An Apple Watch Day

I currently use a simple fitness tracker and that has helped me to understand where the Apple Watch might fit in my life; it has also shown me where my personal pain points might be.

When I moved to Madison, WI almost exactly one year ago, I wanted to better track my activity in this new place. Walking across campus for meetings, being in a place where I wouldn’t normally need a car—where public transit, walking, and cycling are natural ways of life— pushed me to look into activity tracking in a more serious way than I had before.

I knew then that the Apple Watch might be on the horizon, but I also knew that I didn’t want to wait to begin capturing data. After looking into the different options at the time, I settled on the Misfit Shine. The Shine didn’t have the breadth of features that other wearables on the market had at the time, but what it did, it did well and with style—a very Apple-esque solution. One of the Shine’s biggest advantages in my mind was the use of watch batteries to get rid of the need to charge the device. The idea of charging yet another device was not something to which I looked forward.

The Shine I bought came only with a magnetic clasp that allows the user to place the Shine anywhere one can place a pedometer. Another virtue of the Shine was the fact that it could better track the user’s fitness based on where it was located on the body. Going for a bike ride? Attach the shine to a shoe. Swimming? Put it on a wrist. Wearing the device to a gathering? Use it as a tie clip or purchase one of many accessories to dress” it up: a pendant or a leather strap, perhaps. I did purchase one such accessory: a sport band, so that I might wear it as a watch. However, I never used that accessory until recently, when I decided to see if I could in fact get used to a watch on my wrist again.1 I have since left the Shine in place on my wrist.

The move to put the Shine on my wrist was, of course, a calculated one that had everything to do with the Apple Watch. I immediately started to realize that I look at my wrist often when there is something positioned there, even when the item on my wrist tells me nothing. As I looked at my wrist, I thought this might be a good thought experiment to deduce the utility of an Apple Watch. Much like Benjamin Brooks’ experiment with an iPad (work) Week, I decided to use what I currently know about the Apple Watch’s functionality and anecdotally discuss my potential Apple Watch Day.

First thing, I wake up to my iPhone alarm or my wife, my dog, or my child, whichever comes first. Ideally I get up with whatever has awoken me. Otherwise, I hit snooze. Given the fact that my Watch had to be charged last night, I take it off the charger and put it on my wrist, checking that it is in fact charged. I check the time for no apparent reason.

Approximately fifteen minutes after I get up, whatever time that actually is, the dog is fed and outside, the water is prepping for coffee, and I am prepping the baby toddler food and adult lunches. I check my wrist for no other apparent reason, but I see I have a notification from my weather app, telling me today’s temp and conditions. I have set this notification up to know how to dress and prep once I get everyone out the door this morning.

Approximately an hour later, everyone is out the door and I again check my wrist for the weather just in case a natural disaster has occurred of which I am as of yet unaware. Seeing no change, I go about getting ready for work. At this point, I am interested in whether my bus is on time, so I check the transit app on my wrist. The bus is on time and I am running late. So I rush to get out the door.

(Oops! I made the bus, but forgot to turn the heat down; I can set my thermostat as away and turn down the temperature from my watch.)

I am now off the bus and checking my wrist for no apparent reason on my walk to the office. I decide to check my activity scores for the day so far and find I am right where I normally am at this point in the day—far from my final goal. I get into the office and receive a location-based reminder notification at my wrist that I must have set up yesterday. I go about my work day.

During my work day, I use Drafts, Tally, and Launch Center Pro, since these apps” were out for the Watch on day one. I have Evernote, Twitter, Facebook, and other apps installed” on the Watch, but normally don’t see a use for them since I am at my computer all day. I am pretty active during the work day, so the activity app is no longer a portent. I use the transit app to continue my evening activities and send a quick message from my wrist to Lexi that I’m on my way.

(Sidenote: most of my work day, I stand at my desk with computer and phone in hand. I assume that I will use the Watch most when it is more convenient, such as a project where I must be walking while taking down information. I assume other uses will present themselves, but knowing that I use the aforementioned apps on my phone everyday, makes me think I will use them on the Watch as well.)

I have a couple errands to run before going home. I go to the YMCA for a quick workout; the Watch cannot yet replace my ID card for this, so I still have a physical keychain card. I meet my activity goals for the day. I have to stop by Whole Foods for a couple things; I use Reminders for my grocery list and ApplePay at checkout. Whole Foods has an app, but again the utility is minimal for me.

Home again. On the way, I make sure that the temperature at the house will be comfortable. I have checked the time throughout the day and the Watch battery still seems to be in good condition. I use the Watch to control the Apple TV for background music during dinner and entertainment afterward.

Getting ready for bed, I wish that I didn’t have to charge the Watch, given that there is an app to track sleep that seems useless if you can’t wear the Watch to bed. Either way, I take the Watch off, plug it in, and prepare for another day.

When I first wrote the above ideas down, it was well before all the apps around had started to release their updates, so I kept the apps in use purposefully vague (except for the few that have been upfront about Apple Watch support). Yesterday, the updates started to roll out in numbers and I am happy to say that my favorite transit app has announced and release their Apple Watch app. Macrumors has a running list of such apps that already have updates out for the Apple Watch and excitement is building. Here’s hoping that more and more of my favorite apps can take advantage of this new platform and form factor in fascinating ways.

  1. I wore a watch pretty consistently in high school and college because I liked it as part of my style”. I was never one to spend a lot of money on a watch, but I enjoyed the idea of a watch; in some ways, I still do.

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The Challenges of 2020

TL;DR: Follow this link.

One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.

My wife and I meet with my home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.

I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.

In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.

These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.

I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:

Thanks to a $10,000 matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our 2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.

KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.

Thank you for your consideration.