What do you use your Apple Watch for? GOOD VIBES ONLY
March 19, 2022 7:25 PM   Subscribe

I bought a 7 today. I've got my use-cases for it, but I'm curious what other folks find most useful for theirs. Little-known app that you can't live without now? Synchronicity between your other devices that makes your life wildly easier? Particularly interested in autistic perspectives.
posted by curious nu to Computers & Internet (26 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Fitness tracking is the big one. I know I could get similar things with the fitbit, but I find "closing rings" more satisfying than a step count.

I find myself controlling my music from it a lot. There's a pretty magical feeling to having music playing from your iPhone to an AirPlay-enabled speaker, and being able to control that with your watch.

Timers! "Hey Siri, set timer X minutes" I use _a lot_, especially when cooking, because then the timer is personal-to-my-wrist instead of using voice control on a larger device. I can basically whisper it to my watch.
posted by phildini at 7:35 PM on March 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

In addition to fitness tracking and timers, I use the Apple Watch to quickly check the temperature outside when deciding what to wear that day, and also check on my sleep trends.

Having the "wind down" mode activated an hour before going to bed has been very helpful in getting to sleep on time, and I enjoy the challenge of meeting my sleep goal as many nights as I can, which has led to higher energy and overall feeling better in my daily life.
posted by Atrahasis at 7:48 PM on March 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

I love using my Apple Watch to control audio from my phone. When I'm cooking or cleaning, I'll connect my phone to a Bluetooth speaker, but if my spouse needs to talk to me, I can quickly pause the audio from my watch. Same with skipping ahead to the next song in a playlist or album.
posted by neushoorn at 7:59 PM on March 19, 2022

If my iPhone rings, I cup my hand over my Apple Watch to stop the ringing. I love this ability to silence my iPhone.

I also use Reddit Nano app on my watch to read my favourite Reddit groups on my watch while on the train or other seated situations.

I also like the meditation / breathe app that is innate to the watch. Cool colours swirl while I relax and meditate with my watch.
posted by seawallrunner at 8:23 PM on March 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

I love being able to look at the time without pulling out my phone. This is 50% why I bought it. Yes, just as a regular watch.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 8:55 PM on March 19, 2022 [3 favorites]

I love having a full weather forecast on my wrist - It makes planning when to take the dog out and dodge raindrops much easier. The Carrot Weather app is worth the price IMHO, but I’m sure similar free
weather apps exist as well.

I’m also a huge podcast addict, and the Overcast watch app is very good. I love being able to control my podcast and its volume, whether on my phone or on a bluetooth speaker, from my wrist.
posted by cgg at 9:01 PM on March 19, 2022 [3 favorites]

I have a watchface with the timer complication and I use that all the time. I really like the weather thing too. And OMG the ability to get my watch to make my phone make noise so I can find where I set it down in the house. It's like it took an entire layer off of my normal background cognitive load.
posted by Salamandrous at 9:18 PM on March 19, 2022 [7 favorites]

The app AutoSleep has completely changed how I understand my sleep needs and cycles. Extremely helpful in conjunction with HeartWatch. Both are paid apps, I would buy them again without a second thought.
posted by Bottlecap at 9:19 PM on March 19, 2022 [7 favorites]

Any time I go for a walk anywhere I record it as an "outdoor walk" workout.

I do this because the watch then records my GPS location every few seconds, and makes it available to export later from the Health app on my phone.

The file format is XML in a zip file, but I've written my own software for turning that into something more useful... and now I have multiple years of GPS data, which is really fun.

Other than GPS/fitness tracking I mainly use it for timers (via Siri), notifications and making my phone go beep so I can find it.

One trick I recently discovered: it makes a passable periscope! You can use the camera viewfinder app on the watch and then hold your phone up in the air to see over walls. I used this in a local park to check out a pile of whale bones that were drying out on the other side of an opaque fence.
posted by simonw at 9:37 PM on March 19, 2022 [10 favorites]

If you say “set an alarm for 4 PM and label it whatever then you can later say “turn on the whatever alarm” or “change the whatever alarm to 5 PM.” I do that and “set an X minute timer” a lot.

I found the standard moon phase tracking a little disappointing so I paid a few bucks for the Geneva Moon app and have its complication on a couple faces. It’s soothing.

