Those who follow my past blogs have come to know that I hate buying into new tech too early, and I also hate paying full retail price for new tech. Call me cheap if you like, but I just don’t like my life (and credit card) to take the risks of emerging tech. On my recent visit back to the US, I found an Apple watch series 2 for sale on Craigslist in like-new condition, and decided to go for it.
Whoa… did I contradict myself by getting the Apple watch? Let me sort of avoid answering that by explaining the deal I got, and the logic behind the decision. These watches cost between $350-ish and $500-ish new. I managed to negotiate down to $200. I already intended to replace my Pebble with something that was properly waterproof, and was prepared to just buy a regular (non-smart?) watch, because I am quite pessimistic about Fitbit’s ability to deliver a smartwatch and platform after the Pebble mess. I live in southeast Asia, where it rains a LOT, so I want something that won’t die when i get dumped on by the rainy season. Turns out that Apple watch series 2 is waterproof. So for $200, I though it was worth it, and if I really hated it, I was likely to be able to get my money back out of it.
First, lets have a chuckle with a great YouTube video “If You Wear An Apple Watch, You’re A Jerk.”
“You look scholarly. Oh yeah, oh yeah, its a good look.”
My impression after the first few days of wearing it in early July 2017:
- Butt ugly. Man, this thing is far from a pretty timepiece. Big, square, and from a mile away it looks like a small smartphone sitting on my wrist. I was not impressed at the aesthetics at all. This review gushes about the “strong and attractive design,” but I don’t know what planet they are from.
- Abysmal battery life — It was just terrible out of the box, and at the end of my first day, the watch was down to about 18%, making me really worry that I had made a terrible decision.
- Fitness tracking is simple and actually kind of cool. I’ve never been a Fitbit or fitness tracker kind of person, so it was not a “must have” feature. It is kind of nice to see how each day lines up with a reasonable goal, and VERY nice to have hourly reminders to stand up and move (because I have a desk job!)
- What do you mean google maps notifications don’t work! AHHHHHH!!!! What is a wearable for again ?
Not everything above is positive (duh), so here is what I did in reaction to those initial impressions:
- Look of the watch: nothing to be done. Embrace the ugly. It is reality that I wear a gaudy digital thing on my wrist that will make some other people judge me. Hmm. At least the blowback isn’t at the same level as Google Glass.
- Research disabling what I don’t want or need on the device. Update WatchOS to the latest. Keeping the watch in silent mode AND theater mode massively reduces battery usage. I also disabled the settings to that a flick of the wrist turns on the screen. Not as convenient, but it saves a lot of battery. Now when notifications come in, the watch gives a haptic tap (which i have set to full strength). One tap of the screen shows the notification. The payoff? My watch now only uses about 20% battery for a whole day. Yeah, these changes make a huge difference!
- Fitness tracking was a positive, so no real change to report.
- *SIGH* one of the biggest reasons I want to use a wearable is for turn-by-turn directions without taking my phone out of my pocket. Epic fail on this one. Of course my Pebble did it perfectly. Nothing to be done unless/until Google fixes this. I’ve tried to use Apple maps, which does notifications, but yuck, the experience is not the same, and not really even acceptable in my opinion. Apple maps can’t find 1/2 the places I need to navigate to. Google maps nails it nearly every time.
It took me a week to 10 days to figure out optimal settings for everything, but a month later, and now I am quite happy with this watch. I wont get 7 days of battery like I did from my Pebble, but I do get much richer alerts (except Google maps — and yes that frustrates me quite often!).
So there is a new Apple watch that is likely to come out by the end of the year (see my previous blog about what I don’t like about their plans — based on rumors only). I do have to say, however, that I have come around about the platform. Being an iPhone user, it is quite a nice extension of the IOS user experience. I still think they should make it work with Android though… If they did, they would totally dominate wearables globally. And yes, I still think that a camera on a watch is a terrible idea.
I miss my Pebble, but now that battery life is sorted out (albeit sort of handicapping the device), it still does a lot more than my Pebble did, so that makes me happy. I don’t think I would have bothered to get a Series 0 or Series 1, due to performance and lack of waterproof operation, respectively, but if those requirements aren’t an issue for you, then you might consider a secondhand watch to give it a go.
Finally, here is a great article on how to “NOT be a jerk” when you have an Apple watch :)
What do you think about Apple watch? I’d love to hear feedback, and preferably not just from Apple fanboys! Share, or argue with me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/aschwabe.