Apple Watch Tips: 8 Things You Didn’t Know It Could Do

If you have an Apple Watch, you certainly know about its marquee features. It can track your activity and prod you to exercise more, using its three rings. You can use it to make and receive phone calls and text messages. And you can get notifications for calendar events, reminders, and updates from your favorite apps. You can use it for Apple Pay to quickly buy a cup of coffee or a book. You can use Siri to have your watch react to your voice commands and provide you with information. And you can check the time, with one of dozens of customizable watch faces, where you can add complications to provide data and quick access to apps and features.

But the Apple Watch – which is more a wrist computer than a timepiece – has lots of great features you may not know about. In this article, I’m going to highlight eight things you probably didn’t know you could do with your Apple Watch. Some use built-in apps and features, and some use third-party apps. Read on to find out how to make your Apple Watch do a lot more.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Use Your Apple Watch to Unlock Your Mac and Authenticate

You’ve been able to unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch for some time now. If your Mac is asleep, and you wake it up, if you’ve activated this feature, the Mac confirms your identity via your Apple Watch and wakes up.

This is an interesting chain of identification. It requires that you have two-factor authentication turned on for your Apple ID, and having authenticated on your iPhone by entering your passcode, your Apple Watch then inherits this authentication (or you can authenticate on the Apple Watch by entering its passcode), and the Mac then accepts this as proof that the watch belongs to you.

To activate this feature, go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General and check Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac.

Apple watch unlock

This allows you to wake up your Mac, and approve certain secure actions in macOS. For example, if you want to access a secure preference pane – one that shows a padlock at the bottom left of the window – click the padlock then authenticate on your watch by pressing the side button twice (this is the same gesture you use to authenticate for Apple Pay).

Apple watch padlock

Another action where you can use your Apple Watch to authenticate is if you want to delete files in certain folders. For example, to delete an app downloaded via the Mac App Store, you need to authenticate:

Apple watch approve

If you have a Mac with Touch ID, the Mac defaults to using that option for authentication, but if you have an iMac, which doesn’t offer Touch ID, this can make it a lot easier to perform secure tasks.

Note that this feature is only available to recent Macs, ones that support Continuity and Handoff, not all recent Macs can perform all of these operations. See this Apple support document for more information.

Apple Watch Series 5 Always On Battery Life

Pretty much the only new feature in the Series 5 Apple Watch is the “always on” feature, where the watch’s display is always on in a dimmed, slow-refresh state. Apple says that this doesn’t affect battery life very much, but anecdotal evidence has suggested that this is not the case.

I did my own testing a couple of days ago, and found that the battery life was well below what the Series 4 offered, but still, in my limited usage, within the 18-hour range that Apple claims.

However, my usage was limited. Here’s what Apple says about how they measure battery life on the Apple Watch:

All-day battery life is based on 18 hours with the following use: 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use, and a 60-minute workout with music playback from Apple Watch via Bluetooth, over the course of 18 hours. Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS) usage includes connection to iPhone via Bluetooth during the entire 18-hour test. Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular) usage includes a total of 4 hours of 4G LTE connection and 14 hours of connection to iPhone via Bluetooth over the course of 18 hours. Testing conducted by Apple in August 2019 using pre-production Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS) and Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular), each paired with an iPhone; all devices tested with pre-release software. Battery life varies by use, configuration, mobile network, signal strength and many other factors; actual results will vary.

I did not do any workout or listen to music, nor did I have any 4G connectivity; I was home all day. With 43% left on my battery after about 13 hours, I find it hard to see how, in the above conditions, the watch would make it to 18 hours.

Yesterday, I did another test, this time with the always on feature disabled. While in my first test I took readings at more or less random times, I tried to be more regular in the second test. Here are the results in chart form:

Apple watch battery chart

With always on enabled, my watch was at 26% after about 24 hours. With it disabled, it was at 46% after the same amount of time. (Note that I slept with the watch on for both test, with the watch in theater mode, and with do not disturb enabled.) But, again, there was no workout, no music playback, no 4G connectivity. This strongly suggests that Apple is over-estimating battery life on the Series 5 Apple Watch, but also that the always on feature does hit the battery considerably. In fact, after about six hours, there’s a 20% difference in total battery power, which, interestingly, remains pretty much stable for the rest of the test.

