Constant notifications, sweaty wristband, and fears about battery life are about to evaporate.

When my wrist vibrates, I know it’s important. When my pocket vibrates, I know it’s not. That’s the beauty of paring-down the notifications within the iPhone’s Apple Watch App.

1 Go into your “Activity” notifications and disable the bloody Stand Reminders. Your watch doesn’t know whether or not you’re standing, as evidenced by the repeated reminders I received while standing. If you’re health-conscious, knock yourself out with the rest of the notifications. I can’t help you with those. You may treat your body like a temple, but I treat mine like an amusement park.


2 Go to “Mail” notifications and turn off notifications for all your email addresses. Under “VIPs” select “Show Alerts from VIPs” and set the sound and haptic choices you wish. I almost never have the sound turned on for my Apple Watch, but I have the haptic feedback set to “Prominent Haptic” to ensure I don’t mistake a notification for a blood clot coursing through my amusement park veins. More on that in a moment.

3 Glances are a virtually pointless feature of the Apple Watch. The ability to swipe-up from the bottom of the face to reveal quickly-accessible features of your apps isn’t any more convenient or quick as going into the app list. Remove them all, except for settings (which you can’t remove, anyway). You’ll quickly come to use Glances to make any minor settings adjustments. I also include the heartbeat monitor for the inevitable, “ooh, you’ve got an Apple Watch?” demo.

4 Disable the “Do Not Disturb” mirroring of your iPhone. If you’re like me (and I know I am) you don’t want late night notifications at all on my phone. But I still want the important stuff, so I will manually set my Apple Watch to DND for such things as naps.

IMG_2982Turn off the alert sounds. You don’t want to be that douche in the company meeting obviously showing off your new toy every time a notification arrives. You will, however, want to enable “Prominent Haptic” notifications. All your important notifications will get twice as many vibrations to ensure you know you’ve been informed. I’ve been surprised by how discrete the haptic feedback is otherwise.

Cover to MuteCover to Mute tells your Apple Watch that you’ve received the notification but you don’t want to do anything about it right away otherwise you’ll get repeated reminders to hit “dismiss” or “like” or whatever the notification is.

Apple Watch Nightstand ModeYou will not be replacing your bedside alarm clock with your Apple Watch if you need alarms. The convenience factor of flipping a physical switch on and off for your wake-up alarm can’t be replaced by the Clock app. And in the middle of the night, you can just roll-over and look at your clock. With Nightstand Mode you must tap the face to see the time (in large easy-to-read green text). I’d love to see an “always on” option for Nightstand Mode.

To set regular morning alarms, go to the iPhone Clock app and set “Repeat” to the days you need to be woken up at that particular time. Be sure to include a label like “Weekday Morning” so you can tell Siri to “turn off weekday morning alarm” on those days you want to sleep-in. Don’t forget to turn it back on for the next day, though.

Set Alarms in iOS 9

Important Note: Alarms created on your iPhone are not mirrored on your Apple Watch. You’ll have to tell Siri on your iPhone to disable the alarm you’ve created on your iPhone.


Important Note: If you use Nightstand Mode (perhaps you got one of these spiffy Apple Watch docks for Christmas, too), be sure to put the digital crown at the top or the Nightstand Mode won’t kick-in (exactly the opposite of what the above image is recommending).

Apple Watch strap buttonsIf your loved one bought you anything other than the Sport edition of the Apple Watch, give them a big thank-you for saving your wrist from the inevitable build-up of sweat from underneath the “it’s not plastic” fluoroelastomer band. Also note, your gift giver didn’t need to spend the big(ger) bucks because there’s a whole cottage industry of companies making nice leather watch straps for your smartwatch at a third of the cost of Apple. On the underside of every Apple Watch are a pair of inlaid buttons which allow you to side off the existing band and replace it with something more comfortable. Do yourself a favour and avoid these cheap bands on Amazon and go for something a little more expensive on Etsy.

il_570xN.838278775_sj1gI bought three for the price of a single Apple leather band: One in blue for blue suits, one in black for grey suits, and a brown one I never wear because I cheaped-out at first and bought it on Amazon.

Important note: Be sure you’re getting the right size width of either 38mm or 42mm.

Apple Watch battery indicatorThis is a non-issue. You have to charge your iPhone every night as it is, adding a second device is no big deal. Rarely have I used more than 50% of my battery life in a regular day. After you’ve disabled unnecessary notifications and stopped giving Apple Watch demos every day, you’ll find there’s no reason to be worried about battery life.

screenshot-2015-03-06-09-30-45There aren’t any good apps. Period. They all suck, and it’s largely because the Apple Watch is under powered and you don’t have the patience to hold your arm up for 16 seconds waiting for an app to load. There’s nothing I’ve found in the App Store that was more convenient than pulling out the iPhone. The Apple Watch is nothing more than a glorified notifications bracelet, and that’s fine (particularly since it was a gift). Unlike your iPhone, you’re not going to turn around half-way to work because you forgot it at home.

Modular Apple Watch FaceThe best way to take the most advantage of the Apple Watch is through its Watch Face.

Forget the time-lapse faces, the butterflies, or the ability to put your kid’s jam-smeared mug on the screen. The “Modular” face is the most functional, allowing you to place the most useful features of the Apple Watch a single tap away. The Weather widget reveals the current temperature, but when you tap it takes you directly to the forecast. If you turn the digital crown while using the Calendar widget on the modular typeface, you can “time travel” to see future appointments without ever entering the app. Plus, because you can change the colour of the Modular face, you can match the wristband or wardrobe. I’ve got multiple copies of the Modular face so I can quickly change the colour depending on what I’m wearing.

The purpose of the Apple Watch is not to replace your iPhone, but to act as a filter for your life. In the past, you’d grab your phone whenever you got a notification. That 30 second trip to Facebook to reply to a comment ends up being a 10 minute stroll through the latest entries in your feed. Multiply that action by the frequency of which you get notifications, and the iPhone becomes a huge distraction and a time-suck. Configure your Apple Watch to filter only the most important notifications to your wrist and you can ignore that vibration in your pocket until you’ve got time to address that Instagram post or Twitter direct message.

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