Apple Watch: A Personal, Wearable Health Coach
Apple shipped its first batch of Apple Watches at the end of April, and the reviews are already piling up. Luckily I didn’t order the one with the popular black band, so my blue-band version arrived about a week ago. I’ve received many questions about my shiny new Apple Watch from colleagues, clients and friends, so I thought I would share my experience and initial impressions here.
For the most part, other reviewers have focused on the look, feel and functionality. Last week, there were concerns about dark skin and tattoos affecting the sensors. This week, people are talking about how easily the Watch’s stainless steel case can be scratched. Personally, aside from my initial concern about whether I could wear my new Watch on the soccer field (hint: I can), I’m most interested in the role the Apple Watch and other health and fitness wearables have begun to play in the digital health sphere.
My First Impressions
Cons: At least initially, the Apple Watch is not for everyone. Even with Apple’s famously user-friendly design and my comfort with technology, my learning curve with the Watch has been fairly steep. (Luckily, online or in-store training can help overcome this.) Not surprisingly, the screen is very small, so it might not be ideal for people with poor vision. The Watch has a limited battery life, and it seems to be missing some core health functions, such as a sleep monitor. Finally, it doesn’t currently have independent GPS capability, so to use any navigation or map features, your iPhone must be nearby.
Pros: Of course the Apple Watch has a very elegant design. I’ve barely been using it for more than a week, but I can already say that the experience is a great improvement over the fitness bands I used previously. The everyday tasks the Watch can manage — texts, email, phone calls, Apple Pay — are obviously useful, but how it and other wearables will help me maximize my health … that’s what I’m most interested in. For example, the Watch reminds me when I’ve been sitting too long by “tapping” me on the wrist and literally telling me it’s time to stand up and move around for a minute. It’s easy to disregard a reminder that pops up on your phone or computer. The visual and sensory cues from the Watch are somehow more motivating; maybe because it’s attached to my body. The Watch is a personal coach I can’t walk away from.
Changing Behaviors for the Better
The selection of apps for the Apple Watch is growing daily, and although there are countless options for entertainment and organization, I see it and other wearables as tools that will change our behavior and help us manage our health for the better. I’m looking forward to watching the evolution of the Apple Watch and, through my work at Intouch, contributing to its value in the digital health market.
And if you’re concerned, as I was, about whether you can wear the somewhat bulky Apple Watch while playing contact sports, the answer is yes. All you need to do is to place a wristband over it!