My Apple Watch, Dopamine and Me

The flight was long from Shanghai to Bend, Oregon where we spend our summers. Despite being lucky enough to get a flight on Air Canada  instead of United (which is evil), the flight seemed to last forever. My kids were good, they did not complain and slept for much of the time. All things were going well and I really should have been enjoying the moment, but I could not relax; I wanted it to rush along as fast as possible. You see, an Apple Watch was waiting for me upon my arrival!

First Meeting

Finally we arrived and the Apple Watch and I were united. I tore open the package like a coyote tearing into a rabbit.  I paid little respect to the beautiful packaging Apple uses to surround its wares.

“Forget that,” I thought,” I have a new friend to get to.”

Apple promised this would be the most “intimate” device they ever produced, and I was gonna waste no time getting intimate with it. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. It is a beautiful thing; sleek, thin, lightweight and teaming with exciting features.  It even tells the time.

First Impressions

It takes a while to figure out how the thing works. Do I swipe up to read messages (yes) or do I push hard using force touch to get to the home screen (no) and why does it keep going dark on me (saving battery)? After an error prone three days I figured out how the thing works and am now confident with using it and not looking too foolish.  Except when I speak into it in public of course.

What I Love

  • Siri:  It is so much better on the watch than on my iPhone. Must be a new chip in there that helps it filter out background noise.  Since you can’t type anything on the watch, Siri is your true friend.
  • Maps: This is pure fun. The watch taps me when I need to turn one way or another as well as making a sound that pushes me left or right. It is hard to explain, but it just make sense when I hear it.
  • Heart Rate: The heart rate monitor works really well and is an endless source of entertainment and socialization. We often have heart rate monitoring parties around the house with guests to see who has the lowest (usually my wife)resting heart rate. I really love seeing my rate when I exercise, although it seems to falter a bit when I get sweaty.
  • Activity Monitor: The watch, much like a Fitbit, keeps track of your movements, nags you to stand up and encourages you to exercise.  Good fun!
  • Photos: The watch is brilliantly a remote for the iPhone camera. You see what the camera is seeing (NSA influence here maybe?) and with the touch of a button, a photo is taken. This feature really impresses friends too.  However, I end up having a lot of photos of me holding my wrist. That is sort of weird.
  • Music and Podcasts: The watch makes searching for music (thanks Siri) and changing the volume or track super easy.  I just pull up my watch and adjust whatever I am listening too. Great if you are driving (shh, don’t tell anyone), biking or just sitting on your rear end. It actually saves me from the arduous task of pulling my phone out of my pocket.
  • Notifications: Saving the best for last is notifications.  Wow, these are awesome!  I get little taps on my wrist when I get a message, email, Twitternotice, Slack notice and more.  This is the most exciting part as the watch is always giving me something to look forward too and I can check it without annoying people around. Essentially this feature feeds my addiction.  More on that later…

What Annoys Me

  • It’s Subtle: Hardly anybody notices that I have it on!  What up with that?  Guess it does not stick out as much as I thought.  In fact the only stranger to see I had it was someone from a drive up coffee place.  She said it was cool and that her dad had one. She went on to tell me what a nerd her dad was too.  As if that would make me feel good about myself.
  • It’s Slow: Often the watch has to connect and transfer data from the iPhone. The process, done over Bluetooth, is not very fast and you’ll find yourself waiting and wishing you had just pulled out your phone.
  • The Screen Goes Dark Too Quickly: The screen quickly goes dark to save battery and I understand that.  However, I often find myself in the middle of a task, like switching podcasts while driving (Shhh, don’t tell anybody), leave the watch f a second to dodge the ducks running across the road (see “my” video), and the watch has gone blank. Not only that, I have to start the process all over again from the beginning.  That takes a while to do and distracts me.  Next time the ducks better be on alert.


Dopamine is a wonderful feature of our brain. It washes our brains with pleasure and keeps us coming back. The Apple Watch is a dopamine harvesting powerhouse!  Throughout the day I get taps from my watch letting me know there is something exciting to see. I am constantly awash in pleasure hits and this makes my intimate experience with the watch all the better. If you don’t believe me, check out thisarticle.


I love the Apple watch!  It is so much fun to use, play with and explore.  It is totally a want and no where near a need at this point. The watch is a fantastic gift, but likely not really worth buying on your own.  If you have a loved one, an extra $399 USDand are looking for a great gift, you are all set.  Otherwise $399 is a lot of money to mostly save yourself the time of pulling your iPhone out of your pocket.

Unless of course that seems a worthwhile price to feed your dopamine addiction. 😉

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