Apple Watch for Students: Update One Year Later

Apple Watch for Students: Update One Year Later

With the one-year anniversary of the release of the Apple Watch and its recently discounted price at Best Buy ($250 at the time of this post), I figure now is a good time to update my initial review of the Apple Watch for Students.

I use the watch more now than I did when I first got it. The Watch OS 2.0 update made the watch a more pleasurable experience with the most notable changes including: the ability to add non-native apps to the home screen, improved battery life, and Nightstand mode - to view the time, date and alarm while charging. The battery lasts me anywhere from a day to a-day-and-a-half.

I also made a few tweaks to the watch to make it more suitable to my needs.

  1. I swapped out the white Apple watch band for a black Spigen watch band with a more rugged look. It doesn't show smudges, it breaths better than the original band, and looks a bit less conspicuous. If you purchase this band, make sure you buy the right size for your watch (38mm or 42mm).

  2. I curated the notifications on my watch so there are no more annoying reminders to stand up and walk around.

  3. Finally, the recent requirement to insert chip-enabled credit cards for purchases has become an annoyance. In response, Apple Pay on the watch has become my preferred method of choice - when it's available and when it works.

With that said, there are still a few annoyances with the Apple Watch that I haven't been able to reconcile.

  1. I somehow manage to accidentally trigger screenshots of my watch which means random photos of my watch face appear on my phone's camera roll. I still don't know what I'm doing to cause this or how to stop it.

  2. Adding and listening to music on the watch is still convoluted. You can only download playlists (not individual songs) and it's a pain to pair and unpair my bluetooth headphones every time I swap between the watch and the phone.

  3. I travel a lot and putting my phone in Airplane mode triggers Airplane mode on the watch as well. But when I disable Airplane mode on my phone, I have to switch off Airplane mode on my watch separately. Not a major issue but an issue nonetheless.

Final verdict: I still don't think that Apple Watch is necessary for most students, although it is a cool gadget. If you are thinking about buying one, I would wait until WWDC on June 13. MacRumors speculates a new watch will be announced. I'm hoping it will include waterproofing, GPS, and better fitness tracking, but there are no guarantees.

With that said, Best Buy recently discounted their Jawbone UP2 to $20 and I'm using it as my default fitness and sleep tracker. Unfortunately, the price is back up to $50 at the time of this post - still a discount from the original $100 asking price. Unlike the Apple Watch I can wear it in the shower, the battery lasts about 9 days and it looks like a minimalist bracelet. For a review of the Jawbone UP2 check out these YouTube reviews from JimsReviewRoom and Rizknows. If you're interested seeing a review of how I'm using the Jawbone UP2 as an active student, let me know in the comments below.

What are your impressions of the Apple Watch? Leave a comment below.

Apple Watch for Students

Best Buy is slated to start selling the Apple Watch on August 7 and as a proud owner–and a Professional Student–I figured it’s only fitting to throw in my two cents. This is not a full review1 but a look at the watch from a student’s perspective.

First, a moment of honesty. I’ll start by saying no one NEEDS an Apple Watch, but then again we buy a lot of things we don’t really need. With the way my bank account is set up…I had no intentions of purchasing this sleek $399 piece of equipment. Thankfully the Apple gods were gazing down upon me and I received the 42mm Apple Watch Sport as a birthday present (a very, very nice present). I strapped it on my wrist and for the last month I’ve been testing it out, around the city, at the airport, on campus…everywhere.

So is it worth it? If you want the answer now, scroll down to the bottom. I think a better question to ask would be, How has it altered my life as a student? Allow me to explain:

  1. I feel much more comfortable stepping away from my phone. Before I got the watch, my phone was either in my pocket or somewhere close within my line of site. Now I find myself leaving my phone in the other room or on the charger most of the day. I’ve accidentally left my phone at home a couple times since I got the watch.

  2. I have a new relationship with Siri. Dictation is great on the watch (better than I remember on the phone although I never really used siri on the phone much) and dictating short notes, reminders, and new events on the watch is a joy. However, I wouldn’t recommend dictating longer notes just because formating and spelling will likely be an issue no matter where you dictate.

  3. I’ve started using my old apps in new ways. The most commonly used apps on the watch are Calendar, Drafts, Passbook, Starbucks, American Airlines, iMessage, Dark Sky, and Todoist.

    a. Siri - As mentioned earlier, I dictate everything through Siri.

    b. Passbook, Starbucks, American Airlines, Apple Pay - I use the watch app to scan my QR code (boarding passes, rewards cards…).

    c. iMessage - My most used app, it notifies me when I get a message and I can respond with a canned responses (amazingly Siri provides unique responses that logically answer certain questions you receive), dictated messages, or a voice message.

    d. Dark Sky - Notifies me of bad weather, usually 10–15 minutes in advance.

    e. Todoist - My todo app of choice, for the first time I’ve started using Location-based reminders. Now when I arrive at the library I get a tap on my wrist with all the things I need to do at the library, including the call numbers for the books I need to check out.

While this is all great. The watch is far from perfect. A few issues I’ve noticed so far:

  1. The Activity App gets annoying quickly and keeps telling me to stand. I’m a student, I sit in front of books and computer screens for hours at a time.

  2. You will need an iPhone. The apple watch comes with bluetooth but needs your iPhone to receive notifications, connect to the phone network, and access GPS.

  3. Anticipate charging your phone every night, if you dont already. I used to only turn on bluetooth once in a blue moon but now that I have the watch, I need to leave my bluetooth on all day. It drains my battery much quicker, although with the iPhone 5s I can still go a full day and night with a single charge.

  4. Third-party app aren’t as independent as I’d like. While I can download and play music from my watch independent of the phone with bluetooth headphones, workout apps still need the phone nearby to adequately track my running statistics.

  5. Finally, my analog watches have become almost obsolete. I can still wear them but it feels weird knowing that I left a perfectly good Apple Watch sitting at home.

The final verdict: I would wait until the WatchOS 2 update drops this Fall before making the decision. As a student, the Apple Watch hasn’t dramatically changed the way I handle school related affairs and as a fitness tracker I would say that the Fitbit is a better device.2 The Apple Watch, however is a nice piece of hardware and there are a lot of anticipated future updates.

What’s been your experience with the Apple Watch? Are there any burning questions? Please share.

  1. For a more complete review of the Apple Watch check out The Wirecutter’s review.  ↩

  2. The Fitbit is slimmer, less conspicuous and doesn’t sweat as much as the Apple Watch. The Fitbit app also provides a much better overview of steps and daily/weekly fitness than the Activity App  ↩

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