Apple 2017 year in review: Apple Watch gains further independence from iPhone

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited January 1
With the Series 3 and watchOS 4, Apple continued to push the Apple Watch steadily forward in 2017, above all making the important leap of adding LTE cellular.




The upgrade meant that people willing to pay the premium for a cellular model -- branded with a special red dot -- were suddenly able to make phone calls, send text messages, talk to Siri and more while leaving their iPhone at home. Apple did make a gentle push in that direction with 2016's Series 2, which added GPS for some offline tracking, but with the Series 3, people were finally able to stay in touch outside of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi range.

The Watch still has some ways to go before it achieves total independence. An iPhone remains mandatory for setup, updates, and installing apps, and some functions may not be available over cellular. A Watch also has to be associated with an iPhone number, and you can't roam internationally.

U.S. carriers have been a little draconian in their data plans, too. Typically it costs an extra $10 per month to use a Watch on LTE, even with a generous iPhone plan. Exact subscriber numbers are unknown, but the online world has seen plenty of backlash at the idea of spending $120 per year on a smartwatch.

With or without LTE, the Watch became a little more practical in 2017. For fitness fans watchOS 4 added new coaching and challenges, and an improved Workout app with upgrades like high-intensity interval training (HIIT), better swim tracking, and GymKit sync with compatible cardio machines.




Later updates introduced support for streaming Apple Music and more over cellular, and using Apple Pay Cash to send money or make payments.

It's hard to tell where Apple is headed going into 2018. There have been hints of the Watch getting an EKG monitor, but little else has been rumored about a "Series 4" or "watchOS 5," except maybe the addition of native podcast support. Apple will presumably keep pushing in the direction of making the Watch independent -- though it's hard to see the company completely detaching it from the iPhone experience.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,023member
    I'm now sharing my Activity with about 2 dozen Watch users. From my PoV it's been a huge success on multiple levels.
    aegeanracerhomie3howieisaackschristopher126cornchipGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 2 of 30
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 4,544member
    i haven’t found a use for the sharing feature yet, but i am loving the absolute speed of the Series 3. my 0 now lags on common operations so it’s like day & night. the only things that still lag for me are the Home app which gets stuck when rendering my list of scenes & devices, and sometimes HK siri commands. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 3 of 30

    U.S. carriers have been a little draconian in their data plans, too. Typically it costs an extra $10 per month to use a Watch on LTE, even with a generous iPhone plan. Exact subscriber numbers are unknown, but the online world has seen plenty of backlash at the idea of spending $120 per year on a smartwatch.

    This is primarily what made me decide against it -- I am sick and tired of being nickel-and-dimed by these telco bozos. Secondarily, the fact that I can't play my playlists directly from my phone (given the continuing measly amount of on-Watch storage). For now, I'll happily stick with my (unupdated) Series 0.
  • Reply 4 of 30
    aegeanaegean Posts: 80member
    I would love to have EKG in my Apple Watch. Besides, they should make it a bit thinner :) But so far I am loving my black stainless steel series 3. I was getting the grey ceramic edition but I wanted something as black as possible which left me no choice but to get the stainless steel one. Hopefully, they will release something jet black in ceramic. And I think total independence from an iPhone will take some time. Not sure if it is happening in 2018.
    edited January 1
  • Reply 5 of 30
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 1,944member
    I like my original AW. At some point I will likely upgrade, but for now it is too expensive. The carrier fee for a LTE connection is a bridge too far for me. Maybe when they get Siri to actually be usable. For now, it is a mess. YMMV.

    christopher126
  • Reply 6 of 30
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,155member
    I love knowing when my wife rushes out and forgets her iPhone she is still covered with her Apple Watch 3.  $10 a month is a pittance for knowing she has communications abilities not least of which in case of an emergency.
    racerhomie3Soliarthurbachristopher126chiaGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 7 of 30
    eightzero said:
    I like my original AW. At some point I will likely upgrade, but for now it is too expensive. The carrier fee for a LTE connection is a bridge too far for me. Maybe when they get Siri to actually be usable. For now, it is a mess. YMMV.

