A Note On Notes On Apple Watch

Digital note taking might be pedestrian, but it’s essential to the workflow of many; I’m certainly no exception. I love notes apps and have used several over the years. One of them, Apple Notes, has served me very well. Inexplicably, though, the app is nowhere to be found on Apple Watch, which is a, uh, noteworthy omission.

With Apple Notes missing from the Watch, I simply did not expect what happened today. I noticed Microsoft’s OneNote on my Apple Watch; it’s purple icon stood out like amethyst in a geode. What was that doing there?

Surprise! With OneNote, I now have my notes on my Watch.

How can this be? Microsoft has enabled note viewing and taking on Apple’s Watch, but Apple hasn’t. Curious.

OneNote on Apple Watch shows your most recent notes in a list like it does in the mobile app. The list displays:

  1. The section color the note is in.
  2. The section title the note is in.
  3. The date the note was taken.

At the top of the list is a simple “+” button, which lets you add a new note by either finger drawing or dictation. Where does that new note go? It is automatically added to the designated “Quick Notes” section in the mobile app (you choose the section in settings).

This is both a surprise and a delight to me. I can finally take notes on my watch or simply review them. There are only two feature wishes I have:

  1. Ability to add a Complication to take a new note (by dictation).
  2. Ability to take a new note via Siri command (e.g., “Hey, Siri, take a note…”).

I checked into this and found there are a few other note-taking apps that include a Watch app. It’s probably only a matter of time until Apple finally adds Apple Notes to its Watch, but with it being seven series’ old, why has it already taken so long? This omission is more glaring since third-party developers already offer notes on the Watch.

In fact, per this article, OneNote has been available on Apple Watch since 2015:

We recently released OneNote for the Apple Watch to access your content when you’re on the go. We designed OneNote for Apple Watch with a strong focus on lightweight interactions and placed a premium on convenience. A core principle of our design was ensuring that you could quickly and easily reference the information you are looking for. If you pinned a note on OneNote for iPhone, we’ll surface it right at the top of your Apple Watch app, so you don’t need to hunt for it. This is perfect for when you’re frequently checking your to-do list.

Additionally, OneNote for Apple Watch presents a unique opportunity to capture any quick idea, to-do, or thought you have while you’re on the go. All you need to do is speak what’s on your mind, and we’ll save it to OneNote immediately so you don’t forget it. Just tap the large + button and start dictating–it’s really is that simple.

Greg Akselrod and Avneesh Kohli, program managers on the OneNote team

In any case, the functionality of notes on Apple Watch exists. If you are missing it like I was, you don’t have to anymore. Noted.

About Apple’s California Streaming

This week was the ”Superbowl for nerds.” Apple held its annual September event where it showcased the newest iPhones to debut in Autumn. This year sees iPhones 13, which are incrementally better than last year’s iPhones 12. With them, Apple is releasing updated iPads and the latest Apple Watch iteration.

I viewed Apple’s live video announcement — California Streaming — a fast-paced deluge of features packed into a superlative-laden presentation. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m more or less an Apple Fanboy, but it felt a bit like drinking kool-aid with too much sugar. With that small gripe out of the way, here are my personal thoughts as a mobile-computer consumer.


iPad mini

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Going from 7.9” to 8.3”, the mini has more screen, yet it remains mini! That’s a solid win in my book. I think most people want as much display as they can comfortably fit in a pocket or hold in one hand. Apple does this via removing bezels and extending the display to the edges of the device. Samsung’s approach is to fold the screen in half! I think I prefer Apple’s method: it’s simpler, more elegant, more affordable, and less likely to break.

The iPad mini basically got all of the iPad Air’s features, but it also got a $100 price hike over the previous mini, which is a bummer. I was thinking about buying my wife her own iPad mini for Christmas, but now it’s more out of reach. Then again, it comes in my wife’s favorite color: purple.

iPad

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I love the iPad! As I type this blog post, I’m enjoying my 8th gen iPad, which I bought in the Summer. I had figured the 9th gen iPad would not get a significant upgrade, and that’s basically what happened. This newest iPad got 3 updates: a wider front camera that follows people to keep them in frame (Center Stage), the A13 chip to replace the great A12, and a True Tone display that, in my experience, is nice but not a big deal.

