New year, new watch
When the Apple Watch first hit the scene, I can’t really say I understood the hype. I barely remembered to wear a regular watch, having grown up with a phone in my hand and an embarrassing inability to read clock faces until I was a teenager (I was sick when we learned it at school and too embarrassed to admit it, okay?). So the novelty was lost on me.
However, over the course of 2021, I started getting fed up with my dependence on a phone. I felt like I was constantly doomscrolling through social media sites. Every app was incessantly blasting me with notifications designed to trap me into an endless cycle of personalized ads wedged between posts from school friends and family members showing off engagement photos, sharing pixelated unfunny memes, or bragging about their culinary skills.
Flash forward to me starting at TechRadar and using a smartwatch to learn more about my anxiety. I soon realized these wearables were so much more than just a fancy timepiece.
I decided this Christmas was a good time to invest in myself (or at least, get my lovely dad to – thanks pops!). Newer models with all the bells and whistles, like the Apple Watch Series 7, can be a little overwhelming – and expensive – as an entry point, so we went for the Apple Watch Series 3. This has proven to have more staying power than the Series 4, 5, and 6 on the Apple website, and now comes at a highly discounted price.
So, here’s all the things I’m hoping to do with my new Apple Watch to level up my 2022.
Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first; fitness. You might not think it to look at me in my post-Christmas stupor, but I’ve been getting into exercise more since a health scare a few years back. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I enjoy it, so I’m hoping my new Apple Watch can help make it as painless as possible.
As well as built-in features like heart-rate notifications, and activity and workout tracking, Apple Watch OS includes heaps of fantastic features for fitness.
Plus, the Apple Watch Series 3 and all later models are compatible with Apple Fitness Plus, Apple’s subscription-based workout service with an enormous range of classes for at-home workouts. I’m still nervous about going to the gym at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic, so this is a great alternative to rinsing the same four YouTube HIIT workouts I’ve been cycling through for the past year.
Another goal of mine that may not seem glamorous to some is improving my organization skills when it comes to my personal life. I may be systematic at work, but I am notoriously terrible at managing life admin. I can’t tell you how many times a week I forget everything I wanted at the supermarket or that I have an important appointment to attend. Literally, I can’t tell you. I have no idea. I forgot already.
I’m easily distracted too, so I want to strip back the number of apps that can notify me, and what notifications they send. Then, with the help of my new Apple Watch, I want to have a quick and easy digest of what’s coming up in my day, what I need to do, and when to do it - without ever having to open my pesky, mind-bending iPhone.
This is made even easier with one of the newer additions to Watch OS – Focus. I plan to tailor my schedule to optimize my day – without becoming too much of a slave to structure, hopefully – and then leave my phone out of reach to avoid the inevitable distraction my TikTok’s for you page serves me.
Mindfulness and wellness
Along with the news that the popular Breathe app has been expanded and renamed Mindfulness came a new wave of excitement for Apple Watch users. In addition to the Breathe feature, which also has new visualizations and tips, there’s Reflect, which prompts users to focus on a specific, thought-provoking theme.
I’m hoping to incorporate both Breathe and Reflect sessions into my Focus schedule and spend at least 10 minutes every day giving my mind a break from all the noise. Plus, both features are summarized in the handy Mindful Minutes digest; a short outline of your activity and heart rate so you can keep track of all of the ways you’ve given your brain a break.
Not to make this article any more of a lengthy testament to my many health difficulties, but I also have dreadful insomnia and a wonderfully decorated history of night terrors. So, Watch OS 8’s revamp of sleep tracking to include a respiratory rate measure will help me keep tabs on how well, or poorly, my ambition to sort out my sleep schedule goes.
The best thing for me is that many of the benefits of having an Apple Watch are compounded in Apple One. I haven’t had much interest in Apple’s membership bundle until now, as I use Spotify and Netflix as my primary entertainment systems, but my new smartwatch is converting me to the idea of an all-inclusive package.
Mostly it’s the aforementioned Apple Watch compatibility with Fitness Plus which is drawing me in, but the increased storage options and opportunity to switch to Apple Music are tempting. Plus, some standout shows from the past two years, such as Ted Lasso, Mythic Quest and Central Park, have been Apple TV originals. While the library isn’t quite as expansive as its competition, there’s certainly appeal to tying my subscriptions in a neat little Apple-shaped bow.
A mild frustration is that you can’t pick and choose your membership. If I could, I’d just opt for the one-person package for £14.95 / $14.95 / AU$19.95 with the subscriptions I’m more interested in. Thankfully, both of my parents now have Apple Watches and I’m a pretty good negotiator when it comes to group accounts, meaning we get everything we need at the flick of a smartwatch-clad wrist for just £29.95 / $29.95 / AU$39.95 per month.
Committing to a better me
I could go on and on with all of the Apple Watch capabilities that I’ve barely scraped the surface of, but some honorable mentions go to Find My Phone (which I expect to use a minimum of 50 times a day), the hearing protection decibel meter and the ability to unlock your iPhone even when masked.
I’m trying to keep my New Year’s resolution for 2022 flexible and open – goal-setting for me can be more debilitating than anything – so my only commitment is to end the year feeling like a better, more well-rounded me than the one who entered it.
With the help of my Apple Watch and a can-do attitude, I’m hoping to get there with ease.
P.S. HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY NEW YEAR'S EVE TONIGHT!!!!!