Photo Credit: Apple Marketing

Set-ups and Tear-downs, a Short-Term Analysis of the Apple Watch

I bought an Apple Watch (again, oops) over the weekend, and I’m putting it through its paces before I figure out what the hell I want to do with it. 14 days (the window of time until I can return it) is plenty of time to figure that out. Now forgive me while I rehash things you have probably read about the Apple Watch already.

My Second-Initial-Pro-And-Con-Impressions:

Pros

  1. Activity tracking is very, very nice. I remember 1.0.1 being less accurate when I had the watch over the summer, but I think 2.0.1 has fixed a lot of issues that I originally had with it. Haven’t gone for a full workout yet — I’ll test its abilities tomorrow night when I can get some gym time.
  2. 3rd-party complications are surprisingly handy. I felt that the watch face was initially too dumbed-down, so having quick access to things like OmniFocus and Fantastical information is really nice.
  3. Being able to download a playlist directly to your watch is AWESOME. Can’t wait to get some Bluetooth headphones and test it out while I’m running (without gigantic iPhone 6s Plus).
  4. Not that it needed it, but the incessant checking of my iPhone has significantly decreased, which has caused my battery life to improve.
  5. Time Travel is an intuitive feature that I’m glad is there. Checking the weather a few hours from now doesn’t mean I have to open an app and wait for it to loan — I can just raise my wrist, scroll on the Digital Crown, and look into the future. Pretty sure that makes me a wizard.
  6. Glances are cool, although I feel like the process of getting to a specific one could be implemented better. When you get to ~10 glances, scrolling through them feels more cumbersome than it has to be.
  7. By virtue of having notifications literally interrupt my life by tapping on my wrist, I was forced to cut down on my notification clutter. The notifications began to accumulate again when I got my new phone — the near-constant buzzing on my wrist made me prioritize what needs my attention and what can wait. Still not sure if I should turn off the notifications when my Twitter bots tweet, but I think I’ll get there.

Cons

  1. The watch wasn’t charged when I unboxed it — I’ve never unboxed an Apple product that wasn’t charged at least 50%. Bad start.
  2. The updating/pairing process was miserable. The watch came pre-loaded with watchOS 1.0.1, so I paired it to my iPhone and let it do its thing before moving on. 1 hour for that. Then I let all of the apps install on the device, since they automatically started downloading on their own anyway. 1 hour. Once all of the apps downloaded, I updated the watch to 2.0.1. Another hour. Then apps needed to be updated for watchOS 2. 30 minutes. Altogether, the entire process took around 4 hours before I could even use the damn thing.
  3. Tons of apps wouldn’t install until I did a full-reboot of the Apple Watch. I was hesitant to do this at first since I didn’t want to interrupt or corrupt any download that was going on, but after a while I got the hint and just rage-rebooted it.
  4. Tweetbot wouldn’t install at all. It got stuck on “Installing…” and wouldn’t move on. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but I think that the watch thought it was installed, but just wouldn’t show up on the watch itself. A full-reboot of both the watch and the iPhone, plus uninstalling and reinstalling the app, did the trick, but of course this wasn’t immediately obvious. There was plenty of trial-and-error.
  5. Fantastical said that it didn’t have access to my calendars, which was weird because I do — another full-reboot of the phone and watch got things straightened out.
  6. Did I mention it takes about 5–7 minutes for each reboot? It takes 5–7 minutes for each reboot. It sucks waiting for it to reboot.
  7. Organizing apps on your home screen is a nightmare. When you think you are done with one section of your mesh of applications, you look at the other side and realized that the apps rearranged themselves to be out of the order I originally put them in. Also, there’s no immediately obvious direction that your placement of an app is going to push others, so you basically have to move things around and hope that it doesn’t screw other things up.
  8. Might/might not be Google’s fault‚ but not having turn by turn directions from Google Maps on the watch is such a let down. I keep giving Apple Maps a shot, but its constant inadequacy keeps turning me off to it. I really need Google Maps on my wrist — whether or not this is an API limitation, I’m not sure, but get on it Google!

Although I feel like the software is about 75% there, there are still glaring issues to address (the initial setup being one huge obstacle) that I think will leave a sour taste in the mouths of many consumers. I’m especially looking forward to the day that I can stop giving Apple the benefit of the doubt — I’m hoping that by this time next year, many of the kinks will be worked out of the system. Here’s hoping that I actually keep the watch this time!


This was originally posted on J.T., my main blog site. Subscribe there for more updates.

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