My spouse and I’ve a relative with a extreme case of atrial fibrillation, and it had just lately gotten so unhealthy she needed to have surgical procedure to right it. Sadly, after the surgical procedure, she nonetheless had coronary heart flutters, which the physician mentioned have been regular and will move with time.
I do know from private expertise how annoying it’s to fret about your coronary heart charge and rhythm. I’m not an Apple Watch zealot, however it’s comforting to carry out a fast ECG and see that issues are roughly regular (see “I’m a Paramedic: Here’s How the Apple Watch Series 4 Will and Won’t Save Lives,” 3 October 2018). I had lengthy been contemplating giving our relative an Apple Watch to assist monitor her atrial fibrillation, however the surgical procedure lastly pushed me to do it. It additionally didn’t harm that there are at present some wonderful gross sales on the Apple Watch Collection 5, which is greater than enough for ECG monitoring.
The primary concern, although, was the concern that I might be giving her a field of complications. This particular person isn’t a geek, although she has extra technical aptitude than lots of her friends. We additionally checked prematurely to verify her iPhone would work with the Apple Watch Collection 5. She has an iPhone 6s, the naked minimal iPhone required to help the Apple Watch.
Sadly, my reward did certainly flip right into a field of complications, at the least for me. I used to be capable of resolve all the issues in the long run, however the highway to success was method longer and bumpier than it ought to have been.
The Brick within the Highway
I stunned her with the Apple Watch, gave a quick overview of the best way to set it up, and left her to it. Usually, I might have sat there and helped her set it up, however we’re nonetheless sustaining social distancing as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. Plus, the Apple Watch setup is easy: scan the star sample along with your iPhone and also you’re off to the races. Or so I believed.
She referred to as me through FaceTime a few days later as a result of she was having issues organising the Apple Watch. After some troubleshooting, I directed her to Settings > Common > About to be taught what model of iOS she was operating. She was nonetheless on iOS 11. Oh, pricey.
Subsequent, I guided her by way of updating to iOS 14, crossing my fingers that nothing would explode within the course of. However in Settings > Common > Software program Replace, no Set up Now choice appeared. Right here’s one thing for a future Unhealthy Apple column. The textual content informing her that she didn’t have sufficient free house to put in the replace was not solely minuscule, nevertheless it was darkish grey on a lightweight grey background. She’s older and couldn’t even see it! I may simply barely make it out over FaceTime. For a corporation that touts its accessibility benefits, unhealthy Apple!
The iOS 14 replace required about 4 GB of free house, and this was a 16 GB iPhone. Regardless that she doesn’t use her iPhone that a lot, it was nonetheless full. I walked her by way of Settings > Common > iPhone Storage and had her activate all of the ideas, like offloading unused apps, deleting outdated conversations, and so forth. I additionally had her delete the Fb and Fb Messenger apps, which have a behavior of bloating in measurement. I additionally verified that iCloud Picture Library was enabled in Settings > Photographs and that Optimize iPhone Storage was turned on.
Sadly, these efforts reclaimed solely about 3 GB of house, and I used to be hesitant to have her begin deleting photos and movies. I made a decision the most effective plan of action was to have her drop off the iPhone and Apple Watch so I may deal with the remaining.
As soon as I had the iPhone, my plan was to replace by way of iTunes (my iMac nonetheless runs macOS 10.14 Mojave), which Apple advised would let me replace the iPhone with out clearing extra space. I first made certain there was an iCloud backup, after which I additionally backed up with iTunes. That was the neatest transfer I made on this total story. At all times make backups earlier than embarking on efforts like this!
That’s as a result of the replace halted midway by way of with the dreaded “unknown error” message. The iPhone’s display went darkish, and I started to panic.
Fixing the Brick
I break my very own stuff on a regular basis, which doesn’t trouble me a lot as a result of I’ve spares, I maintain backups, I often have the information to make things better, and hey, it’s my stuff and I’ll break it if I need to. However messing up another person’s iPhone, simply to get an Apple Watch working that they by no means requested for, nicely, that’s extra annoying.
I attempted an iTunes replace. I attempted a restore. I believed possibly the issue was between iTunes in Mojave and iOS 14, so I related the iPhone to my MacBook Professional operating 10.15 Catalina. That meant downloading iOS 14 but once more, and the expertise is even worse in Catalina’s Finder than it’s in iTunes as a result of there isn’t a progress bar, simply an anxiety-inducing and utterly unhelpful spinning gear.
At one level, I thought of calling Apple help or making the lengthy journey to Nashville and braving a plague-filled mall so I may hand the iPhone off to the Apple Retailer’s Genius Bar. I couldn’t even put the iPhone into restoration mode; all I noticed was an Apple brand after which a clean display. However Catalina may nonetheless see the iPhone, so I attempted to keep up my composure and saved at it.
After quite a few tries, the Restore choice finally labored, such that I used to be capable of set up iOS 14 efficiently and get the iPhone in addition. Subsequent, I needed to set the iPhone up and hope I may get better from one of many backups I’d made.
