The Apple Watch a Dad's Opinion - The Efficient Dad

The Apple Watch: A Dad’s Opinion

Apple Watch reviews are everywhere. You can visit any major tech site and see in-depth reviews of every feature, software bug, pro, con, and whatever else you’d like. Instead of beating a dead horse, I’m going to talk about how the Apple Watch has helped me become more efficient and how adjusting to wearing a smartwatch worked for me.


I had my doubts. I’ve always been a mechanical watch guy, and love rotating through my small watch collection throughout the week. Maybe I thought the Apple Watch was a little too nerdy, maybe I just loved my other watches too much, but either way, I never thought a digital watch would get any wrist time. Wow, was I wrong. Since my wife gave me an Apple Watch Series 2 as a gift for Christmas last year, it is truly the only thing I’ve worn. To make it useful, you’ll have to pair it with an iPhone because the two are very tightly integrated, but you probably already knew that.


This post might be geared toward efficiency, but I can’t help but talk about the activity monitoring. I’m a pretty busy guy and don’t always have the time to be as active as I should. Formerly, I was a FitBit wearer because I’m a bit of a data geek and loved to see all of the information over time. However, that required opening an app, waiting for it to sync, and then checking my progress.

With the Apple Watch, it is always a glance away from telling me if I’ve been active enough in a day. Some people complain that it isn’t 100% accurate with step counts. That’s fine with me. I use it as a tool to tell myself how relatively active I’ve been in a given day compared to my goal. If I walked 8k steps but it reports 7.8k, I’ll survive… but I’ll know that I wasn’t at 5k and need to walk another 5k that day. I think it is nice to note that when I compare the recorded activity with my FitBit, it is always relatively close.

Steps aren’t the only thing that is recorded by the watch. Exercise minutes and standing time are also recorded. Exercise minutes are fairly self-explanatory, but standing time makes sure that you stand and move around for at least a minute each hour. You can have it remind you do to so at :50 after the hour if you desire. I find it to be a very nice reminder while working that I need to stand up and take a quick break.

If you want to track workout details, you can tap the workout button to start. If you’re outdoors, it will record your route on a map, color-coded with your detected heart rate along the way. It is pretty neat to see the line turn red up big hills and then to see where your heart rate settles back down along easier sections of a trail. The Series 2 watch has a built-in GPS, so if you want to go running or walking without your phone, this feature will still work. It is also more waterproof than the first series, so you can swim with it and not worry about water damage – nice!

Each day, you’ll try to close “rings” based on your goals. The active calorie ring is based on the goal you set (it will recommend a number based on your stats though), as is the stand goal. However, the exercise goal is set to 30 minutes and cannot be changed.

Apple Watch for Productivity

Does the Apple Watch make you more productive? I would say yes, but with a caveat. On one hand, important information is only a glance away, and you’ll receive a notification with a gentle vibration, letting you know there is something to view. At the same time, you have an information source on your wrist at all times, and if you’re easily distracted, that could be an issue for you. Only you can know if you’ll be more productive wearing one of these watches.

Luckily, the software allows you some fine-grained control over the notifications you receive. Do you want to receive every notification your phone gets on your wrist too? Probably not, but that’s an option (not recommended!!!). More than likely, you’ll want to go through your list and pick the apps and notifications that are most important to you and send them through to the watch. That way, when your favorite game pops something up on your phone, you won’t be bothered on your watch.

Don’t have your phone handy, or maybe your hands are dirty? No problem – you can receive a call and have a conversation directly from your watch. This was an unexpected feature, and for me, a very useful one. Along those same lines, there is no longer a need to juggle timers in the kitchen while you’re cooking a family meal. Simply say, “Hey Siri, set a timer for 10 minutes” and it will happen.

Before I had the Apple Watch, I would constantly miss phone calls because I’d set my phone down somewhere, on silent of course, and wouldn’t hear it ring. Now, I just feel a vibration on my wrist and know that someone needs to get in touch with me. Whether I answer it or not, that’s another question!

Fantastical remains my favorite calendar app and it integrates very nicely with the watch. I dedicate a complication on the watch face to Fantastical so I always know what my next “to-do” is.

Great Features when you have Kids

I’ll paint a quick picture. You’re checking out in the grocery line – one kid is hanging out of the cart making way too much noise, the other is wandering off without a care in the world. Neither will listen to you and you just want to get out of there. Instead of digging out a card or cash from your wallet and going through that hassle, you can put your watch up to the ApplePay reader and you’re done. It isn’t accepted everywhere in the U.S. yet, but more and more retailers have this installed and it is incredibly nice.

Here’s another scenario. You’re loading up the car after shopping and can’t find where you put your phone. Did you leave it in the store? Is it somewhere in the car? You can ping your phone from your watch and have it make a distinct “sonar” sound allowing you to easily locate it if it is nearby.

Of course you can change the style of face your watch has and my kids’ favorite has to be the Mickey Mouse watch face. It isn’t a face I use everyday but being able to get the kids to smile by switching to it is pretty fun, and besides, it is only a swipe away. There are a bunch of other neat faces that I use as well, and you can choose complications from your favorite apps, making their information available at a glance. Very convenient.

Lifestyle Improvements

Sleep Tracking: This is one of my primary uses for my watch, though I never intended to even try it. I tried Sleep++ for a while and loved the functionality, though it requires that I hit a button when I go to sleep and wake up. The advantage is that it knows when I’m going to bed, but the disadvantage is that I’d sometimes forget. I migrated to AutoSleep and haven’t looked back. It does an excellent job of detecting when I go to bed and wake up, along with how restless my sleep is, when I’m in deep sleep, etc. Overall it gives me the stats I “need” and allows me to make adjustments to my sleep habits to improve the quality. Better sleep = better days! The recent watch update made it so you can put the watch in theater mode, which keeps the screen dark unless you tap it – perfect for sleeping.

Alarm: This is trivial, but I love it. Instead of fumbling around with my phone when the alarm goes off, I now feel the vibration on my wrist (phone can still make noise if you’d like) and I can snooze or turn the alarm off by tapping the screen.

Headphones: Pair your bluetooth headphones directly with your watch and listen to music without relying on your phone. Apple’s newly-released AirPods work well for this.

Podcasts with Overcast: As I mentioned in a previous article, I’m a huge Overcast fan, and now I can both control podcasts on my phone with the watch or I can fully sync podcasts to the watch and leave the phone behind. Nice!

There are a bunch of other third-party apps that are enhanced by using the Apple Watch. Weather apps such as Weather Underground and Carrot come to mind, some golf apps to track your score, along with a bunch of others. Check to see if your favorite apps have a watch companion app!

Oh yeah, by the way, it tells time too 🙂

Is the Apple Watch for you?

If I had to summarize what the Apple Watch does for me, I would say that it works nicely as an extension of your phone and allows you to respond to the notifications that are most important to you, while leaving the “extra” stuff on your phone for when you have additional time. I believe the basic models are decently priced and that the Series 2, with the included GPS and a few other features, is a solid deal.

Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment below to let me know what you think of the Apple Watch.

1 comment

Love your review! I’ve been on the fence about buying one of these for Father’s Day and after reading this, I think I’m going to take the plunge and buy it. Thanks for the great review.

Lisa at Dreams and Caffeine

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