I used to be kind of heavy, like a good 60 pounds overweight. I needed personal incentive and accountability to get back to a healthy place, and the Fitbit Ultra (later, the Fitbit One) gave me that. Now Apple wants to do the same with the Apple Watch. We're still a few days away from Apple Watch pre-orders, but I can already tell you I know it'll be a supplement to my health and fitness tracking routine, not a replacement—and it's up to Apple to earn a place on my wrist.
Apple wants to own my wrist
Just in case you've been stranded on a deserted island, Apple Watch is a smartwatch and fitness tracker rolled into a single device. Apple designed it to work as an accessory for your iPhone. The data it collects gets sent back to your phone, and messages and other alerts can be sent to its watch-size display.
It's important to know what the Apple Watch, or any fitness tracker, actually monitors. Apple's smartwatch tracks your daily steps, flights of stairs climbed, calories burned, and heart rate. It can also give you reminders to get up and move around if you've been sitting for an hour.
I do love the idea of reminders to get up and walk, but I dread the first time I'm in a movie theater and 30 Apple Watches light up to remind us to stand up. Killer feature idea: Proximity-based muting for sitting alerts when you're in a theater. But I digress.
The Apple Watch features in line with those from many competing products, although there are devices that offer more focused tracking, like fitness scales and sleep monitors. It because of those other features I know Apple Watch will be yet another device in my fitness lineup, and not the only tracker.
Sleep, for example, is a critical measure of my overall fitness, especially since I have chronic insomnia issues. Apple Watch doesn't track sleep, so I know I'll need an alternative solution. Currently, my Fitbit One handles sleep tracking duties, but I'm open to other tracking devices.
Regardless of how I track my sleep patterns, introducing Apple Watch means I'm adding to the gear I use daily, not consolidating. Today I use my Fitbit One to track daily activity as well as sleep, which means I'll end up with at least two devices even if I continue to use my Fitbit.
Neither device tracks my weight, so I'll still need my Withings Smart Body Analyzer scale. Along with tracking my weight, it monitors air quality in my bedroom, which can play a role in overall sleep quality.
Apple also has to prove to me that its smartwatch accurately tracks steps. I've always had better luck tracking steps with devices that attach to my pocket than those I wear on my wrist. Every wrist-worn device I've used so far grossly over counts my steps by misinterpreting arm movement as walking.
That isn't to say my Fitbit One is spot-on with its daily step count, but it does appear to be more accurate since it isn't counting opening the car door as taking five steps.
Next up: What I like about Apple Watch (already)
What I like about Apple Watch (already)
The big benefit I see in adding Apple Watch to my fitness tracking lineup is that it will give me an at-a-glance overview of my daily activity—a feature I love from the Misfit Shine. It'll also give me hourly reminders to get up and walk around, plus it'll give me quick views for alerts I'd otherwise see only by pulling my iPhone out of my pocket.
The idea that Apple Watch will make viewing alerts less obtrusive sounds great, but I doubt it'll make much of a difference. Instead of seeing people pulling phones out of their pockets all the time, we'll see them checking their wrist. It's just a more convenient way of doing the same thing. That said, I love the idea of the important things I typically check out several times a day, like my schedule and OmniFocus task list, being accessible with far fewer taps and swipes.
The important thing for me as we draw closer to Apple Watch pre-orders, and later getting to actually use one, is the realization that it won't cut down on the tech gear I use each day. Instead, it'll add yet another device I have to remember to charge every night and then take with me everywhere I go.
For some, Apple Watch will be the perfect device for consolidating their needs into a slick wrist top computer. If you haven't used a fitness tracker before, or don't want to track your sleep patterns, Apple Watch will be just the ticket for paying closer attention to your health with smartwatch features rolled in for good measure. For me, however, it's going to be yet another piece of gear I carry daily. Now I have to wait until April 24 to see if I carry mine gladly or begrudgingly.
For me, that's a big thing. My Fitbit helped me drop my weight back down to a healthy level because it offered the perfect mix of information and accountability to make me want to carry it everywhere I go. If I don't want to carry an Apple Watch, it won't offer any incentive for me to keep walking and push myself to stay in shape.
Now it's up to Apple to earn a new place in my life, and I'm very interested to see how Apple Watch measures up. I'll be reviewing Apple's smartwatch once it's available, and I have a feeling this is going to be an interesting experience.
[Some image elements courtesy Shutterstock]