Apple Watch

1000 Workouts


Last night I hit a rather interesting and surprising 1000th Apple Watch workout! I received my Apple Watch exactly 1579 days ago. That means in over 4.25 years there were only 579 days out of the 1579 days that I didn’t complete a workout. That’s a 63% success rate.

That may not seem like that big of a success, 63%. But I’ve gone through 2 launch campaigns (during which I have to work very long hours making workouts nearly impossible). I have also traveled more in the last 2 years than I have in all the years of my career previous to that combined...a seriously insane amount of traveling. So given all that, I take this milestone and 63% as a huge win.

I’ll go even further, each and every workout any one of us does is a huge win...period. One of the great things about Apple Watch is that it gives each of us these badges and other nudges of encouragement to keep going. Another sneaky thing the watch does is it makes it easy to connect with friends and share workout summaries with them. Nothing gets you off the couch faster than getting a notification that a friend or family member just finished another workout. If they can do it they I can too, right?

Apple Watch Series 2 vs Series 3

Screen Shot 2018-06-24 at 1.45.16 PM.png

If you are in the market for an Apple Watch, whether it is your first Apple Watch or you are just upgrading, you may be asking yourself:

Should I buy a Series 2 or a Series 3 Apple Watch?

Up until a few days ago I would not have been able to give you much advice on that topic. But now that I have upgraded from a Series 2 to a Series 3 I can tell you there are 3 main differences to consider when trying to answer that question.

The 1st Difference: Siri has a voice

All Apple Watches before the Series 3 reduced Siri to a visual text-based interface only. If you raised your wrist and gave Siri a command or asked a question you would need to then look at the screen of your Apple Watch to get confirmation that Siri acted on your command or to get the answer to your question. That all changes with the Series 3 Apple Watch. Now Siri has a voice. At first glance this might not seem like that big of a deal, especially if you have been using an Apple Watch since they first came out. But in practice this a really big deal. One of the biggest advantages of having a computer strapped to your wrist is that you can access it in situations where it is simply not possible to sit in front of a full computer or even pull your iPhone out of your pocket. But in many of those cases it also isn’t possible or practical to look down at the screen of your Apple Watch. This is especially true if you are asking Siri a question. Maybe you are walking down a flight of stairs or across a parking lot and in either of those cases you really shouldn’t be looking down at a tiny screen and trying to read a bunch of text. Siri’s voice pouring out of your Apple Watch really is a great new feature but you don’t realize how handy it is until you have it and use it.

The 2nd Difference: Cellular Connectivity

This may not be a feature you need, but for some this really handy. I like to go outside on walks and runs for exercise and listen to music and be able to use my phone if I run into trouble. Until I bought the Series 3 this meant I needed to take my iPhone with me on my run or walk. Walking isn’t such a bid deal, but if you are running an iPhone in your pocket isn’t feasible and strapping one to your arm is just a pain. Now all I do is pop my AirPods into my ears and head out the door. If I get a phone call or I need to call someone I can do that right from my watch. The cellular feature also means I don’t have to carry an iPhone around in my pocket at work all day. I leave the iPhone in my bag in my office. This is nice in a couple of way in that I don’t have an iPhone in my front pocket (not always attractive especially in dress pants) and it eliminates the temptation to pull my iPhone out and start checking email or news. But since I have cellular data on my watch I still get important texts and phone calls.

The 3rd Difference: Processor Speed

I saved the best for last and that is a faster processor. I can’t stress this enough, the jump in processor speed from the Series 2 to the Series 3 is staggering. There is nothing worse that lifting your wrist to quickly do something only to have to wait on the watch to catch up. With the Series 2 this would happen almost every time I went to start a workout. I was always waiting on the watch to “unfreeze” the interface so I could select a workout to start. This simply doesn’t happen with the Series 3 watch. There is no delay. Double-tapping the side button to quickly switch apps is also lightning fast and fluid with the Series 3 and with the Series 2 it was very sluggish. All of this might not seem like that big of a deal but you don’t realize just how much it bothers you until you realize you weren’t using the watch to its full potential because it just wasn’t enjoyable to use when it did these things. With the Series 3 I am now using my watch more than ever because it works so much more fluidly now.

The Apple Watch and Saving Lives

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 7.22.32 AM.png

The Apple Watch has from the very beginning been typically viewed as a tech gadget. But it actually has a much more important function... health monitoring. There are two recent news stories that I wanted to share with all of you concerning the use of the Apple Watch for medical reasons.

I'll start with the recent news announcement from Apple and Stanford. Apple has a page that goes into all the details about the study and the new Apple Watch app so I highly recommend you take a look. Apple and Stanford are doing this study to learn more about irregular heartbeats (also known as an arrhythmia). The Apple Watch is the perfect device to collect data on a large number of people and monitor your heartbeat constantly because it is already doing that anyway when you wear your watch. I don’t have any known heart problems but I downloaded the app and joined the study. The more information doctors have about this the better equipped they are to help people who need it. So if you have an Apple Watch considering doing your part. Who knows, it could just save your own life and will definitely help to save others.

