Anybody who knows me will know I am a bit of an Apple addict. No, not the fruit. I don’t eat half as many of them as I should.
When the announcement about the Apple Watch was made. I was excited, but not entirely sold on whether it would be the next big thing. I don’t often wear a watch, and on the odd occasion I do I wear my Hugo Boss one I bought a year or so ago. Saying that, Apple products excite me. They always have. Why? That’s a discussion for another day, but I decided straight away I would be investing in their latest ‘must-have’ gadget.
It’s been a month now since I eagerly awaited the arrival of the Apple Watch. I didn’t want to write anything right away as I knew it would be based on my excitement of something new and shiny, rather than about what really matters. This post needs to answer the more important questions, such as:
How has it changed my life for the better? Where does it still need work? etc.
I should point out at this stage that I went with the Apple Watch Sport in space grey (what?) with a black band. Like every Apple product before this, the 1st generation is never that great. Take the first iPhone for example, it didn’t even have 3G! This is why I made the decision not to invest in a more expensive model, as I would only be buying another one in 10 months anyways.
Here are the questions I asked myself:
Do you like the design, and is it comfortable?
I’m incredibly satisfied with the way the Apple Watch fits, though I must admit, getting it on each day isn’t that easy. Maybe it is me being clumsy, but I struggle to get it tight enough round my wrist without adjusting it a few times. This isn’t a big issue to be fair, as it is only about 30 seconds each morning I lose to it.
As for durability, I can have no complaints. I have not had any scratches and the band looks like it arrived yesterday. This is after I run with it 4 times a week too. Believe me, I sweat profusely.
I honestly believe this is the best hardware Apple’s industrial design team has ever shipped, and given how much industry-shaping hardware they’ve shipped, that’s really an achievement.
The Apple Watch looks great, especially when you’re wearing it. Apple made the smartest choice possible when it came to sizing and shapes. From 38mm to 42mm you can fit a wide range of people, and the rounded rectangle can fit a wide range of apps and data types. Neither size nor shape are unique to Apple’s Watch, of course, but it manages to blend Apple’s design language with a retro watch vibe, and that’s also an achievement. I have the 42mm, as I have a larger wrist.
In terms of comfort, I can give no better praise than to say I forget that I am wearing it all the time. With other watches, I had to remove them when working because I didn’t like the feeling while typing.
Could it be thinner? Absolutely. As long as the bands can attach, it can always be thinner. Should it be rounder? No, not any more than an iPhone should look like a banana with two cups on either side just because Mr. Bell made that design famous decades ago on landlines.
Apple’s managed to blend both technology and tradition here, and to really propel digital watches into the computing age. And they’ve done it with impressive materials and style. I’m not sure many other companies could do both of those things, but I really hope the Apple Watch drives them to try.
What bands have you been using? What other bands are you considering?
As I mentioned above, I have been using the black sport strap. I haven’t considered using anything else as I wouldn’t want to be swapping them every time I want to go for a run. I also want to see see what Apple come out with for the 2nd generation before I start spending too much money on it.
Which clock faces have you been using most? Which other ones would you like to see?
I really like Modular and Utility. I find myself using Modular during the work day when I need to see more information at a glance. I much prefer the look of Utility for everything else. And yes, I occasionally change the colour of my watch face to match whatever clothes I have on. That’s not good, is it?
I’d still like some more digital options with higher density complications, and more licensed characters. Some of us are just more Donald than Mickey.
How easy or hard has watchOS been to navigate?
To be honest, I don’t do too much navigating on Apple Watch. I use Glances often and have activity set up to be accessed from my watch face. The only navigation I do on a regular basis is interacting with notifications, and that works great for me. For everything else I use Siri. From launching apps to dictating messages, it works great. She even understands my lisp. For that, I am ever grateful.
How are notifications working for you? How have you set them up?
I made the mistake of allowing all notifications to be enabled on my watch from the start. While I partially accept responsibility for this mistake, I do think the on boarding process for the watch could improve the process of choosing which notifications you want. That said, now that I’ve tried my notification list, this is easily my favourite feature of the watch. I am really enjoying the convenience of seeing my latest notifications at a glance. For such a simple, straightforward, and obvious feature, it’s one of my favourite parts of the watch. When people ask me about my Apple Watch and what it can do, I always feel strange trying to talk-up notifications, but it’s truly a wonderful convenience.
How have the Apple Watch health and fitness features been working for you?
I use the Activity and Workout apps on a regular basis to track gym workouts and any other activity, like long walks. I love both so far but think there is still lots of room for improvement. Stationary exercises need resistance settings (choosing level 15 on an elliptical is vastly different than level 1 and I should be able to tell Apple Watch that kind of information). More types of activities need to be added, and I’d love to see third party app integration so I can view all my fitness data inside the Activity app. Apple already has a central repository with the Health app, so I’d love Activity to pull from it, not just feed into it.
Another huge want is a better way to view workout summary data. Right now, I can only view the metrics in the Health app or search for individual workouts on any given day in the Activity app for iPhone. But what about comparing workouts over several days including calories burned, duration, etc.? I’d love to see a better and more meaningful way to interpret workout data.
How well has the Apple Watch held up as a communications device?
My iPhone is always set to silent. Before the Apple Watch, I’d miss a lot of calls because it simply wasn’t appropriate to pull my phone out and look at it all the time. Now, with the Apple Watch, I can triage calls as they come in and not worry about missing something important.
Same with Messages. I can even glance at emails and see if I need to reply immediately.
I use Siri to initiate a lot of my communications on the Apple Watch. It’s still hit and miss at times but has gotten better with the recent update.
Not having to reach for my phone to stay connected is just amazing and one of the best things about the Apple Watch.
Which apps and glances are you using? Which are you still missing?
I use glances for weather, package deliveries, and music. I have them set up for Twitter and a few others but use them on rare occasions. I prefer to use the Watch as an access point for things I need to know right this second. Anything else waits until I can get to my iPhone.
The Apple Watch is the best first generation product Apple has ever shipped. Sure, it’s not a must-have like a phone or a partial PC replacement like a tablet, but it’s the beginning of the next step in the evolution of personal computing. It’s letting me walk away from my iPhone in a way that’s more limited than, but just as liberating as, my iPhone let me walk away from my Mac.
The battery life has been outstanding — I routinely have 30-40 percent left at night. That’s far, far better than I ever imagined, and a testament to the wizards on Apple Watch engineering. It’s so good, I don’t even panic on the rare occasions when I’ve forgotten to charge it overnight, and that’s a huge plus.
A year or more ago I wondered out loud if Apple’s next big thing could be even smaller. Whether or not the Apple Watch ever equals the popularity and value of the iPad, or one day replaces the iPhone, it’s value to me has been proven. Take it away, and I miss it.
That’s because it’s convenient and efficient, but also because it’s fun! And if there is to be another step forward in the evolution of computing, that’s the direction it needs to go.