Regular readers of my website or FaceBook page will no doubt recall the unparalleled hell I experienced at the hands of Telstra when attempting to set up my Apple Watch S3 to a mobile network.
I get that this is a new product and I understand that challenges are to be expected but there is very little justification for the misinformation, the disinterest and the general lack of imagination when trying to get help from Australia’s largest telco. The staggering lack of knowledge that was displayed by all facets of Telstra and their support staff often reminded me of the kind of precision displayed when a monkey flings its own dung at a wall.
But there were flowers amongst the weeds in the form of Joseph and his team at Telstra Woden. Not only did he have the knowledge to find an answer to a problem that had left Telstra Tuggeranong performing like the aforementioned monkey, but he followed up and took ownership of some of the issues that followed. He genuinely made me feel he was in my corner and when dealing with a monster like Telstra this is priceless.
However, now that it is all said and done with 15 phone calls, three trips to a Telstra store and countless hours online later, I finally have my Apple Watch S3 on a mobile network and I can, at last, tell you all about it.
If you buy a series 3 – and if you have an older Apple Watch I would highly recommend you do – the first thing you’ll notice is that it is, in every practical way, identical to all previous models. In fact, if you have already bought a new wristband from Apple or elsewhere, these identical dimensions will allow you to attach it your new watch without any hassle at all. Thats right – as soon as I unpacked my brand new $600 watch I slapped on my $50 band!
Your new watch will connect to your iPhone in much the same way as the old one. One significant difference is the option to connect to a mobile network. If you have already been through the process of binding your Apple Watch to your mobile phone account – and this can be done at anytime before or after the watch has arrived on your doorstep (and I highly recommend you do so) then the final step is revealed to you during the set up process and its very straight forward. If you haven’t spoken with your provider yet – or don’t want to use the mobile function – then this can be skipped.
The rest of the processes of introducing it to your phone, setting up Apple Pay ect couldn’t be easier unless every watch came with a freeze dried Apple Tech that – once correctly hydrated – set it up for you.
Once it is on your wrist, and ready to make and receive phone calls, the first thing you’ll notice is the speed of the watch. When you tap on an app the response is immediate and this instantly makes this device feel like a proper extension of your phone – even before you’ve ventured phoneless into the world.
If this is your first watch, please head over to my previous article on the original watch. For those that have already owned and used a watch, as well as those that are now re-joining us after reading my previous article, here is what is new.
Now, admittedly while some of these features are courtesy of watchOS 4 and are available to all watches, there is a good chance you won’t have accessed them before so it makes sense to mention them here.
Torch. (Well, its called a flash-light but I refuse to stoop to an Americanism)
Looking at your watch face, you swipe up from the bottom of the screen and this reveals the Control Centre, similar to the one found on your iPhone.
Tap on the torch icon and the whole screen lights up and will get brighter when you face it away from your body. Slide to the left and you get a flashing light and slide again and you get a red light, presumably for emergencies.
While in the Control Centre you can tap on the Theatre icon and this will prevent your phone from waking up when you move your wrist as this can be a distraction (not to mention a battery drain) when in a darkened cinema or theatre. You will also notice what looks like a tear-drop icon and this is used to eject water from the microphone after swimming.
It also comes with new watch faces that include Buzz and Woody (cute but useless really) and some much improved health and workout apps that I’ll get to a little later.
So now lets imagine that you have paired your watch with your mobile phone plan and you’ve taken a stroll out of the house, leaving your watch to charge on the kitchen bench.
Making a phone call can be done in several ways, holding down the crown and asking Siri to call such and such, using the phone app to list your contacts or revealing a small keypad to type out the number manually. The microphone is exceptional allowing you to talk with your hand down by your side but the speaker is still too small or weak to be heard effectively at the same distance.This forces you to walk around Dick Tracy style or use wireless headphones. But hey, it is a watch and you are using it to call someone and I for one think that’s awesome and this is especially true (and I mentioned this here a few weeks ago) that being able to do this when on a walk or run as well as receive texts is of particular importance.
Sending a text, like the phone call, can be done in a few different ways. Holding down the crown and telling Siri to do it is one way.
(I have found the best way is to say – for example – “send a text to Stephen, don’t worry the rash won’t last forever.”)
The other way is to use the Messages app and use the microphone to dictate your message or the Scribble function to eek out our tiny missive one letter at a time. (this works surprisingly well actually)
The new mobile function will also allow you to use Siri when its just you, the watch and the great out doors to ask a question or settle an argument. Not only that but she will now talk back to you.
The new watch, like the series 2 before it, is waterproof allowing you to swim with it as well as walk and run with it. This function also unlocks a few new workout functions for swimming in a pool or in the open water. And speaking of exercise, the new health monitor watches your heart with a little more accuracy than in the past. It will now tell you what your recovery rate is – which is a very useful indicator of health, and will alert you if your heart rate increases while you are not exercising… possibly alerting you to an impending heart attack.
So, in short is it worth it? Well if you have a Series 2 and you don’t care about the mobile phone function I would say no. But if you currently have a series 1 then it is a must, even if you don’t care about making phone calls on the worlds most convenient mobile phone.