Explore everything your Apple Watch can do in watchOS 3!

Apple Watch: A Take Control Crash Course

Jeff Carlson

Get to know your Apple Watch and customize it to help you focus on what you care about most. Tech expert Jeff Carlson helps you understand the watch mindset, pick out your watch, set up its faces and their complications, get the notifications you want, handle communications, and learn how the controls and core apps work.

This book has been discontinued and replaced with “Take Control of Apple Watch.”

Note: This book has been discontinued and replaced with Take Control of Apple Watch.

You’ll like your Apple Watch as much as author Jeff Carlson does after you’ve read this book and used its advice to integrate the Apple Watch into your life, taking advantage of its many features for helping you focus on what you care about the most. That could mean not missing notifications to help you keep up with co-workers, being free to stash your iPhone so you can enjoy the sunset without worrying that your sitter is trying to reach you, making sure you move enough to fill your activity rings for the day, or any other of a million things that make the watch right for you.

Jeff walks you through getting to know the Apple Watch, complete with a chapter on picking one out if you haven’t already, along with topics that teach you how to navigate among the watch’s screens with the physical controls, taps on the screen, and the Siri voice assistant.

You’ll also find advice on customizing watch faces, getting the notifications you want, handling text and voice communications, and using Apple’s core apps. A final chapter discusses taking care of your Apple Watch, including recharging, restarting, resetting, and restoring.

Read this ebook to Take Control of:

  • Picking out your own Apple Watch — first-generation, Series 1, or Series 2
  • Making watch face complications work for you
  • Key settings that most people will want to know about
  • Using the Control Center and Dock
  • Understanding how the watch interacts with your iPhone
  • Placing and receiving phone calls on the watch
  • Sending default (and customized) text messages
  • Seeing email from only certain people
  • Adding events to your calendar with Siri
  • Glancing at what’s next in your daily schedule
  • Managing reminders on your wrist
  • Loading your watch with photos
  • Using the watch as a button for your iPhone camera
  • Using Apple Pay from your watch
  • Putting tickets in your watch
  • Taking the Apple Watch out for exercise
  • Sending sketches and heartbeats to other Apple Watch owners
  • Getting navigation directions
  • Controlling an Apple TV or iTunes on the Mac with the Remote app
  • Unlocking a Mac with a tap on your wrist
  • Resetting a messed-up Apple Watch and force-quitting an app
Jeff Carlson

About Jeff Carlson

Jeff Carlson is a contributing editor of TidBITS, a frequent contributor to Macworld and DPReview, and the author of best-selling books on the Mac, digital photography, and, in earlier incarnations, web design and Palm organizers. He consumes almost too much coffee. Almost.

What’s New in Version 1.3

Version 1.3 of this book is a significant update, which includes the following new information:

  • New Apple Watch models: Apple has introduced Apple Watch Series 2 and Series 1 models with important new features; flip ahead to Choosing an Apple Watch for an overview. Features specific to the Series 2 models also factor into many other parts of the book.

  • watchOS 3: The latest upgrade to the Apple Watch operating system is a massive overhaul with a heavily revised user interface, new apps, and many new and updated features, which are covered throughout the book. See What’s New in watchOS 3 for an introduction to the new features.

  • More icons: We’ve added more tiny icons throughout the text, as well as a Name That App sidebar that helps you match Home screen icons to app names.

  • Editorial adjustment: With the introduction of Apple Watch Series 2, which has a built-in GPS and is suitable for swimming, the Apple Watch has become a competent fitness tracker. As a result, I’ve removed the topic about other fitness trackers.

  • Read Me First
  • Introduction
  • Apple Watch Quick Start
  • Understand the Apple Watch
  • The Apple Watch vs. the Competition
  • Choosing an Apple Watch
  • Interact with the Apple Watch
  • Personalize the Apple Watch Face
  • Glances
  • Apps and the Apple Watch
  • Notifications
  • Communicate with Friends
  • Maps and Directions
  • Calendars and Reminders
  • View (and Capture) Photos
  • Control Media Remotely
  • Use Apple Pay and Passbook
  • Exercise with the Apple Watch
  • Customizations and Important Settings
  • Care and Feeding of Your Apple Watch
  • About This Book
  • Apple Watch updated; Apple Watch book, not so much

    Posted by Jeff Carlson on February 22, 2018

    In the nearly three years since the Apple Watch was introduced, we’ve seen four hardware iterations, four operating system releases, and millions of orders, making it a fairly mature product by modern tech standards.

    During that time, we’ve also seen four releases of Apple Watch: A Take Control Crash Course, including the first version we published before the watch was even released. And now…well, we think four is a pretty good number, for now. Sales of the book aren’t enough to justify updating the manuscript to account for the changes in Apple Watch Series 3 and watchOS 4.

    That turns out to be a pretty good opportunity for you and/or dozens of your Apple Watch-owning friends, because we’ve put together a great deal. Looking over the current version, easily 95% of the information is still relevant and helpful to anyone with an Apple Watch. Want to install apps, customize watch faces and complications, get driving or walking directions, or send messages? It’s all there.

    So here’s the deal: you can now buy the (slightly outdated) book for just $5—half of its original price!

    Here’s an overview of what’s changed in the Apple Watch that isn’t specifically in the book:

    • The Apple Watch now runs watchOS 4, which represents more of a focus on fitness activities and technologies used in Apple’s ecosystem. watchOS 4 runs on all versions of Apple Watch, even the original “Series 0” hardware.

