I’ve now spent a week with a couple of Apple Watches. The first of my pre-orders to arrive was the one I ordered with my wife in mind, a 38mm Sport with a white sport band, which arrived on the 24th itself. The one I ordered for myself arrived this week, and that’s a 42mm Watch with stainless steel case and black sport band. I’ve worn that for the past two days, but wore the other for several days first. I don’t normally do reviews here, and goodness knows there are plenty out there from people who do, so this isn’t a review in the “should you buy it?” sense, but rather a set of observations from my use of the Watch.
This is going to be a significantly longer post than I’m used to writing here, so bear with me, and feel free to skim through using the headings as a guide to what’s in each section.
- Fit and finish
- Size – about more than just your wrist
- Bands – in short supply for now
- Changing behavior beyond the Watch
- Apple cracked Notifications on the Watch
- First party apps
- Interaction models
- Force Press
- Digital Touch
- Integration with iPhone apps
- Third party apps
- Most haven’t cracked it yet
- Missing apps, and the implications
- Advertising business models
- Tough choices for developers
- Dependence on the iPhone
- Battery life – on the Watch and the iPhone
- Conclusions and scoring
Fit and finish
Size – about more than just your wrist
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the first Watch to arrive (but the second one I ordered) was the one I bought with my wife in mind. It was the 38mm size, but since it’s all I had I commandeered it for the first few days and used that on my wrist. By way of background, I have a Michael Kors analog watch that I have been wearing for the last several years, and it’s fairly large and heavy, which I quite like. As such, I ordered the 42mm Watch for myself, and felt like the 38mm looked sort of funny on my wrist in comparison to what I’m used to (the white band also wasn’t really me).
However, what I hadn’t anticipated was the difference size would make to the on-screen touch targets. Now that I’m using the larger watch, I really notice the difference in my ability to accurately hit the things I’m trying to on the screen. On the 38mm, the passcode screen you use when you first put on the Watch each day had tiny buttons that I found hard to hit accurately. On the 42mm, these are large enough, and the same goes for pretty much all the other touch targets. So for anyone considering the 38mm because they like smaller Watches rather than for fit reasons, you should bear in mind that size shouldn’t just reflect wrist size but also finger size.
My other concern was that the Watch wouldn’t feel substantial enough on my wrist – something someone else shared his concerns about here. When I was wearing my wife’s Watch, I was worried that my fears were justified – it just felt somewhat insubstantial on my wrist (I’ve had the opposite problem with other smartwatches, which have all seemed overly bulky and fundamentally gadget-like at the same time). But since getting my own slightly larger Watch, I’m no longer worried about this at all. I do think there’s scope for a third size for the people who like the larger watches, but for now I think the 42mm is fine for pretty much everyone at the larger end.
With regard to finishes, I find the Watch looks a lot fancier than the Watch Sport with its aluminum case. The Sport looks fine, and certainly still much nicer than other smartwatches out there, but the steel Watch definitely looks more like a piece of jewelry, for what it’s worth. Paired with a really nice band, it’ll look even more so.
Bands – in short supply for now
I’ve focused so far almost explicitly on the rectangular part of the Watch, but of course the other element is what keeps that rectangle on your wrist – the bands. When the Apple Store finally came back online on April 10th and I went to preorder my Watches, I quickly noticed that the band I really wanted for my Watch – the link bracelet – was not going to ship for weeks, either separately or as part of a Watch. As such, I made a last-minute decision to go with the sport band instead, and ordered the link bracelet separately (it’s still showing as shipping in the coming weeks). This was fine – the sport band is more comfortable than I thought it would be, and I had no qualms about keeping the Watch on while playing soccer twice this week because I knew the band could handle it.
I did also go into an Apple Store during the preorder period to try on several other Watch bands, both to try out the link bracelet I ordered, but also to get a sense of the others. I wanted the Link bracelet in part because I’ve had all-metal watches in the past and really liked the feel and especially the heft of them. But I also thought the sport band would look odd paired with this beautiful stainless steel Watch. In reality, the sport band doesn’t detract at all, and feels surprisingly comfortable. But I’d still like a more premium look, and especially a dressier one. I wonder how many people, like me, may either not have been able to get the band they wanted right away, or may have had buyer’s regret once their chosen band arrived. The problem at this point is that it’s essentially impossible to get a different band within the 14-day return window on the Watch, so you have to make a decision about whether to keep it or not without knowing whether you’ll like a different band better. I don’t see this being a huge issue, but it’s an unfortunate side effect of the supply constraints Apple is facing at the moment.
