Do you need an Apple watch in your life, as well as a computer and an iPhone? Susannah Taylor is using this tiny piece of tech to better herself, not just her work life. She kept a diary for a week...
My Apple watch is slowly but surely enhancing my life. How, you may ask? Well, for me it's not really about using it as a work tool. I could read my emails on it, I could receive text messages, I could add my Twitter/Instagram and Facebook feeds if I wanted to, but running a website like I do, I have enough work action coming through my computer and iPhone, let alone having my wrist pinging with it all too.
So then, what do I use my Apple watch for? Well, for me it’s all about using it for maximising the me-stuff in my life. Now that I’ve got used to it and downloaded the right apps (you do have to spend a bit of time learning what it can do), it’s a bit like a very small, stamp-sized PA. First thing in the morning it wakes me up with a friendly sounding alarm, and the daily activity tracker helps me make sure I’m doing enough movement in my day. Then, because I don’t have 30 minutes spare to sit still a week and OMMM, it’s also teaching me mindfulness in three minute bursts (see below) which doesn't sound like a lot, but for my brain, which hardly ever gets a chance to switch off, it is. Plus, thanks to the clever new app I’ve discovered called ‘Water Minder’ it’s the only thing I've tried that has actually ever made me drink more water.
I'll be honest, I've never used Siri on my iPhone before, but it seems that on the Apple watch, this imaginary digi person really comes into its own. Even the most critical of technology fans would have to admit that its ability to read whatever you ask it verbally and almost always give you a helpful answer back by text is ridiculously clever. Now that I've got over the embarrassment of talking to my wrist, I'm asking Siri to remind me of many things such as appointments (but only the ones I want it to), and even to call friends I haven’t spoken to in ages. All I have to do is hold the digital crown down and up comes a message 'What can I help you with?' I then say 'Hey, Siri, please remind me to call Milla at 3pm' and it damn well sends me a reminder. It’s even showing me how to get places when I get lost or reminding me to turn off the oven when I tell it to. All I have to say is ‘Hey Siri set me an alarm in 30 minutes’ and I know the supper won’t burn.
Brilliantly (and I think it’s worth getting the watch for this alone), I’m using my watch to pay contactlessly for things, from buses to lunch to cabs at the flick of a wrist, and since I’ve downloaded my music playlists from my computer, I am loving flicking through my itunes (which I listen to with wireless headphones) on my commute back from London.
As for the design, I've added an old-school brown leather strap, but I also have a lovely silver metal one and there are now a vast array of different coloured sports straps (see above) for those that like to sweat. I have even changed the screen to a constant stream of holiday images, which I thought I would find gimmicky, but I am loving being able to see my children on my wrist when I work a few hours from them most days (below, Oscar and I on holiday).
As more and more apps become compatible with the Apple watch, there are a million life-enhancing things you can use it for. The ones I use will barely scratch the surface of what it can do, but here is how it is enhancing my life for the better...
MONDAY - Working at home
6.30 am Apple watch wakes me up
You have to charge the Apple watch, which it does by my bed at night. I know, more cables, but wait - if you turn it on its side whilst it’s charging, the clock face turns into big time digits so I can wake in the night and check the time through blurry eyes before dropping back off to sleep. I have set the alarm to wake me at 6.30 which it does with a gentle donging sound.
7.30 am A reminder to drink water
One of my biggest health downfalls has always been that I just don’t drink enough water. However all this is now changing - I got told recently about an app called Water Minder which basically reminds me to keep drinking water throughout the day. Every few hours, an alert will pop up on my wrist telling me to get some water. On my phone it logs how much I have drunk per day. This is genuinely working and even better, my kids have made me download the app on their iPod Touches too.
5.30 HIIT training
My fitness trainer Steve Mellor of Freedom2Train has taught me something called an EMOM which is an intense blast of HIIT training you can do in the gym on your own. It stands for Every Minute On the Minute, where you do a set of exercises every minute for twenty minutes. I keep track of it on my Apple watch by setting the stopwatch (a great digital looking version of an old fashioned one). In fact I just say ‘Hey Siri, set the timer for 20 minutes’ and the timer will literally come up on my watch face set to 20 minutes. Now that's pretty clever (see below).
