb’ and it puts both watch and iPhone into the same mode – one that prevents interruptions from calls and other notifications (except alarms).


Must get back to the office, now. Thankfully, Citymapper is compatible with the watch. But, like most watch apps, it’s designed for quick use rather than detailed interaction, so offers to get me to ‘work’, ‘home’ or another saved destination. I choose ‘work’ and it instantly teleports me back to the Time Out office. Just kidding – we’re not there yet, but it does helpfully guide me to the nearest bus stop.


A call comes in, ringing simultaneously on the watch and phone. I answer on the watch, imagining myself as a Secret Service agent as I murmur into my wrist: ‘Yes, I’ll pick up avocados on the way home…Mr President.’


I spend lunchtime at the gym, using Workout on the cycling machine. The watch is big on rewards ñ hit a target and you get a little badge. It sounds childish, but they’re quite addictive. Each Monday the watch tells you how your exercise regime went last week and offers suggestions for the next. I remember (with my boring old human brain) that I need milk, so I use Siri, the voice-controlled feature, to remind me to buy some when I get back to work.


My wrist throbs as I’m walking back to Time Out and the milk reminder pops up.


Another wrist tap and another nudge about my dairy needs, this time accompanied by a text. ‘Do I want to have dinner at 7.30pm or 8pm?’ it asks. The watch suggests responses: ‘7.30pm’, ‘8pm’ or ‘not sure’, so I select ‘7.30pm’. But I also have the choice to dictate my own message via Siri, to be sent as text or a sound file.


I’ve been sitting down for an hour so the watch reminds me to walk around for at least one minute – it does this every hour if I haven’t been active. Is it annoying? A little. But I’m happy to oblige as a) it’s good for me and b) it bags me another fitness badge. Score!


Work’s done for the day and I need a cab to take me to dinner. Both Hailo and Uber have watch apps, so my journey is booked in just a few taps.


After a busy day, the watch battery is still going on 22 percent ñ I wish I had that much energy left. As I settle down for the night, I lay my handy companion in its magnetic cradle for a hard-earned charge, preparing it for another full day tomorrow…Damn it, I forgot the milk.

Don’t fancy shelling out for an Apple Watch? Here’s five life hack apps from London startups 

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