Off My Chest: Confessions Of An Apple Watch Lover

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Some folks regard me as a tad eccentric. Although I have been retired for many years, I still wake up every morning, put on a nice pair of slacks, a long sleeved dress shirt, and hard soled leather shoes. Basically, I dress for work, but I don't leave for the office and no one writes me a check. Other fellow retirees around my neighborhood would likely sport tennis shoes or slippers, shorts or blue jeans, and they would almost certainly don a comfy shirt without a pocket. Those same guys probably would not even pull on a nice pair of black socks like those that I wear proudly to the gym every day.

My current fashion choices are not completely wacko because I require lots of pockets. I put doggy bags and keys in my right front pants pocket. Often, I drop in my knife and some extra USB cables. Next, the AirPods and my wallet go in the left front pocket, occasionally joined by a large reserve battery and stuff my wife does not want to carry. The right rear pocket holds my comb and handkerchief. The left rear pocket remains empty for emergency storage. I like being organized.

The most important pocket is the one nearest to my heart. My shirt pocket has long been reserved for things that talked to me. This was critical in the era of wired headphones. Back before my hair went silver, I used to stuff my modified Sony cassette player into that pocket so that I could listen to Talking Books on the go. That gadget was expensive, fragile and heavy. Evolving talking technologies like the Road Runner, Book Courier and Book Port were all carried in that pocket, each straining the stitches and tugging on the fabric.

In 2010, I purchased my first iPhone, the iPhone 4, and it took up residence in my shirt pocket. With its protective case, the dead weight was like an albatross. As I upgraded to newer and more capable iPhones, they were all heavy and warm, causing me to sweat in rectangular swaths.

The introduction of AirPods gave me hope for a more comfortable future. Switching to BlueTooth headphones meant that the phone itself no longer needed to stay in my shirt pocket. However, putting an iPhone into my rear pants pocket could make it vulnerable to bending, banditry and butt dialing. So, I let the iPhone stay in place, where it would continue to warm my heart.

I have always coveted accessible technology that was small, really small. When the Apple Watch was first introduced, I fantasized about its potential. I longed for a beautiful new device that could rest gently and comfortably on my wrist, something gorgeous that would tell me everything I wanted to hear. I imagined that I might be able to quit carrying my phone everywhere and start to breathe comfortably again. Unfortunately, the VoiceOver volume on that first Apple Watch was more of a whisper, and navigation was slower than running in mud. It was not yet what I needed.

Over time, each new Apple Watch had increased processor speed, louder VoiceOver volume and greater water resistance. However, early models would not let me leave my phone at home and still remain online. At least not until the Series 3 arrived with an option for cellular connectivity.

Several months after the Series 3 Apple Watch was introduced, I decided to make my dreams come true. I visited my local Apple Store and then promptly left my brains at the door. I completely disregarded why I wanted the new Apple Watch. The thought of paying my carrier an extra ten bucks a month suddenly seemed outrageous. I left the store with the new watch, but without the cellular capabilities. Not my brightest hour.

Even so, I was impressed with the Series 3. I could leave my phone sitting in the living room and answer calls in my office from my Apple Watch. I could receive alerts and notifications in the kitchen. I enjoyed setting timers in the laundry room. And, I loved creating alarms that would quietly tap on my wrist. I found the Apple Watch compelling and useful, as long as my iPhone was nearby.

In September, Apple unveiled the Series 4. Although I had only owned my Series 3 for eight months, I knew I needed the latest iteration, with cellular connectivity, extended heart monitoring, bigger screen, slimmer body, fall detection and snappier processor. My new watch is the 44mm space gray aluminum Series 4 with the cellular chip. And, it runs Watch OS 5. The new operating system runs on all but the original Apple Watch. If my Series 3 had been a cellular model, I likely would have been quite happy with it. Sharing my enthusiasm, my wife now has her first Apple Watch, a 40MM Series 4 with the same connectivity. These days, unless we are traveling out of town, we almost always leave our iPhones at home.