    Are you using AirPods or BeatsX?
  • Reply 8 of 30
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,023member
    MacPro said:
    I love knowing when my wife rushes out and forgets her iPhone she is still covered with her Apple Watch 3.  $10 a month is a pittance for knowing she has communications abilities not least of which in case of an emergency.
    There seems to be an issue with size of the device as if that matters to the carrier, as well as bonus feature of the carrier allowing you to use a single phone number for two discrete devices. I pay for an emergency (dumb) cellphone that hasn't made a call in 5 years except to check to see if it's working twice a year I still pay $10 a month to keep that device on the network. For me to demand that the carrier let me keep as many dumb phones as I want on their network for free  because "it doesn't use much data" is a ridiculous notion.

    As you state, the emergency call option is a great feature for many people. There are very simple GPS devices that will only send a beacon to a satellite and have a very limited battery life once activated. Before ACR came out with a product with no annual subscription fees there was SPOT which was $200 a year (I don't think you could do it by the month) and they also cost hundreds of dollars up front. Despite this clear barrier to entry I anyone is going to say that the life of loved one hiking in the mountains isn't worth a couple hundred dollars a year.
  • Reply 9 of 30
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 4,544member

    U.S. carriers have been a little draconian in their data plans, too. Typically it costs an extra $10 per month to use a Watch on LTE, even with a generous iPhone plan. Exact subscriber numbers are unknown, but the online world has seen plenty of backlash at the idea of spending $120 per year on a smartwatch.

    This is primarily what made me decide against it -- I am sick and tired of being nickel-and-dimed by these telco bozos. Secondarily, the fact that I can't play my playlists directly from my phone (given the continuing measly amount of on-Watch storage). For now, I'll happily stick with my (unupdated) Series 0.
    I have the cellular AW3 but am not going to pay the $10/mo for the rare occasions where it might be nice to make a 30-second phone call or send a two-word text. What a rip off.
  • Reply 10 of 30
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,023member

    U.S. carriers have been a little draconian in their data plans, too. Typically it costs an extra $10 per month to use a Watch on LTE, even with a generous iPhone plan. Exact subscriber numbers are unknown, but the online world has seen plenty of backlash at the idea of spending $120 per year on a smartwatch.

    This is primarily what made me decide against it -- I am sick and tired of being nickel-and-dimed by these telco bozos. Secondarily, the fact that I can't play my playlists directly from my phone (given the continuing measly amount of on-Watch storage). For now, I'll happily stick with my (unupdated) Series 0.
    I have the cellular AW3 but am not going to pay the $10/mo for the rare occasions where it might be nice to make a 30-second phone call or send a two-word text. What a rip off.
    Not of interest to you and labeling an entire feature and service a rip off are not the same thing. Why discount others that want it for emergencies, or will use it heavily, like with Apple Music and radio streaming?

    You sound just like the people that come in here and say how this or that product from Apple is a "rip off" because they can get something else from somewhere else for less money or that they don't want a feature so it's worthless to count its value to the product, just like we're seeing with the new iMac Pro. Do you also agree that the iMac Pro is "a rip off" because someone doesn't need TB3 or can build a questionable tower for a less money? I'm guessing you wouldn't, so why determine this product offering in that way?
    edited January 1 GeorgeBMacapplesnoranges
  • Reply 11 of 30
    Better battery life on cellular - then AW4 may be my first.  I've had every iPhone since the first -  I'm really disappointed with the latest trend to offer iPhones in "Enormous", "Gigantic" and "OMG it's huge!".   I currently use an SE - but I'm dissapointed that it's spec'd and targeted as a budget device. Smaller is better people.  Maybe the AW is just the smallest phone Apple make - I could pair it with their cheapest phone and after setup just leave the phone in the drawer.  But for this to work the AW needs better cellular battery life. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 12 of 30
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,023member
    arthurba said:
    Better battery life on cellular - then AW4 may be my first.  I've had every iPhone since the first -  I'm really disappointed with the latest trend to offer iPhones in "Enormous", "Gigantic" and "OMG it's huge!".   I currently use an SE - but I'm dissapointed that it's spec'd and targeted as a budget device. Smaller is better people.  Maybe the AW is just the smallest phone Apple make - I could pair it with their cheapest phone and after setup just leave the phone in the drawer.  But for this to work the AW needs better cellular battery life. 
    I've been trying to go iPhone-less since getting the cellular Series 3 Watch, but there are some limitations that still keep that from happening for me. One is the lack of Spotify on the Watch. I gave Apple Music a go after buying the Watch and then installing the beta to get streaming, but I didn't care for the interface (which includes iOS and iTunes on the Mac). Although, Hey Siri on the cellular Watch is an increasingly nice convenience since those instant moments don't require me to grab my iPhone, which is usually in my pocket if on my person.