TUESDAY - Working in London
8 am Listen to music via Apple watch on train
I have all my music playlists now on my Apple watch and it’s an absolute joy to sit on the train and connect via bluetooth to my Beats wireless headphones and flick through my music. Understood, I could do this on my phone, but let’s face it there’s something pretty cool about being able to listen to hundreds of your favourite tracks from something the size of a stamp . Other commuters see me scrolling my watch face, and I feel pretty smug.
9am Ask Apple Watch for directions to Barry’s Bootcamp
I feel a bit Lara Croft asking my watch for directions, but if I bring up the Maps section and say ‘How do I get to Barry’s Bootcamp on Euston Road?’ it will bring me up the directions and talk me through getting there.
1pm Set a reminder for an editorial meeting at 3pm
I press the digital crown on the right of the watch and hold it for a second and the words come up on the screen ‘What can I help you with?’ I say ‘Hey Siri, can you set a reminder for my meeting at 3pm?’ (Getting so used to using Siri, I almost feel guilty for not saying please.) Sure enough at 3 pm, a message appears on my phone.
6pm Three minutes of mindfulness
In the past I have tried meditating but I find it incredibly hard to sit still for the length of time required ( I would often fall asleep sitting up!). However I got introduced to an app that now works with the Apple watch called ‘3 Minute Mindfulness’. There is an extremely simple moving dial that rotates on the screen telling you breathe in for half of it and breathe out for the other half. It’s incredible how you really do watch the dial to the end and focus for just a few minutes. I end up doing it three times!
WEDNESDAY - Working in London
5.45 Alarm wakes me up for training
On Wednesday mornings I go into London for fitness training before I go to the office. I hate waking up this early - anything with a ‘5’ in front of it is a bit out of bounds for me. My alarm on my watch has been set to 5.45 am on a wednesday weekly (note to self: must remember to turn it off if I go on holiday).
7.30 Pay for tube via my Apple watch
I get on the tube at Marylebone station to discover that my oyster card has run out and I only have twenty minutes to get to training. I have registered Apple Pay on my watch, so all I have to do is double click the bottom right hand button on the side of the watch and an image of my debit card comes up (it is literally my card that shows with some of the numbers blanked out for security reasons). I hover it over the Oyster reader and the gates swing open without me having to queue for a ticket. I look around in the hope that someone saw that.
8 am Training with Freedom2Train
The Activity Tracker is one of my most used functions on my watch, but you have to use for a few weeks to get a handle on it. If I click on the little green man on my Apple watch face I can monitor all types of exercise from walking to outdoor running, indoor running, rowing etc. ‘Other’ monitors training sessions like I do on Wednesday mornings that involve various resistance training exercises. The tracker has my weight, height, sex, and other details and monitors movement and heart rate through very clever sensors on the back of the watch. At the end of a workout it will tell me my distance, time and calories burnt on the face amongst other clever things and this info will automatically update in my daily tracker on my iPhone. You can then monitor a whole month or week of exercise and movement on your phone. Cleverly (this is Apple remember, it doesn’t stop there), it monitors your entire day of activity too - how many times you stand up, the calories you burn at rest and how many you burn in exercise (it can tell when you’re exercising hard). Thanks to recent updates there are also other apps now for running fanatics such as Runkeeper and Runtastic that are totally compatible with your activity tracker and will come up in your daily feed.
3pm Ask Siri for directions to Great Ormond Street
I have a meeting at Great Ormond Street regarding some charity work I’m helping with and come out of the tube not knowing where I am. I hold down the digital crown on the side of the watch and ask Siri how to get there. Suddenly the maps app opens and it brings up the directions. Embarrassingly, a woman next to me heard me talking into it and says ‘I’m going that way you can follow me.’ When I tell her I was talking to my watch to ask it directions, she laughs nervously. I think she thinks I'm a weirdo.
6pm I check my activity tracker
On the train home I check how well I’ve done on moving for today. The red ring on today’s tracker which monitors fast movement says I have burnt 629 out of the 600 calories goal I set daily. Yeah. Must have been the morning power sesh.
