As a Software Developer, I purchased the Apple Watch mainly as a business investment. Also, I always have fun trying out new tech gear and the Apple Watch has been no exception. Here is a quick rundown on my experience with the watch over the last month. Of note, I generally keep my iPhone 6 in my pocket on silent with vibration enabled and have been doing the same in conjunction with the watch.
I received my 42mm Space Grey Aluminum Apple Watch on June 1st, 2015. My initial order was placed on launch day over a month and a half earlier so it was a nice surprise to find it on my doorstep. When I first picked up the long, narrow, nondescript box, I wondered what it was. It was quite heavy; it certainly couldn’t be the Apple Watch I have been waiting for. Fortunately it was, just in much more robust packaging than expected.
Unboxing, Setup, and Initial Impressions
As I unboxed the watch, I took several pictures (with my iPhone 6) as I marveled not just at the watch, but also at the packaging. Certainly some of the $400 price tag has gone into this beautiful box and plastic case, I thought. The packaging is still in my closet because it is just too nice to throw away. Perhaps a “frustration free” packaging version could be offered at a discount? :)
The initial configuration of the watch was quite simple. I think the pairing process is what was most interesting. To pair the watch with your phone, the watch displays an awesome 3d pattern with an embedded ID that your phone, via its camera, reads to gather the required pairing data. I would have taken a picture of that, but I was using my phone for the pairing. The entire setup process is quite simple. After answering a few basic questions and setting up a passcode I was on my way.
The Apple Watch is quite comfortable. I ordered mine with the black plastic sport band. I wanted one of the metal bands, but just couldn’t justify the premium price tag. The plastic is silky smooth and the variety of size adjustments make for a good fit. The watch also comes with a secondary band for small/medium wrist sizes. The watch itself is sleek and understated. The 42mm version seems to be just the right size for my taste. I have received many comments on the watch from friends at the office. Many who have commented also own an Apple Watch. Other commenters are those who have considered the watch, but haven’t bought. Some others don’t even notice or ask because the Apple Watch looks like a, well, watch.
Features and Thoughts
The activity monitor is a novel feature. The watch can monitor your heart rate and movements to determine the approximate number of calories you burn. It also approximates your steps, when you stand, and the number of minutes of exercise you get per day. It seems silly, but this is probably why I continue to put the watch on everyday.
I had some concerns about battery life mainly because of the articles I had read about the watch. Personally, I have not encountered any battery life issues in my month of use. Each day, with average use, I have battery to spare by the time I dock the watch on its fancy charger at night.
Making and Receiving Calls
Although you can place and receive calls on the watch, I haven’t found myself using this feature. I tried it out mainly for fun. It works, but why bother when I can just pull out my phone instead? Maybe it will be useful for those that don’t have a hands free setup in their car?
Notifications and Haptic Feedback
The watch provides notifications for calls, emails, texts, and other app notifications. The haptic feedback mechanism in the watch is great. It gives a subtle but noticeable vibration that will alert you of an inbound notification. If you get anything close to the number of emails I get, you will want to disable some of the notifications in short order so that you aren’t constantly distracted by them.
You can use Siri on the watch, but the functionality currently is very limited. I tried a web search, and when Siri told me to get out my phone, I sighed. I think I used Siri to schedule one reminder and that is about it. My use of Siri was probably the biggest disappointment with the watch.
You can send text messages via the watch, but you are limited to canned replies. You can customize some of these via the Watch App on your iPhone. Even though I customized the messages, I didn’t find this feature particularly useful. I did find that receiving text notifications was useful though because I often do not notice them when my phone is in my pocket.
Other Apps and Features
I made very little use of any of the other apps on the watch. The weather app is somewhat useful. For mapping, I prefer to just use my phone. I have not utilized Passbook or Apple Pay with my watch so I can’t comment specifically on these features.
I have only encountered a few small issues with the watch. First, the watch occasionally locks despite remaining on my wrist all day. I keep the band pretty snug, but apparently it still separates from my wrist enough at times to think that I took it off. The only other issue I have had is with regards to recording exercise activity. The watch has an “Exercise” app that you can launch when you are exercising. I have used it very infrequently, and instead have counted on the “Activity Monitor” app to figure out what I am doing. When exercising, the Activity Monitor sometimes does a great job and at other times it doesn’t record much of anything. I think using the Exercise app more regularly is the solution, but I’d rather have the watch just figure it out on its own. Really, these issues are very small and overall the watch has been very stable and reliable.
The Apple Watch is a sleek technology marvel with a high price tag. The big question is… does it justify its hefty price tag? This, of course, is an individual decision. My personal opinion on this matter is that although the technology embedded in the watch justifies the price tag, the actual utility of the watch is not quite there. This is mainly because the iPhone itself is so useful, the watch depends on the phone, and sometimes it is just easier to use the phone anyway. However, I do think this will change, hopefully in the near future.
Future of the Apple Watch
I think that the future of the Apple Watch, and other such devices, will depend on the usefulness of Apps that get created for it. Think about the iPhone without any Apps. Without Apps, it would just be a phone, right? Well, that is the way it started out, and for the Apple Watch, this is just the beginning. I see this first generation device as a stepping stone for great things to come. With WatchOS2 announced, things are already looking up. Developers will have access to the native SDK and third party apps should begin to spring forth. I think this is where things will get exciting and we will see what really lies ahead for the Apple Watch.
Maybe you have a great idea for an App that will make the Apple Watch a must-have device? Here at Turner Logic, we are excited to be a company that can help with such things! We would love to hear from you so we can help make your idea a reality.