The 2 Apple Watch features that convinced me to wear the smartwatch every day

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Angela Lang/CNET

I haven’t always been a fan of the Apple Watch. I bought one as soon as it went on sale in 2015 hoping it would blow me away, but it ended up spending more time in my drawer than on my wrist. It took three more years and the addition of two key features — LTE and the ECG app — for me to finally start wearing it on a regular basis. And now, as the Apple Watch celebrates 5 years (and we prepare for the unveiling of the rumored Apple Watch Series 6), it’s earned a permanent spot on my wrist. 

Read more: Great cheap accessories for your new Apple Watch  

The ‘iWatch’ has arrived

I first started covering the Apple Watch for months before it officially existed. In the summer of 2014 I was hosting a weekly Apple rumor show, and there was already talk of Apple announcing an “iWatch” in the fall.

Sure enough, after presenting the iPhone 6 at the 2014 Sept. 9 event, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced one more thing: the Apple Watch. It was by no means the first of its kind —  Samsung, Motorola and Sony, to name a few, had already launched smartwatches at this point — but Apple hasn’t always concerned itself with having the first of any product. Still, it was a brand new category for Apple, and the first of the post Steve Jobs era (Jobs died almost three years earlier). 

After the keynote, I got a chance to see it up close in the demo room. It was certainly intriguing — I remember thinking it was one of the best-looking watches I’d seen. But the bar had been set pretty low. Most of the earlier smartwatches I’d tested were bulkier and definitely geared more toward men than women. The fact that the Apple Watch had two size options (38mm and 42mm) meant it was at least considering more than one gender. But that initial encounter was brief — it took another eight months before I could test it in the real world.  

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Testing out the original Apple Watch

The aluminum model with the bright green sports band I’d preordered arrived on April 24, the same day it went on sale. In hindsight I probably should’ve opted for a more subdued tone, but I got carried away with the variety of color options. 

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The first picture I took of my original Apple Watch with the bright green straps. 

Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

One of the things I liked from the get go was the ability to check notifications from my wrist. I still like that. I don’t even care how silly I look talking into my wrist, Dick Tracy style, when dictating a response any more. There are also more ways to respond to notifications than before, including the scribble feature. 

I liked having Apple Pay on my wrist. The first time I used it at a Jamba Juice in the city, the clerk looked at me like I’d just performed a magic trick. Back then there were only a handful of merchants that accepted Apple Pay, however, so you really had to seek them out.

But my favorite feature, and the one I continue to use the most to this day, was Find my iPhone. It’s right up there with telling the time. The ability to ping my phone has saved me countless hours of searching over the years. 

But I also had a lot of complaints about that original Apple Watch. Apps were slow to load and had few features compared to their iPhone counterparts. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter took forever to load and most of the time I ended up pulling out my phone rather than waiting for it to show up on the watch. Plus insta-stalking on a tiny screen just wasn’t as satisfying. Now those apps don’t even exist. 

Fitness tracking was lacking, as well. The Watch didn’t have a built-in GPS or elevation tracking, so I still had to run with my phone on me to map my route, defeating the purpose of having a fitness watch in the first place. The only way to access your summary stats on the watch screen was right after you finished your workout. Once it disappeared, you’d have to search in the iPhone app to find your stats. 

And I could barely make it through the day without having to charge the battery. 

After a week of wearing it, I still couldn’t figure out why I needed an Apple Watch. So rather than publish a regular review video, I decided to let people answer that question for themselves by showing them . Once I finished filming the video and the buzz of the release subsided, I would use my Watch sporadically to test out the occasional software update, but it eventually it would go right back into the drawer.