    Another issue, which may be my car, is that it won't pair with the handsfree system. Each device sees each other but ends up failing to pair. I should look into this one more to see if I can at least narrow down whose issue it is as it could determine which vehicle I buy in the future and how I plan out my future Watch use.

    I would also like to see Sirius XM for cellular streaming, and I don't understand why it doesn't include a Podcast or List apps, which push you to 3rd-party options if you're so inclined.


    edit: It looks to be a Watch issue.

    edited January 1 arthurba
  • Reply 13 of 30
    I just got the 3 with no cellular and it seems to me that no matter how good it gets you are going to want to use it in conjunction with a phone. The wife did get the wifi+LTE however so we will see how useful it turns out in comparison. Just a side note I have always felt a little awkward talking to Siri or 'talk to text' in public on my phone but with the watch I don't feel awkward talking to it at all. So I actually prefer messaging on the watch because I am not tempted to type the text.
    applesnoranges
  • Reply 14 of 30
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 1,944member
    eightzero said:
    I like my original AW. At some point I will likely upgrade, but for now it is too expensive. The carrier fee for a LTE connection is a bridge too far for me. Maybe when they get Siri to actually be usable. For now, it is a mess. YMMV.

    Are you using AirPods or BeatsX?
    No.
  • Reply 15 of 30
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,155member
    Soli said:
    MacPro said:
    I love knowing when my wife rushes out and forgets her iPhone she is still covered with her Apple Watch 3.  $10 a month is a pittance for knowing she has communications abilities not least of which in case of an emergency.
    There seems to be an issue with size of the device as if that matters to the carrier, as well as bonus feature of the carrier allowing you to use a single phone number for two discrete devices. I pay for an emergency (dumb) cellphone that hasn't made a call in 5 years except to check to see if it's working twice a year I still pay $10 a month to keep that device on the network. For me to demand that the carrier let me keep as many dumb phones as I want on their network for free  because "it doesn't use much data" is a ridiculous notion.

    As you state, the emergency call option is a great feature for many people. There are very simple GPS devices that will only send a beacon to a satellite and have a very limited battery life once activated. Before ACR came out with a product with no annual subscription fees there was SPOT which was $200 a year (I don't think you could do it by the month) and they also cost hundreds of dollars up front. Despite this clear barrier to entry I anyone is going to say that the life of loved one hiking in the mountains isn't worth a couple hundred dollars a year.
    My wife being a Realtor and a busy one at that, the odd days she forgot her iPhone I had to drive to meet her somewhere as being without it could cost her literally and metaphorically, dearly.  A few days ago she did it again but was able to carry on business all day via the Apple Phone 3.  I also like being to see where she is and is OK in her line of work now she's doubly covered with the iPhone and Apple Watch 3.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 16 of 30
    Soli said:

    U.S. carriers have been a little draconian in their data plans, too. Typically it costs an extra $10 per month to use a Watch on LTE, even with a generous iPhone plan. Exact subscriber numbers are unknown, but the online world has seen plenty of backlash at the idea of spending $120 per year on a smartwatch.

