Dexcom has been pioneers in integrating personal gadgets like the iPhone and Apple Watch with diabetes devices. But until just last week, their newest product, the G5 CGM (continuous glucose monitor), had astonishingly lacked any native support for the Apple Watch (even though the predecessor G4 did).
With the latest software update, Dexcom finally added a native Apple Watch app and “glance view” that allows users to quickly see their blood sugar by swiping down on their watch face. Unfortunately, Dexcom’s Apple Watch solution still has a glaring omission: the lack of a “complication” for displaying glucose information directly on the watch face, similar to how you might view the weather forecast, or the battery percentage.
A “Complication” is what Apple calls a small visual element that appears directly on the Apple Watch face and conveys important information to the user.
That’s why Adam Wolf took it upon himself to develop watchSugar, a complication for viewing Dexcom CGM data (like blood sugar and trend arrow) directly on the watch face.
So long as its limitations are fully recognized, watchSugar is a must-have app for Dexcom users that own an Apple Watch.
WatchSugar brings CGM Data to the Watchface
The above image quickly illustrates the value of true, glanceable information. On the left is Dexcom’s current solution: a complication that is simply a shortcut to open the Dexcom app. On the right is the blood sugar displayed as two separate complication options using watchSugar: viewing your CGM data is as easy as checking the time, no interaction required.
It goes without saying that for people with widely fluctuating blood sugars (eg. Type 1 diabetes), being able to continuously see your live blood glucose with trend arrows is immensely valuable. Removing extra taps and swipes to view CGM data pays dividends countless times each day.
How well does watchSugar work?
To be honest, there’s not much depth to watchSugar, which is a good thing. Getting everything setup requires the standard process for setting up any third party complication: install the app, then use the watchface setup process to select the watchSugar complication. The only bonus step is logging into the app with your Dexcom Share/Follow credentials.
After setup is complete, the sugar information is right there on your watch face. Every time you check the time, you’ll see a number and trend arrow, just like you might see on the Dexcom app or receiver. Unfortunately, there is no graph of historical blood sugars, but that can displayed by swiping down to bring up Dexcom’s own “glance view” (pictured below).
Once you’ve grown accustomed to seeing the blood sugar right there on your watch face, anything else seems outdated or laborious.
A major limitation
During my two weeks of using watchSugar, I’ve noticed a fairly consistent pattern where, after Apple Watch workouts, watchSugar will “get stuck” and stop updating the data that is displayed on the watch face. (In this screenshot below, notice how the sugar’s timestamp is from 4:19PM, over 7 hours old).