Restoring the iPhone
The primary wall I hit was Activation Lock, since I hadn’t thought to ask for her Apple ID password. (Admittedly dumb on my half.) Sadly, she was at lunch once I encountered it so I couldn’t contact her instantly. I spent about an hour worrying if she knew the password. By the best way, I had not advised her I had bricked her iPhone and was not sure if I may restore the information. I noticed no must concern her if I may keep away from it—we purchased the Apple Watch to assist with coronary heart issues, to not trigger extra! Fortunately, she remembered the password, I used it to get previous Activation Lock, and I moved on to the subsequent step.
She additionally volunteered the passcode to her iPad, and I used to be glad she did as a result of the subsequent hurdle was two-factor authentication. My abdomen did one other flip once I noticed that display as a result of I didn’t have her iPad helpful, however I discovered a enjoyable reality: when you don’t have a spare Apple system helpful, Apple will textual content the 2FA code to your iPhone and even fill it in routinely. However then iOS requested for the iPad’s passcode, and fortunately I had it.
Right here’s the place one thing lastly went proper. I related the iPhone to iTunes on my iMac and restored the backup with none subject. After the restore was full, I checked Mail, Messages, and Photographs, and certain sufficient, all the things was the place it was alleged to be!
With the iPhone up to date to iOS 14, seemingly operating nice, and with its information restored, it was lastly time to arrange the Apple Watch.
Time Flies When You’re Not Having Enjoyable
Evidently, on condition that this whole state of affairs was cursed, I hit snags when organising the Apple Watch. I made a decision to replace the watch to watchOS 7 when prompted, simply in order that’d be one much less factor to do later. In case you’ve by no means up to date an Apple Watch, it’s a gradual course of. The iPhone should first obtain the replace and switch it to the watch by way of Bluetooth, after which the watch should then set up it. There’s an excellent motive we maintain encouraging TidBITS readers to put in watchOS updates at night time.
I used to be apprehensive as a result of I encountered quite a few issues putting in watchOS 7 on my Apple Watch Collection 4. It took a number of makes an attempt over the course of a day, night, and the subsequent morning to get the set up to take, and I needed to re-download it a number of occasions. Even after that, I encountered a severe battery drain subject that compelled me to unpair and re-pair the watch. Fortunately, it’s working nicely once more.
Fortunately, when working with my relative’s Apple Watch Collection 5, I didn’t encounter these particular issues. Nonetheless, I did have a problem the place the Watch app on her iPhone mentioned the replace was nonetheless putting in, whereas the watch itself was prompting me to set it up from the iPhone. After ready some time, I force-quit the Watch app and restarted the setup course of. The Watch app once more knowledgeable me that I wanted to replace the watch, and I dutifully agreed. Happily, after a little bit of a wait, it realized the watch already had watchOS 7 put in and proceeded with setup.
I shortly managed to configure the essential elements of the Apple Watch, after which I made a decision to go all the best way by organising a watch face, enabling ECG, and turning on the guts charge and fibrillation notifications.
Organising ECG within the iPhone’s Well being app was far fussier than vital. First, it advised me it was unable to verify my location. As a result of regulatory points, the ECG functionality is obtainable solely in sure nations. I spotted that the issue stemmed from the iPhone attempting to make use of the mobile community to confirm my location. The clue was that it advised me to verify a working SIM card was put in.
I don’t have mobile service at my home (no due to Verizon—you possibly can see why I’m not holding my breath on 5G), so I needed to take the iPhone and the Apple Watch, hop within the automotive, drive 5 minutes down the highway, keep away from being hit head-on by a tractor, and park the automotive at a rustic retailer that has mobile protection. Certain sufficient, the iPhone instantly handed the situation test. Apparently, Wi-Fi and GPS aren’t enough to be sure to’re within the right nation. Neither is Wi-Fi Calling, which is what I exploit for mobile service at my home.
That is nuts. Mobile connectivity shouldn’t be required to find out which nation I’m in for ECG. I perceive that Apple has to do some type of verification to maintain the authorized beagles comfortable, however this info may simply be extracted by way of Wi-Fi or GPS. The US is an enormous nation, and absolute precision just isn’t required.
I believed I used to be accomplished, however Apple Authorized threw me one other hurdle. The Well being app subsequent requested if I’ve ever been identified with atrial fibrillation by a health care provider. The particular person I used to be setting the watch up for has been, so I answered Sure. That prompted a dialog saying, “These notifications should not designed for individuals who have been identified with atrial fibrillation.” There was no error message, however I used to be not allowed to proceed till I chosen No. Technically, that wasn’t a lie as a result of at the least I’ve by no means been identified with atrial fibrillation.