And yeah, the ring closing thing was a much more effective nudge for me than a step counting Fitbit had been.
posted by fedward at 9:44 PM on March 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

There's an app called Pennies that is good for quick and dirty expense tracking on the go.

I actually use the watch as my main wake-up alarm. For some reason I resent being tapped on the wrist less than whatever noise my alarm clock can produce.

The timer, yeah, is amazingly handy.
posted by praemunire at 10:14 PM on March 19, 2022

To extend simonw's periscope idea a bit:

I've used the camera viewfinder to be able to look into places I can't fit my head. E.g. when doing a house project I had occasion to need to see inside the wall. Rather than cut a very large chunk out of it, I could make a hole just large enough to get my phone's camera in, and see the result on my watch face.

I also like it for directions — sometimes I don't need or want a voice interrupting what I'm listening to or a conversation or whatever, and just having a tap on the wrist when I need to turn is plenty.
posted by brentajones at 10:33 PM on March 19, 2022 [3 favorites]

I have found that being able to easily read incoming tex/slack messages on my watch while I'm riding my bike is quite helpful.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:41 PM on March 19, 2022

I use it all the time for finding my phone and my keys/headphones with an AirTag.
posted by sizeable beetle at 1:24 AM on March 20, 2022

As someone who sleeps in a bed with a partner who likes to get up much later than me, the silent haptics alarm is essential!
posted by johnxlibris at 1:28 AM on March 20, 2022 [6 favorites]

A great feature of the timer that everybody else may know, but that took me way too long to figure out:

You can set multiple timers at once! And you can label them! You don't have to deal with that thing where a timer goes off and you have no idea what you were timing!

For example, if you say "Set a 3-minute tea timer" and "Set a 10-minute pasta timer," you now have two different timers, one labeled "tea" and the other labeled "pasta".
posted by yankeefog at 2:03 AM on March 20, 2022 [7 favorites]

I did a list for someone else a few days ago so I'll reuse it. I have a watch with cellular data.

Actually useful:

Payments - just double tap and hold wrist over payment terminal, can flip between different cards. I haven't used cash or physical credit cards for years now.
Running - measures heart rate and calories and steps
Plays any music from Apple Music with no need to sync
Works as phone, either just talking to it (it has a speaker) or via headphones
Acts as a remote control for AppleTV
Unlocks my Mac for me
Has authentication apps for Duo etc, so very convenient for two factor logins
Can do pulse and heart rhythm checks
Calendars, alerts, reminders, etc
I can dictate notes into it that sync with phone and Mac - useful when out shopping when my hands are full
Has Shazam built in, so when I hear some music the watch can usually work out what it is, and add it to my library
Holds train tickets, I can show my watch to ticket inspectors. It selects the right ticket by time.
A surprisingly usable Twitter client (an extra app)
The GPS and maps on it are also surprisingly useful when walking about
It has a guidance system based on tapping your wrist to turn left or right, the main use of this is pretending to have mysterious navigational powers
I can see Slack messages and reply
It will tell me when rain is about to start or stop (it uses actual cloud patterns monitored by satellite)
I now usually don't take my phone with me when leaving the house as the watch is enough
The 1Password client can store passwords and other secret information
It can wake me up by buzzing
It can store shop loyalty card barcodes (via an app) to scan for discounts

Potentially useful:
It has a voice translator, but due to covid I've not travelled and haven't really used it
Can track my other gadgets
Can turn home lights, etc on and off
posted by BinaryApe at 2:06 AM on March 20, 2022 [3 favorites]

Being able to triage texts and phone calls when I'm seeing patients (it's less rude than pulling my phone out of my pocket).
Setting multiple timers for baked goods
posted by honeybee413 at 6:12 AM on March 20, 2022

"Hey Siri, add butter to my Grocery list" - where "Grocery" list is a list in the Reminders app that you have shared with your housemate(s). The beauty of this is you can easly add to the list while you are cooking, as soon as you see any ingredients that are running low.

When you go shopping, you simply check off the items as you put them in the shopping cart. I actually have a few lists, "Home Depot", "Grocery", "Drug Store", etc.
posted by soylent00FF00 at 7:27 AM on March 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

To expand on the payments comments, Apple Pay has become my go to way to pay during covid, mostly in the interest of reducing the time I’m stuck inside a store. The watch makes this so much faster when you have a mask on, since you don’t have to re-authenticate.
posted by bluloo at 8:40 AM on March 20, 2022

In addition to the many great features already listed, I have the Transit app as a complication, and it is so awesome to be able to see the next arrival times for nearby trains and buses with one tap.

