They Got Me Again: A Skeptics Experience With The Apple Watch 4

words:: Ben Osborne photos:: Mirae Campbell

I’ll admit, I was skeptical. In a world that has been totally consumed by touchscreens and social media, I’ve tried hard—but usually not successfully—to disconnect and go the opposite way. In reality, I am no different than any other millennial, constantly pulling my phone out during conversation to read the next text message, scroll through Instagram, or check the score of the game. But nonetheless I love the idea of disconnecting, and always try my hardest to put the phone down.

So, when I first saw that Apple was coming out with a watch years ago, I was cynical. There was nothing a person like me could use the Apple Watch for, I thought. Deep down, I definitely wanted to give one a try—but I wasn’t sure what it would be worth to me. So, the easiest route was denial.

As I was slowly introduced to the Apple’s newest gadget, I learned about it’s functionality for exercise.  One of the most landscape-altering features of the Apple Watch is it’s ability to track workouts just like other big-name brand watches with a specialized program for everything from Yoga to Rowing. With the ability to track calories burned, heart rate, and map out your entire activity, there is no denying the utility of a watch for runners, hikers, and so on—even for a skeptic. Still, I brushed these and most of the features I had heard about as unnecessary add-ons that would only complicate my lifestyle. But that didn’t mean I didn’t respect the technology.

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Snowboarding at Whistler Blackcomb
Nothing is better than getting away from screens—but that doesn’t mean they aren’t necessary.

On the exercise side of things, the statistics gathered by the workout app are accurate and informative. So accurate in fact, that ultra marathoner, Canadian Geographic Adventurer, and all-around extraordinary human being Ray Zahab uses the watch to help guide his high-intensity lifestyle. For someone who has run across the Sahara desert and been on multiple groundbreaking expeditions, the information he gets from the watch is vital. The calorie tracker allows Ray to carefully monitor each and every calorie burned, allowing him to perfectly replenish and be ready for another vigorous workout the next day. One of my inner skepticisms was the Apple Watch’s ability to accurately track calories burned, but that quickly faded when I saw an expert like Ray using it as his go-to watch.

But while I was impressed, this still wasn’t enough for me to be convinced—I don’t track my calories, nor do I intend to—not that there is anything wrong with doing so. But, there had to be something that would draw me in, as Apple always seems to hit the nail on the head in some way or another.

The Deal Breaker

No more of this on the slopes— or anywhere, really.

For myself, the best application of the watch is much simpler—it gives me the ability to leave the phone at home. As skeptical as I was, when I learned I would be able to leave my phone at home and be connected without having the lure of the screen burning a hole in my pocket, I was genuinely excited. For a simple addition to your cell phone plan, the phone can run off of your cell signal, allowing you to be connected just through your watch and nothing else.

For someone who is constantly trying to find ways of looking at their phone less, but needs to be connected in some way, this was something I could latch on to. With the combination of a pair of AirPods and the Apple Watch, my dreams of connected separation came true. With my AirPods in my pocket and my watch on my wrist. I can answer vital calls, texts, and emails, but the lure of the touchscreen is left at home. While the world around me is completely digitally enmeshed, it’s nice to be able to achieve a level of disconnection once in a while, and the Apple Watch certainly allows for that.

Snoww

Along with the ability to leave the phone at home, the opportunity to take advantage of the one of a kind Snoww app was another huge advantage of the watch. With an easy interface, the app is inviting to luddites like myself. With an easy press of just a few buttons, users can track the numbers of runs on the hill, vertical feet/meters skied, maximum speed, their friends, and much more.

“We designed snoww thinking about quick interactions and glances while out on the mountain so these updates have helped us make it easy to record accurate, relevant metrics as well as create a fun and social experience for our users.”, says Eddy Healey, developer of Snoww.

Using apple watch on Whistler Blackcomb
The Walkie-Talkie feature, along with the Snoww app can certainly change your time with friends on the mountain.

The app’s Facebook-like style social aspect is entertaining, allowing friends to follow each other and see what they have been up to on the mountain. The ease of turning on the app is attractive to any user, and the statistics are simple yet relevant. Developed by a skier who, after spending the winter in Revelstoke realized he wanted a way to track his days, the app serves its purpose effectively.

Other Activities With The Watch

On top of it’s utility on the mountain, the app is great for a variety of workouts, and with each edition Apple has introduced new features—the fourth and most recent model is no exception.

Running

— New to watch OS 5 is Automatic Workout Detection, so Apple Watch will alert to select a workout (including when running) and even gives credit for the exercise already done. It will also remind users to end the workout, in case they get distracted when cooling down.

— Advanced running features include alerts that track cadence to see steps per minute, and pace, where users choose a target pace and Apple Watch alerts with a tap to signal if they are behind or ahead of where they want to be. Rolling mile pace shows split for the preceding kilometre at any time.

— Other super helpful features to utilize on the trails is Walkie Talkie, where users communicate watch-to-watch with quick verbal messages.

New Workouts

— Whether it’s training for a marathon or swimming laps at the pool, Apple Watch Series 4 has something for everyone. Now including yoga and hiking, the Workout app works every way you want to exercise. You can set individual goals, measure your calorie burn, and track your progress over time in the Activity app on your iPhone.

— With watchOS 5, Apple Watch gives you the most accurate metrics, like calorie burn with an all-new Yoga workout.

— In your session, you also used the Breathe app.

It’s Okay To Admit When You’re Wrong

After just a few days of using the watch, the unbridled freedom was both refreshing and convenient. My scepticism was once again trumped, and the ease of usage in their newest piece of technology, along with usable applications and surprising features left me enjoying a new product in a way I certainly didn’t expect. If nothing else, my experience with the Apple Watch is just another reminder to always keep an open mind, no matter the situation. -ML

 

 

 

 

 

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