A Week With Apple Watch

Note: This post was originally published on May 1, 2015. I’d then had the Apple Watch for one week. I’ll soon post a followup.

So, I’ve had Apple Watch for one week (and some change) and, while it hasn’t changed my life nor made me a better person, it has changed some aspects of the way I interact with various devices throughout my typical day. I wanted to share some random thoughts on the device after having used it long enough to get the “full experience” or pretty close to it.

First, the Apple Watch is a beautiful piece of hardware. Whether you like Apple and its products or not, it’s hard to deny their design prowess. The Apple Watch is exactly what you’d expect from Apple. As with all of their products, one can tell that great care was taken to ensure no unsightly edges or gaps were present. “Of course they did. Everybody does.”, you might be thinking. Well, if that’s the case, explain why the Moto360 steel link band doesn’t meet the edge of the watch face. Some will say it’s nit picking or splitting hairs, but it’s something that design conscious folks will notice and appreciate.

It took me a while to “figure out” the Watch UX. This despite the fact that I’ve read every review and watched every user guide video that I possibly could before actually getting the Watch. There’s just something about the new form factor and new interactions, namely Force Touch, that took a while to get the hang of. Now, this wasn’t a big issue. I was up and running within 15 minutes of unboxing and able to do most of what I wanted/needed. After the first 24 hours I was rocking and rolling.

Digital Touch is much more interesting and useful than I thought it would be. I should preface by saying my wife and I both got Watches on launch day and, so far, other than to give demos to my friends, I’ve only used it with her. I have three other friends who have Watches, but I haven’t used Digital Touch with them, nor do I know that I ever will. Having said that, I love using it with my wife and vice versa. Our volume of iMessages to each other has gone way down over the last week. Like Apple has repeatedly said, there’s just something much more personal about it. I can’t quite explain how or why, but it’s just better than simple text.

Although it took a few minutes to configure which apps I wanted present not he phone and which of those I wanted receiving notifications, none of that process was nearly as bad as the tech press reviewers made it out to be. Furthermore, I have not been constantly bombarded with notifications, as most of them also intimated. For me, it has not been overbearing at all and I am so glad I don’t have to pull my phone out to check every beep and vibration that comes throughout the day.

The battery life is fantastic. I don’t know if the reviewers had faulty or early units, or if their constant notification nightmares were draining their Watches’ batteries, but I’ve experienced nothing like what I was expecting after reading the reviews. I have yet to end a day under 45% remaining battery and I’ve been using it to do just about everything it does, including long exercise sessions. Now, I do have the 42mm Watch and it’s possible some of the reviewers had the 38mm version. I don’t know how much of a difference there is between the two. All I know is that I was expecting this thing to go into Power Reserve constantly and it hasn’t even come anywhere close.

The fitness aspects seem to work just fine. I’ve been running with a TICKR heart rate monitor for a while and the Watch seems to report similar statistics over same distance runs and bike rides. I really like the stand reminders. My only “issue” is not an issue with the device itself, but with my own history with Nike Fuel and my reluctance to leave it all behind. Although Nike Running is represented on the Watch, there is no way (at least that I know of) to convert your rest-of-the-day-non-running movement into Fuel, a la the Fuel Band. As of right now, I’m wearing both my Watch and Fuel Band until I figure out an alternative. No big deal, though. The Watch itself works great for me so far in the fitness department.

Third party apps so far are kind of meh, but I honestly expected that. Without physical access to the Watch (I guess some devs got limited access to a physical device ahead of time) I expected the second wave of apps to be the real “launch” apps. That’s not to say the first wave is bad. I just think they’ll improve over the coming months once devs can see how different of an experience using an app on one’s wrist really is. This is all not to mention the native apps promised by Tim Cook to come later this year. I’m expecting to hear more about this at WWDC.

I honestly haven’t been using Glances all that much. They work as advertised. I just haven’t found myself needing to use them all that much yet.

Overall, I love the Watch for what it is now and also what it will (or could and should) become over the next few years. I’m not quite at the I-can’t-envision-my-life-without-this stage yet, but I could see myself being there in another week or two. Put it this way, if someone offered to buy this from me for double the price I paid for it right now I would tell them no. That’s a pretty strong endorsement for any product, isn’t it?



Originally published at bryanbartow.com.

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