The Apple Fitness Tracker

Recently, I was reading the wonderful work of Benjamin Brooks. In a recent post, I learned that he at some point in the past had stopped wearing his Apple Watch full time. Unsurprisingly, I was critical of much of the post that followed.

As the week went on I felt like I just didn’t get the appeal of the Apple Watch over my many other watches — for one it doesn’t look nearly as good, but mostly it wasn’t doing anything for me. And then I went to the conference I mentioned above, and during that conference I remembered just why I love the Apple Watch.

My biggest critique of the post as it stands is the sense that I get that Ben’s lack of enthusiasm for the Apple Watch—aside from his preference in aesthetic toward traditional watch styles—comes from a lack of creativity and essentiality with how he uses the device.1

Highly Curated

I am a serial app deletist. I’m always looking for ways to optimize my setup, seeking out efficiency and simplicity. I download, try, and delete apps every single day in the hope that I will find the perfect setup. The best calendar app, weather app, etc. and only have the best apps installed that I want for work (or play). With the Apple Watch, it comes out in the form of a highly curated set of watch faces, complications, workflows, applications, and dock configurations.

I was late to the smartwatch game and preferred Pebble initially due to its price and always-on screen, but in October 2016 (and technically before that), it was clear to me that Pebble was not moving fast enough to catch up to the functionality of the Apple Watch. I promptly sold my Pebble, bought an Apple Watch, and looked on sadly as Pebble was dismantled.

All of that being said, the Pebble is the device that got me interested in smart wearables in general and gave me a good base line as to the best uses for such devices, a list which is often parroted: notifications, fitness tracking, glanceable information, and, to a lesser extent for most, quick actions. I enjoy the Apple Watch strictly because of this short list, but I am interested in the future of the Apple Watch because it has the potential to do much more.

The reason why I started off by discussing my preference for curation on the Watch is because it is essential to my usage: only certain apps get installed”, only certain notifications are allowed through. I choose lightweight apps that launch quickly with only the information that I need or have information immediately available within the Dock (see any apps by David Smith). As one might guess, my least favorite part of the Watch is the homescreen”; I would much prefer the ability to map a press on the Digital Crown to something else entirely or choose a different layout for apps that allows even closer curation for quicker access.

Believe it or not, I do not use the Watch that much because, in fact, I use it as a Watch first and a smart device second. Automation apps such as Workflow and IFTTT show the current flexibility and future possibilities of the Watch with single tap actions. Below are just a few of the, again highly curated, actions I use with the Watch.

Most of the above actions can be done with Siri as well or by taking my phone out of my pocket and at times I use those methods instead, but having the ability to accomplish things with a tap on my wrist is ideal. With Workflow, in fact, I have tailored actions that are short and mostly do not require any intervention on my part. These often require the following steps: raise wrist, tap, lower wrist, done since Workflow uses its complication to show you potentially-relevant actions at a given time.

Stay Tuned For More

  1. Interestingly enough, Jim Dalrymple, who is bullish on the usefulness of the Apple Watch wrote about closing the rings” the day before Ben’s comments.

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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.