Now I work at home, so there’s no way that I would deplete my battery given the way I use the watch, but if you are out and about, doing workouts, playing music, and connected to 4G, you really need to be careful. I think the always on feature is very good, and if you’re aware of how much it hits the battery, then you may want to use it. But if you plan to not be near a charger until the end of the, and you’re using other battery intensive features, you might want to turn it off.

If I have time next week, I’ll try some more testing: with a workout, music playback, and 4G connection, starting when I get up in the morning, and see how quickly the battery depletes.

Apple Watch Series 5 Review: incremental changes for a solid device

In just four and a half years, the Apple Watch has gone from a whim with vague use cases to a solid device that has found its stride. This year’s model, the Series 5, builds on the previous iteration with small, incremental changes, to provide a solid, useful device.

The history of the Apple Watch has been brief, and has been marked by some major changes: the addition of optional LTE cellular connectivity with Series 3, and the larger size of the Series 4 models. With the Series 5, the biggest change is the always-on display. However, aside from that, the changes to this year’s model are quite minimal.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

The Apple Watch Series 5 and Battery Life

WatchThe Apple Watch Series 5 has only been available for a few days, but there have been a lot of reports of poor battery life. Apple claims that the Apple Watch has “all-day battery life,” and gives more detailed information here, saying:

Our goal for battery life is 18 hours after an overnight charge, factoring in things like checking the time, receiving notifications, using apps and doing a 60-minute workout. And because everyone will use Apple Watch differently, we tested several other metrics as well.

Further down on the page, they go into even more detail on how they tested the battery life:

All-day battery life is based on 18 hours with the following use: 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use, and a 60-minute workout with music playback from Apple Watch via Bluetooth, over the course of 18 hours. Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS) usage includes connection to iPhone via Bluetooth during the entire 18-hour test. Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular) usage includes a total of 4 hours of 4G LTE connection and 14 hours of connection to iPhone via Bluetooth over the course of 18 hours. Testing conducted by Apple in August 2019 using pre-production Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS) and Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular), each paired with an iPhone; all devices tested with pre-release software. Battery life varies by use, configuration, mobile network, signal strength and many other factors; actual results will vary.

With my Series 4 GPS/Cellular Apple Watch, starting the day with a full charge, I would regularly have about 70-80% left at the end of the day, late afternoon or early evening. Overall, even wearing the watch at night to track my sleep, I would probably charge it for 30-45 minutes each day: a bit in the morning, then later when I took a shower, then about 15 minutes in the evening. And it rarely went below that 70-80% level.

With the Series 5, my battery life was quite poor out of the gate. I waited a few days, however, to let it settle in, restarted my watch on the evening of the 25th (two days ago), then did some testing all day yesterday, recording the battery level by taking screenshots. Here are my results:

  • 08:50 am: 99%
  • 13:00 pm: 84%
  • 17:00 pm: 68%
  • 20:11 pm: 53%
  • 21:13 pm: 49%
  • 22:55 pm: 43%
  • 07:31 am: 26%

All I did on the watch was check the time, check a bunch of notifications, and do a very small amount of app usage (perhaps 15 minutes or so). There was no workout, no music playing, and no cellular-only connection. I was home, and was on wi-fi the entire time.

To be fair, even with a workout and music playing, I’d probably get to 18 hours, but this is a very big drop from what I got with the Series 4. I think Apple was definitely underestimating battery life on the Series 4, and I seem to recall that even the Series 3 lasted much longer than they said. I used to be able to take an overnight trip and get home the following afternoon and still have some battery left.

And many people commented on how long the battery life was for the Series 4, just as I’m reading a lot of people saying that battery life on the Series 5 is shorter.

If you have a Series 5 Apple Watch, how’s your battery life? Is it better or worse than with a previous model? Are you getting through the day?

Apple Watch Meyer Lemon Leather Loop Band Review

I have more Apple Watch bands than I ever thought I’d buy. Over time, I’ve appreciated that bit of whimsy that can be added to the watch with a different band. From the staid Milanese Loop to the flashy Product RED sport band, I’ve got a half dozen different bands to change as I want.

I think it’s a bit ridiculous to review a watch band, but this new Meyer Lemon leather loop has attracted attention, so here’s my thoughts. Note that this band is only available for the 42mm and 44mm models of the Apple Watch; there is no leather loop for the 38mm and 40mm models.