Using just my Apple Watch, miles away from my iPhone, I can go through my email, respond to messages, check the weather, record a lecture, chat with Siri, and interact with my calendar. I can also enjoy my music, monitor my workouts, listen to podcasts, relax with Audible books, update my reminders, and create simple text files with a third party app that will automatically save to the cloud. One of my favorite features is that I can now tap on a link and a simple Web viewer will pop up on the watch. It is not full featured, but I can listen to articles on Web pages with VoiceOver. Along with all that, I can make and receive calls. This Apple Watch is a truly phenomenal and very personal device.

Is my new Apple Watch perfect? Of course not, but it is really good. My concerns are not show stoppers. I do wish AirPods and BeatsX headphones were much quicker in switching between an iPhone and the watch. I would really like a gesture to read multiple pages all at once. I wish VoiceOver volume control worked a bit smoother with the two finger double tap and drag. I also find some of the third party apps pretty inaccessible for blind folks and many Apple Watch apps do not yet take advantage of cellular connectivity. I also hope that we begin to see news apps that deliver more than just headlines with minimal summations. Lastly, as much as I deeply appreciate their efforts, Audible still has a way to go with their Apple Watch app. Transferring lengthy Audible books to the Apple Watch requires the patience of a saint and I do hope Audible gets around to properly labeling all their buttons. Still, I have a dozen Audible books on my Apple Watch and I absolutely love being able to read anywhere and at any time.

Some balance in my life has been restored. When I was always lugging my iPhone around, I tended to be absorbed in the virtual world and not so much the real one. The Apple Watch is significantly less intrusive. Nowadays, I generally have a Bluetooth earpiece in place so that I can discretely check mail, messages and alerts. Because the Apple Watch is so comfortable, it is also easy to ignore, meaning that I have cut down some of the screen time that used to capture so much of my day. My wife has enjoyed the same positive experience. We remain connected to the world through our watches, but are more aware of everything else around us. That's a nice feeling.

When I am at home, nestled in my big comfy chair, I am still using the iPhone 8 as my primary computer. While relaxing there, my watch is usually getting charged on the table next to me. When I get up to go somewhere, I slip on my fully charged Apple Watch and take off with a lighter heart. It is so nice not having to carry my iPhone. I must confess that I have been feeling so liberated that I am actually thinking about putting on a short sleeved shirt, one without a pocket. I feel really good just having shared that with you. Glad I got it off my chest.


Fifty years ago, on June 14, 1968, G. Morgan Watkins and Steve Jobs both graduated from Cupertino Junior High. The route to school from our old Los Altos neighborhood involved cutting through apricot orchards or walking on broken seashells that doubled for sidewalks on Homestead Road. Silicon Valley was a very different place back then.

Morgan has created 20 other blogs for AppleVis, including "Cutting Loose: Unleashing The Power Of My iPhone 8," "Power Trip: Hurricane Harvey and My iPhone" and "Down To Earth: My First Hundred Days With AirPods."

Morgan would love to hear about your experiences with the Apple Watch. Please share your comments below.



Submitted by Amanda Hall on Thursday, November 15, 2018

I also love the Apple Watch! I have the series 4, but I don't have the cellular one. Although I like the watch a lot, I still like taking my phone everywhere, so that's why I have the non cellular one. I do love though being able to reply to notifications with it without having to pick up my phone. I don't use it for audible, I prefer using my phone for that. But mostly for dictating short replies to messages, tweets or emails. I also use the work out app to record my walks. This is my second apple watch, because my first one was the series 2. That one didn't work too badly, but the 4 is so much quicker, and I can actually get things done with it without much lag. It's also interesting seeing things like how many steps I've done.

Submitted by Jeff on Friday, November 16, 2018

It sounds like the Series 4 watch with cellular could virtually replace the iPhone. If one used the phone strictly for phone calls, texting and listening to audiobooks and music, would the watch be a reasonable substitute for an iPhone?

Submitted by Will on Saturday, November 17, 2018

podcasts never work for me i just get can't find podcast name, in your library. do i have to be subscrieaed to podcasts, to play them? seems strange if so.

Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Saturday, November 17, 2018

Good Morning Morgan. So glad to see another post from you.

Despite the very frustrating lag-time with many functions, and the admittedly very slow processing speed, I wouldn't think of living without my watch. I use it for tracking my workouts, texting, weather, and many other tasks. I am wholeheartedly an Apple Watch lover, despite the issued listed above. As soon as I can, I will be purchasing the Series 4 model. The one thing I wouldn't do is leave home without my iPhone; therefore, I won't have to budget for a more expensive phone bill. Although I think it's nice to be able to take calls on the watch, I just don't see myself doing so. To be fair, though, the couple of times I have taken a call on my model zero, the results were less than desireable, due to the poor speaker output. Perhaps it would be better with the improvements of the speaker. I can't wait to upgrade.

Submitted by Ishkabibble on Sunday, November 18, 2018

I don't think an Apple Watch could reasonably replace an iPhone. The screen is too small, and the battery life wouldn't be comprable to that of a smartphone. Also, the watch only allows you to dictate text, thereby eliminating braille screen input and the touch keyboard, since the display is so small. Also, the watch doesn't have a lot of storage (only 16gb or 8gb for older Wi-fi models.)

Submitted by Jeff on Sunday, November 18, 2018

All good points. Also, something else that came to my mind later, the apps I use (Tunein, Voice Dream Reader, Audible, BARD Mobile) might not have Apple watch versions. I think I'll keep my iPhone. Thanks.

Submitted by Morgan Watkins on Sunday, November 18, 2018

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

In reply to by Amanda Hall

Dear karaokequeen85,

Thanks for leaving a comment. It is great to hear from you.

It sounds like you got the perfect Apple Watch for your needs. I agree with your liking to see how many steps you've taken every day. I have the Pedometer++ app and I like their watch complication. It is a bit slow on updating, but if you tap on the complication and bring up their Apple Watch app, it pulls together your total step count pretty quickly.



Unfortunately, at this point in time, the two devices are inextricably linked. To have the watch, you must first have the phone.

However, I am glad that I have both. Nowdays, I see my iPhone more as a home computer and my watch as the connection to the world when I am out. Both do their jobs very, very well.


Submitted by Ekaj on Monday, November 19, 2018

Hi Morgan and thanks for this nice post. I'm wondering the reverse. That is, can the iPhone be used without the Apple Watch? I asked a now former tutor this question, who has both but didn't know. It seems to me that the iPhone at least records steps taken and amount of sleep. I tried this on mine just before iOS 12 was let out of its proverbial cage, and sure enough it worked. But somehow I kinda forgot how I enabled this feature. Pretty sure it's in the Health app though. I'm thinking of taking my iPhone with me on a short walk after supper this evening to find out. Some friends of mine have the Apple Watch and swear by it, but it's just not for me at this time at least. That said, I am glad to know yours is working well for you. I'm still more or less getting used to the iPhone but have found it to be really nice indeed.

Submitted by Amanda Hall on Monday, November 19, 2018

In reply to by Morgan Watkins

oh wow thanks. I might try that app if I can see the number of steps as a complication. Right now, I just look in the activity app which is pretty quick really, but it could be worth trying.

Submitted by Morgan Watkins on Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

In reply to by Will

Dear Will,

I am not a podcast wizard, so I'll need to refer you to the instructions for whatever app you prefer or, even better, perhaps someone else reading this can share their thoughts. I have been using Downcast on my iPhone for years and have found it quite easy . In my case, I am subscribed to about a dozen podcasts, so episodes do magically show up on my iPhone without any additional intervention from me. For the Apple Watch, I thought the Podcasts app from Apple might deliver the best Apple Watch experience. With the Podcasts app on my iPhone, the Podcasts app for the Apple Watch was also available. It seems to work very well. Right now, I am subscribed to three podcasts on my Apple Watch, and one of them is AppleVis. All you need is a BlueTooth headset for your Apple Watch and you can listen the podcasts anywhere. Very cool.

