I’m currently reading After Steve by Tripp Mickle. It’s a fascinating insight into what happened within the bowels of Apple following Steve Jobs’ untimely death in 2011.
How much we can believe Mickle’s secondhand account of the Jobs-less Apple is anyone’s guess, but it makes for hugely enjoyable reading, nonetheless.
I’ve reached the stage of the book where the Apple Watch makes its first appearance. Back then it was, allegedly, a bit of a mess behind the scenes (and, arguably, publicly). It wasn’t ready, and despite Jony Ive’s desperate attempts to halt proceedings, Mr Cook apparently pushed the launch through in a bid to diversify Apple’s product line and stave off concerns about a lack of innovation.
Fast-forward seven years and the Apple Watch has matured into one of the best consumer-friendly fitness devices on the market.
And I’ve only just discovered its best feature.
My first cellular Apple Watch
Last month, I received Apple’s most interesting, delightful, and downright sexy product of the last few years – the Apple Watch Ultra.
What a device! What an utterly silly, massive, chunky, daft piece of tech from which I’ll only extract about five percent of the available functionality.
However, it isn’t the dive computer I’m excited about. It’s not the knowledge that, if I approach a running track (which I don’t think I’ve done since I was a kid) it will kick itself automatically into running mode.
It isn’t even Knight Rider Mode which is the coolest thing on the planet, like, ever.
No, it’s the fact that every Apple Watch Ultra comes complete with cellular. You can’t buy one without it, which, in the past, is something I would have done without fail.
I never saw the point in owning a cellular Apple Watch. Like most people, I make about three telephone calls a month (and receive far less) and the idea of using a feature that would, presumably, cut my Apple Watch battery life miserably short wasn’t much of a turn-on.
How fickle I am; when the Ultra arrived, I immediately set up the cellular connection.
I was surprised by how excited this made me. As I waited the customary eternity for UK carrier, EE, to pick up the phone and sort out the inevitable issue I’d encountered while setting it up myself, I was overcome with the possibilities ahead.
I wouldn’t have to take my iPhone with me on short trips anymore. Apple Pay had rid my pocket of the wallet I’d carried for decades, but the need to be ‘on call’ for those who didn’t need me (ever) meant the phone was always in tow.
This was no longer the case. With cellular enabled on my Apple Watch Ultra, I could still be contacted when literally no one wanted me, regardless of where my iPhone happened to be.
But that wasn’t what really excited me.
I’m the most boring runner you’ll ever encounter. I navigate the same 5K route around our housing estate and, when faced with an unfamiliar location, I’ll run for two miles in one direction… and then retrace my steps.
I’ve thought about this quite a lot – far too much, in fact – and I think my unadventurous running regime is tightly linked to the way I run my business.
It’s all about remaining resolutely consistent and focused on a process which I know works. The route is so familiar I think I could genuinely do it blindfolded. I’ve mastered the pacing. The way I feel after the run is exactly what I want from cardiovascular exercise – no more, no less.
There’s always been one issue, though.
Yes – it’s the iPhone. Again.
Strapping an iPhone to your arm, placing it in your pocket, or holding it while running is never much fun. Its presence can always be felt and it always feels vastly out of place during exercise. I have literally no need for my phone during a run other than the reliance I’ve placed on it to pipe music into my ears.
Not anymore – not thanks to my cellular Apple Watch Ultra. Now, I can head out on my boring-as-hell 5K run with nothing more than a watch on my wrist, a subscription to Apple Music… and one other very convenient accessory.
The golden pair
The ability to play pretty much any piece of music ever released via a smartwatch without the need for a host device is an absolute delight.
I vaguely remember the adverts Apple ran for the first cellular Apple Watch. They made this a big selling point of that device; it was, I’m pretty sure, a nod to the marketing slogan for the first iPod – “1,000 songs in your pocket”. Only, this time, it referred to the presence of over 100 million songs on your wrist.
A bit like the cellular Apple Watch premise in general, I scoffed at this suggestion. Who needs that? I remember thinking. Just take your phone!
As it turns out, I needed it. Badly. But in order for the Apple Watch to really reveal its magical prowess as a standalone music player, you need a pair of AirPods Pro. Ideally, the second generation, which are absolutely barnstorming.
This little combo is one of the few examples of Apple ‘magic’ still at work today. That elusive ‘thing’ that is rarely present in today’s MacBooks, iPads and iPhones, is alive and well as soon as you head out with nothing more than your cellular Apple Watch and AirPods Pro.
I’m old enough for this to remain impressive. The fact I can run down the road with a wristwatch and pair of earbuds and ask the watch to play pretty much any piece of music I can think of is… well, magical. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.
I just can’t believe I’m this late to the cellular Apple Watch party.
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