On the Apple website, the combination of this yellow band and the white ceramic Apple Watch Edition model is quite striking. Alas, given that I upgrade my Apple Watch every year, there’s no way I’d spend the extra money for anything other than aluminum. Over the years, I’ve had the space gray model all but once; I didn’t really like the look of the silver aluminum model. I find that different color bands work better with space gray, even the silver stainless steel Milanese Loop, at least to my taste.

Apple’s images of the band on its website make the Meyer Lemon band look a lot brighter than it is. It’s yellow, but with more hints of mustard unless you’re in bright sunlight. Given the shadows of the humps in the band (which contain magnets), the overall impression is a lot less flashy than what the website images suggest.

Having had the Milanese Loop for many years, I expected this band to work the same way, being a one-piece band with two lugs. But it’s not; like the sport band, it’s in two parts, and it isn’t simple to get the end of the longer part into the loop. I’m sure I’ll get the knack, but for now it’s taken me about 20 seconds each time to put it on.

And if you’re disappointed by the way the Milanese loop slips and loosens oven time, that doesn’t happen as easily with the leather loop. The Milanese has a single magnet at the end of the band, and the leather loop has lots of little magnets in the humps along the band, so it is held in position by multiple magnets, depending on the size of your wrist.

This band gives a nice contrast to the watch, and I find it comfortable and easy to adjust. I’ll see over time how well it ages, but I like the look. It’s worth noting that Apple lowered the price for the leather bands and Milanese loop this year, from $150 to $100, so your dose of whimsy can be a bit less expensive. In addition, you can now pair any watch case with any band, so if you want to make a pairing like this, you can do so without having to also buy a sport band. Though if you only buy this band, I’d recommend also getting a sport band for working out, being outdoors in inclement weather, etc.; you don’t want to get the leather band too wet.

Update: June, 2020:

I’ve had this band now for about nine months, and I don’t wear it all the time. It’s a bit problematic when you’re doing activities around water, such as cooking, where I wash my hands a lot, or even any form of exercise where you sweat. I’d say that I’ve worn it about 25% of the time in this period, because I have other bands and I like to switch, so the current condition is the equivalent of wearing it for a few months full time.

Yellow band with wear

For $100 / £100, the wear this band shows after this amount of time is quite unacceptable. They way the yellow has worn off on the edges especially around the fold is disturbing, and, while other colors might not show the wear in the same way, on this band it looks unsightly. To be fair, the worn parts are on the underside of my wrist, but every time I put it on, I’m disappointed by the quality. I’ll contact Apple and see what they say.

How to Delete Apps on the Apple Watch Running watchOS 6

In watchOS 6, you can finally delete some of the stock apps from your watch. If you don’t need them, and don’t want them cluttering up your watch, you can remove some apps. This is the same process you can use to delete third-party apps that you’ve added to your Apple Watch, though you can do the latter in the Watch app on your iPhone; you cannot delete stock apps in the Watch app, for some reason.

To do this, press the digital crown to display your apps.

Delete app watch1

If your apps display in list view, press and hold the list until you see this:

Delete app watch2

Tap Grid View; you’ll see your apps in a grid:

Delete app watch3

Lightly tap and hold on any app until the icons wiggle, as they do on iOS:

Delete app watch4

Tap the small x icon to delete an app.

As you can see here, you cannot delete all the stock Apple apps. For example, you cannot delete Mail, Phone, Calendar, News, etc. You cannot even delete the Stocks app. You can delete apps such as Noise, Period Tracker, Timer, Alarm, and Stopwatch, but not World Clock, Calculator, or Reminders. So you may be able to lighten up your app list a bit, but not by a lot.

Apple updates iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad; gives info on Apple Arcade and Apple TV+

“Spring ahead, fall new iPhone.” I think that’s what they say. Like clockwork now since 2014 and the release of the iPhone 4S, Apple this week announced the latest model of the iPhone along with other new products and services.

Eschewing the Roman numeral naming for the device, this one goes to 11. (I know, it’s a cliché, and fortunately, Apple didn’t use it.) The iPhone 11 comes in two models: standard and Pro (three models, if you count the Pro Max separately). This is the first time that Apple has used the term Pro for the iPhone—a term that has been used for Macs and iPads for many years—and the Pro models (in regular size and Max) now come with three rear-facing cameras instead of two.

