A Week Without My Apple Watch

I’ve had my Series 2 Apple Watch for nearly a year. I ordered it the minute that the preorders went live, and it has worked flawlessly ever since. However, my Watch recently developed a bright pixel. If the display was on, no matter its brightness, this blue pixel was stuck on full brightness. It wasn’t a big deal during the day, but was glaringly obvious at night – especially when I was using the Numerals watch face. So I took it to the Apple Store to see what they could do. After all, it is still covered by Apple Care, and I didn’t spend $500+ for something that’s defective. Unfortunately, I was told that Apple Stores aren’t equipped to handle Watch repairs, and that my Watch would need to be shipped back to Apple for them to attempt to fix it. This meant that I would be without my Watch for about a week. Not a big deal, right? Well, I am now 6 days without my Watch, and this has made me realize just much I actually use it.

A typical day for me starts and ends with my Watch. I have a dock that charges it in nightstand mode overnight, and all it takes is a gentle tap anywhere on the Watch to light up the display to show me the time. Then when the alarm goes off, it’s time to get up.

First thing in the morning is workout time, and Apple Watch makes it so easy to start and track my workouts. I usually do either an elliptical workout or a strength training workout, and all I have to do is remember to start and stop the workout on my Watch. It automatically captures the duration of my workout, and uses the heart rate monitor to help calculate the total calories burned. I don’t have to go into an app afterwards to record my data. It automatically syncs to the Activity app, and I’m all set.

(Speaking of Activity, something has to be said about the motivating factor of filling up those Activity rings. I usually have one of the Activity watch faces for most of the day, to make sure that I keep pushing to fill the rings. I’ve had days where it looked like I might not complete my Move ring, but a quick walk after dinner was enough to get the job done. A little more activity that wouldn’t have typically been done is always a good thing! As if seeing my rings fill up isn’t motivation enough, there is even more reason to do it when you consider the weekly and monthly badges that are available. Especially as I approach the end of the month, and I’m already working on a perfect month of filling the rings everyday, there’s no way I can not try my hardest to fill the rings on those final days! Those Activity rings are a simple and amazingly powerful way of getting me up and keeping me going! Without my Watch, it has been more difficult to stay motivated to do my workouts everyday. Obviously, I’ve worked out for years without my Watch, but nonetheless I’ve come to appreciate the simplification that it has brought to my routines. Now, I have to manually add my workouts to my Health app, which means I have to note times and calories burned off of the machine, or just estimate them. Having a heart rate monitor built in to the Watch makes these numbers way more accurate. However, much to my dismay, I discovered that adding workouts manually to the Health app doesn’t contribute to the filling of my rings. I investigated and determined that only the Apple Watch is capable of adding data to the rings. Unfortunately, this means that I will miss out on two Perfect Month badges, as I shipped out my phone on August 29, and it’s now into September.)

After my morning workout, it’s time to get ready for work. Frequently, I set a reminder to go off at some point before I leave the house. “Remember to take such and such to work”, for example. I’d always miss these reminders when they used to go to my iPhone, but now with a quick tap on my wrist by my Watch, I never miss them!

These quiet taps for Notifications are indispensable throughout the day as well. I have several that go off periodically: reminders to log my caffeine, to log my meals in MyFitnessPal, to do something on my Things list, stand notifications for my Activity ring, activity notifications for my social apps, email and messages notifications, game notifications. The convenience of having these delivered to my Watch, viewable at a glance rather than having to pull out my iPhone and potentially be a disturbance, is greatly missed while my Watch is in the shop!

Similarly, being able to view incoming messages from my Watch, with the ability to quickly tapback a response or dictate something more fully, is amazing. This is even better when the message contains a photo! Viewing a shared photo on your Watch truly is like we’re living in the future!

Back home in the evening, I use my Watch while preparing dinner. I frequently set a timer with Siri while I’m cooking, which has saved me from countless burned dinner or spoiled recipes. I can still do this hands-free with the Hey Siri function on my iPhone, but the convenience of it being right on my wrist means I can’t walk away from it and forget about it.

The music playback controls are super convenient as well, as I don’t have to use my iPhone to get some music playing. I can leave the phone on the table and control it from my Watch if it’s just me and I want something quiet. Or, if I’m having more of a gathering, I can use the Apple TV remote on my Watch to play some music through the stereo that everyone can enjoy.

Then finally, when it comes to the end of the night, I turn on my alarm for the morning and set the Watch on its charging stand,

Of course, there is one other, obvious thing that my Apple Watch does all day. It tells the time. I haven’t worn a watch for probably 20 years, having just gotten used to checking my iPhone. But now, I didn’t even realize how frequently I would raise my wrist to check the time until I have nothing to look at but a watch tan!

None of these small conveniences are critical. I can set alarms or get notifications on my iPhone, just like I did for years before getting my Watch. After getting used to all of these things, and now going back to how I was before while my Watch gets repaired, it is eye-opening to how important this little device has become to me.


The Ultimate Guide to Using Siri to Set Reminders

Siri on the iPhone and iPad is an incredibly useful virtual assistant, often being able to reduce multi-step actions down to a single spoken command. One of these ways that Siri can help you to save some time is in creating reminders and managing reminder lists in the iOS Reminders app.