Changing behavior beyond the Watch
All the smartwatches I had tried before majored on notifications and yet managed them poorly. Controls over notifications were often not granular enough, and the notifications themselves often weren’t actionable in any useful way. I had hoped (as I wrote here) that the Apple Watch would really solve this in a couple of different ways, and I think it has. But what’s been most striking to me is the way the Watch has caused me to rethink the notifications I get on my iPhone. Here’s the thing: if you limit which of your phone notifications get passed to your wrist, which is easy to do with the Watch, the ones that do get passed to your Watch no longer buzz or beep on your phone. But the ones you opt not to pass on still buzz and/or beep on your phone as before. This has the weird effect that the notifications you implicitly care less about are now the only ones that still buzz or beep in your pocket or purse or on your desk. Now, you could say that you no longer care what those buzzes or beeps represent, but I found it awfully hard to just ignore them.
As a result, I’ve found that the Watch has not only changed how I interact with the notifications I care about most (which I’ll come onto in a minute), but it’s changed my behavior with regard to the others too. What I’ve found myself doing is shutting off some notifications entirely, while I’ve switched off banners and sounds for other notifications. This now means that I still see these notifications on my iPhone lock screen when I do get around to checking it, so I don’t miss anything entirely, but I no longer get pinged every time something non-urgent happens. All of this has forced me to re-evaluate how I set notifications in general, and which are truly important and urgent, vs. which are merely important and which are neither. I also now always keep my iPhone on vibrate-only.
Apple cracked Notifications on the Watch
When it comes to the notifications I do really care about, I find the way the Apple Watch deals with them suits me very well. I’ve turned off sounds on my Watch, so every notification merely buzzes me discreetly when it arrives. If I raise my wrist within a couple of seconds, I see the notification, and decide whether or not to deal with it. If I simply lower my wrist, it disappears into the notification shade, but if I choose to interact with it, the better apps on the Watch allow me to do so in useful ways. The best example of this is Messages, where I can choose from canned responses, dictated or audio recorded responses, or Digital Touch. But the same goes for other notifications too, including those from Twitterrific. If I can’t or don’t want to look at a notification right away, it stays there in the notification shade, hidden behind a subtle red dot on the clock face that lets me know there’s something I’ve missed.
I think Apple’s really cracked notifications on a watch here, and once third party developers get better at figuring out how to use them, they’ll become really useful across the board. Either app makers or Apple (or both) also need to make notification control more granular. A binary on/off switch doesn’t work great for all apps. Instagram recently introduced per-user post notifications in its iPhone app, which is a great fit for the Watch (although these notifications are bizarrely non-actionable on the Watch) and a great model for other apps to follow. But Apple will likely need to enable app developers to provide this control within the Watch context specifically as well. It also highlights the work Apple did behind the scenes over the last couple of years with things like VIP emails, muting Messages conversations and the like as precursors to notifications on the Watch (something I wrote about in detail here).
As I mentioned elsewhere in this post, my behavior differs by weekday, and I’ve wanted for some time now to be able to change the way notifications on my phone behave by time of day or day of the week – for example, to turn off work email notifications in the evenings or on the weekends, or to turn off all but urgent notifications when I’m in Church. But neither the iPhone nor the Watch allows you to set temporary states anywhere between all-on and do not disturb. You can of course go in and manually turn notifications off on a one-by-one basis, but you’d have to go back in and turn them all on again later. This is something I’d love to see Apple fix in time, but I can’t really see it happening. With the Watch, though, it feels even more important, since it’s always with you, even on evenings and weekends when you might leave your phone in another room.
First party apps
I used Navigation on the Watch a couple of times in the first few days I had it, and found it nice not to have to mount a phone on the car dash to be able to use navigation. Starting navigation from Siri on the Watch meant no fiddling around with buttons, and it worked fine. The Watch prompts you shortly before each turn with a turn-signal-like sound and the screen lights up showing some details. This worked fine most of the time, but I did find that the lack of detail (and screen real estate) on the Watch can sometimes make it tough to know exactly where to turn. I made one wrong turn because of this when there were two right turns very close together, taking the first of the two rather than the second. On the phone, it would be far clearer which was the right one. But this was a minor annoyance and for the most part navigation worked fine. However, as I’ve noted elsewhere here, navigation for any period of time hits battery life on the iPhone fairly hard because other than lighting up the screen it’s doing all the same things as if you were using the phone and not the Watch for navigation.
