I promised a number of you that I would give my impressions of the Apple Watch. Frankly, I don’t have a lot to say, which in some strange way, is saying a lot. I have numbered the various capabilities on a scale from 1-10, but bottom line, unless you have an extra $500 or so that is burning a hole in you pocket, you could wait out the first generation of the Apple Watch. I am not negative about it, I’m glad I bought it, and I wear it every day, but frankly, my desk is full of wearable devices I no longer wear. I could easily have a garage sale, but I keep this kind of stuff, so it will eventually show up in an estate sale.
It is a great a watch (8)
This is the most important thing if you already wear a watch. It has to keep time and feel comfortable. It does that very well. I also love that it shows me my next appointment. The timer and alarm functions are easy to use, especially with Siri. If I want to take a nap, I can say “Hey Siri, wake me up in 15 minutes” and she will. I don’t wear a watch to bed, which some people do, although I have no idea why. So charging it at night is not an issue for me.
Battery Life (4)
I have had my Apple Watch for over six weeks. I wear it every day and only once did it run out of power before the end of the day. It seems that if you leave a power hungry application running (like an exercise app) it will suck out all the juice and your phone will die. This is what happened to me. I don’t know why the Apple Watch does not do a better job dealing with this, but there are other examples where I would have expected more intelligence on the part of the Apple Watch. I will give a few examples later.
Fitness Device (3)
I think the Apple Watch is a mediocre fitness device. I much prefer the Intel Basic Peak which is smart enough to figure out if I am exercising or not, and even what kind of exercise without having to start up an app. Sometimes I forget to run the fitness app when I exercise or figure out thirty minutes later that I have not loaded it. It does not do continuous heart rate, probably to save energy.
One of the really stupid things, is that it tells me to get up and move if I have been stationary too long, but it does that even when I am in in an airplane or a moving car. It could use its GPS and Accelerometer to understand that I must be in a vehicle. This could be more difficult in an airplane.
Glance and Notification (7)
I like getting short messages on my watch especially when I have my phone in my pocket. But at first I was getting way to many. It is important to decide on the apps that you want to have this capability. Less is more in this case because otherwise you will start ignoring the notifications.
Siri works pretty well, although I feel stupid talking to my watch because it makes me think of Dick Tracey.
Maps and such (7)
I love using the native Apple Watch map application when I am walking because the Apple Watch taps me on my wrist to let me know the turns I have to take. I don’t look like an idiot staring at my iPhone while I walk which can also be pretty dangerous when you cross a street.
Some fun stuff (7)
I like to order Uber from my watch. I am looking forward to using it with Home Kit devices once they are out. I am still trying to figure out how to send my heart beat to someone else that has an Apple Watch.
I can use the Apple Watch as a remote for my Apple TV, but I still need to have my iPhone close by. This is something that I hope gets fixed soon. Since the Apple TV has Bluetooth it should either be able to communicate directly with the Apple Watch or act as a gateway to the phone over the Wifi network.
Passbook seems to work well and you can even check into a flight using the Apple Watch. I have yet to get Apple Pay to work via the Apple Watch, but I just need a bit more practice.
I will try Yelp, Find Near Me and Trip Advisor when I travel next.
Stuff I don’t really plan to do at least for now (4)
I don’t really see doing my email with the Apple Watch. It is hard enough with an iPhone. I am not sure about messaging. I don’t see using it as a phone when I need my phone with me to even use it.
I also do not plan to use it to control music, but that might make sense for others.
Relationship with the iPhone (2)
You have to be within bluetooth range of your iPhone. The Apple Watch is basically a peripheral to an iPhone. This is a major limitation, but it appears to be necessary one. Too bad Apple does not offer a bluetooth range extender so you could leave your phone (charging) and wander around the house. It does not even send you a notice when you are out of range of your iPhone. In fact, letting you know that you left your phone on the table as you leave Starbucks would not be a bad feature.
Apple Watch now and then
We have to keep in mind this is a first-generation product. I think Apple made the right trade-offs. Because of battery limitations, the watch could not really support WiFi so it has to be tethered to an iPhone. I think we will see functionality move over to native apps on the Watch over time. Eventually, we can use the watch instead of a phone although we will need bluetooth headphones if we want to use it as a phone.
The Apple watch has a long way to go before it is in the “must have” category currently occupied by the iPhone. I think that will take about five years and then you will never be able to imagine how you could have lived without it. So like most of the people that have bought an Apple Watch, I am not recommending that my friends buy one yet.
If Steve Jobs is turning over in this grave, it probably is not to check the time.