7pm Talk to my husband on my way home whilst in the car
You can talk to people on loud speaker on your Apple Watch. I get into the car exhausted at Bicester station and can’t be bothered to get my phone out of my bag. I ask Siri to call Chris and a message appears on the screen 'Do you mean Chris Evans-Pollard' I tap yes and end up talking to Chris as I drive out of the station telling him I’ll be home in fifteen minutes.
THURSDAY - Working at Soho Farmhouse, Oxfordshire
I’m a founder member at the new Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire, and after I drop my children off at school (which is in the same village), I will go there to work.
10.30 House Ride at Soho Farmhouse
I break from working to go to the spin class - Soho House’s version of Soul Cycle. I monitor my workout on my watch and it tells me I have burnt 400 calories. Whoop! I do a vitual high five.
2pm Clean up my inbox
Whilst I’m not that keen on reading emails on my watch (obviously it’s hard reading emails on a teeny screen), it’s easy to flick through my inbox on my watch and delete any junk. All you have to do is swipe the emails to the left.
4pm Set a reminder to place an ad on Facebook for a nanny
My nanny has recently left us after 5 years and I need to find a new one. I ask Siri to remind me to place an ad in the local paper later that day. It comes up with a message on the screen to tell me a reminder has been set for one hour. I wonder if it really will, but sure enough, at 5pm it comes up on my iPhone: “Reminder, place ad."
FRIDAY - Working in London
3.30pm Pay for bus with watch
I still haven’t had a minute to buy a new Oyster card and I catch a bus on the Harrow Road only to have my Oyster card rejected. For one second I think I may have to get off and get a cab but then think about trying my watch on the reader. BEEP! Apple Pay saves the day. The driver gives me a thumbs up.
4.30pm Training session
I set my watch to ‘other workout’ and burn 450 calories in a session. I dream about the gin and tonic I’ve earnt when I get home.
SATURDAY - Home life
9.30 - I download Pocket Yoga
I love yoga but never have time to get to a class, however this may just change things. Pocket Yoga is an app that has become compatible with the Apple Watch that is a bit like having a private yoga teacher on your wrist. There are various sequences to choose from: ‘Ocean’ for a high intensity practise, ‘Desert’ for unwinding, ‘Mountain’ for when you want to feel strong, and two Sun Salutation routines. A woman’s voice talks you through the poses and there is an illustrated image of a woman moving though each pose clearly on my watch. Having done a fair bit of yoga in the past, it is very thorough.
I take a picture of myself doing yoga for my Instagram account using my watch - if you click on the photo icon, it opens up the photo screen on your iPhone so you can point your phone at you from afar and then click on your watch face remotely to take a picture. Perfect for selfie-addicts.
3.30 Ask watch how to make an apple pie
I have people coming for lunch on Sunday and need an apple pie recipe. I ask ‘Hey Siri, how do you make an Apple pie?’. Siri responds that it will pass my message onto my iPhone. I don’t know what this means, but when I look at my phone, an apple pie recipe from the internet comes up. Now that’s pretty clever right?
SUNDAY - Home life
9am Go for a run with the Runkeeper app
I have recently downloaded Runkeeper as I’d like to train for a 10k. This app (which already has 45 million users) is now also designed to work in sync with the Activity Tracker on the Apple watch, and when I go to my day’s movement rings after running, I see it has logged my run. The app tracks distance, speed, hills, has GPS, logs your weekly workouts, will help you set goals and has cute, inspiring visuals - you can even set up a goal with a friend so you are both on the app together. Whilst you do have to have your Apple watch somewhere on your body, you can just look at your wrist as you run to check distance, pace and heart rate. After only briefly using this app I can see is going to be a gamechanger for me.
1pm Cook and roast and set the timer for the apple pie
When friends come over I have a habit of getting wrapped up in conversation (and glasses of wine!) and have been known to forget about the food in the oven. This time, I ask Siri to set an alarm for 2pm which will alert me when my apple pie is cooked. It does and it sure tastes AMAZING. Thank you Apple.
Find out more about the apps for the Apple watch here. The Apple Watch starts from £299 and is available from Apple