6 Things I Learned About the Apple Watch That You Should Know Too

I’ve had my Apple Watch for just over two weeks now, and I’m really loving it. Is it better than other smart watches on the market? I’ve been holding out for the Apple Watch, so I haven’t spent a lot of time testing other offerings, but from the testing I have done, it’s much more intuitive, works really, really well with iCloud (of course) and features great design and build. Is it perfect? No. There is certainly room for improvement, but remember… it’s Apple’s first generation watch. I’m really excited to see where this goes.

In the two weeks that I have been heavily using my Apple Watch, there are some really cool things that I’ve learned about it. These tips are great for those who already have their Watch, those still waiting for their Watch (to get you even more excited) and those who are still evaluating.

1) Custom Colors for Digital Touch

Digital Touch is a really cool way to send small amounts of data (in the form of a doodle, heartbeat or tap) to another Apple Watch user. By default, there are 7 different colors you can choose.


These colors give you a wide range of options, but in some cases, maybe not wide enough. In some cases, you want to use a custom color. To choose a completely custom color, simply tap and hold on one of the 7 colors. This will reveal a custom color picker. Once you have chosen your color and tapped on "done", it will replace the standard color with your new custom color. This change is persistent (at least until the next time you change it), so make sure you're ok with the change before committing to it.


2) Wash Your Watch

I run with my watch at least 5 days a week. These runs are anywhere from 4 miles and longer. By the time I'm done, I'm pretty sweaty. That means that my Apple Watch gets sweaty too. As the sweat droplets enter the Digital Crown shaft chamber, they begin to crystalize. When this happens, it can cause the digital grown to feel a little sticky. Running your Apple Watch under water for a few seconds after a run can eliminate this effect by washing out the sweat.

Yes, this is my actual watch.

Before you freak out too much, you need to know that the Apple Watch is rated IPX7 water resistant. According to the specs, this means that you can expose your Apple Watch to up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes without it causing damage (Tim Cook has publicly stated that he showers with his Watch). While I don't recommend testing the limits with this, it's safe to say that it's ok if it gets a little wet.

Before subjecting your (expensive) Apple Watch to water, it is highly recommended that you completely turn off the unit first. This, of course, isn't possible when the Watch is subjected to water accidentally, but as long as you have control over when it gets wet, you may as well take advantage of it. You can power down your Apple Watch by pressing and holding on the bottom button (below the Digital Crown) for a few seconds, then choosing "Power Off".

One last note... most bands shouldn't be exposed to water this way (leather being one of the more obvious styles that should stay far away from water). I'm comfortable exposing my band to water because it's the Sport model. For most bands, I recommend removing the bands before running the Watch under water.

3) Prepare Your Watch to Exercise Without Your iPhone

By now, you probably know that most Apple Watch functionality requires your iPhone to be nearby (within Bluetooth range). To a certain extent, this includes exercise (the Watch uses the iPhone's GPS functionality for precise location information). With that in mind, Apple has said that with proper training, you can exercise without your iPhone. So how does one prepare? Simple. Apple recommends walking, running or cycling for at least 20 minutes in a straight line with both Apple Watch and iPhone. This is enough time for the Apple Watch to learn your stride and pace, all the while comparing those motions with the location information on your Watch. After 20 minutes, the Watch knows enough about your movement style to go on its own. It certainly won't be as accurate as an expensive Garmin exercise watch, but in my testing, it's very, very close. I ran 7 miles last week with just my Watch. After the run, I measured the distance, and it was 35 feet off from actual. Not too bad!!

4) Sync Music to Your Apple Watch

In some cases (running without your iPhone, for example), it's nice to have music pre-loaded on your Apple Watch. Apple allows you to sync between 100 MB and 2 GB of music locally on your Apple Watch for playback (you can sync your music via the Apple Watch app on your iPhone).


One thing to keep in mind, however, is that you can't listen to that music with the Watch's built-in speaker (the speaker is only good for audible alerts and phone calls). Having said that, you can still listen to music as long as you have a Bluetooth speaker or Bluetooth headphones paired with your Watch.

5) Use Apple Pay Without Your iPhone Nearby

Apple Pay is AWESOME!! I really, really like using it. Using Apple Pay on my Apple Watch is even easier than using it on my iPhone, believe it or not. Before you can use Apple Pay on your Watch, you need to load your credit cards via the Apple Watch app on your iPhone (because there is so much security wrapped around the Apple Pay security enclave on your iPhone, it can't simply share that data with other devices). Once your credit cards are loaded, simply double-press the side button on your Watch (the one below the digital crown). At this point, your credit cards will appear. Simply swipe to the credit card you want to use, then hold it against the payment terminal. When your Watch vibrates, you're good to go! This feature, by the way, can be used whether you have your iPhone with you or not.


6) Silencing Your Apple Watch the Right Way

We all know how to enable DND, Airplane Mode and other like settings on our iPhone. Enabling these settings on the Apple Watch is just as easy. Simply swipe up on your Watch from any screen to access the Settings screen.


Here, you will see 4 options: Airplane Mode, Do Not Disturb, Silent Mode and iPhone Ring.

Airplane Mode: as with Airplane Mode on your iPhone, enabling this feature turns off all radios on your Watch. Not only that, but enabling Airplane Mode on the Watch also enables Airplane Mode on your iPhone simultaneously. You can turn off Airplane Mode using the same button, but disabling Airplane Mode on the Watch does not disable it on your iPhone. Because your iPhone's Bluetooth radio is turned off already, there's no way for it connect to the Watch to know when it's being disabled. In short, enabling Airplane Mode on the Watch enables Airplane Mode on both devices, but disabling Airplane Mode needs to be performed on both devices independently.

Do Not Disturb: DND disables alerts and vibrations. When you enable DND on your Watch, it also enables DND on your iPhone. When you disable DND on your Watch, it disables DND on your iPhone. The same is true for disabling/enabling DND on your iPhone. It syncs bidirectionally.

Silent Mode: this feature simply disables audible alerts. Haptic feedback continues to function as normal. When this mode is enabled, it has no affect on your iPhone. Just the Apple Watch.

iPhone Ring: pressing this button will send a signal to your iPhone that will emit a loud ringing sound. This is great for those rare occasions when you happen to lose track of your iPhone.

BONUS) Experiment with Force Touch

Apple introduced a new touch technology alongside the Apple Watch called "Force Touch" (this technology is also available on the new MacBook). Tapping on a area of the screen will interact with the software in one way, while a Force tap (pressing on the display harder than you normally would) interacts with the software in a different way. It turns a normal 2-dimensional interface into an extensible 3-dimensional interface.

Nearly all built-in apps take advantage of Force Touch, and it can actually be fun to learn new ways that it can help us. As you navigate around the Apple Watch's interface, try Force tapping to see what options are available. Here's one that I use all the time... by Force tapping on the Notifications screen, you can clear all notifications with a single touch.

Posted on May 11, 2015 and filed under How To, Watch.