Apple Watch Series 6 REVIEW

Apple Watch Series 6 REVIEW
10/10

Summary

Apple Watch Series 6 REVIEW

What’s the big deal about Apple Watch? In a complete newbie investigation, CHARLES JAMESON’s Apple Watch Series 6 review takes a fresh look.

$699

Apple Watch Series 6 review
The Apple Watch

Are you a … total friggin’ ignorant Apple Watch newbie? Like me?

Maybe you’re kinda interested in how this gizmo functions? And most of all, wondering exactly… “What’s In It For Me?”

Well, maybe this Apple Watch Series 6 review is just for you. Cos that’s was exactly my situation a few weeks ago.

I’ve been a tad curious about the Apple Watch since it launched way back in April 2015. Since then, I’ve generally thought, “Yeah, interesting; but hey, not really for me.” Well, at least not yet.

But after completing my Apple Watch Series 6 review, I’m now keen to get one.

Because, in a nutshell, it has a potential range of useful health monitoring tools and loads of potentially other useful stuff, all wrapped up as a (kinda!) friendly, cute and knowledgeable Jiminy Cricket collaborative sibling for my iPhone 8 Plus.

 

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Setup

The Apple Watch package includes the default wrist strap in three components. You choose the best two strap parts suitable for your wrist circumference and slide/slot them into the watch head. You can also choose from heaps of different watch straps, and there are various watch head metallic finishes. All of which you can discover on the Apple NZ website. And there are two sizes for the watch head itself – a diagonal 44mm or 40mmm.

Adding straps to the watch’s head block was a tad finicky for me, due to my poor-ish eyesight and the strap’s very tight fit, but the end result was was a robust connection and fairly permanent-ish straps that thankfully won’t ever slide off the watch head easily.

There’s also the supplied USB charging cable, which has a wireless magnetic cylindrical ‘puck’ at one end. And when the Apple Watch is plonked on the puck for wireless charging, it snaps tidily into position, and fully charges in a couple of hours.

Once straps were done, I put the Apple Watch on my wrist. Having taken pause to admire my new look, I then took the required steps to connect and set it up wirelessly with my iPhone and its official Watch app; an app that is part of iOS and obviously only used when you have an Apple Watch to connect and integrate with it.

My iPhone automatically did a “hey dude, come on over!” detection of the new nearby Apple Watch Series 6, and it prompted me to scan the Apple Watch’s on-screen ID number via iPhone camera. There’s also a fall-back manual way of doing that – entering the Watch’s on-screen ID number in the Watch app itself. This gidday/handshake process went well, and both gadgets began quickly interacting and getting to know each other in a high-five kinda way.

What flabbergasted me, the Apple Watch virgin newbie, at this point was the huge amount of Apple Watch configuration and customisation options available using the Watch app on my iPhone. Whoa! This is both via initial set-up steps, and ongoing options. I had no idea so much customisation was gonna be possible.

And this customisation is all clearly laid out in the Watch app walk-through step-by-step process. This initially took me through a range of recommended Apple Watch setup options, i.e. step-by-step pages including: Workout Route Tracking, Shared Settings, Activity, Daily Move Goal, Blood Oxygen, Update prefs, Apple Pay, Emergency SOS & Fall Detection, Mobile set-up, etc. And I also created a four-digit login code to enter on the Watch face to confirm it’s mine, day to day, when it’s first strapped on after charging.

Apple Watch 6 review
Some of the settings that can be actioned during setup of Apple Watch 6.

My initial setup phase involved updating the Apple Watch to its latest v7.3 Operating System. The iPhone Watch app dealt with this by downloading and updating the watch wirelessly, although it took maybe 20-30 mins or so until it was all done and dusted.

Apple Watch can be purchased in versions that either support cellular data, or don’t. While this reviewed Apple Watch had potential cellular capabilities, I didn’t have a paid plan to open up that side of things, so that ballpark is not covered in this review.

And there are currently a few health monitoring options that are ONLY available in New Zealand, but not over here in Oz. Bummer! But hey – here in Oz we’ll get there one day. More on that soon.

Kick-off

After playing around with the above-mentioned options, I chose a fairly standard watch face look called Meridian. My pranky daughter preferred the Minnie Mouse watch face, which is now saved, and thus is just a left-right swipe away on the watch face, along with her other choice, Memoji – an adorable unicorn. Minnie Mouse shouts out the current time when she’s tapped. Cute.

FYI, you can see a full range of available Apple Watch faces on Apple’s support site. And there’s also a page showing how to customise the watch face.

The Apple Watch faces can be changed with a swipe

Holding your finger down on the watch face moves it into Edit mode. Click the ‘Edit’ button that appears, and by swiping sideways and making changes – screen colour (and more) can then be changed. Likewise, the data displayed on the face can be customised and to show info and buttons that you prefer, rather than the default

Rotating the prominent and clickable Digital Crown button on the upper right of the watch head takes you into a view of all the circular app icons on the watch. Tap Icon to open an app. Rotating the Digital Crown button will zoom in and out of app icons. Pushing the Crown button in exits app icons, and you can also swipe down on the watch face to view notifications.

