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A day in the life: Apple Watch fitness tools, battery life and Force Touch 'secrets'

A day in the life: Apple Watch fitness tools, battery life and Force Touch 'secrets'

That iThingy You're Wearing
May 5, 2015

I’ve been putting my Apple Watch through its paces during the past few days. This is the second of three reports about my early take on the new wearable device.

The final “A day in the life” will be published in the coming days.

Good start as a fitness device


I obsess over the number of steps I take every day. Over the years, products from Jawbone, Fitbit, and Garmin have assisted me in performing this task. Those have all been replaced by my Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch’s Activity app gives me the information I need in a format that is easy to read. I also appreciate the timely alerts that I receive throughout the day which serve to encourage me to achieve my goals. The achievement badges are also a nice touch. They look a lot like the badges sold on Walt Disney properties.

What bothers me about the Apple Watch fitness tools are the design differences between the Activity app for iPhone and the iOS 8 Health app. Yes, they interact as they should. Unfortunately, the interfaces are too different for my tastes. I’d also like to see better integration between the Activity app and third-party workout apps.

For example, RunKeeper is one of the best fitness apps on the App Store and was one of the first to support Apple Watch. Unfortunately, a lot of the data that RunKeeper tracks during runs or other workouts isn’t pulled into the Activity app. When gathered by the official Workout app, however, this same data is sent to the Activity app.

Hopefully, iOS 9 will bring better integration between third-party apps and those developed by Apple. Otherwise, what’s the point of HealthKit?

Early take on battery life


In his post, “Here are 5 things I wish were different about my Apple Watch,” Joe White worries that his Apple Watch is having a negative affect on his iPhone’s battery. This claim has been made by other Apple Watch users in recent days, leading Apple to offer some solutions.

White explains:

Apple Watch puts a strain on your iPhone’s battery, make no mistake. I haven’t noticed this too much, since I’m using an iPhone 6 Plus with plenty of battery life to spare, but at the end of the day I certainly have less life left than I did before I started using the Watch. If you have an older model, like the iPhone 5 or 5s, a portable power drive wouldn’t go amiss when you’re venturing out of the house with Apple’s smartwatch in tow.

I have yet to experience a significant battery drain on my iPhone since I began syncing it with my Apple Watch. I use a Mophie juice pack with my iPhone 6 Plus, however.

Additionally, I’ve been very happy with the number of hours I have received between Apple Watch battery charges.

During the first two days, my Apple Watch battery needed to be recharged after about six hours. From day three onward, that is no longer the case. Even on the days when I do a three mile run, the Apple Watch battery lasts between 17 to 19 hours. Apple estimates that under regular conditions, the Watch should last 18 hours on a charge, including a 30-minute workout with on-device music playback, and 45 minutes of app use.

To better utilize your Apple Watch battery, I suggest following three simple rules. First, make sure that automatic downloads are turned off on the Apple Watch iPhone app. You can find this setting under My Watch > General > Automatic Downloads.

Second, use Notifications and Glances sparingly, removing the ones you don’t find useful. Finally, recognize that some watch faces do more to harm the Apple Watch battery life than others. For example, the butterflies, flowers, and jellyfish on the Motion watch face look awesome. Unfortunately, these movements can also suck the life out of your battery. Minimalistic watch faces are best when you are concerned about battery life. My limited test have shown that X-Large and Simple are the two most battery efficient options.

Force Touch tips


Honestly, I didn’t know about the many Force Touch options until I read a report at iMore. Among the 14 “Secret Apple Watch options,” are the following.

Change emoji color

For the animated emoji screen, press firmly on the yellow smiley face to turn it red, or the red heart to turn it blue or purple.

Change calendar view

From the Calendar app, press firmly on the calendar to get options for day, list, or today view. Whichever view you’re on, you’ll get the option to switch to either of the other two.

Do you have questions about Apple Watch? Leave them in the comments section below. Questions and answers have also been discussed in “A day in the life: Ask us anything about Apple Watch.”

Also see: WatchAware launches a new podcast for all things Apple WatchOne Apple Watch accessory maker is planning to use the device’s hidden diagnostic port, and New 42mm Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport orders are now slated to arrive sometime in July.

Mentioned apps

RunKeeper - GPS Running, Walk, Cycling, Workout and Weight Tracker
RunKeeper - GPS Running, Walk, Cycling, Workout and Weight Tracker
FitnessKeeper, Inc.

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