It is worth noting that if you own an Apple Watch, a Bluetooth headset is essential to enjoy other apps like Music or Audible via your Apple Watch.


Dear Roxann,

I am so glad you wrote. It is always good to hear from you.

First, the speakers on the Series 4 are good enough for phone calls. And VoiceOver output is very easy to hear. Much improved.

For me, the key to getting the most out of my Apple Watch is having Bluetooth headphones, AirPods or an earpiece. Taking Apple Watch calls through a Bluetooth device is really nice. And, to listen to books, music or podcasts through your watch, that Bluetooth audio is essential.

On a personal note: I saw in one of your replies to a different forum topic that you are from Mt. Pleasant. I used to go there regularly a very long time ago. How long ago? I bought my last five cent Coca Cola from a drug store there. My maternal grandparents lived on East High in Mt. Pleasant. I think the house number was 1701. I truly loved the town and enjoyed many adventures there. Picking green apples in the yard and playing in the basement are two of my favorite memories. And, on occasion, I still miss the snow.

As always, thanks for sendinga note.


Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Good Morning Morgan. Wow! The five cent Coca Colas were a long time back. You would be amazed at how Mount Pleasant has changed over the years. Central Michigan University \ and the Soaring Eagle Casino have really changed the lay of the land, as well as providing many jobs and lots of traffic. If you ever have the chance and you find yourself in Michigan, be certain to contact me and we could get together for lunch or something. Always welcome seeing a neighbor, even if it was a long time ago.

Submitted by Morgan Watkins on Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

In reply to by Ekaj

Dear Ekaj,

Thanks for the kind note.

Pretty much everything you can do with the Apple Watch can be done in some comparable fashion on your iPhone. Even so, there are some things that make the Apple Watch truly delightful. I really like the simple immediacy of quick snippets of information. Super quick access to notifications and messages come to mind, as well as rapid access to my workout app and Audible books or music in the gym.

It was great to hear from you.


Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Hey Morgan, I was wondering which Bluetooth headset you use for the Apple Watch. I use the Plantronics M1100, although, I haven't paired it to the watch yet, but just to the phone. I'm just curious as to what you have chosen, along with your impressions.

Submitted by Morgan Watkins on Thursday, November 22, 2018

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

In reply to by Roxann Pollard

Dear Roxann,

My primary Bluetooth audio devices are Plantronics E500 and E505, the BeatsX earphones and AirPods. All my devices are paired to both my iPhone 8 and Apple Watch Series 4. Below are what I think of each solution and what I am looking for.

Plantronics E500 and E505: Two different model numbers, but pretty much the same thing. Single Bluetooth earbud that can be worn in either ear. In some ways, these are almost ideal for times when you have both your iPhone and Apple Watch. Best thing is that they very quickly switch from phone to watch and watch to phone when you interact with one of your devices. Downside, which is true for all the devices I own, is that I cannot be listening to music from my iPhone and then check the time on my watch. As far as I know, I can only have one of my devices controlling the Plantronics audio output at the same time. So, if I am listening to an audio book on my phone, as long as the narration continues, my watch is mute. It is not a deal breaker, but I am hunting for headphones that will allow two open audio channels at once. One weakness for me with these earpieces is that stopping audio requires pressing two buttons at the same time, which is mildly difficult. The Plantronics use a microUSB charging cable. Battery life is good at about 7 hours. These Plantronics earbuds also announce pairing, volume and low battery. The Plantronics switching almost instantly between devices when neither is hogging the audio channel is quite nice and is their greatest attribute for me.

