DesignThe first place to start with the watch is the new design. While the watch is just barely taller (the height of the screen) you can’t really tell that much is different from previous versions. It’s when the screen is on that all the differences come out. Apple claims that the screens on the Series 4 Apple Watch are about 30% larger. That’s larger by volume, not diagonal btw. The screen is the thing that really makes this watch feel different. There is so much more room on the screen, and Apple designed the software to feel bigger as well. Text is a bit bigger, touch targets are bigger, everything is bigger, except the body of the watch. The screen is amazing. Honestly, it just seems so vivid and colorful, and big. But the screen is not the only thing that’s been redesigned. The entire thing has been stripped down and built back up. The Digital Crown, the rotating dial on the side of the watch has been rethought as well. The normal user wouldn’t really notice anything especially if the watch is off. But in use, the Crown feels so much smoother. The designers at Apple also thought to add Haptic Feedback to the crown, so now as you scroll through a list or even just your feed on the Siri watch face, you can feel it click. It makes the watch feel more immersive. It’s one of those nice touches that aren’t really needed, but once you have them you can’t imagine going back. In fact, when I scroll through an app that hasn’t been updated yet, I noticed. As mentioned early, the body of the watch has been redesigned as well as the screen. The watch is now smaller per volume than the Series 3. It’s hard to explain how different this watch feels when worn compared to the Series 3. It just seems to sit better on the wrist, and it feels so much lighter than before. The back of the watch has also been retooled. The heartbeat sensor on the bottom have been remodeled and seem to work much better than ever before. The bottom of the watch has also been made out of a ceramic material now to help send radio waves out. I especially like the dark tint of the bottom compared to the previous models which were made out of whatever case material you had plus a giant black bulge. I think that it could be hard to pick out a new model if the screen was off (unless you got the gold stainless-steel model). Every change seems to be a step in the right direction.
SoftwareLooks are all well and good but if you can’t operate the thing, all that stuff goes out the window. Apple has now had 5 versions of watchOS now, and this year definitely seems to be a great refinement of what the watch already does well. On the Series 4, thanks to the updated processor and probably the move to a 64bit processor (making it capable of more powerful operation) the watch seems to fly. Apps open quickly, and I haven’t had to wait on the spinning dial yet. Very rarely do I open an app that’s not in my dock or complications, but when I do, it still doesn’t take much for the watch to open it. My Series 4 will open things about twice as fast as my Series 3. My only complaint on the software so far on watchOS 5 and Series 4 watches is Siri. I’m not a Siri hater, in fact, I use her fairly often. I just hate how long it can take on the watch sometimes. It’s not all the time, and it doesn’t seem to matter if the watch is near or if you’re on LTE. Siri just doesn’t feel as responsive as it should.
I will say that 2 changes to Siri on Series 4 are interesting. For the first time since watchOS 1, the Siri waveform (the squiggly lines at the bottom of the screen that represent Siri) finally dance to your voice again. The original watch had lines that moved with your voice, but the first major upgrade killed that feature as Siri gained more colors and changed in appearance. Finally, though, the lines move again. The other thing is a watchOS 5 feature, raise to speak. Now you don’t have to say the magic “Hey Siri” phrase to activate the personal assistant. Now, you can just raise your wrist up to your mouth and say “turn on my lights” and Siri is supposed to respond. So far, on my Series 3 and 4, this feature works about 60% of the time. I think I’m not trained to use it just yet, but I think I’ll get it. I also think this will help cut down on all the devices that ping when you say the magic phrase. Finally, I really love the changes that Apple made to the OS in regards to the Series 4. While nothing is majorly different, Apple has just added rounded corners to pretty much everything. This is reflective of the screen on the new watch, and Apple could have just left it to the full-screen app, but instead, all the boxes and the app previews in your dock now have rounded corners too. I’m not sure why, but it just makes the entire design feel more pleasant. It’s more inviting and heart-warming.
WorkoutsI haven’t gotten too far into the workouts app just yet honestly. So far with my Series 4, when it comes to actually using the workouts app I have only done 2. Gone on a walk and played some tennis.
I can’t recall a time when I have ever gone on a walk and closed my Exercise circle until this weekend. I could have been the heat, but upon finishing my 2-mile walk, I had closed my circle. I’m chalking it up to a more refined heart rate sensor in the Apple Watch Series 4, because when I ran my tennis workout, the metrics were on track with what I got on previous watches and trackers.