Joining the study is as simple as downloading an app. The study is open to any U.S. resident who is 22 years or older, uses an iPhone 5s or later with iOS 11 and an Apple Watch Series 1 or later with watchOS 4, and meets other study eligibility criteria.

Speaking of saving lives... The second item I wanted to share has a story about how the Apple Watch saved someone's life. This isn't some major media headline story like many of you have heard. This story is comes from one of the many podcasts I regularly listen to. The podcast is called "Download." Episode 30 of the Download podcast opens with a discussion with one of the guests, James T. Green, who’s Apple Watch saved his life. After getting an alert from his Apple Watch that his heart rate was too high he called his doctor. Because he had so much heart rate history data on his watch he was able to show that this was a real problem and not just a fluke reading. After a CT scan showed he had blood clots in his lungs we was rushed to the hospital for immediate treatment. If his high heart rate (one of the few symptoms of this condition) was not noticed he very likely would have died as these clots tends to move into the brain or heart where they can be fatal. I highly recommend taking a few minutes to listen to Episode 30 of Download or check out the article in The Telegraph.

Photo Credit: @_jamestgreen on Twitter

Photo Credit: @_jamestgreen on Twitter

Series 3 Apple Watch & Enterprise iPhones


Even though I called both Apple and AT&T before buying the Series 3 Apple Watch to pair with my work provided iPhone I still got a surprise. In the week or so leading up to the release of the Apple Watch Series 3 there wasn’t a ton of information about how exactly the new Series 3 Apple Watch would be making and receiving phone calls. Turns out the new Apple Watch is using a form of wi-fi calling. In other words, the watch is using cellular data to make a phone call in the same way your iPhone can when it doesn’t have a cell signal but is connected to wi-fi. But in order to make all this happen (and in fact in order to even setup the Series 3 with cellular data) the iPhone you are pairing your new Series 3 Apple Watch with must have the wi-fi calling feature enabled. Each cellular company calls this feature something different (on AT&T it is called NumberSync). If you have a personal account with AT&T (and I assume with the other cellular providers as well), enabling this feature is very simple and doesn’t cost anything. But if your iPhone is on an enterprise account (provided by your employer) then this may not be an option your employer can enable. Turns out if you dig hard enough you can actually find this guidance on Apple’s support pages:


So since I can’t enable NumberSync on my work provided iPhone I’m not able to use my Apple Watch Series 3 with my work iPhone. I just wanted to share this others out there in case they were thinking of doing the same thing. Make sure you check with your work IT department to see if your work provided iPhone can be configured properly to work with a Series 3 Apple Watch before you buy the Apple Watch.

Do You Need to Own an iPhone to Use an Apple Watch Series 3?

2017-09-13 - Do You Need to Own an iPhone to Use an Apple Watch Series 3.JPG

There are a lot of confusing, misleading and in some cases down right inaccurate headlines and articles out there with respect to the new Apple Watch Series 3 that Apple announced yesterday. Many of these articles are leading people to believe that you no longer need to own an iPhone for you to use your Apple Watch and that is simply untrue. So below are a few key pieces of information you need to know before you even consider buying an Apple Watch Series 3:

What phone number is associated with the Apple Watch Series 3?

Just like every version of the Apple Watch before it, the Apple Watch Series 3 MUST be paired with an iPhone to even be setup as a functioning watch. So you must physically be in possession of an iPhone to setup an Apple Watch Series 3. That iPhone must be an iPhone 6 or newer phone in order for it to be compatible with an Apple Watch, so be aware of that limitation as well. During the setup process your new Apple Watch Series 3 will copy/clone the cellular number associated with the iPhone you are pairing the watch to and the Apple Watch will now associate itself (from a physical phone number perspective) with the phone number assigned to that iPhone. So if you make a phone call from the watch the person you call will see the phone number associated with iPhone it is paired with (they won't know if you are calling from your watch or the iPhone). So the simple answer is that the Apple Watch Series 3 takes on the cellular number of the phone it is paired with. The Apple Watch Series 3 has what is called an electronic SIM (or eSIM) which means there is no physical SIM card you insert into the watch like you do your iPhone. The functionality of the eSIM is built directly into the Apple Watch Series 3 hardware.

What can the Apple Watch Series 3 do while away from the iPhone?

The simple answer is that the Apple Watch Series 3 can do quite a bit while physically separated from the iPhone it is paired to. For one, the watch can make and receive phone calls without the iPhone. Below is a list of other things that can be done with the Apple Watch Series 3 without being in range of the iPhone:

  • Make and receive phone calls
  • Send and receive text (SMS) and iMessages
  • Use Apple Maps for directions
  • Find My Friends tracks your location using the Apple Watch GPS rather than the iPhone automatically as soon as the watch is out of range of the iPhone
  • Other messaging apps like Snapchat will work
  • You can stream Apple Music
  • You can use Siri (and Siri now talks back to you using the Apple Watch speaker where it didn't before)
  • 3rd party apps are able to use cellular data from the watch, so depending on the app you may have a lot of other functionality available to you while away from your iPhone

How much will a monthly data plan on the Apple Watch cost?