AirPods: Small, convenient and good sound. I love my AirPods, but they are not perfect when using both iPhone and Apple Watch. Biggest downside is that they do not switch quickly between devices when you are using both. However, if you are only using either the Apple Watch or iPhone, they are great. Downside is that they are really easy to lose, although I have always found them when lost. Their batter life seems to decrease noticeably with age, but I do like them when I am listening to music. They are also great in that they allow for ambient sound to get through because they perch on your ear and are not pushed into the ear canal. . Back when I got my Series 3 Apple Watch, I discovered that if I hold down the crown until Siri interacts, I could almost always force the AirPods to connect to the Apple Watch. The same works on my new Series 4. When I want to interact with my iPhone, I do basically the same thing. By holding down the Home button until my iPhone 8 brings up Siri, I could get my AirPods to pick up the audio output from my phone. Not a perfect solution, but it generally works. Mildly inconvenient.

BeatsX earphones: This device has ear plug earphones with a cord that goes around your neck. Although they are slow like the AirPods in picking up which device you want to listen to, the trick about bringing up Siri on either the Apple Watch or iPhone also generally works. With either your iPhone or Apple Watch alone, these are great. BeatsX have great battery life and use musical tones to indicate pairing and low battery. Sound and music reproduction is quite good and most ambient noise is blocked by the ear plugs as they are pushed into your ear canal. They are reasonably rugged and I also wear them at the gym, when traveling by plane, and occasionally when I sleep. I am not aware that any of my Bluetooth audio choices are at all water proofed, but everything I have has either survived a shower or a bit of rain. Even so, I do try to keep them all dry. The BeatsX is a nice design and the earpieces will stick together when hanging around your neck because of magnets. When they are not in your ears, they stay with you by becoming a necklace of sorts. Like I said, they are difficult to lose. Like the AirPods, they charge with a Lightning cable, the same one you use with your phone. Convenient.

Now, what I really want is a set of Bluetooth earphones with the following characteristics. I would not be surprised if they are already out there, but I have not found them yet.

* I want comfortable and light. I like the neck wrap-around feature of the BeatsX as that makes them hard to lose.

* I would love some water proofing. Being caught in the rain is one of my concerns.

* I want my earphones to play the audio channel along with VoiceOver from both devices at the same time. I do not want one device essentially silenced when the other device is talking or playing an audio file. I heard recently that the Plantronics V5200 might do this, but I have not tested it. The Voyager 5200 is not as comfortable as the E505, so I am told, but I know someone else who thinks it is just fine. The Voyager5200 is also for a single ear.. I understand that battery life is good, but I have never even touched one, so my feedback is based on the input of friends and the online literature and reviews.

* I am also interested in seeing what the relatively new Bluetooth 5 communication protocol could do for me. Most earphones and ear buds that I've seen either use BlueTooth 4.0 or 4.1. They seem fine. However the Bluetooth 5 specification seems to suggest that they use less power, which is good for your batteries, can transmit to multiple headsets, which could be nice when wanting to share music or a TV show with a friend. They supposedly can talk to two different speakers in different parts of your home, and they claim to have great range. I have read they are backward compatible, but to get the advantage of Bluetooth 5, your iPhone and Apple Watch also have to support the protocol. I have read, but not tested, that the Series 4 Apple Watch and the iPhone 8 and later models will support the Bluetooth 5 version. Of course, these new Apple devices will work with the older Bluetooth protocols. I have not found headphones that incorporate that protocol that are small and convenient. I have heard they exist, and I do not really know if they would add anything to my use case, but I am curious.

If listening to music is not your primary need for headphones, the Plantronics that I own is a less expensive way to listen to an iPhone/Apple Watch pair. They do fine with phone calls, but you get better sound quality and a better microphone with AirPods and BeatsX.

Final note: Although this does not happen very often, as I was finishing typing in my last paragraph, my Apple Watch, which was charging on the table next to my comfy chair, started up with an Audible book. It took over the Plantronics audio channel and I had to grab my watch, stop Audible, and come back to the iPhone to finish my note to you. So, there are times when the kidnapping of the audio channel can be a minor pain. Oh, well. I can easily put up with these gotchas to have access to so much.

It is chipper again today in Texas. I can only imagine it is just plain cold up there.

Happy Thanksgiving,


Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Thursday, November 22, 2018

Good Morning Morgan. Yes, a bit chilly at about 16 degrees right now.