The one other update that is worth shouting about is that Apple finally bumped the entry priced $329 iPad from a paltry 32GB of storage to 64GB! For that low price, often on sale for $300, I think anyone can now enjoy a viable and enviable Apple tablet. In addition, the $429 iPad now packs a generous 256GB of storage — nice!

iPhone 13/mini/Pro/Pro Max

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Apple_iphone13_design_09142021

There’s isn’t much for me to say here except that, like most people, the latest iPhones’ camera improvements are more than welcome. I especially am excited about the iPhone 13 Pros getting a Macro photography capability, preferring both the ultra-wide and macro features over the zoom/telephoto features. In addition, the newest iPhones 13 get better performance (not that they were lacking) and longer lasting battery life — what good is all that CPU power if the phone has no battery power at all?

With new phones, I like that the previous few years’ iPhones, which are still excellent devices, now sport a lower price than ever. Those now “older” phones — still for sale as new — make some of the best tech from Apple available to more and more people. Upgrading my iPhone 8 Plus, for example, to last year’s iPhone 12 versus the 13 would save me $100, yet I’d still get a significant update.

Apple Watch 7

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When it comes to the Apple Watch, I see two sides to it: the fitness side and the smart side. This year’s version 7 does not see much new for either side. Yet while some pundits have panned this year’s Watch as a minor update, I was quite excited for it. Sure, it’s not a huge step up, but it’s better nonetheless. What matters to me is that when I eventually upgrade my current 40mm Apple Watch SE, I’ll see an even bigger display boost when I opt for the now larger 45mm size. Otherwise, I think it performs like my current watch, but it’s vast screen will make using it easier and more enjoyable.

Another welcome change will be the always-on display that’s now much brighter; I presume it doesn’t degrade battery life. Most surprising of all, though, is the new on-screen keyboard! I’m skeptical that it will work well. I suspect the bigger watch size will be easier to tap the tiny letters on. Even without a keyboard, I find voice dictation totally reliable, but it will be nice to try the keyboard once I upgrade in the distant future.


Overall, this year sees Apple making incremental and iterative updates. The biggest changes come to the smallest iPad: the mini. While this might not be an exciting and “revolutionary” upgrade cycle, the progress Apple is making by pushing forward in smallish steps is nevertheless welcome and positive gain. Growth in life only sees spurts during adolescence. Generally, life grows by slow and steady consistency. Apple is a mature company, and all the hardware products announced this week are likewise mature.

The other side of Apple’s coin is more interesting to me this year: software. Next week, Apple will release the public versions of its latest operating systems. I’m eager to install the newest iOS and iPadOS software. Many of the features, like focus modes or multitasking buttons, will make current devices more capable or efficient. Shiny new hardware is fun and functional, but the integrated software is also key to giving nerds, geeks, and ”normal” people the tools they need to apply their talents.

Whether being productive and creative, organizing photo albums, or surfing the web, I’m glad to see Apple steadily improving both its devices and apps that make such tasks simple, elegant, and delightful. Here’s to another year of Apple gear.

Apple Watch And AirPods Still Delightful

The tech we rely on everyday is sometimes a delight and other times a disaster. When it works how it should, all’s well. When it doesn’t, “&$!#%.” Given the complexity of a computer, it’s kind of a miracle it works at all. And with computer chips in everything these days, no one escapes both the benefits and detriments of digital devices. That said, I’m here to talk about how much I’m still lovin’ my Apple Watch and AirPods after 6 months of usage. To this day, they remain surprisingly delightful.


AirPods

Let’s start with the AirPods. These little white ear candies are excellent. Their case is small and ergonomic, so it fits my pocket, ensuring I can always pop my portable audio plugs into my ears at any moment. Fancy that song stuck in my head? Just AirPods and play. Ready to catch up on that Podcast? Instant gratification on the go. Also, the AirPods themselves being small means they never obstruct my sunglasses or my hat. It’s little things like that which add up to satisfaction.

