The Apple Watch Series 3 now sits on the fence between still offering a supplemental experience to your iPhone as well as being a totally independent device that while intended to communicate with a smartphone, has its own reason for existence. I think it is safe to say that if asked, most consumers will not immediately know what to do with an LTE-connected Apple Watch save for being able to leave their phone behind… and isn’t that the point?
I’ve been thinking about the broader implications of being able to leave your phone at home. If the Apple Watch Series 3 accepts calls, messages, and other information, does it replace a phone, supplement it, or simply offer another way to engage with the exact same information? Consider the scenario of leaving your home without your phone – it is an unthinkable scenario to many in our connected-lives. It might be dangerous, uncomfortable, or even just plain unwise given the fact that you need to be reached and need to be able to reach others.
Now think of the same scenario but rather than totally leaving yourself unconnected without your precious phone, you have a mini-phone on your wrist. You can’t enjoy all of the data-input options you have available on your phone (such as a relatively comfortable on-screen keyboard), but you can input basic data and of course speak to your watch in order to input information. Available are calls, SMS messages, music, and the ability to view and interact in a basic way with messages. Not conveniently available is the ability to browse social media channels, view videos, and post content online. Maybe, just maybe, that is a very beautiful thing.
I am personally of the opinion that most people are suffering from what I call “internet fatigue.” The idea is that many people are finding that the internet takes more than it gives. It takes our attention, personal information, free time, privacy, and ability to concentrate. I would say that (especially for professionals who must interact with the internet for work), many people feel that the “connectivity bargain” is profiting the data collectors (in this instance, websites and services) more than the data providers (in this instance, consumers). With that said, our lives are virtually bound with technology in a Faustian bargain that can’t be broken, but could possibly be renegotiated.
Apple wants consumers to imagine all the adventures they can take with their Apple Watch Series 3, Air Pods (which I’ve found are really cool by the way), and possibly an external battery, and some charging cables. Having a vested interest in a product you might be familiar with known as the iPhone, Apple teases with the message that you might want to leave your phone behind, but doesn’t always outright say it. I will outright say it. Test the value of leaving your phone at home and being connected only via your watch. It might change your life. At the least, it will help you relax.
Leave Your Phone At Home – No Really, Try It
While I’m certainly glued to my iPhone like most people – it isn’t because I’m bored. Rather, I need it for work. I want/need to disconnect more often. I think the Apple Watch Series 3 offers a smart way for people like me to do that. With basic (but not impeded) connectivity on my wrist, I plan to use the Apple Watch Series 3 to actually be present in my life at certain scheduled times. No, I can’t afford to leave my phone behind all day, but I’m fully prepared to leave it at home and go out for a few hours here and there with just my Apple Watch.
If I and other people like me schedule in phone-free time, how therapeutic will it be? Will it help ease internet fatigue? Will it let me exist in the present even a little bit more? I’m willing to bet $10 a month that it will – and I think a whole lot of other people will too. The Apple Watch Series 3 offers an opportunity for those who are disciplined to live a less connected life if you accept the same challenge that I have. Given that most of us can’t realistically untether, why not simply shrink the tether as I suggest here?
Yes, my idea is both lofty and imprecise. I can’t speak for all consumers out there, and I don’t mean to invalidate the importance of being connected to communications all the time. With that said, internet fatigue is real, and I think the Apple Watch Series 3 might just be a good way of dealing with it. The notion is just as salient as Apple’s plan to have exercise enthusiasts see the Apple Watch as a required part of their activity arsenal. It is, and the data collected via the Apple Watch during exercise truly makes being active so much more motivating and fun. That said, America isn’t out of shape because we lack tools to help motivate us to exercise. America is out of shape because eating the food available to us is like strolling through land mines, and because screens appear to be more attractive uses of our time than taking a walk.
It will take an enormous amount of will power and discipline to remove ourselves from screen time and to interact with people and things without Google and Instagram in our pocket. Mobile-connected smartwatches such as the Apple Watch Series 3 can offer the safety and convenience of being semi-disconnected, which to me has enormous potential value.
Comfortable, Beautiful Hardware In The Apple Watch Series 3
Apple has most of the information you need to help make a decision on what (if any) Apple Watch Series 3 is right for you. In our Apple Watch Series 3 debut article (linked to above) we talked about the pricing, color, and size options of the Series 3, which are similar to those of the previous models. On my wrist is the 42mm steel Apple Watch Series 3, which is mostly distinguishable given the red cabochon in the digital crown. I actually heard some rumors that this red cap is an antenna – which is totally wrong. The Apple Watch Series 3 actually has a brilliant antenna built into the display, while the red component on the crown is purely decorative.
Apple Watch OS 4 is out with new watch faces and functionality, which keeps a good operating system moving in the right direction. I recall a few years ago interacting with the first Apple Watch OS, and trying to anticipate how Apple would evolve its mobile operating system platform. Aside from being a bit on the slower side to release new watch faces/dials, the operating system just keeps getting more and more user-friendly.
In addition to the roughly 70% faster processor powering the Apple Watch Series 3, I am the most excited about the gray-colored ceramic case. Maintaining the white ceramic case of the Series 2, the Series 3 now comes in aluminum, steel, and either white or gray ceramic. For most men, the gray ceramic will likely be the material of choice – as it should be. I’m planning on doing an entire article on the ceramic material of the Apple Watch Series 3 in the future.
Also new from Apple is the excellent Sport Loop band for the Apple Watch that feels great. The cushiony fabric of the strap is paired with a high-tech hook and loop (think Velcro) attachment system which attaches similarly to the magnetic attachment system of other Apple Watch Loop straps. In terms of comfort and convenience I prefer the Sport Loop above all other Apple Watch bands. It certainly isn’t formal or dressy, and I’ve already playfully referred to the Sport Loop as the “sweat pants of Apple Watch straps.” I certainly recommend one for activity purposes and anticipate Apple to come out with even more colors of this particular strap style in the future.
A Note For Traditional Watch Guys
Apple will continue to promote the generalized message of the Apple Watch Series 3 as being the premier activity and exercise smartwatch for mainstream audiences. For most people, it certainly will be. My sights however, are on a more generalized adoption of smartwatches for a host of other uses such as the one I described above as being a tool to help people disconnect from interacting with screens as much. Yes, the irony is that it will take technology to help wean most people off of technology. I will continue to explore interesting ways to wear a phone-independent Apple Watch – I am paying $10 a month for the privilege after-all.
As a traditional watch guy, this presents me with a renewed conundrum. I’ve yet to find a fashionable (and comfortable) way to wear both a traditional watch (which I deem as being artistic and expressive) as well as a smartwatch (which I deem to be useful and practical). My desire really is to be able to wear both. Right now, the two options for doing this are to wear two on one wrist, or one on each wrist. Neither seems to be a perfect fit, and barring my ability to wear the Apple Watch on my ankle (no idea how that will affect its ability to pick up my heart rate), I will leave it up to other innovators out there to answer the increasingly relevant question of “how do I wear both?” apple.com/watch