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Getting Started with Apple Watch

There’s a temptation to view Apple Watch as a gadget.  It is.  However, I have found this approach to be a little overwhelming.  This guide instead takes the approach of first introducing it as watch, then over time adding details about additional layers of functionality (complications if you will).

The Watch

Strapping the Watch to your Wrist

An important thing to note is that for the watch to be used most effectively it needs to make contacts with your skin. This doesn’t mean you have to have the watch so tight that it’s digging in, but if it’s loose enough to freely rotate around your wrist, it’s likely too loose and you'll miss out on some of the cooler features.

Interacting with the Watch

Here’s the list of technical terms for interacting with the watch. Don’t worry, most of them you already know from using iPhone.

  • Tap - Tapping is what it sounds like, just tapping the face of the Apple Watch the way you would on the phone.

  • Swipe - Swiping is a familiar gesture from the iPhone. There’s no 'slide to unlock' on the Watch, but when the clock is showing you can swipe downward from the top of the face to see notifications or swipe up from the bottom of the face to  ‘Glances’ (short one page cards that give you some info from an app).
  • Force Touch - Force Touch is pressing into the face sort of the way you would press a  button.  There are lots of places on Apple Watch where you can Force Touch to bring up more options. Think of the Force Touch like ‘right click’ on a computer.  There’s no visual indication that a Force Touch option will be available but if you’re wondering if an app has additional functionality try force touching; you might be pleasantly surprised.
  • Digital Crown (pushing) -  The Digital Crown acts like the iPhone Home Button when you push it in towards the watch. Pressing it once wakes up the face if it’s asleep or takes you to the Home Screen if you’re in an app.  Pressing and holding it for a couple of seconds activates Siri.  Pressing it in along with the contacts button takes a screenshot.
  • Digital Crown (turning) - Turning the Digital Crown on the Home Screen allow you zoom in and out.  While exploring Faces turning the crown allows you change colors. When looking at an app that has a list turning the crown allows you to scroll up and down the list.  Play with it, it’s fun.
  • Side Button - The Side Button is just below the Digital Crown.  Tapping it once brings up contacts from your favorites.  Tapping it twice brings up Apple Pay.

Pairing the Watch with iPhone

The first step in setting up your new watch is to pair with your iPhone.  Open up the watch app on iPhone and tap  'Start Pairing' then follow the on-screen instructions.  Honestly, I think the pairing is the most underrated part of the initial watch experience.  I won't ruin the surprise but the way Apple did it is very cool and also very straightforward. 

Unlock Apple Watch with Passcode

During the set-up process, you will be prompted to create a passcode for the watch.  You'll need to enter this code if the watch is ever removed from your wrist.  If you have an iPhone with Touch ID however you will be given the option to unlock the watch using your iPhone.  Pretty cool.

Waking the Watch

The watch wakes up and displays the clock face whenever you turn your wrist to look at it.  You can also wake the watch by pressing the Side Button or pressing in on the Digital Crown.

Check out  Up Next - What To Do When  on the App Store,  a great way to view your reminders lists on Apple Watch 

Check out Up Next - What To Do When on the App Store,  a great way to view your reminders lists on Apple Watch 


There are a few ways to send a message from Apple Watch.

Friends Screen - If  you select a friend from on the Friends screen and tap on the message bubble in the lower left corner of the screen, the messaging interface will appear.

Apple Watch has a dedicated button that brings up your Friends (Favorites) list.  Tapping the side button shows up 12 contacts.  You can navigate between them by turning the Digital Crown ( you can also tap on their initials, but the using the Digital Crown is cooler I think).  To see the available method of contact, tap the selected friend's profile pic.

Reply to Incoming Message -  If you tap reply on an incoming message, you'll be sent to the messaging interface.

Ask Siri -  Just say something like "Send a message to John" and Siri will open up the messaging interface for you.

Initiate a Message from the messages app -  Honestly, you'll probably never do this. But you could.

The Messaging Interface

Preset Replies

Apple Watch does a pretty good job suggesting preset response based on the context of your conversation.  If you'd like to customize the preset replies you can do so in the iPhone Watch App under the 'My Watch' tab, then tapping Messages, then 'Default Replies'.


Tap the diction button to speak a message into the watch. By default, you'll the dictated results appear on the screen. When you're finished recording, tap Done.

There's another step though!  If  you stop there, and put your wrist by your side,  your message will actually be lost!  After tapping done, you will be presented with a choice of sending the audio recording or the dictated text.  You can turn this option off in the iPhone Watch App, but it's enabled by default.


There are 3 types of animations and plus standard emoji that you can send. At the time of this writing the new iOS 8.3 emoji with skin tones were not supported.  The Faces  have two colors (yellow & red), the hearts have three (red, blue, purple). Force Touch the Face or Heart to change the color.





Check out   Up Next - What To Do When   on the App Store,  a great way to view your reminders lists on Apple Watch 

Check out Up Next - What To Do When on the App Store,  a great way to view your reminders lists on Apple Watch