Apple Watch — UX Wins & Fails

this image is from a forbes.com article

Recently, I became the proud owner of a Space Gray Aluminum Apple Watch Sport. I had been dr00ling over for a little bit and trying to give myself a logical reason to own it. Finally through a few price discounts and matches it became within reach of my wallet, so I took the dive.

About a month ago I got a Fitbit Surge. I liked the fitness aspects and some of the other features like caller id and text message notices. But I was too charmed with the appeal of the Apple Watch, so I made the switch. Well, actually I am still deciding which one I will keep, but I have a month before the return policies run out. So I’m going to take that time to try the two out. They are different pieces of tech but I’ll explain my dilemma another time.

Right now, I want to dive into some of the UX wins and fails that I notice right off the bat with the Apple Watch. Also, just know that I am BIG APPLE FAN when reading through the fails section, which is unfortunately long.

Aesthetics — It looks pretty slick and makes you feel like you have a pretty substantial piece of tech on your wrist. And in general — attractive things work better. The switchable watch bands is also a super great feature that adds a lot of value.

Easy to get started — The setup processes was painless. My watch was a little charged so that was nice. Though I know others who had to charge their watch before setting it, which could be anticlimactic. It gave the option of installing all the apps that I had on my phone with Apple Watch counterpart apps. So I had a good library to start with.

Unfortunately, this is where the wins end for me. Their are some individually features and apps that I could comment on, but as the devise and OS goes, I don’t know that I could list any other “Wins”, maybe there are some “Draws”. But this is a Wins/Fails article.

Intuitiveness/Affordance/Learnable — How the heck to I get to my settings…oh, I push harder. I’m sorry but I don’t quite get the force touch that Apple is ‘pushing’. Maybe it’s a Star Wars thing, but this ‘force’ only ‘awakens’ frustration and confusion for me. Really, what in real life do you push harder to get to a different function? Answer: nothing. At least nothing I can think of off hand. Can you imagine a car with those features? How do you turn on the windshield wipers?…oh, push ‘harder’ on steering wheel, duh.

Also, how do I get to my heart rate, oh I swipe up and over…what? And the app menu is just a huge mess. I know I can ‘organize it but I’m having trouble here.

All of this equals massive gulfs of execution. I have some goals in mind, but I can’t easily execute those goals. Apple didn’t put much of Jakob’s Law into thought when creating this UI (Users spend more time on other devices, namely THE IPHONE). Why not take advantage of the UI we know and love on the iPhone. I know its easier said than done, but come on. How do I make ‘favorites’ for my apps? I’ve only had it for a few days now, but I don’t find myself ‘falling in love’ with these new mechanics. Which just means that I will grow more frustrated over time.

Performance — The watch feels a little sluggish, lots of spinning wheels.

I feel that [the Apple Watch] is a bit more like a junk drawer of features than a nicely organized toolbox.

For this device “Smart Watch” is a little misleading. It’s more of a ‘Client Watch’ or dare I say ‘Dumb watch’, in that for most of the features that you need from apps actually comes from your phone and the watch is just an extension of that. There are some exceptions..like the clock part.

Some of these complaints might be addressed in later software releases, but we’ll see how that goes.

Design Architecture — Health apps are just another thing that this device does, but they feel a little buried to me for some reason. With the Fitbit Surge, those features are front and center, but with the Apple Watch that tries to do so many things, I feel that it is a bit more like a junk drawer of functionality than a nicely organized toolbox.

…the Apple Watch’s best feature at this point is “Potential”.

I think I will actually probably keep the Apple Watch if only because I really like tech and the possibilities that that Apple Watch could bring are exciting. So maybe it’s best feature at this point is “Potential”. I hope that later OS releases will address some of these fails, or maybe a light bulb will go off and I’ll start loving it and with write a different article in a month — I hope so.

Dan is a UX minded Software Engineer and Product Professional who loves helping people achieve their goals with enjoyable solutions.

Dan is a UX minded Software Engineer and Product Professional who loves helping people achieve their goals with enjoyable solutions.