First of all, you need to create your list in the Reminders list manually. If you ask Siri to create a list, she will simply tell you that she cannot, and tell you to go into the app to do it. Fortunately, this is a very easy task to perform, and then once you have created the list, you can add and manage it directly via Siri. To create a new Reminders list, simply open the Reminders app, and then tap on the + at the top, next to New List. You can then tap to edit the title or select a colour for your list, and then tap done. That’s all there is to it to set up a new Reminders list. You can create as many lists as you’d like, each for their own purpose and which will hold their own set of reminders.

With multiple reminders lists, you may want to change the default reminder list. This is also easy to do. Go into the Settings app, then tap on Reminders, and then you can tap to select which list is the default one. The purpose of doing this is that when you have multiple reminders lists, if you don’t specify what list you want to add a reminder to, Siri will add to this default list automatically. It’s a time saver, but if not set up correctly, can be a nuisance.

Now that you have your list created, there are a couple of different kinds of reminders that you can set. The first is just a basic reminder, with no triggers associated with it. A list with this type of reminders could be a shopping list, or a Christmas wish list, or list of projects you want to accomplish around the house – basically, just things you want to remember, but not necessarily at any particular time. This works really well to create a shopping list that you can easily add to!

Here’s how you add a reminder to a list with Siri:

  1. Access Siri by pressing and holding the Home button (or corresponding button on a bluetooth headset, for example) on your iPhone or iPad until it chimes.
  2. To add to your default reminders list, casually ask Siri to “Remind me to…” do something (such as “remind me to buy milk”). If you want to add to a specific list, you can say something like “Add milk to my shopping list,” or “Add iPhone 6 to my Christmas wish list” to register the entry on that particular reminder list.
  3. When Siri repeats what was heard, you can tell her to make a correction if there is an error. If you forgot to say a particular list to add it to, you can say at this point “Move it to my Christmas wish list” or whatever. Otherwise, just confirm or cancel, or tap the text to make any modifications or corrections manually.

The next kind of reminder you can set it a time-based reminder. These reminders are the most common ones that people set, and the ones that I find most useful, as they ensure that I get things done when I intend to do them. This kind of reminder would be great to remind you to pay bills or go to a meeting on time – important things for which you don’t want to be late!

Here’s how you add a time-based reminder with Siri:

  1. Launch Siri by pressing and holding the Home button.
  2. This time, ask Siri to remind you to do something, at a certain time. Variation on this could be “Remind me at 8 PM to set Game of Thrones recording,” or “Remind me on Saturday at 9 AM to cut the grass,” or “Remind me in 20 minutes to check on the turkey in the oven.” As long as you attach some kind of measure of time to your reminder, Siri will set that to a schedule. Or course, you can also specify a particular reminders list in your request here as well, as explained above.
  3. When Siri repeats what was heard, just confirm confirm or cancel, or tap the text to make any modifications or corrections.

The third kind of reminder is a location-based reminder. By using one of these, your reminder will be triggered when you either arrive at or leave a predefined area, known as a geofence. With this kind of reminder, you can remind yourself to call your Mom as soon as you leave work! For location reminders to work the best, it is a good idea to populate your contact info with addresses of relevant places, such as your home, work, etc. Then, you can just reference these places as “home” or “work” without needing to go into anymore detail. Alternately, you could also specify the address around which you want to base your reminder.

Here’s how you add a location-based reminder with Siri:

  1. Launch Siri by pressing and holding the Home button.
  2. This time, ask Siri to remind you to do something when you leave somewhere or arrive somewhere. For example, “Remind me to call Mom when I leave work” or “Remind me to walk the dog when I get home.”
  3. When Siri repeats what was heard, just confirm or cancel, or tap the text to make any modifications or corrections.

Now that you know how to create these amazingly helpful reminders, why not use this power to share with others to help check things off your lists! You can do so easily by sharing your Reminders list through iCloud. Unfortunately, you need to configure the sharing via the desktop iCloud interface, as you can’t do this from within the Reminders app yet. (I would say that this is almost guaranteed to get changed in the forthcoming iOS 8!) However, once sharing is enabled, any changes you make to the shared list will be synced to all shared devices as they get updated.

Here’s how you share your Reminders list in iCloud:

  1. Log on to your iCloud account from a browser by going to www.icloud.com. Make sure you log on with the iCloud username and password that you have your iOS device syncing to!
  2. Click on the Reminders app on the website.
  3. On the Reminders lists on the left side of the screen, click on the sharing icon next to the list that you’d like to share. It looks like a standard WiFi icon, but angled.
  4. In the box that appears, type in the iCloud email address of who you would like to share with, which will send them an invitation to sync over to their iCloud Reminders app.
  5. On the receiver’s iPhone or iPad, they will get a notification where they can accept the sharing of the list.

With these various forms of reminders available to you, the iOS Reminders app is a powerful app to help you get things done. By utilizing Siri to add to these lists, it takes virtually no effort at all. Give it a try, and let me know how much more efficient you become!