Tag Archive for ‘watchOS 3’

Apple Watch Optimism

Despite a recent report of a major decrease in Apple Watch sales this year, I’m still very optimistic about the future of Apple’s wearable. The company introduced new models last month, the Series 1 and Series 2, alongside watchOS 3. And a key feature of the new OS is what I believe to be the real killer app for the Apple Watch.

On Monday, IDC reported that sales of smartwatches in third-quarter 2016 were down 51% from the same quarter in 2015. What has more people concerned, though, is that Apple Watch sales were down 71%. But this shouldn’t be alarming. Remember, the original Apple Watch shipped on April 24, 2015 while the Series 1 and 2 didn’t ship until September 16, 2016.

IDC is comparing Q3 2015 to Q3 2016 — the first full quarter with widespread availability of the original Apple Watch and a quarter that included just two weeks of sales from the Series 1 and Series 2. Products naturally have a large spike of sales at launch that slowly dwindles until they’re either discontinued or replaced by a successor. This is what I’d attribute the 71% sales drop to.

I have no reason to refute IDC’s numbers, but I think they’re painting an inaccurate picture of Apple’s success with the Watch. If Apple sells less Watch’s in the first full quarter after the Series 1 and 2 introduction than they did after the original Watch’s introduction, that’s when you should start to worry. But I don’t think that’s going to happen.

The Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2 are tremendous products and both of them have important roles in Apple’s lineup. The Series 1 serves as a low-cost introductory device — $80 cheaper than the original — that will help Apple increase the size of their customer base. The Series 2 includes GPS, which is a must-have feature for many runners.

But not only is Apple offering much better hardware, they’ve also fixed a lot of the software problems with watchOS 3. Faster app launching, more robust messaging, and Breathe contribute to a better overall experience for Watch owners. And then there’s the device’s new killer app — Activity Sharing.

It may have taken me a month to realize it, but Activity Sharing is the most important new feature in watchOS 3. It compels me to wear my Watch.

Before watchOS 3, I wore my Watch everyday in an effort to close my Activity rings. But it was always just for me. I would launch the Activity app on my iPhone and see all those closed rings — it was neat. But who would even know if I took it easy one day and missed all of my rings?

Activity Sharing is important because it brings accountability to the fitness features. I’m not just filling my rings because it makes the Activity app’s calendar view look neat, I’m filling my rings to keep up with my friends and allow myself a little bit of bragging rights.

Because of Activity Sharing, the first thing I do when I wake up is put on my Watch and the last thing I do for the day is place it on the charger. I don’t want my Watch to miss a single step. That little bit of extra time on my wrist could be the difference maker that puts me ahead of my friends in the Activity app’s Sharing tab.

I also think Activity Sharing has an additional benefit to Apple that might not be immediately apparent. Apple Watch owners now have a really good reason to encourage their friends and family to buy one for themselves. Because once you have a couple of friends to share your Activity with, you want to share with everyone you know.

And again, the new hardware and these compelling software features didn’t launch until about two weeks before the end of Q3. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I think the Apple Watch is going to sell incredibly well this holiday season. A 71% sales drop might sound terrifying to Apple Watch enthusiasts, but taken in context, I think there’s still plenty to be optimistic about.

My Apple Watch Setup

Earlier this month I saw a tweet from Mayur Dhaka, in which he mentions that he’d love to read about how Apple Watch owners manage their setup. I then noticed that Matt Birchler, the biggest Watch enthusiast I know, had shared his and I knew I had to do the same — if only because of my wacky app layout.

I saved Mayur’s tweet and Matt’s piece to Instapaper as a reminder to write about the topic. As these things tend to go, it took a couple weeks for them to resurface. But, the following is my Apple Watch setup.

Watch Faces and Complications

Apple Watch Faces, Modular and Utility

I have two Watch Faces that I use for different contexts. I have Modular, which I use while I’m at work, and Utility for everything else. I like Modular at work because it’s so data dense and glanceable. It gives me all the information that I need in large, clear type.

