Some thoughts after upgrading to an Apple Watch series 2

I’m a fan of the Apple Watch and I’ve worn my original (series 0) nearly every day since it arrived in May 2015. While watchOS 2 and 3 have been a big help in making the Watch more useful, mine started feeling more sluggish as I used more features and newly native apps more regularly. A little while ago I decided it was time to upgrade, and last week I jumped.

I went from a stainless steel, 42mm, series 0 Watch to a Sport space gray, 42mm, series 2. The stainless steel was just a tad too flashy for me, but somewhere down the road, I’d like to pick up another Watch or two in other colors.

For context, I’ll break out how I use my Watch and what I’ve noticed with the upgrade.

My Watch uses

This is a good place to note that two of my goals for wearing an Apple Watch are to carry my iPhone less and be more present. I get notifications on my iPhone (and iPad) for a variety of things, but I treat my Watch as a sort of “VIP notification safe place,” where only the most important get through. I try to put my iPhone in a bag or coat pocket more often to reduce distractions and be more present around people.

With this in mind, I use my Watch for:

  • Siri – I use Siri quite a bit for many of the typical things, but also some niche stuff: creating reminders and timers, messaging, asking basic information (“how many ounces in a cup” – don’t judge me), starting directions, and controlling our gradually expanding set of Hue lights.
  • Dictation – I dictate a lot of stuff, like new ideas in Drafts, new tasks in Todoist, and replying to messages. Pro tip: some messaging services, like Wire (which offers cross-platform E2E encryption, by the way) allow you to reply to messages from a Watch notification, even if they they don’t have a dedicated Watch app. If you’re concerned about privacy with non-Apple friends, Wire and Signal are much better options than SMS.
  • Notifications – I am continually evolving my strategy here, especially as Watch apps and notifications become more useful. But as stated above, in this context, I think of my Watch as an always-present notification widget for a handful of must-see alerts. It’s with me more than my iPhone is (or ever was), so it works great for my needs here.
  • Location tracking – I check into places with Day One and Swarm, generally. But I also do a fair amount of maps directions, and since I’m a transit or foot commuter, I mostly use my Watch and its wrist-tapping directions.
  • Workout tracking – I’m not a huge runner, but I generally do cardio and weightlifting with Gymatic at the gym 1-3 times a week. On the weekends I also love to take my rollerblades down to Chicago’s lakefront and explore the loop area. I usually do anywhere from 4-8 miles in a session and track the route with RunKeeper.

What’s different with series 2?

Apple did a pretty good job of advertising what’s new in series 2. But if your uses overlap with any of mine, it’s hard to overstate just how significant of an impact those changes can have.

Speed

Seriously. Seriously. I recently wrote a piece for Mac Observer about how the new app Dock in watchOS 3 is a huge improvement for Watch app users. But the dual core CPU in series 2 takes it to another level.

Most apps start up very quickly, even if the aren’t in the Dock, and everything feels much snappier. You know that feeling when an old Mac or iPad tips over from being sluggish to annoyingly sluggish, and its replacement feels like a refreshing new world? That, but on your wrist.

Battery

Battery life so far has been fantastic. Most days when I put my series 0 on my bedside charging stand, I can have anywhere from 20-40 percent left. Over the last few days, my series 2 has been consistently in the 60 percent range, sometimes more.

Sleep tracking

There is a handful of generally well-regarded sleep tracking apps for Apple Watch. But thanks to the battery life improvements, series 2 is the first time I feel like I consistently have enough juice at the end of the day to properly try one. Upon Federico’s glowing recommendation, I picked up AutoSleep this weekend. We’ll see how it goes.

Water resistance

I know series 0 is supposed to be ok in the rain and shower, and even Tim Cook is on record as saying he wears his in the shower. But the fact that it isn’t officially water resistant always gave me pause.

It could just be my paranoia, but my series 0 seemed to act a little funny after some showers, and I enjoy swimming more often these days. Of course, I don’t need to wear my Watch in the shower or pool, but I’ve found it surprisingly useful. Like a lot of folks, I feel like I have some of my best ideas in the shower, so being able to fire off a transcription into Drafts for parsing later has been really useful.

It feels good to have official word that I can wear my Watch in every water-related setting I care about—not to mention warranty and AppleCare coverage. Performance has been great, and that occasional post-water behavior wonkiness is gone.

I’m glad I spent the money

In case it isn’t obvious, I’m happy I spent the money on a series 2 (though, for the record, I’m going to eBay my series 0 to recover some of the funds). I use mine a lot and the new features have made it well worth it to me. I’m not too worried about a series 3 arriving this year; if I had to guess, that feels like a 2018 thing to me.

But even if a series 3 shows up this year, I’m still planning to eventually pick up one or two more Apple Watches somewhere down the road (probably an aluminum and/or gold, possibly even a rose gold). I like watches as a fashion statement, and I was already in the middle of picking up a second old school watch when Apple released one.

If you’re curious about the series 2, I hope this piece helped. But you can always ask me questions on Tumblr and Twitter, and I’ll answer as best I can.