The iPhone 11 (without the “Pro” modifier) is the replacement for last year’s iPhone XR. Coming in at $699 for the base model with 64 GB storage, this iPhone comes in six colors, and features two cameras. Unlike last year’s iPhone XS models, these cameras come with wide and ultra-wide lenses. (The two-camera versions of the iPhone X and later had wide and telephoto lenses.) This is an interesting choice, since the ultra-wide angle lens doesn’t seem like something that many people would be interested in. It’s great for expansive landscape shots, or interior photos if you want to show a whole room, but it’s not very versatile.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Why Is It So Difficult to Listen to Audiobooks on the Apple Watch?

I listen to audiobooks often, and sometimes I would like to be able to listen to them on my Apple Watch, via AirPods, rather than have to have my iPhone with me when I go walking. Audible’s app for the Apple Watch is pathetically bad; not only is it nearly impossible to sync audiobooks to the device (I discuss that in this article), but if do you manage to do so, it doesn’t correctly sync its position, so if you go back to another device to listen, you lose your place. (See this Reddit thread.)

In watchOS 6, which will be released on September 19, and for which the golden master (the final version released to developers) is now available, there is a new Audiobooks app. But this app can only play audiobooks you’ve purchased from Apple. Even if you sync audiobooks from Audible or audiobooks you may have ripped from CDs, you cannot sync them to the Apple Watch.

I would think that most regular audiobook listeners are Audible subscribers, since their subscription model makes books much cheaper than what Apple charges. Since you can sync them to the Books app on the iPhone, it’s odd that you cannot put them on the Apple Watch. This might have something to do with the different DRM that is used for Audible content, but if Apple can play these books in their app on iOS, it shouldn’t be any different on watchOS. It’s worth noting that the Audible app on iOS can see and play books in the Books app, if they are from Audible.

The new Audiobooks app says it syncs up to five hours of a book to the Apple Watch, which is problematic. I understand that most people won’t be listening to, say, an eight-hour audiobook on their watch, but some might want to, such as if they’re on a long flight. Since the new Apple Watch contains 32 GB storage, it should be able to hold more than this. (The Series 4 which I have currently has 16 GB.)

Audiobooks are just audio content, and should be easy enough to sync to the Apple Watch. Apple has had a long relationship with Audible; not only is the company the only one – other than Apple – whose DRM-protected content is playable in iTunes, but Audible also provides Apple with the audiobooks that the latter company sells. Granted, Apple wants people to buy audiobooks from them rather than Audible, if possible, but preventing people from listening to audiobooks they haven’t purchased from Apple seems unfair.

WSJ: Jony Ive Became ‘Dispirited’ After Apple Watch and Sometimes Failed to Show Up to Meetings – MacRumors

Ive reportedly wanted to position the watch as a fashion accessory, but some Apple leaders envisioned it as an extension of the iPhone. Eventually a compromise was agreed, and the $349 watch was tethered to the iPhone, with Apple creating a $17,000 gold version and partnering with Hermès.

I don’t have a WSJ subscription, so I’m liking to MacRumors’ article about this. This jibes with what I’ve been saying about the Apple Watch from the beginning. It always seemed that the Apple Watch was a vanity project for Jony Ive, given his interest in watches, and the fact that a disgustingly priced gold model was released. I still remember the look on Tim Cook’s face when he announced the price of the gold model.

The company sold about 10 million units in the first year, a quarter of what Apple forecast, a person familiar with the matter told WSJ. Thousands of the gold version are said to have gone unsold.

I’m surprised that Apple forecast 40 million units, because, if I recall, the rollout to different countries didn’t occur very quickly. However, I’m sure Apple is satisfied at how the Apple Watch turned out.

I find this bit interesting:

According to sources who spoke to WSJ, Ive pushed for the Apple Watch to be made despite disagreements from some executives, who questioned if a device so small could have a killer app that would compel people to buy it.

That is certainly the weakness of the Apple Watch, or at least it was at the beginning. It’s a new product category, but it has been clear over the years – especially the first few models and watchOS versions – that Apple did not have a clear vision for the device, but was just trying to see what worked.

Even now, the Apple Watch is a bit of an odd device. While it is very useful, and I wear one, it doesn’t have any “wow” factor. Sure, I can get notifications, unlock my Macs with it, even make calls without my phone handy (I have the cellular model), but it is still just an extension of the iPhone that, if I didn’t write about this stuff, I probably wouldn’t use.

Source: WSJ: Jony Ive Became ‘Dispirited’ After Apple Watch and Sometimes Failed to Show Up to Meetings – MacRumors