I chose the Plantronics M1100 because it had voice output for power on/off, battery level, pairing, etc. I have been quite happy with the device.

As for workouts, currently I use the Kinovo BT400, which have been discontinued, I think. This is a Bluetooth headset that goes over the head. It's a bit awkward but suffices for now. I have long hair so I don't like the earbud style headsets very well because my hair pulls it out with movement. I manage with the Plantronics, but for workouts, earbuds won't work, unless there is a new design that may stay in better.

Music is a really bigt thing in my life and for that, I currently use the Bose QC15, a cabled version of their headset. Sounds great. Really want to upgrade to the QC35 Bluetooth model. I don't feel that this style of Bose is good for a workout because the device is too bulky.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about your current equipment.

Submitted by Brian on Friday, November 23, 2018

Thanks Morgan so much for that detail on your experience with the watch / phone inter-working.
Very surprised you're reporting airpods are not the best at switching VO from iPhone to the Apple Watch the quickest, ciemlessly. You really would have thought the pods would have been designed to allow instant quick focus switching.

I'm considering buying a watch, after having had my first Airpods for a month and loving them.
So, now the door is open to use a newer iPhone and an Apple Watch where there isn't a straight forward 3.5 jack headphone connection.

But, my goal would be to achieve the following:

Tandem cycling, with strava/other navigation apps on my iPhone 6s in my back pocket, and VoiceOver announcing things / strava giving distances/speed etc through my airpods.

And while I'm cycling on the back of a tandem, I want to tap my AppleWatch on my wrist to get the time or check a message notification, and this AppleWatch VoiceOver sound to come through the airpods too.

Until Bluetooth 5 is proven, not sure if this will work!
I'm sure have the skills/tech know-how to have the watch & iPhone to inter-work so when there is user activity on either device, the VO will take Apple Airpod control.

With the wind, outdoor peripheral noise, I doubt I'd hear my AppleWatch otherwise, and don't want to raise my wrist for long to be close to my ear, and to remove my right hand to do the Watch screen tap, inevitably then causing bike wobble etc.
Just a practical example of how I'd like to use my AppleWatch, for the enhanced sport / fitness tracking features than those built in to the Apple iPhone.

Lastly, should say, I do hope the Health app is made more accessible / VO friendly one day! I assume the Apple Watch equivalent app is more VO friendly perhaps.

Does anyone else have more positive experience with inter-working of the iPhone and Watch with Airpods?

Dear Brian,

I am so glad that you are enjoying your AirPods. I love mine as well. As mentioned in my article, I see two main disadvantages with them. They are easy to lose and, when using an Apple Watch and an iPhone, you have to take steps to quicken the switching of audio inputs to the AirPods. That seems problematic while on a tandem bike.

I wish you luck in not losing an AirPod while riding. I decided early on that I would not even wear my AirPods outdoors because they are small, easy to dislodge, and difficult to find. I cannot see them at all, so even on a high contrast road surface, I might never find them.

Ideally, I would like light weight, waterproof Bluetooth headphones that are secured in some fashion to me and can play audio from both my Apple Watch and iPhone at the same time. Right now, all of my Bluetooth headphones require that sound be stopped on one device before sound can be heard from the other device.

From what little I know about the Bluetooth 5 protocol, I am not sure how it might address your particular use case. I still have more to learn about that new technology.

I wish I could give you a definitive solution to your desired use while bicycling. Still, just getting out there on a tandem bike sounds like fun!

Good luck, and thanks for writing,


Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Thursday, November 29, 2018

Well on Tuesday a wonderful woman who I love and would like to be forever who sadley thinks as me as a friend gave me an apple watch for Christmas. It is was great. It was fun listening to her trying to set the watch. The phone is nice and cool. I have the iPhone XX and I just got from amazon the airpods for me. So how do I connect the airpods to the apple watch? Regarding podcast overcast is out for the apple watch. Also I just purchase airpods hooks to avoid loing them. I just downloaded apple watch 101 from David and will check them to learn to use the watch. My question is are there settings that will make the experience with voiceover work better? Are any suggestions for making my apple watch better?

