How to make the most of your new Apple Watch

Eufemia Didonato

During the setup, you’ll be asked to turn on things like SOS and automatic watchOS updates, and it’s a good idea to enable both. SOS allows you to quickly make a call to local emergency responders by holding down the watch’s crown until you hear an alert and see a […]

During the setup, you’ll be asked to turn on things like SOS and automatic watchOS updates, and it’s a good idea to enable both. SOS allows you to quickly make a call to local emergency responders by holding down the watch’s crown until you hear an alert and see a countdown. If your Watch isn’t a cellular model, just remember that your phone has to be close by to make calls from your wrist.

You can also activate Fall Detection which will get in touch with emergency services and preset contacts for you when it’s detected you’ve fallen. Don’t worry, you’ll have the option to confirm before such a call is made, but like the SOS feature, it’s better to have everything set up ahead of time instead of hunting for them when an emergency happens.

Apple Watch Series 6


Health and fitness settings

Having automatic updates on will make sure you have the latest features and security fixes. With the newest version of watchOS, for example, you’ll get access to Apple’s new Fitness+ video service. You’ll get a free three-month trial with your Watch, and the programs are worth checking out especially if you’re a beginner. The workouts are easy, the instructors are friendly and the Apple Watch integration is excellent. 

One of the best things about the Apple Watch (and smartwatches in general) is their ability to keep tabs on our health and activity. During the setup process, you’ll be prompted to choose your Activity goals. At this stage, it’s fine to use what Apple recommends, like 30 minutes of exercise every day and a Stand goal of 10 hours (or Roll goal, for users in wheelchairs). You’ll most likely tweak these over time as you start to understand your body and preferences better. To adjust these settings, swipe all the way to the bottom of your Summary page in the Fitness app on your watch and select “Change goals.”

If you need extra motivation to close your rings, you can also enable reminders to get up and move when you’ve been idle too long. Even better, add a few friends (if they’re fellow Apple users) to send and receive alerts when someone completes a workout. This adds a dash of competitiveness, a touch of guilt and opens up the possibility of bragging rights. If that’s not appealing though you can simply disable these things.

Apple Watch Series 6

Valentina Palladino / Engadget

For those who exercise a lot, turning on Start/End Workout reminders can help ensure your sessions are logged by suggesting you start or end a workout when the Watch detects changes in your heart rate and movement. It’s a bit of a workaround, instead of proper automatic exercise detection, but it can still help keep you accountable. Enable these reminders by going to the Workout section in the Watch app on your phone. You can also get suggestions to launch guided breathing sessions throughout the day to help ground you. 

Another important component of your wellbeing is the amount of sleep you’re getting. With watchOS 7, Apple added sleep-tracking to its wearables to help you understand your slumber. While other devices like Fitbits and Samsung watches do a better job of automatically detecting when you’ve fallen asleep and analyzing what sleep zone you’re in, the Apple Watch can still help you understand your sleep patterns. 

Make sure you set a bedtime and wake time, as well as target sleep duration. If you’re not going to get enough hours before your morning alarm Apple will suggest you go down a little earlier. It’s important to have your sleep schedule set up because, at least during our testing, it appears as if the Watch uses this info to detect when you’ve gone to bed. The automatic sleep detection isn’t the most sophisticated at this time, but having prompts to go to bed can be helpful. 

You can also enable a vibrating alarm (by turning on Silent mode) if you sleep with a partner or are hard of hearing. If you prefer to remove your watch when you go to sleep, enabling Nightstand mode (Watch app > General > Nightstand Mode) will turn the device into a bedside clock. It’ll dim its screen for the most part, but if you need to see the time, you just have to nudge the device (or even your table) a little and the display will wake.

Finally, one more way the Watch can help you keep healthy is by ensuring you’re following recommended guidelines for washing your hands. Turning on the Handwashing timer will launch a 15-second countdown each time the Watch thinks you’ve been cleaning your hands for 5 seconds. It’s not always useful, since sometimes you’re just getting some dirt off and don’t need to be sudsing for 20 seconds, but it’s not too intrusive and is helpful when you’ve been out and about.

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