Apple Watch Series 6 Review
Apps, apps, apps! Click the watch’s Crown and apps appear. Scroll the Digital Crown and app size scales up and down. You can also swipe across the app field with your finger, and tap to launch any app.

Unlike some past versions of Apple Watch, good news is that this one’s face image is on display at all times. It doesn’t “fade to black” when not used, although it does tone down a tad to save power – a sensible move. But with a flick of your wrist, it’s back to full brightness.

Apple Watch Series 6 is waterproof to 50 metres, which was a pleasant surprise. And wearing and using it from 8am to 10.30pm yesterday, It still had 48% battery life left when I plonked it on its puck for charging.

Swiping up from the bottom of the watch face opens up its Control Centre. This reveals a whole bunch of tappable icons relating to shortcuts and configuring settings, as detailed on this Apple page. For instance, you can go into a single click to ping your lost iPhone, Silent Mode, having cellular on or off or turn on the Watch’s ‘torch’ – which turns the screen bright white.

Siri can also be setup to work on the Apple Watch via the Watch app on the iPhone. Likewise, the ability to make and answer phone calls using the Watch, with iPhone in your back pocket and audio all happening via Apple Watch. This produced surprisingly clear and articulate audio. Siri can be woken by clicking and holding the Digital Crown. Or you can just “Hey Siri” if you choose to operate that way.

Blood oxygen monitoring, etc

Of the gazillion features available to look at in my Apple Watch Series 6 review, I decided to mainly just focus on stuff that, y’know, matters to me. Which is primarily any tools it might have to monitor my health. Apple Watch Series 6 can monitor your Blood Oxygen levels, and alert you when that side of things is in the sub-optimal zone.

Apple Watch Series 6 review
The Blood Oxygen app on the phone can monitor things on call. Ideally, the level should be around 95% or better.

I had a few initial hiccups getting this feature activated. I solved it by following these instructions from Apple and used the Blood Oxygen app on the Apple Watch, and stepped through connections to the Apple Health app on my iPhone.

There is a third-party app called Blood Oxygen which I downloaded and used instead, due to my misunderstanding of the process involved.

To get an immediate reading of your Blood Oxygen level, you tap the Watch’s Digital Crown and select the Apple Blood Oxygen app, then tap the ‘Start’ button. And it’s all done in about 15 seconds. Ideally, 95% (or better) Blood Oxygen level is what is considered optimal. If it’s consistently low, see your doctor.

Ongoing Blood Oxygen data is recorded in several places. There’s the iPhone’s standalone Health app where you select:  Browse > Respiratory. And you can also info via iPhone’s Settings > Health > Data Access & Devices > Blood Oxygen.

Monitoring other stuff: Irregular Rhythm Notification and ECG

Apple Watch 6 can also monitor other health matters. But exactly what varies (for some reason) country by country. As well as Blood Oxygen monitoring, Kiwis can use Apple Watch to monitor their heart – for Irregular Rhythm Notification and ECG (Electrocardiogram). Lucky buggers!

But these features are not currently available for Apple Watch Series 6 here in Oz, for some reason. But apparently, those tools will likely become available in here by the end of 2021, all going well, and be available for Aussies as part of a minor Watch OS update down the track.

To see what features are available in what country, you might want to check out this Apple page with a full breakdown of which Apple Watch features are available in which country.

There’s a couple of other useful health-related features on the Apple Watch 6.

  • Hold Side Button to Dial, Fall Detection (info at iPhone Watch app > Emergency SOS) – choose to press and hold Side Button to call emergency services. Apple Watch 6 can also monitor rapid falls and send out automatic calls to emergency. I’ve read of instances where this feature has saved lives.
  • Activity (Watch app > Activity) allows the Apple Watch 6 to monitor activity, with the aim of improving health and exercise. Sends reminders, if you so choose.

Wrap-up

Apple Watch 6 has a comprehensive range of features, options and settings. Way (way!) more than I anticipated. Many of them I decided to ignore or switch off. I’m not keen on LinkedIn notifications popping up on my Apple Watch, but each to their own. But it’s easy to configure things just the way you want. My aim was to keep things simple and focus on what matters to me, which is mostly health monitoring.

The Blood Oxygen monitoring feature is useful. But I made a few stuff-ups getting that sorted – mainly because I assumed a third-party Blood Oxygen app was the main source of info. My bad. Apple instead has it all nicely integrated.

Given that ECG and Irregular Rhythm Notification monitoring will be available in Oz soon, those incredibly useful health features will certainly lead me to purchase an Apple Watch 6.

Overall, it’s well-organised, thorough, fun and serves as a useful, cute buddy to my iPhone. It’s got enough useful features, tools and benefits to make it a no-brainer for being a future purchase for me, even without looking at the Cellular side of Apple Watch Series 6.

www.apple.com/nz

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