I find the Activity app a good compromise of feature functionality and simplicity. Setting it up was fairly straightforward, although there was some ambiguity in the wording around setting a “Move goal” for the day. It was hard to tell whether this was a goal for calories burned during time explicitly designated as a workout, or something else. The default goals seemed both too high for daily formal exercise, but too low for total calories burned during the average day. After using it for a few days, it seems to be a sort of hybrid of these two, more than just explicit Workout calories, but not all calories burned during the day. That makes it somewhat tough to set at an appropriate level. The companion iPhone app that installs once you start using the Watch is a great extension of the data presented on the Watch itself, which is fairly simple, and helped me figure this out.
As for tracking, the Watch is slightly more sophisticated than a basic Fitbit because it uses heartbeat and GPS for tracking as well as motion detection. But the downside for tracking sports is that you probably can’t wear a Watch on your wrist during intense competitive contact sports. I have worn mine twice while playing casual soccer games, but it wouldn’t be great for basketball, for example, whereas I have used a Fitbit in my pocket in the past for tracking calories burned in this situation. I’ve found that the calories the Workout app says I’ve burned when walking briskly are rather lower than pretty much all activity trackers I’ve used in the past – it’s always possible that the Watch is actually more accurate on this point, but I’m not sure that’s the case, given the consistency of other means of tracking. This is something I’m going to continue to monitor over time.
One thing the Watch does uniquely (as far as I’m aware) is the hourly prompt to stand up and walk around for a minute, associated with the standing goal you set. I only see this prompt occasionally as I already take frequent breaks while working to get a drink of water, but there are occasions when the prompt arrives at inopportune moments (the other day there was a series of tweets from Apple reporters listening to its earnings call whose Watches had told them to stand up and walk around). What I’d like with this feature and the Activity app in general is to be able to easily turn it off on a scheduled basis. For example, on Sundays I attend church and spend several hours sitting in a setting where it wouldn’t be appropriate to stand up and stretch my legs. I also don’t exercise on Sundays, although I’m fairly active other days of the week. Neither the Watch nor any other fitness tracker I’ve ever used allows me to set different goals by day of the week, even though I would guess almost all of us have different schedules or behaviors on weekends in particular. I could always leave the Watch at home at these times, or set it to “do not disturb” but that seems rather a blunt instrument for solving this particular problem. (Oh, the irony: my Watch has just prompted me to stand up!)
Siri works great for the most part, and it almost feels like it’s better than on the phone. It’s far more useful here too because using touch to do some thing is either tricky or impossible but Siri makes them extremely straightforward. Navigation, sending texts, replying to texts and so on are great on Siri. One bugbear is that the command to wake Siri in a hands-free way is the same as for the iPhone (“Hey Siri”). If your iPhone is plugged in and nearby (as mine was the other day) you can accidentally trigger Siri in both places at once. I can see the rationale behind choosing the same command for both, but it can cause problems. The option to send text dictated messages as either text or audio is a fantastic innovation, too – especially for those times when the speech-to-text engine makes a mistake. On the iPhone, this has always been a frustrating experience because you have to re-dictate the message, trying different pronunciations, but on the Watch if the dictation is wrong you can just send audio. My one complaint was that, as on the phone but more so, if you’re either too slow or pause too long, Siri times out before you’re done (or before you’ve started). It could do with being a bit more patient.
I’m finding that I use Glances and notifications a lot more than I use actual apps on the Watch. The Glances I have installed are a combination of Apple’s own (music, control center, heartbeat, Calendar, Activity, Battery Life, etc.) and some third-party ones (ESPN, MLB At Bat, Deliveries, Twitterrific). The first thing I noticed was that quite a few of the third party Glances had a hard time loading data the first time I used them. Once I’d opened the companion apps, I returned to Glances and they worked much better. This seemed to be a one-time issue, though the MLB Glance in particular seems to have a hard time loading sometimes even now. This is likely a teething problem that will go away in time.