Also, I love having watch faces for specific situations. I currently have “at home,” “working,” and “out in the world” faces, each with complications tailored to that situation.

Oh, and being able to unlock my phone without a password when I am wearing a mask has been EXCELLENT. My spouse almost bought a watch themselves just for that function alone.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 10:05 AM on March 20, 2022 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh here's a follow-up! Who uses a screen protector? I've lived with one on my phone since I started buying iPhones and have never regretted it. But half of that is me dropping the phone all the time, often onto concrete/asphalt, which is (I hope) less of an issue with a watch.

Thanks everyone who's chimed in so far, this is helpful. :)
posted by curious nu at 2:37 PM on March 20, 2022

I use mine for:

- Locating my phone
- Checking the weather
- Adding things to my grocery list
- Locating my phone
- The haptic left/right vibrations are useful for getting my attention when I've got driving directions going on my phone but might not be able to clearly hear the verbal instructions
- Checking notifications without taking out my phone
- Locating my phone

Re: screen protectors: I also often drop my iPhone on concrete, too. I'm clumsy and messy. I've worn Apple Watches for five years -- I did upgrade once because I wanted the better battery life of newer models -- and haven't figured out how to crack the screen yet. I have a lot of teeny tiny scratches around the edge of the glass, but they're not noticeable and don't compromise the integrity of the device. I really don't think anyone needs a case or screen protector for these (unless for some reason you need to keep it 100% mint condition under the case).

If you're hard on things, you may want to replace your watch band at some point, or perhaps get multiple bands so you can have a "nice" one and then the one that takes daily abuse.
posted by katieinshoes at 3:39 PM on March 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

I do not use a screen protector but have some regrets about that choice - I don’t tend to scratch my phone but I did scratch my watch face several times over. Alas, I swim so I don’t think a protector would work well for that. Fully agree about multiple bands. My sport band got loose and messy quickly (swimming. SO hard on everything)

In addition to the excellent suggestions up thread, I wanted to add travel apps now that travel might happen again. In particular, I have airline apps and use those instead of keeping my phone lit up and ready to scan my ticket at the gate (and for warning of delays!). You can also keep tickets in your Wallet (that’s what I do to get through Pre-Check).

I am a menstruator so I find Cycle Tracking so much better to use from my watch because it’s easier to reach for.

And of course I do almost everything else suggested previously. Such a useful tool.
posted by librarylis at 3:55 PM on March 20, 2022

I use mine multiple times a day to add todos to my todo app, Things 3. “Hey Siri, using Things, remind me to …” It’s lovely because I can record the item as soon as I think of it, before forgetting.

(I do use a screen protector. A thin plastic one. I can’t tell it’s on there.)
posted by wyzewoman at 6:43 PM on March 20, 2022

"Hey Siri, add butter to my Grocery list" - where "Grocery" list is a list in the Reminders app that you have shared with your housemate(s). The beauty of this is you can easly add to the list while you are cooking, as soon as you see any ingredients that are running low.

There's a nice free little extension that I've been using that kind of knocks off a few of the rougher edges with using reminders for shopping - Grocery - Smart Shopping List. You can just run it on your watch and check the items as they go into your cart, and it takes a lot longer to sleep than the standard reminders app does. But it just uses the reminders category, so all of the family shared reminders and siri integration works.

But yeah, the big thing I use mine for is setting reminders - "remind me that I need to bring a multimeter to mom and dad's next time". And talking to a specific Siri because otherwise half the time one of my wife's voice assistants wakes up and gives a non-answer instead, or a homepod will wake up to say "gosh I can't answer that here, try asking your phone instead" grumble mumble grr.

And probably a specific quirk, but because the bluetooth in my car is broken, my phone's siri wakes up and tries to listen to a nonfunctioning microphone endpoint somewhere before slowly failing, so it's nice I can mostly just hold the crown down and ask my watch (direct me here, shuffle my driving playlist, etc) instead and 95% of the actions go to my phone anyway.

Except asking the watch to call somebody is actually something the watch will just handle! And then you end up playing Dick Tracy while trying to figure out how to hand the audio from your watch to your phone. Bleh.
posted by Kyol at 8:29 PM on March 20, 2022

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