It gets better. My AirPods do double-duty since they instantly connect with either my iPhone or my Apple Watch. When I go for a run, I leave my phone behind and play audio straight from my watch to my AirPods. Look, I know this will sound “sound-bitey,”, but Apple isn’t lying when they say they’re magical. The tech wizardry at work really does work. In 6 months of exercise, my AirPods have been extremely reliable. Of course, I also wear them while at work, around the house, and even while driving.

AirPods have the instant Siri summoning feature that, while I don’t depend on it regularly, when I do think to use it, the response is quick and accurate. Frankly, it still feels like a tech demo sometimes because of how easy it is to use. But what I love most is how simply and easily I can have instant audio always at the ready. Oh, and because AirPods mean wireless audio, the convenience is worth their retail price.

Apple Watch

Next, Apple Watch. This thing is — avoiding the “life-saver” hyperbole — fantastic. When I bought the watch last Christmas, I intended on using it to help me get back into shape and stay fit. It’s working! I recently fulfilled my first 180 days of using Apple Watch, so I can now finally see my fitness activity trends. After 6 months of exercise, my cardio level is improved. I can see it in the data metrics thanks to the Fitness and Health apps, but I can also feel it. I can run farther, faster, and easier than before. The watch has been super reliable at recording all my fitness activities: standing, moving, exercising. It’s great at motivating and reminding me to cease and desist from a sedentary lifestyle. Seriously, it feels great after a 2 hour video game session to put on my running shoes and get moving outside.

Besides fitness, I have enjoyed my Apple Watch for all its computery capabilities too. In addition to instantly glancing down at the time, I also check the current temperature and wind speed at any moment (which helps me exercise outside at the best time). It has many of these types of nifty features I savvy. Yet the two biggest things I’ve loved using for the past 6 months are Notifications and Audio.

Getting notified by apps via my watch is delightfully convenient. Again, it’s this little thing plus others that, while simple, make a profound difference in daily living. The audio is a killer feature too — it’s like an iPod is strapped to my wrist. Three apps on my Apple Watch are now must haves: Music, Podcasts, and Now Playing. They all showcase direct quick controls for any audio playing, be it from my iPhone or from the Watch itself. The sounds stream straight to my AirPods…did I mention how great AirPods are?


Suffice to say, the AirPods and Apple Watch have easily become as essential to my daily digital lifestyle as my iPhone (which I’d say equals or exceeds the necessity of my work computer, a Windows PC). My other personal device is a Chromebook, and while great for what it is, I plan to usurp its dominance with an iPad in the coming weeks. Hopefully AirPods don’t get confused when switching between iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch. Given the complexity, it wouldn’t surprise me. Then again, I’m talking about Apple’s ecosystem, so it should all just work. I’m certainly willing to give it all 6 more months.

Apple Watch Is Wrist iPod

Not long ago, I dismissed Apple Watch as superfluous. Sure, it’s a cool tech gadget, I thought, but not cool enough to warrant owning one myself. My iPhone was enough. Well, the focused fitness features and sensors were very tempting. Eventually, I decided the Apple Watch was advanced enough and would be worth buying as a great fitness tracker if nothing else. Now that I’ve used my Watch for over 3 months, I want to talk about one of its non-fitness aspects.


Apple Watch is like an iPod for your wrist. This makes sense for a few reasons. One is the squarish size of Apple Watch almost matches the iPod Shuffle, which had no display but rather had a round set of buttons with a circular one in the center. On the back, it had a clip to attach itself to your backpack strap or shirt lapel. Worn wherever, iPod Shuffle was convenient; likewise the Apple Watch worn on your wrist. A wearable device is inherently more accessible and thus more convenient.

Another way the Watch is like an iPod, of course, is how well it excels at audio playback and media control. This is one of my favorite conveniences. The small screen is the ideal size for all the typical media controls you need most often: play/pause, skip forward or back, etc. And the fact that all those tappable buttons are so close by — just raise your wrist and tap — makes all the difference. Above all, the digital crown on the side — that physical little wheel — is a real volume knob, and it’s at your constant beck and call. I love it!