As soon as I managed to arrange the ECG function, I drove dwelling to construct her watch face with the suitable issues. She had already advised me she most well-liked analog faces, which nudged me towards the Infograph face launched with the Apple Watch Collection 4. I needed to arrange issues for the next:
- Rain probability proportion
- Excessive and low temperature
- Sundown time
- Coronary heart charge
- Battery proportion
I knew ECG was alleged to be an choice as a result of it’s on my Apple Watch Collection 4, however I didn’t see it within the Watch app! I believed possibly I used to be wanting on the unsuitable complication slot as a result of not each complication is obtainable in each slot. I then thought that maybe I needed to run an ECG earlier than the complication would seem, which made a specific amount of sense given the bizarre hurdle round ECG. However no, that didn’t do it both. Lastly, I believed to press on the Apple Watch’s display to edit the watch face there. Certain sufficient, the ECG complication was out there on the watch, however not from the Watch app on the iPhone. I’ve no rationalization for why this may be.
With all the things lastly accomplished, my spouse and I delivered the newly up to date iPhone and correctly configured Apple Watch. Inside a few minutes, I had walked my relative by way of taking her pulse and getting an ECG studying. She was completely delighted. The Apple Watch is a tremendous piece of expertise, however the onboarding course of can stumble badly in the true world.
Later that night time, I acquired a message saying she’d damaged the watch. I shortly discovered that she had merely added a second watch face, and I defined the best way to swap between them. That’s the type of tech help I like giving as a result of it means the person is having fun with their expertise, enjoying round with it, and studying the best way to use it. One factor I like about Apple’s merchandise is that I can often hand one to somebody, they usually can discover it with out doing any actual harm.
I usually complain in regards to the constraints Apple places on its gadgets, however there’s a flip facet: these constraints give the much less tech-savvy extra freedom to discover.
The Apple Watch Is Not a Nice Reward
I discovered just a few issues throughout this expertise.
- Gently immediate family members to maintain their gadgets updated, and assist them achieve this if vital. We’ve mentioned this earlier than in TidBITS, and my struggle with upgrading from iOS 11 to iOS 14 hammers it dwelling: the longer you wait to improve, the extra doubtless you might be to have extra important issues within the course of (see “Why You Should Upgrade (On Your Own Terms),” 4 September 2015).
- At all times make backups, ideally a number of backups. On this case, I may have restored from both iCloud or iTunes, however you by no means know what would possibly render one or the opposite of these backups ineffective.
- Get all of the login info earlier than you mess with somebody’s system with out them current. You’ll virtually all the time want it for one thing. Additionally get passcodes for any of their different gadgets.
All that mentioned, I doubt I’ll ever purchase an Apple Watch as a present once more, besides possibly for my spouse. There are simply too many questions concerned: watch measurement, their most well-liked shade and materials, which band sort they might most like and its shade and measurement, have they got the best iPhone, is their iPhone updated, and so forth.
For one of many easiest gadgets in Apple’s lineup, the Apple Watch is among the most tough to offer as a present. I’ve given iPads and even iPhones as items, and though they’re much more complicated gadgets, they aren’t practically as difficult to arrange as a result of they stand on their very own.
One other relative requested me why the Apple Watch can’t work by itself like another watch. It’s an affordable query as a result of, with Wi-Fi and non-obligatory mobile connectivity, it could appear that it may work with at the least restricted performance without having a companion iPhone.
Adam and I debated the chances for some time, specializing in setup and authentication, however we figured that we should always get some knowledgeable enter. So I posed the query to our pal David Shayer, who labored on the Apple Watch throughout his time at Apple. The reply, he mentioned, comes right down to energy consumption. Apple takes each out there measure to maximise battery life. The Apple Watch helps each Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (to the iPhone) for accessing the skin world, however Bluetooth makes use of far much less energy than Wi-Fi. In consequence, watchOS is designed to make use of Bluetooth to request information from its companion iPhone as a substitute of getting it straight over Wi-Fi every time attainable.
Apple has taken a step towards eliminating the necessity for a companion iPhone by introducing Household Setup, which lets folks set up an Apple Watch for a family member. Sadly, there are a few issues that make Household Setup impractical for many individuals:
- You want a cellular-capable Apple Watch, which isn’t solely dearer but in addition requires a month-to-month charge out of your provider, assuming your carrier supports the Apple Watch. Apple now has a note saying, “A mobile plan isn’t required to arrange an Apple Look ahead to a member of the family, however is important for some options.” The corporate doesn’t specify which options require mobile entry, nevertheless it doubtless consists of any that want to make use of the Web.
- Once you arrange an Apple Look ahead to another person, these options aren’t out there: irregular coronary heart rhythm notifications, ECG, Cycle Monitoring, Sleep, Blood Oxygen, Podcasts, Distant, Information, House, and Shortcuts. The primary two limitations would have defeated the aim of shopping for the Apple Look ahead to our relative. We suspect these options depend on a straight paired iPhone for storage and show of the personalised information related to the function. Because it stands, the Well being app, as an example, can retailer and show information just for the iPhone’s major person. With out multi-user help baked into iOS, these options would wish important transforming.
Ultimately, as engaging because the Apple Watch is, it’s such a private merchandise that it merely doesn’t make sense as a shock current. Maybe Apple may construct an internet software that will assist clients reward an Apple Watch to somebody inside sure limitations and let the recipient personalize it as they need, maybe chipping within the further quantity if they need a dearer band, as an example.