Force Press, or “press firmly” as it’s referred to in Apple’s consumer-facing documentation, is a great addition to the ways you can interact with the Watch. It adds another layer of interactivity to many screens, but by definition there’s no on-screen indication that it’s an option in any given setting. Using Apple’s User Guide for the Watch and its walkthrough videos, I learned about some the easy way, but in many other settings it was a question of trial and error – oftentimes a Force Press did bring up additional functionality, but there were also times when it didn’t. It’s a bit like right-clicking inside an unfamiliar application on a computer – it may or may not provide the functionality you’re looking for, and there’s often no way to tell unless you try it. As such, I recommend using Force Press regularly in new situations until you figure out where it does something and where it doesn’t.
I think here about the iPhone – when it first launched, essentially all its functionality was accessed through a simple press of one of the two buttons or through touching on-screen buttons. There was almost no hidden functionality at all, and there were essentially no unintuitive gestures. But of course that original iPhone had no user installable apps, no copy and paste, no notification screen or control center, no home screen customization, or many of the other features it’s added over time. Today’s iPhone has many non-intuitive gestures – swiping from the bottom, top, or middle of the screen brings up three different interface overlays; double tapping, triple tapping and holding down the home button each have different outcomes; long pressing on apps makes them editable; long pressing on text makes it selectable and actionable; and so on and so forth.
These new interactions have been introduced over time, so they don’t seem overwhelming, but if you were to come to the iPhone as it is today without any conditioning, you might well either find this plethora of hidden interactions overwhelming, or you might never find them at all. The challenge with the Watch is that it is being launched into a world where today’s iPhone, with all its complexities and functionality, exists, and therefore can’t go back to the relative simplicity of the first version. As such, Force Press and the other interactions available on the Watch have to be there to provide the kind of richness we’re used to these days on Apple devices. But that can make it either overwhelming or baffling to use, at least at first. In my experience, that phase quickly passes, and the user guide and videos Apple has provided certainly help move quickly up the learning curve.
Digital Touch is one of the most unique features of the Watch, and got quite a bit of play in the Apple keynotes as well as in various materials the company has put out. It’s a key element of the “intimate computing” concept I wrote about here. It’s also a feature you can’t test unless you know someone else who has a Watch and with whom you’re willing to exchange these messages. When we only had one Watch in the house, I played with it a little with a couple of Twitter contacts just to test it out, but this wasn’t really meaningful communication. I think where Digital Touch will really come into its own is with loved ones and close friends who also have Watches, which makes this the first Apple device that’s meaningfully better when you know someone else who has one. It’s like the blue bubble exclusivity associated with iMessage on a much smaller and more significant scale. Now that my wife and I have both a Watch, we could in theory exchange Digital Touch messages, and we have of course played around with the feature, but the reality is that I work from home – we’re around each other all day and there’s little call for us to send each other such messages most of the time. We’re pretty atypical in this regard, but it does mean that I haven’t really seen the full value of this feature yet (in contrast to others).
One other thing to note in regard to Digital Touch, which wasn’t really clear to me from any of the materials about the Watch, is that it’s limited to people in your Favorite contact list. At first, I wondered why the option to send Digital Touch messages wasn’t showing up in the Messages app, and it turned out this was the reason. This is actually a great example of the care Apple has taken around the whole intimate computing concept I alluded to just now: this truly is an intimate form of communication, and you simply don’t want it to be available to everyone. You have to explicitly opt in to receiving such messages from other people, and you can only send them to people you’ve indicated are in your inner circle. That makes perfect sense, and it’s a great protection for these features that might otherwise become less meaningful and spammy.
Integration with iPhone apps
I’ve alluded to this a couple of times elsewhere in this post, but the way the Watch apps integrate with iPhone apps is interesting on several levels. I’ve mentioned the fact that the Watch apps depend on their iPhone companions and therefore take a toll on iPhone battery life, but there are some other interesting aspects too. For example, the Map My Run app on the Watch triggers voice commands and other actions on the iPhone app (I haven’t yet found an app that will talk to you on the Watch), e.g. “Start workout”. Apple’s own Maps app doesn’t do this on the phone, so I don’t know if this is a temporary quirk that will get fixed in time, but it’s a reminder of the fact that the iPhone apps behind the Watch apps are running in the background. Another interesting integration is Handoff, which of course was introduced as a concept for transferring activity between iPhone, iPad, and Mac, but which very much has a counterpart on the Watch too. It’s very useful for things like email, where you can’t really do much with a notification on the Watch itself beyond archiving or marking a message in some way. But an icon for your email app shows up on the iPhone lock screen when you’re viewing such a notification (this worked for me with Microsoft’s Outlook app too), which allows you to pick up that specific email on your phone. There are several other great examples of this Handoff feature too, and Android actually has a similar feature, though it’s driven from the watch rather than the phone.
