Last week, I decided to stop using my iPhone 12 Pro and Apple Watch for a month.
Instead, I reached for the wonderful Google Pixel 4a and wrapped a Casio G-Shock around my wrist.
I’m now ten days into this experiment, and while I’m going to leave my thoughts on the iPhone until the day I pick it up once again, I’ve been fascinated by my reaction to the sudden absence of the Apple Watch.
I immediately bought the first Apple Watch when it was launched in 2015. I do this with a lot of Apple tech. So often, in fact, that it has become something of a running joke among friends and family.
“Mark… you spent how much on an oversized iPhone? What are you even going to do with that ‘iPad’?”
The Apple Watch has become a piece of technology to which I’ve become religiously attached. Literally. The only thing that comes close is the iPhone.
It was after a run a few weeks ago when I experienced a sudden lightbulb moment. As I stopped the running activity on my Apple Watch, I realised that I hadn’t been paying attention to the data it generated for months. The distance covered (I know that like the back of my hand – I run the same route every day), calories burned, and the number of exercise minutes was no longer of interest to me.
This wasn’t a conscious decision, either. I just naturally became disinterested in that data. This is surprising because I used to be obsessed with closing all three rings every day; so obsessed, in fact, that the activity ring watch face remained my default choice for a couple of years.
These days, my watch face is a photo featuring the time, date, and my next task. That’s it.
This begged the question: why was I still wearing an Apple Watch?
So, here are the things I used to use my Apple Watch for, and how I feel about each one now that I’ve metaphorically ripped them from my arm.
Before every run, I start the running activity on my Apple Watch. Now that it’s not there, I simply head out of the door and run.
When I’ve finished my run, I get showered, eat lunch and get on with my day. The only difference without the Apple Watch is the starting and stopping of the running activity.
Maybe I’m getting this all wrong. Perhaps I should be paying attention to the health data the Watch generates during physical activity. I used to, as previously noted.
Maybe I need to get a little more inventive with my workout routine.
However, the fact remains that I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything, fitness-related, now that the Watch is sat gathering dust on my bedside table.
Ok, this is one Apple Watch feature for which I’ve yearned a couple of times since switching to the G-Shock.
I’m one of those people who runs with his phone clasped in his hand. I do this mainly because I can never trust the Apple Watch to sync the most recent podcast or playlist I want to listen to – if that’s how I fancy soundtracking my workout.
Sometimes, however, I’ll head out with just the Apple Watch and my AirPods Pro for company and listen to my default running playlist. It’s massively convenient, and a real highlight of the Apple ecosystem.
But I’ve got by just fine without that feature, to be honest. I now run with the Pixel 4a and a pair of Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds, and the phone is small enough not to be a burden while running.
Last night, my girlfriend and I were talking about the need to get some cash out for a purchase.
“I don’t think I’ve been to a cash machine for about three years,” I told her. “In fact, I’ve forgotten my pin number.”
“Really? I don’t believe you,” she said, raising an eyebrow.
“No, really,” I responded. “I always use Apple Pay.
Then it struck me; I hadn’t used Apple Pay for ten days. Granted, we’re living in a slightly different world at the moment, but on the few occasions I have ventured out, I’ve been using Google Pay on the Pixel 4a.
Guess what? I haven’t missed it on the Watch at all – as convenient as that feature admittedly is.
This one is easy.
Notifications on the Apple Watch are all fine and dandy when you’re on your own or sat watching TV with your better half. In every other situation, reacting to them is just plain rude.
I’ve never felt comfortable with this aspect of the Apple Watch. There is nothing more uncomfortable than the feeling you get during a meeting or one-on-one where the little faux ‘tap’ on your wrist causes you to glance at your wrist. And it usually happens while the other person is mid-flow.
“Got somewhere to be, Mark?”
So, notifications? It’s actually been quite refreshing not to have them on my wrist, to be honest.
Without the Apple Watch on my wrist, I now have to unlock my M1 Mac mini like some kind of prehistoric animal. Yes, I have to type in the password.
Granted, you get pretty used to the convenience of the Apple Watch unlocking your Mac for you. When that ability is removed, it does feel a little frustrating at first, but you quickly get used to the way things once were.
On the M1 MacBook Air, this isn’t a big deal, thanks to Touch ID. But the absence of my Apple Watch hasn’t noticeably impacted my daily productivity in this regard. Typing a password takes seconds.
I’m only ten days into this month-long experiment, but I’m already amazed by how little I miss the Apple Watch.
Will it return to my wrist? To be honest, it has to, because I need to remain up to speed with its development, but I don’t think it’ll be such a permanent fixture now that I’ve lived without the Apple Watch for the longest time since 2015.
They often say the first few days of missing something are the hardest, therefore I think I may have already passed the trickiest part of this test. We’ll see.
I’ll report back. Stay tuned.