So far the big 4 cellular companies (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile) in the U.S. are all saying that the monthly fee for cellular data connectivity to their networks will all run you $10 a month. You must already have cellular service with one of these companies in order to add the Apple Watch Series 3 onto your existing account. In my case I am with AT&T and have a family data share plan so for $10 a month I can add the Apple Watch Series 3 and it will share our pool of 15 Gb of data per month. If I didn't have a shared data plan my $10 a month would get me 1 Gb of data dedicated strictly for the Apple Watch (again this is with AT&T so check with your provider for the full details).

Can you use the Apple Watch Series 3 as a stand alone smartwatch for a child?

The smartwatch market has huge hole in it right now with respect to a high quality highly functioning smartwatches for kids. There are a ton of "kid friendly" smartwatches on the market but I have yet to find one that is even worth considering and most of them are targeted for young kids (like 8 years-old or younger). I don't think getting a younger child a cell phone is a good idea. It's great from a connectivity and safety perspective, but until the child gets into high school I would argue that a cell phone is more hassle, cost and responsibility than they are ready for. But if all you want to do is be able text or have a 30-second voice call with your child a smartwatch would be a perfect fit (if a good one actually existed).

So when Apple announced the Series 3 Apple Watch I was really hoping they were also going to also introduce the ability to setup the watch as a standalone cellular device with its own phone number so it could be used by a child as a stand alone smartwatch. But that didn't happen. But not all hope is lost (at least not for me).

I mentioned I have an AT&T family share plan. I have 4 iPhones and one iPad Pro on that plan but I also own (or use) a 5th iPhone that is provided to me by my employer (this iPhone is NOT on my personal AT&T plan). The unique thing about my work iPhone is that I do not use it as a phone. I use it for work email and work calendar and a few work related apps but the phone number associated with that iPhone is not used or even given out. I also do not receive text messages on my work iPhone. All communication with me for work purposes is done through my personal cell phone (all except for email). So this puts me in a very unique situation where I have an iPhone that is on AT&T and the number associated with that phone is not being used. So if I bought an Apple Watch Series 3 and paired it with my work iPhone, the watch would take on the number associated with my work iPhone. Nobody has the number associated with that phone so it would be like a brand new number that my daughter then could use for her Apple Watch. But what about the $10 a month data plan that I would need to get for the watch? Is the data plan connected to the account associated with the phone number on the iPhone? Tricky question.

So I called Apple and talked with their customer support. They were not able to answer my question directly but they consulted with their cellular department and came back and said that while the eSIM in the Apple Watch Series 3 will take on the phone number of the iPhone it is setup and paired with, the data plan associated with the Apple Watch is something that is left up to the individual carriers to manage. So I needed to call AT&T.

I called AT&T and talked with their customer support. I was very specific about my question and in fact asked it several different times in slightly different ways and the answer was the same each time. As long as the phone number the Apple Watch takes on is an AT&T cellular number I can have a separate data plan on the watch from the plan that governs the cell number associated with the iPhone. Because AT&T has a feature called NumberSync AT&T is able to separate the data plan from the physical phone number cellular plan of the iPhone. So I can buy an Apple Watch Series 3 and set it up and pair it with my work iPhone. The Apple Watch will now make and receive phone calls using the number associated with my work iPhone (which is fine because nobody uses that number and nobody knows that number so this will be phone number only used by her Series 3 Apple Watch). I can also sign into my work iPhone with my daughter's iCloud account, again because I don't use that iPhone for any other functions than reading work email and work calendar items (and we use Exchange and not iCloud). AT&T has assured me that simply setting up the watch with the iPhone will not activate a data plan for the watch, it will only associated the watch with the phone number of the iPhone. I can then call up AT&T and they can activate a data plan with the Apple Watch and attach that data plan to my existing family share plan.

Disclaimer...I do not trust that information I received from AT&T is accurate. While I do think what they have told me is possibly correct, I have been burned by AT&T support people not knowing what they are talking about in the past. Even on this phone call the AT&T support person was saying that they may need to send me a physical SIM card for the Apple Watch because "they don't yet know what kind of SIM the watch will use"...and we know that isn't true. Apple explained yesterday at the product announcement that the Apple Watch Series 3 uses an eSIM which is physically built into the Watch hardware and not a physical SIM card at all. So I am totally expecting to buy an Apple Watch Series 3 for my daughter only to find out that the AT&T person I talked to didn't know what they were talking about. But Apple has an excellent return policy so I am willing to give it try.

So in summary it appears that I will be able buy an Apple Watch Series 3 for my daughter and she will be able to use it completely independently of my work iPhone (with the exception of setting it up and the occasional software update). But I am only able to do this because of the very unique way in which I use my iPhone for work purposes, which is strictly as an email and calendaring device. This frees up my work iPhone to serve as a surrogate device for my daughter's Apple Watch. I doubt there are a lot of other people out there that use their iPhone in this limited way, but if you do you may be able to use the phone number of that iPhone as a way to use an Apple Watch Series 3 as a true stand alone device. I'll write up a follow-up blog post once I get the Series 3 Apple Watch and let you all know how it goes. I'm not holding my breath...

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.