Tips to improve the Apple Watch experience

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The Apple Watch is Apple’s most recent attempt to break into a new market. Reviews have been mixed, but it’s apparent that there’s a lot of potential in the device.

First generation devices usually aren’t the best, but there’s a lot of tweaking you can do to get the most out of your Apple Watch. Here are some usability tips and tricks that’ll help alleviate “early adopter” syndrome.

Readability

Some users report that it’s difficult to read text on the tiny screen 1.32 inch screen, and that’s understandable. Not everyone has perfect vision (myself included) but you don’t want to have to hold your watch two inches from your face in order to read an incoming text or email. Thankfully it’s possible to tweak some settings on the device that provide increased visibility.

Navigate to the settings screen. There are a couple crucial settings that really improve readability on the device.

-Turn on Reduce Transparency. This makes it so all text is always supported with an opaque background instead of a transparent one.

-Turn on Reduce Motion. Enabling this setting changes how the home screen operates. All icons will now stay in their larger state instead of cycling between small and large as your navigate over them.

-Adjust the text size– increase the size in order to increase visibility.

-Turn on Bold Text in order to increase text size and contrast.

Siri Enhancements

Siri exists in a somewhat cut-down state on the current Apple Watch. Knowing the software’s limitations allows you to get everything possible out of the device.

Web Searches

The Apple Watch interface doesn’t have an answer to support a full-service web search, so you can’t perform a regular web search on your wrist. However, being specific with Siri allows you to pull some results.

For example, asking Siri for pictures of something will return image results. “Siri, show me images of Kanye West” will show pictures of the rapper, but we can’t guarantee whether he’ll be smiling or grimacing. We’re not even sure he knows the difference. Asking “who is Kanye West” will provide you with a Wikipedia page.

App Launching

Some users have found that the Apple Watch’s hardware leaves something to be desired. You can use Siri to mitigate this issue somewhat. Ask Siri to launch an app and she’ll get to work. Instead of waiting around for the app to launch, lower your wrist. The device will vibrate when the application launches and you can go about your business.

Lastly, simply ask “What can I ask?” in order to pull up a list of all possible Siri queries.

General Enhancements

-Cover the screen with your hand in order to put the display to sleep. It’ll turn back on the next time you raise your wrist–this is a good way to save battery life for the watch. You can also cover the screen while getting a call in order to mute it as opposed to rejecting it. (This is good for making others think you’re unavailable)

-You can use your watch as a remote for your iPhone, but unfortunately you cannot start recording a video on your iPhone from your watch. However, you can stop a recording that originally started on your iPhone from the watch.

-Navigate to settings and turn on prominent haptics if you keep missing notifications. This will increase the vibration rate of the haptic motor and help you notice notifications on your wrist.

Conclusion

No, the Apple Watch isn’t the perfect device. Nothing’s ever perfect the first time around. The first go-around with any device includes a lot of guesswork and hopefulness– but the designers at Apple will have a lot of feedback for the second generation Apple Watch. It’ll be great.

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About the Author
Brian Galloway is an unabashed tech geek based in Nashville, Tennessee. When he's not obsessively searching for the next computer upgrade, he's probably curled up on the couch with a book and the day's third cup of coffee.

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