Yes, it really is much better than reaching into your pocket or EDC bag, pulling out your phone, accessing media controls, then putting the phone back where it was. With Apple Watch, you don’t need to reach for it or pull it out. It’s just right there on your wrist at the ready. You also can omit the last step of putting it back where it was because it’s still just there at the ready.

There are three apps built into Apple Watch for audio listening: Apple Music, Podcasts, and Now Playing, which may be my favorite of all. The first two are what you’d expect, small versions of the apps on iPhone. They each have their own similar yet distinct playback control display. Their main on-screen buttons match those of their phone variants. Simple. The Now Playing app is awesome and more distinct because it gives you quick access to media playback options for anything playing on your phone or other connected device. For example, when streaming a video on my iPhone in the YouTube app, I can remotely control playback with my Apple Watch. It’s all about that convenience. And it’s reliable as can be.


So yeah, Apple Watch’s main attraction is fitness tracking. But it also has other tricks up its sleeve, such as iPod-like audio control. It’s super convenient, simple, elegant, and reliable. It can seem superfluous, but when you use it daily on the go, you realize how nice and helpful it is to have. I once dismissed the Watch, but now I’m glad to embrace it. On my wrist.

A Month With Apple Watch

Since getting my first Apple Watch on December 24, 2020, I’ve worn it every single day for a solid month; this post is a review of my experience. How does the watch fit my lifestyle, or how has my life adapted to a smartwatch on my wrist? And might Apple Watch be a good match for your daily mobile living?


A Fitting Watch

First and foremost, Apple Watch is about fitness.

Health and wellness are the biggest reasons I finally decided to adopt Apple’s smartwatch and adapt my life to it. And I’m so glad I did!

I’ve used the watch every day to track my steps, stair flights, calories, exercise minutes, miles, pace, and workouts. I’ve closed all three of my rings everyday for a 30 day streak!

The accelerometer and built-in GPS tracking work together like a pedometer to record your steps and movements. The heart sensor continuously monitors your heartbeats. All these log the quantity and frequency of activity. And together, algorithms are used to smartly distinguish the quality of your activities.

Oh, the metrics! Once you get movin’ with Apple Watch, you can nerd out with the myriad of metadata about your ambulation. Much of the data is viewable right on the watch; it’s all nicely organized. And you can take a total dive in the data via the Fitness and Health apps on your iPhone.

Thankfully, all data between the watch and the phone just works. Apple, developing the software and hardware together, makes the sync process invisible, seamless, and reliable. When you record a workout, you can be sure it will appear on your phone; it won’t get lost.

Fantastic Fitness

I have not tried Apple’s new Fitness+ service, although it looks great. I’ve simply used Apple Watch as designed right out of the box, embracing 3 different workouts in 30 days: Walking, Running, and Strength Training. I’m very eager to add Cycling.

The watch has truly helped me improve my fitness and cardio level. I’ve seen a real change in my lung capacity and heart health:

  • I breath easier while running.
  • I can run at a set pace while staying in my target heart zone.
  • My resting heart rate has decreased.
  • My peak heart rate requires more vigorous exercise to attain it.
  • My heart rate at the low end of my comfort zone takes more work to reach.

All this indicates my heart has become more efficient. I’m on my way to reaching my goal of improved cardiovascular health for life.

I flippin’ love my Apple Watch!

How has the watch actually helped me; I could exercise without it? Read on.

Metrics And Motivation

Apple Watch doesn’t just passively record your whereabouts like some benign surveillance system. It actively works with you, helping you workout or simply get up and going.

Throughout the day, the watch will notify you with messages of motivation and encouragement. Short and positively worded, – no judgment! – the watch will let you know how you did, how you’re doing, and that you can do even better. It really is like a mini-coach by your side. And somehow, it feels like the watch itself, not Siri, is the one cheering you on.

And yes, there are awards, spinning shiny metallic and colorful badges of recognition for your athletic achievements. They’re great! Earn and view them on Apple Watch and on iPhone. See what you’ve won, and see what else you can aim for. Goals!

As mentioned, another reason the watch makes a difference is its ability to track, collect, and present a myriad of health metrics.

