A week with the Apple Watch
The Apple Watch for some reason was the first Apple product I was not rushing to my computer to pre-order at 2am. With this said I haven’t done much research around it or followed it closely. However when the company I work at Rokkan generously started a Research & Development loaner program I couldn’t help to jump on the opportunity. I was curious to see how often I would use the small screen, having notifications vibrate or beep while being reachable at any moment at my wrist. The big question was once I had to give it back would I be constantly be looking at my wrist?
Keep in mind I do not think most Apple products need tutorials or explanations. When I received the watch the first thing I noticed was how clear the small screen was. The initial setup was pretty seamless. When installing the apps from the iPhone to the Apple Watch it did take a while. Again this is a first generation product so some of this is expected. I researched some of the best apps for the watch and attempted to install those as well. Some apps that I selected to be installed on the watch never installed on the watch. But for the ones that did load onto the watch I started exploring those.
The first was Starbucks. I went to a Starbucks and proceeded to make a purchase with the watch. However, I did not realize all purchases with the watch have to be made via Passbook or Apple Pay and not through the app like on the iPhone. Even with my failed attempt to make a purchase the watch was a conversation starter from the cashier at Starbucks to the people on line waiting for their orders. Most people were interested in whether I liked it or not and to explain more. Not to mention every person that did order an Apple Watch asked when I ordered it as they were frustrated they haven’t received theirs yet. Once I added my gift card to Passbook I went to another Starbucks location and again attempted to make a purchase. What was most interesting to me is that the view port screen does not allow payment even though it shows the barcode. The user has to scroll down entirely and then the barcode becomes full screen in order to make a purchase. The position of my wrist while making the purchase was a bit awkward. While initially exploring this product I found that it wasn’t as intuitive or user-friendly like most Apple products. It seemed as though there were additional steps or I needed to have my phone in very close distance to have a majority of the apps working. There was also a heavy battery drain on both devices. When I first had to charge the watch the first thing I thought was I can not wait to see the future of charging docs for the watch. I was envisioning these beautiful wooden docks when the watch could display and charge on.
I took a walk to the park near my office and most people that know me know I can not be without a device. However, I somewhat became overwhelmed with the notifications, texts, emails, buzzing, beeping, ringing. Yes, I know I can turn most of these things off, but I wanted to see what the out of the box experience was like. After this, I turned the watch to silent. I found it was most useful for quick at a glance items and overview items that did not require much action. Tasks like checking the weather, seeing my schedule for the day, and reminders. The notifications and messages also were a bit inconsistent they would only sometimes appear on my watch. I also really liked the icon to the “Activity app” that would alert me when I was sitting too long or I haven’t met my goals for the day. However, I think this is something that could live on the iPhone. I also assume that this exists on popular fitness products like Fitbit, Nike + Fuelband, and JawBone Up. I then took the Apple Watch to the gym, but I still wonder how accurate the data is from it with a variety of workouts when using “Workout app”. I’m sure it works well for things like running and biking, but I am not sure how accurate the Apple Watch is or other competitive products in the market. But again this device constantly struck up conversations with people working or working out at the gym.
During the week, I had the watch I also had to travel for client work and I thought what another great opportunity to test out the watch. Upon arriving at the airport I attempted using the watch to scan my boarding pass and despite the awkward movement of my wrist for it to scan it was a success. Again creating conversation about the watch. I found myself looking to the watch for quick items like the weather and my schedule. I didn’t prefer it for items that I would typically want to read more of like the news or Twitter. I would start to read the snippets but then found it somewhat of a disconnect to have to switch devices to read the content in full. I also began downloading other apps I wanted to play with. However once installed some apps would error me to login in on my iPhone but I was logged in on my iPhone and would not work on the Apple Watch. While driving back to the airport I decide to try Apple Maps to get me there. Unfortunately I that didn’t work and gave me an error as well. However at the airport I again used my Apple Watch to scan my boarding pass. When I got to the main gate the TSA was there checking passes so again a conversation was struck up with the agent as my boarding pass was on my watch. When I proceeded to scan my boarding pass the watch needed to be taken off in order for it to successfully scan based on the distance of the watch to the scanner.
I also made a phone call and spoke into the watch, shared my heartbeat, and drawings with fellow watch owners. Talking into the watch was a bit awkward but the quality was better than I expected. When sending your heart and drawings there is no way to view what you sent similar to a text. I found the notifications and the “Glances” area to be a bit confusing at first and I feel over time the UX will improve in these areas. Or perhaps it is a new pattern we will adapt to.
Overall I see why this would be useful to people. Being able to have everything accessible at your wrist can be very convenient. You can pay for something, respond to texts with predetermined messaging or by a voice recording, see all of your notifications coming in and anticipate what you need to respond to later. But I can also see it being a bit overwhelming for some. Keep in mind Apple makes great products and this is just my first interaction and what I experienced with the Apple Watch. I’m not sure if I will buy one but I am glad I was able to experience it first hand. In the coming weeks I will see how much I miss it or not.