Utility is great for my time outside of work because of my differing priorities. I care much more about how attractive my Watch face is than the clarity of its complications. I’d rather have the time, displayed in a beautiful form, take up the bulk of my Watch’s screen than clutter the interface with a bunch of information. I still like having complications, but I don’t need them to be front-and-center, like they are with Modular.

I make use of the following complications:

The first three complications appear on both Faces. I consider these to be essential pieces of information that I want regardless of what context I’m in. Timer and Fantastical only appear on my Modular face. Fantastical is useful because I have reoccurring, work-related events on my calendar that I need to stay on top of and I frequently use the Timer to keep track of my breaks. The Sunrise/Sunset complication only appears on my Utility face and is invaluable for coordinating outdoor activities.

Dock and App Layout

Apple Watch Dock and App Layout

I’ve quickly taken to the Dock on watchOS 3. It’s a far better experience for opening apps than swimming through the sea of icons in the app launcher. Most of the apps I use regularly on my Watch already appear in complications, but there are certainly some that are a far better experience when they take over the whole screen.

Here’s what I currently have in my Dock:

These are my most-used, non-complication-worthy, apps. I could probably add a few more to the list, but I prefer to keep my Dock as small as possible. I’d rather not swipe through a dozen apps to get to the one I’m looking for. For me, seven apps in my Dock felt like a good balance between utility and usability.

As for my app layout, mine is a bit unconventional. I keep all of my apps in three rows, that extend to the left and right, with the Clock app in the center. This is the only way I’ve found that allows me to keep some semblance of organization inside of the terrible honeycomb icon interface. I can swipe to whatever app I need without ever feeling lost. I keep unused apps on the outskirts, followed by my complication and dock apps, with the everything else sitting near the center.

Function Strip ➝

Dr. Drang, on the rumored touch-sensitive OLED strip on the next MacBook Pro:

But there is this nagging thought in the back of my head. Can Apple pull this off? Does it still have the UX chops to figure out the right way to implement what could be a very powerful addition to the Mac? So much of what’s good about Apple products, both hardware and software, seems to be based on wise, user-centric decisions made years ago. Can it still make those decisions? […]

On the other hand, the story of watchOS 3 is an indication that Apple still has the goods, that it can still make good decisions, even if it means reversing much-hyped earlier decisions. That’s the Apple I hope to see in the new MacBook Pro.

Fixing Media Controls in watchOS 3 ➝

Matt Birchler:

My solution is pretty simple, and is a combination of watchOS 2’s glance as well as iOS 10’s new Control Center. Instead of having a Now Playing app on the watch, why not bake those controls into the watch’s Control Center? Swipe up on your watch face currently brings up Control Center, so just add the ability to swipe right on Control Center to bring up media controls.

For some reason I thought this was a feature of watchOS 3, but as it turns out, that’s not the case. Count me in with Matt, though, I hope Apple adds this before the final release. It’s a better implementation than forcing users into their dock and would bringfurther uniformity to iOS and watchOS.

With watchOS 3, Apple Watch Gets a Do-Over ➝

Jason Snell, referencing Craig Federighi’s comments on the most recent episode of The Talk Show:

You may not remember this, but before the Apple Watch came out, there were many rumors that it wasn’t able to get through a day without a charge. It’s clear that Apple made battery life a top priority, perhaps even the top priority: This thing better last all day. And so everyone was incredibly conservative with power and memory.

The result: They overshot. Most of the people I know now report that they end their day with their Apple Watches reporting 40 or 50 percent of remaining battery life. Federighi admitted that there was a lot of extra memory and battery life available to them when building watchOS 3, because they overshot so much. And that’s why watchOS seems almost impossibly better than watchOS 2, given that it’s running on the same hardware.

I had a hunch that this was the case and I’m more than happy to have it confirmed.