I LOVE Watch. I HATE Watch.
Let me begin by saying that I absolutely do not regret buying my Apple Watch… In fact I’ve already purchased another for my wife, but more on that in a bit.
After living with mine for a little over a week I thought I’d share a few of my initial impressions, and a blurb on how Apple Watch might become as “needed” as your phone. So without further ado…
I LOVE Apple Watch:
- Setup. Slick and painless. Pairing with my iPhone and installing all the companion apps was as easy as snapping a picture… #nailedit!
- The look. I got the black sport model with the black sport band and could not be happier. The black screen blends into the black watch body seamlessly. Paired with the shockingly comfortable black sport band gives an understated look that doesn’t scream, “LOOK AT ME AND MY APPLE WATCH!”
- The digital crown. I wasn’t sure about this when it was first announced, but not only does it feel perfect, but using it to scroll through notifications, emails, iMessages, etc. makes so much more sense than using your finger on the tiny screen.
- Notifications. Quickly triaging and sending quick replies is exactly what I got this for. As almost everyone has already said, this is really where Apple Watch shines. Without any setup or customization Apple Watch mirrored my notification settings from my phone. I had already taken care to adjust individual app notifications on my phone and these mapped perfectly to my watch. (note: I recently switched to Spark for my email which has done wonders for separating the wheat from the chaff if you will. Not only has this perfectly alleviated email notification overload on both phone and watch, but their Apple Watch companion app with quick replies is great!)
- Watch faces. This is really the only “glance” that doesn’t suck, but more on that under “hate.” There are a decent number of faces and “complications” for a variety of contexts. I use the “Modular” one during the week which gives me the date, time, next appointment, weather, activity, and battery life on one surprisingly uncluttered screen. During the evening and over the weekend I like to switch it up and use some of the more superfluous faces. My personal favorite is “Astronomy,” but my wife (an Apple Watch Skeptic) was instantly sold by “Motion,” which shows a different flower blooming every time you look at it.
- Messages. Again, I wasn’t sure about the dedicated button at first, but after a week using it, I get it. sending sketches, digital taps, and your heartbeat is as fun as it is a gimmick. So much so in fact, that you’ll wish you had more friends to send them to… You might even buy an Apple Watch for your wife, because sending your heartbeat to your colleague just doesn’t have the same effect;). Sending quick replies, or dictating responses is mostly great (can be a bit slow). Again, this is an area where Apple Watch is legitimately useful, and in many cases “better” than pulling your phone out of your pocket.
- Battery life. I wasn’t expecting to put this one under “love.” Sure it would be nice for Apple Watch to last for days, but just like your phone, charging it nightly is an easy routine that you’re already in. Plus It’s not comfortable to sleep in anyway.
- Apple Pay. I was a bit surprised I had to configure this separately as I had expected it would have happened with the initial sync, but I suppose it makes sense for security reasons? Either way, using it is easier and faster than the already magically simple Apple Pay on my iPhone… even if you do look a little dorky using it.
- Handoff. Beyond it being generally unreliable from phone to computer, I never really found it particularly compelling to start an email (or whatever I might be doing) on my phone/computer and finish it on the other device. Apple Watch changes that in a big way. I regularly find myself triaging a notification and wanting to follow up via my phone and it’s always a swipe away!
I HATE Apple Watch.
- Glances! Honestly these are just the WORST! Not only are none particularly useful, but if they take 10 times longer to load than to just pull out your phone, find the app your looking for, and open it, then it’s NOT A FREAKING “GLANCE!” I may be alone here, but glances are so bad that I really really wish they didn’t exist! (rant over)
- Apps. Yeah, this has been covered by pretty much every review out there. It’s not so much that there are no “killer apps,” but really no killer need for an app (at least in how we tend to think about them). In most circumstances you should really be using your phone for 98% of what you think you might want an app for. Since all apps at this point are really just snippets of data sent from their companion app on your phone, they tend to be shockingly slow. There are a couple exceptions like turning my hue lights on and off, and even that’s a stretch. There is definitely promise here, but developers need to completely re-think what an “app” actually is. We’ll also likely need a bit of help from Apple in opening up the platform.
- Siri. This one was tough because in many ways it works better on Apple Watch than on my iPhone, but it really only does about 3% of what it should (and hopefully will) be capable of.
- Animated emoji/hearts/hands. Beyond being spectacularly creepy, they are just aesthetically unpleasant. I still use them for some reason, but I don’t like myself when I do.
To be clear nobody “needs” Apple Watch the way we all “need” our phones (think first-world “need” here)… but it might not always be this way. I didn’t need WiFi until I got my first laptop and wanted to send emails and browse the internet while watching Seinfeld DVD’s on my couch (think 2001 here); I didn’t need an iPhone until persistent internet let me do the same while walking from class to class in college.
So why might I “need” Apple Watch? I’m not 100% sure yet, but I think it has something to do with interfaceless interactions, “context” and Siri. I’ve got some specific ideas, but I’ll save those for after WWDC tomorrow.