Submitted by Jesse Anderson on Thursday, November 29, 2018

While I saw a couple people use the early Apple Watches, I really didn't have any interest until the series 3. I did buy a series 3 cellular, and recently got a decent trade-in, so now have the series 4 cellular.

If there's one disappointment I have, it's the lack of apps that take advantage of LTE. I would love to be able to stream Google Play Music or even Amazon Music when going for a walk. I would like to be able to send and reply to tweets in my watch. There are a few other conveniences I'd like to see happen, as I know the hardware is now capable.

With the series 4, I do also kind of wish we could listen to audio without the need for a headset because the speaker is quite loud and clear. I could easily see myself listening to a book or podcast while working around the house.

That said, I am really starting to like my series 4 watch, even a bit more than the series 3. I generally find the performance a lot better. Apps open and respond faster, especially when using VoiceOver. I also like the larger, clearer screen as a low vision user.

I think more developers are warming up to the series 4 too. More apps seem to be returning or are being developed for the watch now. I do like using my Aftershokz with the watch to listen to podcasts with Overcast, or Bookshare books with an ap that will be arriving soon...

I also like the little conveniences like using my watch for Apple Pay when I can. I track my movement throughout the day. Sometimes I'll use it for texting or calling. Just Press Record is handy for taking a quick audio note. And it's convenient to quickly check several app notifications and getting back to what I was doing.

You still need an iPhone to set the watch up, and there are inexplicably some settings that aren't on the watch, that you need to adjust with the phone app. The watch is growing on me though.

Submitted by Morgan Watkins on Friday, November 30, 2018

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

In reply to by Holger Fiallo

Dear Holger,

Wonderful to hear from you again.

First, I figure that anyone who gives you an Apple Watch is already more than a friend. It took me more than 40 years to give my wife an Apple Watch. Of course back when we met, our communications options were limited to mailed letters written on paper or long distance phone charges. And, now an Apple Watch has been gifted to you! Cherish that friendship.

I really like your trio of Apple goodies. A top-notch iPhone, AirPods and an Apple Watch.

I have done a lot of experimenting with my Apple Watch and have tweaked it quite a bit over time. I should note that I am totally blind and have made my Apple Watch adjustments with that in mind.

First of all, I am assuming that your new watch has already been paired to your iPhone. In that case, if your AirPods have already been connected to your iPhone, then they will already be in your Apple Watch Bluetooth list, ready for connecting. Most headphones and earbuds must be explicitly enabled in your Apple Watch Bluetooth settings, however, with both AirPods and BeatsX headphones, they will automatically be enabled for your Apple Watch once they have been connected to your iPhone.

As much as I love my AirPods, I must confess to a bit of irritation when it comes to the AirPods switching from the Apple Watch to the iPhone and vice versa. Sometimes, it just works. Most of the time, I can force the AirPods to switch to the preferred device by initiating Siri on the desired audio source. So, either starting up Siri on your fancy new iPhone or holding down the Apple Watch crown until you hear Siri ding will generally do the trick. It's a minor pain, but I am used to it. The same interesting short-coming happens with the BeatsX. Fortunately, my Plantronics 500 and 505 earpieces switch quickly, as does my new Bose SoundSport Bluetooth headphones.

On a somewhat related note, I recently wrote that I had heard that the Plantronics 5200 series earpieces might allow for two active audio input channels when using both the iPhone and Apple Watch. I have now done some experimenting with that device and did not have much luck when trying to listen to a book or music on the iPhone and having the watch paired at the same time. Frequently the music or book would stop within seconds without any interaction from me. Ugh. It is possible that I am doing something wrong and I plan to check with Plantronics, but I have confirmed with another blind user that this behavior also happened when he tried to use the 5220 with an iPhone and Apple Watch. At this point, I do not recommend that ear piece for use with an iPhone and Apple Watch.

Now, to a few of the detailed settings I have adopted. I have actually done a lot of experimenting to get my Apple Watch to be a good fit for me. I won't list all my changes, but what follows are some that I consider important, at least for me. All of these setting changes are made in the Watch app on your iPhone.

