I’ve spent the last few months working on a couple projects related to my mental and physical health. I’ve been trying to figure out ways to use technology to improve them both, and I’ve actually gotten pretty far into them. While I will still release those blogs gradually each Saturday, I was unexpectedly interrupted by a new piece of technology that I just had to share. So this post is a little out of order, but bear with me.
I was *just* about to start on a new project to create a custom iPhone and Apple Watch fitness app, when I took my lovely fiance out to buy a new fitness watch. She ended up settling on this gorgeous rose gold beauty: the Samsung Galaxy Watch.
I held out for two days before going back and buying the watch for myself. Now, it is important to note that she has a Google Pixel phone, so she is able to use a TON of cool options that I cannot due to having an iPhone. BUT it is STILL an extremely beneficial watch that I am finding takes care of all my requirements from above and makes me not miss my Apple Watch at all.
Since I’m sure there are others like myself feeling “stuck” with an Apple Watch, I figured I’d write down my experience to share. Because there are clear benefits to me that outweigh the problems, but they might be a dealbreaker to some. And honestly, it not being a big ugly square is one of the biggest selling points to me, and I am not even kidding.
And just to clarify–I am in no way affiliated with Samsung. I am doing this post because I feel the market is over-saturated with Apple Watch fanboy love, and no other real detailed iPhone smartwatch alternatives. Plus I enjoy this watch and want share my software glitch workarounds so people can still use it effectively, instead of having to return it for a different watch. Now to get into some of my favorite features and why it’s still better than the Apple Watch!
Design & User Interface
As I already mentioned, a large part of my switch was for something round and rose gold, but that’s not the only part of the design that I find superior to the Apple Watch. It also has a bezel, but instead of it being an awkward to use tiny dial on the side, it is the ring surrounding the entire face of the watch! In fact, you can even throw a protector on the bezel to change up the style or swap out for a new nice watch band.
Not only does it add a luxurious design to the watch, but it also makes operating the watch WAY easier. And the improved user interface and design doesn’t stop there, as there are tons of classy watch faces to choose from to make it look as fancy as you’d like. While others will not rate the design as heavily in deciding what smartwatch to buy, I personally think it’s a reasonable expectation when purchasing models in the upper price range that the company makes sure their watch reflects that fact.
“My Day” Watch Face
This watch face is AMAZING for my busy schedule at work. It shows my calendar events as well as my custom “to do” list items. And I can drill into the detail to find out all the information about my meeting including where it is being held! My Apple Watch only showed me one event at a time on my watch face, and after that I’d have to open their god awful calendar app. I would seriously buy this watch over any other JUST for this functionality.
I love how simple it is to add calories, caffeine and water consumption! This is literally what I was about to create for myself on my iPhone because I couldn’t find an app that was this simple to use. I actually went as far as registering to be an Apple developer and paid the $99 fee and was *just* about to start on making my app when this watch came into my life.
There is even something called “weight management mode” that will identify if you are ahead or behind calories based on how many you’ve burned and consumed throughout the day! Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be functioning on the iPhone yet (I’ve seen it work on Rachel’s Google Pixel), but the widget for weight management was just added this past weekend’s update (6/16/19) so I’m hoping full support is following soon!
There are other awesome widgets I use to view my steps, active minutes, sleep, workouts, weather, and more. I honestly didn’t think I’d use many widgets, but I’ve filled up all 15 slots, and I find them ALL very useful! There are some glitches when it comes to the Samsung Health widgets, but I’ll elaborate more on that later.
For the most part, these widgets are user friendly and simple, and actually inspire me to take more steps and be more aware of my daily health. And that’s the point of these fitness watches after all, right?
I honestly didn’t think that notifications were going to be better on the Samsung Galaxy, because they were probably the best part of the Apple Watch. And really, the only thing I used my Apple Watch for aside from quickly viewing when my next meeting was so I wouldn’t be late.
I didn’t realize how many notifications weren’t coming through to my wrist until I connected to this watch! It’s easy to block notifications (I basically block anything that isn’t a message, phone call, or meeting event notification), and it is easy to quickly clear all and know what I have and have not reviewed.
I really didn’t realize how awful Apple’s notification interface was until I tried the Galaxy watch. I was shocked at how difficult it really was to review and clear notifications from the Apple Watch. I guess you don’t know how bad something is until you’ve tried something better!
Phone calls are another major plus for the Galaxy Watch. I never really figured out how to transfer between my Apple watch and my iPhone, so I really never used my watch to make or take calls. I knew it was going to end in a frustrating struggle to either switch to or from the phone, so I just sort of gave up on trying.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch is INCREDIBLE at switching back and forth! The voice quality and volume are impeccable, and you can even set a screen to have four shortcut numbers to dial. Again, another win for the Galaxy Watch, when you’d think that Apple would have been better at!
The Problems with Samsung Health
All the greatness above doesn’t mean a thing if the software can’t hold up…That said, the Samsung Health app for iPhone is buggy as hell. I ended up making myself a handy chart to reference on how to make sure the watch/iPhone app stay in sync to mitigate my issues. And I tried a million different fitness apps to use instead of Samsung Health, but none of them interfaced well because Samsung cut third party app support last year for some reason.
So they basically force you to use their app, but my goodness–the problems it has…. Luckily, most can be worked around by just using the watch itself and not the phone app. It takes a big hit to the battery so it needs to be charged every night, but my Apple Watch also died that fast so I’m not complaining. Edit 6/29/2019: I have figured out how to solve my sync issues with Samsung Health, see my post here for instructions.
Aside from the syncing issues, the heart rate seems inaccurate for both mine and Rachel’s phones. If that’s your thing then consider getting a different watch, but I haven’t tried anything to troubleshoot, so I could be wrong. Also, in my case, it’s best if I do all my tracking on my watch so my widget summaries update correctly and I don’t need to worry if it gets out of sync with the phone app. That way the cute little Samsung summary chart heart fills in properly! 😀
They are releasing updates and making improvements to the watch, but there are a few glaring syncing errors that I am shocked weren’t fixed prior to releasing the support. But beggars can’t be choosers, and honestly I’m stoked that this thing works with the iPhone at all. Because I am never going back to that ugly square Apple Watch, even if it IS rose gold. YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!
Overall, this watch may have some problems, but honestly I’m happy with what it does provide. I can’t speak to how well it works with a non-iPhone, but I am assuming it is better. At the very least it has some insanely awesome functionality that isn’t on the iPhone, like the weight management, fitness programs, and way more customization for improved user experience. If they work out the kinks with the iPhone Samsung Health app and expand that functionality, I could see this watch being a very solid choice for those not wanting that ugly square Apple Watch.
And as always, here’s a bunch of cat pictures for anyone who bothered making it this far. I did a little photoshoot with Madam Crookshanks this past weekend with a bandanna I picked up from GR Pride. It is in support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, they were there raising awareness for their Out of the Darkness Walks that are being held nationwide.
I haven’t released my mental and physical health blogs yet that are in process, but I have a history with this topic. It is my hope that I can figure out a way to blend my knowledge of technology to help with suicide prevention and helping others gain awareness and access to treatment for mental illness. Now look at these adorable cat pictures, go sign up for a walk, and track your steps on your new Samsung Galaxy Watch!