Finally falling in love with the Apple Watch

Warming up to the Apple Watch took me a while.

When the first version of the smartwatch came out in 2015, I delighted in having an Apple-branded product on my wrist. When the novelty wore off, though, I realized the gizmo wasn’t useful to me in any life-changing way, and ended up leaving it on its desktop charger most of the time.

Apple’s initial, largely ineffectual stabs at a smartwatch operating system were part of the problem, but it kept iterating to make its watchOS better and better. An increased emphasis on fitness was a good move (pardon the pun).

Over time, I discovered more and more uses for the Apple Watch, some fitness-related, others not. I detailed this in a recent Pioneer Press column.

And that was before Apple released the groundbreaking Series 4 version of the watch, along with a vastly improved version 5 of watchOS.

Now, the smartwatch has come into its own as a standalone podcast player, eclipsing earlier, flawed efforts along these lines.

Meanwhile, the Apple Watch has evolved dramatically as a health-monitoring device. As I note in a recent TidBITS article, the device has increased potential to save lives — literally.

The Series 4 model is now an electrocardiogram reader, allowing users to detect a possibly deadly heart anomaly. And all variations of the Apple Watch except for the original model are now able to detect irregular and potentially dangerous heart rhythms.

For these reasons, the Apple Watch is among the best tech gifts you can bestow this holiday season: You are potentially prolonging the life of a loved one, and that’s amazing.

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