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Guidemaster: Smartwatches worthy of replacing your favorite timepiece

Enlarge / Apple Watch Series 2. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

If you hate looking at your smartphone all day, you should consider getting a smartwatch. While it may seem counter-intuitive to get a new gadget to lessen your dependency on another, it's more effective than you think. Smartwatches take the most crucial parts of a smartphone—call and text alerts, app notifications, and quick controls—and put them on your wrist.

That means no more fumbling with your smartphone during a meeting to silence a call, no more checking Twitter or Facebook every two minutes for the newest post. Instead of absentmindedly staring at your smartphone's display, the most important information hits your wrist as it happens. As wearables, smartwatches can also track daily activity, and some even double as high-end fitness watches equipped with heart rate monitors, GPS trackers, music storage, and more.

Today, your smartphone remains the biggest factor to consider when you buy a smartwatch. Most smartwatches must pair to your phone to receive information, so the smartwatch you choose must be compatible with your handset either through its operating system or a companion mobile app. So to make the selection process easier for would-be watch wearers, we've revisited all of the smartwatches we've reviewed recently and picked out the best ones for all types of users with all types of phones.

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Woman uses Apple Watch’s SOS feature to call 911 after being struck by a drunk driver

Apple Watch SOS

It almost sounds bizarre to say, but the Apple Watch has helped save a number of lives since its release more than two years ago. Just about four months ago, for example, an Apple Watch owner went to the doctor after the device detected an abnormally high heart rate. Upon further examination, the man was found to have a pulmonary embolism, a serious condition that manifests when a blood clot appears in the lungs. The man quickly received proper medical care and, in the process, avoided what could have very well been a fatal outcome.

More recently, the SOS feature on the Apple Watch helped a woman named Kacie Anderson -- who was traveling with her 9-month old child -- call for help after her car was blindsided by a drunk driver. The accident occurred late last year but was only recently brought to light via Shape.

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Woman uses Apple Watch’s SOS feature to call 911 after being struck by a drunk driver originally appeared on BGR.com on Fri, 16 Feb 2018 at 17:25:20 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

New ‘Close Your Rings’ minisite encourages using Apple Watch Activity app

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Apple has created a new website, "Close Your Rings," explaining how the Apple Watch's Activity app works and some of the ways people can reach its "Move," "Exercise," and "Stand" goals.

Apple’s Website Promotes ‘Closing Your Rings’ as Fun Way to Maintain Active Lifestyle With Apple Watch

Apple has added a new "Close Your Rings" page to its website that highlights how the Activity app works on Apple Watch.


The page details how Apple Watch users can close the Move ring by hitting their personal goal of active calories burned, close the Exercise ring by completing at least 30 minutes of activity, and close the Stand ring by getting up and moving around for at least one minute during 12 different hours in the day.
Three rings: Move, Exercise, Stand. One goal: Close them every day. It's such a simple and fun way to live a healthier day that you'll want to do it all the time. That's the idea behind the Activity app on Apple Watch.
Apple also provides tips about how to use and customize certain fitness-related features of the Apple Watch, and highlights Achievements and Monthly Challenges that can be earned by closing the rings in the Activity app.


While the page doesn't provide any brand new information, it should be useful for people who are considering purchasing the Apple Watch. Apple has been highlighting individual features on its website more often lately, including a new page that promotes augmented reality use cases powered by its ARKit platform.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

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What We Love and Hate About the Apple Watch

Although the rumors are constantly swirling of when the latest Apple Watch will be released, how much it will cost and what exactly it will look like, we’re currently none the wiser and still need to wait for official word – as usual. With so many people already dying to know what the Series 4 will be like, this got us thinking: what do people actually enjoy and dislike about the smartwatch as it stands now? Is it worth the money and the hype?

These points could be regarded as the general consensus when it comes to what people love and hate about the Apple Watch.

Love

apple watch bands

Range of straps: Apple does a good job of catering for all tastes and providing a lot of tasteful watch strap options. The attractive straps from Hermès and the Nike sports band demonstrate the idea that straps can be so much more.

Apple Pay: Although not a function used by every owner, Apple Pay is very useful for Point of Sale terminals and also for things like storing boarding passes. Moving to a cashless society is definitely possible in the not-too-distant-future, and things like Apple Pay are propelling this forward.

Special editions: Apple certainly has fun with how it can present its watch, as the company has dabbled with gold finishes in the past, but is now moving towards ceramic for its latest special edition.

Time killers: The sheer amount of apps and games on the Apple Watch make standing in queues and long train journeys just slightly less dire. Games like Lifeline can be played over the course of several days in real time, too, so this is an exciting innovation for the casual gamer.

Fitness: The Apple Watch’s heart rate sensor and fitness trackers easily rival the likes of dedicated smartbands like the Fitbit. Apple’s smartwatch can track everything from BPM to calories burned, and the fact that the device is waterproof makes it great for both swimmers and surfers alike. Daily reminders to simply stand up or move around are useful for those who get caught up sitting at their computer. It’s really the best thing about the Apple Watch.

Hate

 

Poor battery life: The fact that owners generally have to charge the watch overnight – every night – is rather irksome. Apple definitely needs to improve the battery life for the latest model, whenever it arrives.

Price: Yes, we all know how expensive Apple products are, but $329 for the most basic model is a bit steeper than most people would like. Sure, it’s not Rolex prices, but considering that a new Apple Watch it released basically every year, this is a large price to part with if you’re a casual smartwatch fan. However, purchasing one second-hand is certainly an option for those who don’t have the luxury of buying brand new.

No option to type messages: Many Apple Watch wearers dislike the fact that typing an answer to a text isn’t possible. Although messages can be read and replies can be sent in the form of emojis and template answers (such as ‘Thanks’, ‘See you soon’, ‘Sounds good’, etc.), it’s common to hear complaints of limited options when it comes to sending/answering messages.

LTE connectivity issues: It’s not completely unheard of to have connectivity problems, chiefly when using Siri. This doesn’t seem to affect everyone and patches are said to fix these issues, but for some, the problem is ongoing and frustrating.

All in all, there will always be lovers and haters for every gadget, even for those who only swear by Apple products. The Apple Watch has a long way to go before becoming something to replace the humble smartphone, but just what options we will have and what it will look like in 10 years will be fascinating.

The post What We Love and Hate About the Apple Watch appeared first on Apple Gazette.

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