How I use the Apple Watch

I bought an Apple Watch a little while ago. I really like it and I find it useful, but I use it differently to most people and I almost didn’t buy one because I wasn’t sure that it could fit with my need. Here are a few of my “workarounds” and a few findings that someone might find useful.

A non-standard user?

  1. I don’t have an iPhone.
  2. I don’t want to charge the Apple Watch at night; I want to wear it to bed.

I’d love to report that the Apple Watch can connect to an iPad (I only have an iPad), but it doesn’t. You still need an iPhone to configure it, and to serve as a conduit for data and App installs, but you don’t need it to be with you all the time for the watch to be useful. In my case it doesn’t even matter that the watch is hooked into my wife’s Apple ID (she has the iPhone) because all the important data is still accessible1.

What I planned to use it for

  • silent alarms during the day, and to wake me up in the morning
  • the time
  • fitness tracker (mainly step count)

If you’re thinking that I could have used a Fitbit, you’d be right. I’ve had a few of them and the build quality on my bands was poor and the software gets in my way 2, so I wanted something else.

What I also use it for

  • checking the weather when dressing the kids for bed and when getting clothes out for the next day
  • countdown timers
  • driving directions when I’m out with my family

I don’t use it for anything else.

Battery Life

The big surprise is that battery life isn’t a problem, even though the standard usage pattern involves charging at night and I have it on my wrist at night.

My observations are that recording activity drains the battery a little, the attempts by the phone to connect to the iPhone drain the battery, and being in contact with the iPhone drains it quite a bit more.

Battery drain rates: * being a couch potato in aeroplane mode - 2% per hour * normal activity levels in aeroplane mode - 2.5% per hour * normal activity levels (not in aeroplane mode) when the iPhone is not around - 3.5% per hour * normal activity levels (not in aeroplane mode) when the iPhone is around - 5% per hour

I have a 42mm watch. Bluetooth is off, brightness is at the lowest setting and haptics are at the strongest setting). I have one third party complication Pocket Weather AU.


I’ve observed the watch charging at about 1% per minute, just like David Smith, whose great idea allowed me to even consider an Apple Watch.

I don’t really need the watch while I’m preparing for my day, so I put it on charge within a few minutes of getting up so it’s charging while I do my morning routine (shower, coffee, eat, read) so it has about 75 minutes to charge.

I have the watch out of aeroplane mode in the evening (~4 hours) i.e. 4 x 3% = 12% and the rest of the non-charge time in aeroplane mode (~19 hours) i.e. 19 x 2.5% = 47.5%. This means I need about an hour of charge time to be constantly topped off. That has always been enough and consequently I’m not worried about battery life.

So, it works for me

Initially, I thought the watch would be of limited use without connectivity but it’s not been a problem. Most of the features that require connectivity are for notifications and I’m happy to forgo them - I like not being interrupted, to be honest, and where connectivity is necessary for data updates, I’ve found a once-a-day refresh to be sufficient. So, I’m really happy with the watch. It’s been a step-up from the Fitbit in terms of functionality and quality so it’s been a good purchase and I’m looking forward to what’s coming in watchOS 3.

  1. iCloud shared calendars for the win 

  2. Why can’t I set an alarm when I’m not connected to the internet? Why can’t graphs render without an Internet connection?