    This is primarily what made me decide against it -- I am sick and tired of being nickel-and-dimed by these telco bozos. Secondarily, the fact that I can't play my playlists directly from my phone (given the continuing measly amount of on-Watch storage). For now, I'll happily stick with my (unupdated) Series 0.
    I have the cellular AW3 but am not going to pay the $10/mo for the rare occasions where it might be nice to make a 30-second phone call or send a two-word text. What a rip off.
    Not of interest to you and labeling an entire feature and service a rip off are not the same thing. Why discount others that want it for emergencies, or will use it heavily, like with Apple Music and radio streaming?

    You sound just like the people that come in here and say how this or that product from Apple is a "rip off" because they can get something else from somewhere else for less money or that they don't want a feature so it's worthless to count its value to the product, just like we're seeing with the new iMac Pro. Do you also agree that the iMac Pro is "a rip off" because someone doesn't need TB3 or can build a questionable tower for a less money? I'm guessing you wouldn't, so why determine this product offering in that way?
    I didn't say it wasn't of interest to me. Certainly, it is. But the value proposition is such that the minor use is what I consider a rip off, yes. If a Samsung smartwatch only gets a carrier tower fee of 5 bucks, I don't see why an Apple branded one should be 100% more than that. Again, the use on such a small device is minor at best.

    As for what I sound like to you, you're free to have you own polar opinions. Seeking your approval is at the very bottom of my list of things that are important in life. 
    edited January 1
  • Reply 17 of 30
    carriers should offer a “per use” kind of phone plan for the series 3. i think that would increase subscription somehow.
    edited January 1
  • Reply 18 of 30
    MacPro said:
    I love knowing when my wife rushes out and forgets her iPhone she is still covered with her Apple Watch 3.  $10 a month is a pittance for knowing she has communications abilities not least of which in case of an emergency.
    Good point! :)
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 19 of 30
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,620member
    arthurba said:
    Better battery life on cellular - then AW4 may be my first.  I've had every iPhone since the first -  I'm really disappointed with the latest trend to offer iPhones in "Enormous", "Gigantic" and "OMG it's huge!".   I currently use an SE - but I'm dissapointed that it's spec'd and targeted as a budget device. Smaller is better people.  Maybe the AW is just the smallest phone Apple make - I could pair it with their cheapest phone and after setup just leave the phone in the drawer.  But for this to work the AW needs better cellular battery life. 
    The SE was barely slower than the 6s when it came out in a smaller package, so not sure why you'd be disapointed.
    It's faster than most current Android flagship at half the price too.
    It will probably get an upgrade soon.
    cornchipGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 20 of 30
    foggyhill said:
    arthurba said:
    Better battery life on cellular - then AW4 may be my first.  I've had every iPhone since the first -  I'm really disappointed with the latest trend to offer iPhones in "Enormous", "Gigantic" and "OMG it's huge!".   I currently use an SE - but I'm dissapointed that it's spec'd and targeted as a budget device. Smaller is better people.  Maybe the AW is just the smallest phone Apple make - I could pair it with their cheapest phone and after setup just leave the phone in the drawer.  But for this to work the AW needs better cellular battery life. 
    The SE was barely slower than the 6s when it came out in a smaller package, so not sure why you'd be disapointed.
    It's faster than most current Android flagship at half the price too.
    It will probably get an upgrade soon.
    Was. Yep the performance WAS top when it came out - but it lacks altitude sensor (barometer) and force touch etc etc - you know: because it's a budget device.  It's not like force touch or a barometer wouldn't fit.  Plus when it was released it had cripplingly small storage (which is what I have).  So when the update (finally) comes it'll again miss out on the 'high end' features which will be reserved for the 8 'gigantic' and 8 plus 'OMG it's huge' phones.  No i think the advice from Apple is clear: if I want a small phone use the AW.
    edited January 1 cornchip
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