The trouble with streaks and the Apple Watch repair process

Apple Watch Goes Pop

Recently the back of my Apple Watch popped off. I removed it from the magnetic charger and part of the watch decided it wanted to stay attached.

These things happen, but getting it repaired is a nightmare – losing the watch is losing these bloody rings:

Apple Watch Activity Rings

I’d been enjoying a 90 day or so streak, making sure I got all my activity rings filled. Fighting through a horrible cold and motivating me to get out on a few rainy Sundays.

Without the watch you can’t fill those rings, miss a day and you lose the streak. That’s when the repair process falls apart.

The wait for an appointment; seven days. The stretched Apple Store only lets you book a week in advance, to get an appointment you have to check first thing in the morning otherwise you’re greeted with a No Appointments Available message. That can push it to over a week before you are seen.

I was fortunate that my watch still worked if I was careful removing it from the charger. I could still wear it, avoiding any water contact until my appointment.

Once at the store the Genius said that no repairs take place on site and that replacement devices cannot be issued without the review of the repair centre. This means all repairs are sent away taking up to another seven days. Even with AppleCare+ you still have to wait for a roundtrip to Apple’s repair centre.

That could mean two weeks without your watch, without Apple’s most personal device and ruining well-earned streaks.

What could be done better?

The simplest way; offer in-store replacements where possible. Due to the Apple Watch being a mostly sealed device, the only repair that’s commonly performed is a screen replacement. In most other cases they have to offer a replacement.

My friend James Hartt suggests that the Activity app should focus on the quantitive achievements, like hitting 100 move goals, instead of consecutive streaks.

The workaround

Apple have a 14 day open box no-quibble return policy; you can buy a replacement and return it when you’re replacement is available. You’ll need to shell out temporarily and make sure you return it in the window.

Just make sure you’ve got a backup – unpairing your watch automatically triggers a full backup. You can repeat this when you get your replacement watch back.

Time to change

Fitness and health are the two standout features of the Apple Watch, it’s a shame to see the already frustrating process of having a broken device ruin the health behaviours that Apple promote.