Having instant, live, and continuous feedback of my immediate and average progress lets me know what’s working and what isn’t. It also allows me to adjust my exercise daily as needed.

One day, I can run for distance, and the next for time, and the next for burned calories. I can record 2 or 3 short fast runs, and then I can track 5 or 6 brisk walks or slow jogs.

With the live heart-rate monitor, I check how fast my heart is beating during a run so I can adjust my speed and stay within my target zone. I can also easily glance down during a run and check my current pace or just let the watch vibrate and beep a sound into my AirPods to alert me.

Wearable Wonder

And oh, those AirPods with Apple Watch! Coolest computer combo ever?

I all-caps LOVE using AirPods with the watch during exercise. While the Fitness app is open on the watch, all I do is lift my arm, swipe left, and the Now Playing app fills the screen so I can control basic audio playback.

Listening to songs or podcasts makes running more enjoyable. Best of all, I leave my iPhone behind; no need to run with my pocket weighed down by a bouncing phablet. Apple Watch stores all my audio on-device for immediate playback. It just works.

Notifications And Siri

Since Apple Watch excels at fitness, what about its other features?

To me, the most useful at-a-glance on-hand capability, notifications, shines on the watch. The slight vibration, the “ding” sound, alerting me to a text message or a reminder is fabulous. Super practical and also more discreet than unpacking a phablet from your pocket.

Speaking to Siri simply by raising the watch up is awesome. It’s not just cool-tech-demo awesome, it’s actually very useful. The speed, ease, accuracy, and simplicity of summoning Siri for assistance is wonderful. I get Siri to take reminders this way often.

Daily Life Apps

Apple Watch has many other features; they add up to an all-around balanced smartwatch experience.

A few apps I use daily are: Weather, Music, Podcasts, Now Playing, Reminders, Messages, and Mail. I don’t use Apple Books or Voice Memos but I see good potential there. I have not tried any Sleep Tracking features. I do like the calming Breathe app. The Flashlight feature has come in handy in a pinch.

Also, I’m not bothered in the least that my version, the Apple Watch SE, does not have an Always-On display. To my surprise, I kind of prefer it.

Whenever audio or video is playing, whether it’s the YouTube app on my iPhone or the Podcasts app on my Apple Watch, I love using the digital crown (dial) to adjust the volume!

Another standout feature is the Phone app. It is flippin’ awesome to make and receive calls right on my wrist with Apple Watch. That’s not hyperbole. One place it’s most useful is while driving in the car.

Raise the wrist, tell Siri to call my wife, done! Next thing I know, I’m talking to my wife, loud and clear, with my watch. Dick Tracy life is super fun. (Can’t wait for the eventual FaceTime on Apple Watch!)

Of course, it’s very cool and useful that you can use Apple Watch as a remote viewfinder and shutter for your iPhone’s camera. I don’t use this much, but it’s there when I need it.

The few times I’ve eaten out at a restaurant in the past month, I’ve loved using the Tip Calculator on the watch. It’s done so very well.

Finally, there’s Apple Pay via the Wallet app. LOVE it!

Every time I can pay at a register with Apple Pay, my watch is right there, ready to make the transaction. It works easily, quickly, fluidly, and feels so natural on a wristwatch. It’s a joy, and it really beats pulling out my big phone (or physical wallet and card).

All these apps and features are just a tap away in what are called, “Complications.” I have found a lot of fun in customizing the many watch faces on Apple Watch. There’s a huge number of faces with many layouts, buttons, choices, and colors; I feel more than satisfied. Much time can be enjoyed by trying new layouts; I’ve even created a few for certain times or situations that are a swipe away.

If you like rearranging widgets and apps on your iPhone screens to perfection, then you’ll enjoy customizing Apple Watch faces.


That sums up my first 30 days of living with Apple Watch. I love having it on me everyday. And I’m looking forward to progress in fitness over the coming months so I will be able to view my cardiovascular health Trends.

The best thing about Apple Watch: it helps me watch my fitness. It’s what I need to be less sedentary and enjoy a healthier lifestyle. I foresee wearing Apple’s wearable for the rest of my life.


What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!