My Thoughts On The Apple Watch

It’s been a couple of weeks since I got the “developer lottery watch”.  Here are my thoughts in no real order.

1 – Blue is not my color

I had ordered a black band on the Sports Space Gray, but when Apple announced their developer lottery, I cancelled my original order. I’m quite please by the brushed aluminum. It’s not as high-tech looking as the space gray, but it’s not as tacky looking as I had originally feared.

The problem is the sports band. The band itself is wonderfully comfortable. It’s the blue. The lottery didn’t give us a choice of band color. Blue for all! The color itself is nice, but it’s not for me. For some reason, it makes me think of a hospital wrist band, just more comfortable and thicker. I want the black band, or even the white one.

2 – Reverse band mechanics

I had a minor problem with how the sports band attaches. It seems backwards to all the other bands I’ve had. Normally the loop of a watch/fit band is used to help keep the watch in place as you fasten it. With the Sports Band, you have to use an extra finger to hold the band and watch in place and then attach it and finally pass the tongue of the band through the loop. Once I figured out how to do this efficiently I was ok, but it’s not initially intuitive.

3 – Taptics Are Great

I’ve read a few reviews where people were complaining about the constant and annoying taptics. Obviously, they just put the watch on and let it default everything. The first thing I did was go into the iPhone app and customize all my notifications, glances, and taptics. I didn’t spend time overthinking things but just turned on the items I thought would be useful. Now I get an occasional tap, and when I get one I know it’s important.

Taps are definitely more personal and not as intrusive as the phone ringing or vibrating. They are easy to ignore. On the other hand, to me, when I get a taptic tap, it has the same emotional response as someone tapping me on the shoulder.  It’s immediate. It’s personal. It’s not a remote sound. There is no sound. It’s just a gentle tap. Someone wants my attention. It’s great!

4 – Less time with the iPhone

Glances are underrated. Yes if you load up your watch with all the possible apps that support glances, you’ll be overwhelmed. I only have glances I know i want to look at often. My approach was: What do i spend most of my time with on the iPhone?  Those are the glances I loaded. This simple approach has kept my phone in my pocket more. I’m not pulling it out to check on something. Now I look at my watch and I’m done. I only wish the watch had a way to extend the time the screen stays on by a second or two. I’m sure the timer is a way of preserving battery life.

5 – The watch makes you more focused

An unexpected benefit of having the Apple Watch is that I seem to be more focused. The screen real estate isn’t swamped with widgets and “designer UI”. The screen has barely enough information to be useful. This is a good thing. You’re forced to focus on one or two pieces of information at a time. On the iphone, you’re easily distracted by non-essential information, other apps, the dock/home bar, etc.

Seeing one thing lets you focus on it and deal with it without distraction. This is great!

6 – I  don’t use the crown much

The scrolling crown is cool, but I don’t use it much to scroll. Finger scrolling works fine for me, despite having normal sized fingers. Yes my finger may obscure the screen a bit, but I’m more interested in what I see after I scroll than while scrolling. So I don’t use the scrolling feature of the crown very often. I mostly use the crown press.

7 – Force touch needs to be everywhere

I like force touch and the taptic feedback. The problem initially (and with new apps), is that there is no way to know whether an app supports force touch. This led me trying to over-force a force touch on apps that didn’t have it. Force touch needs to provide taptic feedback on every screen, not just those that support it. If you force touch an app that has no force touch functions, you would get a tap, as an acknowledgement but nothing would change.

8 – Response seems sluggish at times with 3rd party apps

This is Apple Watch OS (?) 1.0. It’s bound to have issues. It’s surprising it is as stable as it is. Occasionally though, I have run into a situation (3rd party apps) where hitting the “Dismiss” on a notification clears the screen, but the notification isn’t cleared. Tapping again a couple of times resolves the issue. My gut feel this is a problem with the 3rd party app code or how they are using Bluetooth. Apple built-in apps seem fine.

9 – Health

I’m surprised by how much I like the health aspects of the watch. The reminder to stand up may be annoying to some, but it’s great for me when I’m in my “zone”. The built-in exercise app has enough exercise options to keep anyone from a slug to a cheetah happy. It’s also gamified with badges and such to make it fun. There needs to be more of this. I’m finding I do exercise more than usual.

Two issues I’m hoping Apple will address in upcoming updates. The watch doesn’t track sleep, or water consumption. The first is a battery recharge issue, the second is easy.

10 – Battery and screen are fine

There was initial concern about the battery life and screen scratches. I’m finding with moderate to some heavy use throughout the day I get about 18 hours and even then the battery isn’t drained. I haven’t had issues with the screen despite an occasional bump against something. Most of the issues I’ve seen online are chips not scratches.  The screen is scratch-resistant, it’s not puncture or chip resistant.

11 – Needs more cowbell—err, watch faces

Not all of the included watch faces are as fully customizable as others. There aren’t as many diverse ones as I’d hoped. You basically get the ones that Apple demoed. I have a feeling this is just the beginning.

12 – Siri rocks

I rarely used Siri on the iPhone or iPad. Siri on the watch is its sweet spot. It’s easier than tapping and is a good interface for scheduling and other things. Siri on the watch is silent, however. I’m hoping the future will provide an option to get her voice back.

13 – Um…camera viewfinder app?

This one has me scratching my head. Why would I want to use my watch as the viewfinder for the camera on the iPhone?  Your iPhone is in your pocket.  This opens up security/privacy issues as well.

14 – Calendar app annoyances

The built-in calendar app has a few minor annoyances. There apparently is no way to switch months, it’s fixed on the current month. Also, there is no way to include all-day events in the calendar’s glance. The only items that show up are events with discrete scheduled times.

15 – No watches, no bands

It’s been a while now since the Apple Watch was available for pre-order. It is still only available for pre-order. You cannot go into an Apple store and purchase either a watch or a band. I can understand the watches may be built to order, or pulled. But the Sport bands, at least are probably cheap to manufacture. They should be available by now.

So, after a couple of weeks, I’m pleased with the Apple Watch. Is it perfect? Far from it, but then again, neither was the first iPhone or iPad. It is, however, a high-quality item worthy of Apple, and one I’m glad I got.

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