While using the Watch app on your iPhone, go to the General button. tap it and then tap on the Accessibility button. The first thing I made sure of was to set the Accessibility Shortcut to VoiceOver. It is at the end of all the options listed. This enables a triple click on the crown to turn on, or turn off, VoiceOver.

Now, click on the VoiceOver button. It is found under General and Accessibility. Here are a few of the settings that I set.

Make sure VoiceOver is turned on.

*If you don't need the screen to ever light up, then turn the screen curtain on. It helps protect your privacy and, I assume, you might save some juice on your battery. One note of minor caution: Once turned on, the only way to turn it back off is to revisit the Watch app on your iPhone. But, I am blind and am glad that I can just leave the screen darkened and not need to periodically check it.

You can also set your VoiceOver reading speed. I don't know of anywhere else to change this value, so pick a number that is slow enough to understand and fast enough to preserve your sanity.

Back yourself out from the VoiceOver, Accessibility and General settings. You should have returned to the main Watch app screen on your iPhone.

Now, here is something to consider. I like audible discretion. I do not want a watch that pings, dings or rings. I want to know when someone is calling or when there is a notification, and I want to know when alarms or timers go off, but I want to be the only one who knows it. So, I turned off extraneous noises and rely on Haptic feedback on my wrist. It works really well. And, this will not impact VoiceOver, whether you listen to it directly from the watch or over your headphones.

Again, these changes are made in the Watch app on your iPhone.

Go to the Sounds and Haptics button and tap on it.

Turn Silent Mode on.
Turn Haptic alerts on.
Select Prominent.
Turn Crown Haptics On.
Cover to Mute on.

Admittedly, these are not all of the settings I have modified, and I have set up many complications on four different watch faces that give me useful data. And, there is a lot of other handy features to learn about. I do find the Apple Watch an extraordinary companion to my iPhone.

I hope you have a lot of fun with your new Apple Watch.

Best wishes,


Thanks so much. I followed your suggestion. I hope that someone will do a podcast on setting that will work better for those who are totally blind. I did listen to the podcast by David and found helpful. Thanks again.

Submitted by Morgan Watkins on Saturday, December 1, 2018

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

In reply to by Jesse Anderson


I'm really happy that you also went for the cellular Apple Watch Series 4. What a great tool! And like you, I also hope to see even more developers embrace the Apple Watch as another way to share data with their users. I am also aware that an accessible text reading product will soon be available on the Apple Watch. This is great news for all of us.

Now, I do want more. I really want an Apple Watch app that will play mp3 files that I transfer to it, and I want both an iCloud and a Dropbox Apple Watch app, too. Did I mention Nearby Explorer? That sure would be useful. Hint, hint.

Heck, I want much more than that, but am trying to be patient...

Oh, forget the patience. I'd also like being able to play anything through the on-board speakers, as you suggested, and I would really like a few new gestures, in particular the Read All gesture. Oh, yeah. And, being able to connect a BlueTooth keyboard to my Apple Watch would be perfect.

Thanks for writing,


Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Saturday, December 1, 2018

Would like to see new faces to add to my clock. I wander if there are more faces for the apple watch? I would kill for star trek, star wars, Babylon 5 and wonder woman or DC and Marbal.

Submitted by mslion on Sunday, May 26, 2019

Hi Morgan,
I just read your post about the settings you use for your apple watch. I would like to know more smile. Which watch faces do you find are the easiest to navigate and give you the most options? I myself am experimenting with one of the earliest apple watches and would like to see if I find it worth it to buy one for my self.
Would like to read from your smile

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Sunday, May 26, 2019

Next year the new apple watch will be out. It looks to be good and with more features. Hope longer battery, maybe can be use without the iPhone. My watch 3 does not move well from iPhone when using airpods. I had not heard anything about the so call second generation with moving from watch to iPhone. Interesting that the new airpod third generation is coming out next year or close to the end of this year.