I have been wearing the Apple Watch for a short time now, and I am very impressed.
It is a very nice watch.
There have been myriad reviews, insights, and even complaints. Some of these have been good, some have been misinformed, and many have even been from individuals who haven’t even used an Apple Watch.
So today, I want to share 16 of my initial experiences from actually using the Apple Watch.
Actually Using an Apple Watch
To start, I am not new to the wearables domain. I have used many devices ranging from the first Jawbone Up (which had to be recalled) to the original Kickstarter model of the Pebble smartwatch. (And no, I never used Google Glass.)
One thing is clear, we will all eventually be wearing connected devices that make our lives easier and more productive.
The Apple Watch is a major step forward in that area. In my opinion, it is the best watch/wearable currently on the market. Of course, much of that is due to the fact that it is tightly integrated with the iPhone. You must have an iPhone to use the Apple Watch, as it tethers to the phone for much of its app functionality and connectivity.
As with any Apple product launch, there is a lot of noise and fanfare. However, with the limited availability of Apple Watch, much of this seems to be from those that haven’t used Apple Watch or are against the concept of it. There seems to be a lot of complaints thrown out by people who haven’t even worn it. (Even saw a review from some guy using nothing more than a plastic mockup.)
Most of these concerns seem to be grouped into 3 main topics:
Don’t want distractions – Worried about too many interruptions
Limited functionality – Doesn’t run complicated apps or games
Different UI – Apple Watch is not like iPhone
Each of these topics is worth discussing. In fact, I will be debating the merits of each of these on an upcoming podcast with my friends Mike Vardy and Erik Fisher.
I will admit I had to get used to wearing a watch again. I had stopped wearing my Pebble a while back and hadn’t worn a watch for years before that. Early on, I even caught myself pulling my iPhone out of my pocket a few times to check the time… oops!
However, very quickly I found myself checking the watch for simple notifications and information instead of pulling out my phone. That was my biggest shift, the Apple Watch kept me off my phone, which had the added benefit of preventing me from wasting time on my phone.
Just days into owning it, I find that I don’t take the watch off except for the daily charge. (Quick note: the Apple Watch charged quickly for me. Usually 1-1.5 hours a day.)
Here are 16 of my initial thoughts from actually using an Apple Watch:
It’s not a Phone, it’s a Watch – This is the main point that many reviewers are missing. It’s not an iPhone. It is a watch. And a very good one at that. I love wearing a watch again, that also provides great functionality.
Interruptions are Interruptions – I have heard many say that they do not want the watch interrupting them. There have even been some humorous video reviews showing the watch beeping incessantly. Well, I have news for you, interruptions are interruptions. If your watch is beeping repeatedly, it is because you have your phone set to interrupt you. Take control of your notifications. You don’t need a ding every time you get an email in your inbox. (That’s interruption insanity!)
It’s Better at Quick Information – The Apple Watch is better at quick information checks: time, weather, quick notifications, than my iPhone.
Keeps You Off Your Phone – The biggest thing for me about the Apple Watch is that it keeps me off my phone. I find myself checking my phone less often. As well, it keeps me from getting sucked into time-wasting activities on my phone. Ever pull out your phone to check the weather and then spend 30 minutes surfing your social networks?
Not for Games – The Apple Watch is not for games. Again, see #1.
Taptic Feedback is a Big Win – One of the best features of the watch is the haptic (or as Apple calls it “taptic”) feedback. The watch does not buzz or vibrate like most phones and wearables. Instead, it “taps” you on the wrist. This subtle change is huge in that the watch is very discreet. When I have the sound off (which is almost always), no one even knows when I am getting notified. Compare this to phones buzzing and chirping in meetings. I was in an appointment yesterday and the person I was meeting with had their phone chime 27 times during a 2-hour session. My watch was silent the entire time.
A lot of Behind the Scenes Magic – Apple has built a lot of technology magic into the watch. Most users will not even catch or understand many of the underlying happenings. For example, the watch auto-unlocks when you unlock your iPhone. Another example, the watch does use wi-fi to connect to your iPhone, so it works great around the house even when you are not near your phone.
Apple Pay is Awesome – Make Apple Pay even more convenient? You bet. A quick double-tap of the lower button and you simply hold your watch up to the payment terminal. Works great!
The UI will Evolve – I did not have as many issues as some users getting used to the watch’s new UI. The crown is basically the home button, touch once to get to apps. Double click to get to the last app you were in.
Too Many Apps on by Default – Most apps and notifications are on by default. I think this is a miss by Apple. However, it was proabably done so that new users wouldn’t have issues learning how to activate apps on their watch. However, I prefer a leaner and less cluttered watch experience. As well, you have to go into each app separately to turn it off.
Notifications Will Need “Finer” Controls – Notifications for apps are either “on” or “off.” The best feature for me with the watch is not missing the notifications that I want to reach me. For example, I want to be able to specify that only text messages from my favorites go to my wrist, and the rest go to my phone.
Texting – Much fun has been poked at the watch’s animated emojis. I don’t really get them either. The heartbeat and tap feature is only cool to get someone’s attention. However, receiving texts works well, and sending via Siri is also a timesaver.
Siri Really Shines – I am a big user of Siri for everything from sending messages to setting alarms and timers. I found that Siri worked great for me on the Apple Watch. As well, you kind of feel like a secret agent talking and giving orders into your watch.
Dick Tracy Moments – I have had a few Dick Tracy moments with the watch already. Interesting that Apple didn’t even show this functionality during the initial reveal. Putting the kids in the car the other day, I was able to answer a call on my wrist and the audio was good. Then once things were settled, I transferred the call to my phone.
Single Purpose Apps will shine – The watch is not designed for complex apps like your phone. However, single purpose apps will shine on the watch. For example, I summoned an Uber car with one click on my watch. That’s pretty cool.
It’s a watch. Did I say this already? And I must close by saying that I love this device as a watch.
Apple Watch Redefines the Watch
Just as the first iPhone forever changed the definition of the word phone, I believe that Apple Watch is on its way to doing the same thing for wearables.
It will evolve. It will change dramatically over the next few iterations. However, Apple Watch is a major leap forward in wearables, and points the way to where our devices are headed in the future.
The Apple Watch may not be for everyone, at least in its current version. Then again, the same could have been said about the original iPhone.
For me, it is a great watch. And besides telling time, it has been keeping me informed, productive, and off my phone.