Advice and tips for improving your experience with the Apple Watch.
The Apple Watch has been on the market for two months, the initial backlog of orders has cleared up, and as of this week many retail Apple Stores carry watch inventory so you can reserve a model and pick it up the same day. Many of Apple’s bands are now in stock, too.
I’ve had mine (42 mm aluminum Sport model) since the first day of availability and find it genuinely useful, as noted in my earlier review.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a re-review-at-eight-weeks type of column. Instead, this is a Practical Apple Watch column: advice and tips for improving your experience with the watch.
Unlocking the watch:When the watch senses it’s been removed from your wrist, such as at bedtime, it automatically locks. In the morning, instead of tapping my pass code on the tiny screen after I put the watch on, I simply unlock my paired iPhone and the watch also unlocks. This feature can be found in the Apple Watch app on the iPhone, under Passcode > Unlock with iPhone.
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Receiving phone calls: Surprisingly, one of my favorite features is how it handles receiving phone calls, which is weird because I rarely think of my iPhone as a telephone anymore. But when a call does come in, the watch identifies the caller and rings and taps; I usually have the sound muted, so a call is a persistent tapping on my wrist from the watch’s Taptic Engine.
I can choose to decline the call and send the caller to voice mail or take the call on my wrist — which I do fairly often when I’m working alone at home. I haven’t yet grown comfortable with talking to my wrist in public, but I suspect that will change over time.
The interface doesn’t reveal it, but when a call comes in, you can swipe up or turn the digital crown to reveal two other options: answer on the iPhone or reply with a text message.
Viewing VIP email. Managing notifications is key to the Apple Watch experience. If too many come in, it’s distracting. In the Apple Watch app on the iPhone, turn off any nonessential app notifications.
But I often do want to be alerted to important emails. In the Mail app on the iPhone and on the Mac, you can mark a contact as a VIP. To be notified when an email from a VIP has arrived, go to Notifications > Mail in the Apple Watch iPhone app, choose Custom (instead of Mirror my iPhone), and turn VIPs to On.
Prominent haptic: Does it seem like you’re missing notifications because you don’t feel the watch’s taps on your wrist? The Apple Watch app on the iPhone includes a Haptic Strength slider in the Sounds & Haptics settings. You can also turn on the Prominent Haptic setting, which plays an extended rolling tap sequence when alerts come in.
Customizing the clock. If you’re a frequent traveler, having the World Clock available to check times in other zones is helpful. Many watch faces include a World Clock complication, but there’s also a World Clock glance (the shortcut to view quick snippets of information; drag up from the bottom of the watch face screen).
However, the glance’s city may not match the complication, so here’s what you need to do: Open the Clock app on the iPhone, tap World Clock, tap Edit, and rearrange the cities you’ve included so the one you want is at the top. That one is used for the watch’s glance.
Coming in fall: watchOS 2: At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last week, the company announced new features to the Apple Watch operating system, watchOS 2. At the top of the list is the ability of a developer to create apps that run natively on the watch, which should reduce or eliminate the current lag. Developers will also be able to create complications for the watch faces.
Speaking of faces, a few new ones will arrive, including the ability to set your photos as the backdrop. Time Travel, a new feature, shows upcoming events and other information when you turn the Digital Crown. And when the watch is charging during the night, a new Nightstand mode turns it into a bedside clock, using the crown and the side button as controls to snooze or turn off alarms.