    • The Dock, which comes up when you press the side button, now displays apps as a layer of cards representing the most recent apps you’ve used. In the Watch app on the iPhone (in My Watch > Dock), you can change that to display Favorites, and put the apps in the order you prefer.

    • The app screen is, by default, the same blobby collection of circular app icons, but now there’s an alternative. Force-touch the app screen and choose List View to see the apps as a scrolling list.

    • Apple introduced a few new watch faces in watchOS 4. The Siri face is named because it has a prominent Siri button you can tap (if you’d prefer to invoke the assistant with a tap instead of pressing the digital crown or raising the watch and saying, “Hey Siri”). It also features informative cards that display things such as Apple News items, calendar events, and reminders. Also new is a Kaleidoscope face that takes photos and mirrors them into geometric patterns. And I also confess an affinity for the dozens of fun, animated Toy Story-themed faces.

    • The Apple Watch Series 3 includes a model with built-in cellular networking, which means the iPhone doesn’t need to be connected to the watch to use wireless features such as messaging, phone calls, or streaming music playback. Prices to enable the cellular feature vary among wireless providers, but in most cases it’s an extra monthly fee.

    • The Apple Watch Series 3 models also include an altimeter, a faster processor, more internal memory, and Bluetooth 4.2 wireless networking.

    • watchOS 4 adds the capability to stream music with an Apple Music subscription, versus syncing music tracks to the device separately. It also supports sending and receiving money via Apple Pay’s peer-to-peer payment feature.

    • The fitness features in watchOS 4 include more types of workouts, as well as compatibility with several gym equipment models to sync more detailed real-time workout data as you’re exercising.

    • Apple incorporated more coaching prompts and reminders to the activity features, providing nudges throughout the day if, for example, your exercise ring isn’t as far along at some point compared to the same time on other days. It sounds like a nagging feature, but in my experience, Apple has found a good balance between motivation and exasperation.

    These are mostly refinements for what was already in the Apple Watch experience since the last release of Apple Watch: A Take Control Crash Course. If you’re looking for a great guide that covers all of the other foundational topics about the watch, take advantage of our new pricing for the book at just $5.

    Apple Watch Series 3 Adds Cellular

    Posted by Jeff Carlson on September 15, 2017

    The Apple Watch sits solitary on your wrist, but it’s never been entirely alone. Every model since the beginning has relied heavily on the wireless Bluetooth connection to an iPhone for most of its smarts: running apps, looking up weather, interacting with Siri, and more.

    Starting with the just-announced Apple Watch Series 3, that invisible tether can be snipped—mostly. The new models incorporate a radio chip that enables the watch to communicate with LTE cellular networks on its own. You can go for a run and leave the phone behind without worrying that you’re incommunicado.

    A cellular Apple Watch has a few advantages: Siri is apparently faster, according to Apple, because the request isn’t being routed through the phone first. You can place and receive phone calls directly (although doing so drains the battery significantly, to the tune of about one hour of talk time). If you have an Apple Music subscription, you can stream Apple’s entire catalog via the watch (presumably to a set of AirPods, although the speaker will work, too).

    Personally, I’m geeking out at the fact that Apple is using the entire OLED screen as the cellular antenna, which means the watch remains the same size and design as previous models. There’s a lot of sophisticated circuitry under that water-sealed case.

    The Series 3 watches (which are also available in non-cellular configurations) boast improved performance thanks to a faster dual-core processor and elevation sensing via a new barometric altimeter. For more details, see Apple Watch Series 3 Goes Cellular.

    Of course, Apple also offers a bunch of new bands (although I’ve found perfectly good alternatives that cost decidedly less online), and if you’re looking for something different in terms of style, a new gray ceramic model is now available.

    All of the Series 3 watches are available for pre-order now starting at $349. They start to ship Sep. 22.

    This round also includes watchOS 4, which adds a few more faces, more fitness options, smarter heart rate monitoring, and more. See “watchOS 4 Focuses on Fun and Fundamentals” for a good rundown.

    Jeff and Joe on Serial Collaboration and Apple Watch

    Posted by Michael E. Cohen on December 21, 2016

    Jeff Carlson and Joe Kissell spend some time with Chuck Joiner of MacVoices describing what’s new in their co-authored Crash Course about Apple Watch and how the current edition came about. Learn what special Watch features float each of their boats and more in this timely interview.

    Talking about Apple Watch Book Update at MacVoices

    Posted by Michael E. Cohen on January 26, 2016

    The ever-gracious Chuck Joiner and Jeff sat down on MacVoices to talk about the latest update to Jeff’s book, a discussion that covered topics such as the strengths and weaknesses of the Apple Watch almost a year in, which important changes are in watchOS 2, and why Jeff updated the book.

    MacVoices #15153: Jeff Carlson Talks Apple Watch and His Take Control Crash Course

    Posted by Michael E. Cohen on July 22, 2015

    A few months back, before the Apple Watch was released, version 1.0 of Jeff’s book came out, full of information for prospective watch buyers but, of necessity, short of usage tips and advice. However, now that Apple’s wrist-bling has been available for a couple of months, Jeff has been able to expand and update his book accordingly. Chuck Joiner naturally is curious about what Jeff has added to his book and what he has changed. That’s at the core of this MacVoices conversation, and if you have the time for it (check your watch), you can find out too!

    Jeff and Chuck Get Wound Up about Apple Watch on MacVoices

    Posted by Michael E. Cohen on March 17, 2015

    Jeff and MacVoices host Chuck Joiner spend an hour engaging in a sweeping discussion of Apple Watch, style and function, whether the Watch is a computer, and more.


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