My Apple Watch — I like it… but…

This is not a review... but a small collection of thoughts and observations that came to my mind while using this wonderful piece of technology for a few days.

42MM Apple Watch Aluminium Space Grey

On hardware

The Apple Watch is a watch first… but when lending the device to someone else to try, they always want to escape the watch face and ask to see the apps… they see the watch as a reduced size iPhone… In my opinion they have the wrong expectations… they are generally disappointed… they just don’t look at this device as a watch. This is troubling.

Better battery life is better than I expected… but while driving my car, turning left and right, the watch will light up and get confused by my wrist movements. This certainly reduces the autonomy of the watch.

The Apple Watch is the best example of “set it and forget it” device… but only after a few days of configuration adjustments on the device and on the iPhone.

From the hardware point of view, the Apple Watch is wonderful device… but, there no “but”. It is a remarkable piece of design from Apple. Period.

On hardware unique I/O features

The Taptic engine is great… but I wish it could be a little bit more powerful. I did miss many notifications while my Apple Watch wasn’t perfectly pressed against my wrist. But I do learn to recognize the gentle tap more and more easily.

Force Touch is a great addition to the user interaction possibilities… but it took me a while to stop doing this sequence: slide down on the screen to see notifications, force touch to bring the “Clear All” button, then mistakenly do a force touch instead of just tapping the button. The context never show that Force touch is available when it is. There is no visual cues except for things like “Firmly press the screen for more options”.

On speed

Apple apps are mostly good… but third party apps are slow, most of the time. They are slow to load, they are slow to operate. Most of them won’t be ready to use until the screen turns off after the six seconds delay. This is ruining the Apple Watch experience. Generally, apps will load faster than Glances which is unexpected to me. Once the app is loaded, interacting with it is practically always frustrating. Not good.

Next up: Glances. This is a great concept for this kind of device… But Glances are also too slow to load. They should load faster than apps. Most third party Glances will stall at loading stuff and the screen will turn off before anything happens. If it takes more time to load a Glance view than to consume the data it provides, this is useless. Examples are numerous: Living Earth, Fantastical, Instacast, Transit, OmniFocus just to name a few. Someone told me on Twitter that this behaviour is sporadic. I tend to agree. More uniform load time would help. Meanwhile, this is the sad reality…

Swiping Glances can be a frustrating experience as I often skipped one Glance by doing a too pronounced finger movement. There should be some stickiness between each of them to help prevent that. Oh, I also think it is frustrating not being able to invoke Glances when the device is not showing the clock face. There has to be a way to invoke Glances from anywhere. Same goes for Notifications. This would provide a more uniform user experience.

Other things of note

Hey Siri is great… but most of the time it won’t trigger. Much easier to press and hold the digital crown. Generally speaking, my Siri experience is quite a bit worst on the watch than on my iPhone 6. Processing times varies a lot. This is not good as Siri is such an important input method for the watch.

Having important notifications on your wrist is wonderful…. but it takes a long time to get the right balance. Weeks before getting my Apple Watch, I’ve spent quite some time turning off notifications that I didn't really need. Combined with the time spent with the Apple Watch app to finish the setup on notifications, this adds up.

This is a 1.0 product… But I love it.