Most haven’t cracked it yet
Others have noted it, so I won’t spend a lot of time on this, but I’m finding that the vast majority of third party apps haven’t quite cracked the Watch experience yet. Too many of them either provide too little information or value, or try to do too much, and there’s a tricky balance somewhere in the middle that most haven’t found yet. I’m not overly critical of these app makers on this point: essentially none of them had an Apple Watch as they were building apps, and that’s an awfully tough job. 3,500 apps in the first days after launch is an impressive achievement, but it means only about one in 400 apps on the iOS App Store has a Watch companion for now, and there should be both plenty more to come, and significant improvements in the ones that are already there.
Missing apps, and the implications
Among those conspicuous by their absence are Facebook and my favorite Twitter client, Tweetbot. Given how long it’s been since the Tweetbot iPad version has been updated, I’m not expecting one anytime soon. The official Twitter app isn’t great, so I’ve switched to using Twitterrific, an app I’d installed on my phone once upon a time but long since uninstalled. In doing so, I’ve also switched all my notifications on the iPhone from Tweetbot to Twitterrific because I can’t do anything useful with the Tweetbot apps on my Watch. I still prefer Tweetbot in many ways over Twitterific on the phone, but I’m realizing how little I use Tweetbot on my phone other than to act on notifications, especially since I often have the Mac version in front of me too.
I think this illustrates two things about Watch apps: the power of having them for boosting usage of and loyalty to the iPhone versions, and the danger to the iPhone version of not supporting the Watch. I would guess that the Watch audience, especially early on, will be like the iPhone user base on steroids in terms of its demographics and behavior – more affluent, more engaged with their device, more likely to spend time and money on the platform. As such, neglecting these early users may be a huge mistake. Conversely, apps such as the New York Times, USA Today, and others make good use of their companion apps, providing good value on the Watch but maintaining the phone as the core experience for longer engagements.
Advertising business models
This is critical for another factor in regard to the Watch – it’s really not a great place for advertising, and any business which relies heavily (or entirely) on advertising is going to struggle to make the Watch pay by itself. (This, of course, is something that many users may welcome.) It’s going to be critical to drive users back to the iPhone for deeper engagements, and it’s going to be a great test of the effectiveness of an app that it can both provide meaningful value on the Watch and still keep users coming back to the phone version for more. I wonder if Facebook’s absence from the Watch so far is a reflection of this challenge – it’s a tough balance to strike, and especially given its reliance on advertising, I suspect Facebook wants to really get it right.
Tough choices for developers
The larger question this raises for developers is how many platforms they really want to support. Originally, developers could develop just for iPhone, but over time iOS developers have had the option of explicitly supporting the iPad as well, and now the Watch is yet another variant they could invest in. Not all will, but developers need to ask themselves whether developing for iOS now means supporting iPhone, iPad and Watch, and if so what else might have to go by the wayside in order to enable this. I mentioned Tweetbot and its lack of recent updates for its iOS app (which still has a distinctly iOS 6 flavor to it) – will some developers neglect their iPad versions in order to focus on new functionality for the Watch? Will others decide to go all-in on iOS and either abandon or never make their apps for Android?
Dependence on the iPhone
One last point on third-party apps: since apps can’t (yet) run independently on your Watch, you have to install the companion iPhone app. In many cases, the apps I have on my Watch are apps I already have on my phone, but in some cases I’ve installed new apps I see being uniquely useful on my Watch. The problem is that the only way you can do this is by installing the iPhone app, which now sits on one of my home screens unused. This situation reminds me of the keyboard apps Apple introduced in iOS 8 – even though you only need them to show up in your keyboard, each comes with its own app that takes up room on your home screen. I can see myself creating a folder on my iPhone called “Watch only” or similar. Later this year, Apple should make it possible for apps to exist independently on the Watch, which may solve this problem, but in the meantime it’s an odd quirk.
I’ve found battery life on my Watch to be perfectly fine. I hammered it the first day I was using it because I was testing lots of features, but it still made it through that day just fine, even with a fair amount of exercise throughout the evening (when I was helping my in-laws move house). It’s done even better since, and I’ve not had to worry once about it running down entirely by the end of the day. It also charges pretty quickly – from the charge level it’s usually at when I start its daily charge, I can get back up to 100% or close to it in about an hour. For the first few days, I took it off and charged it at night, but the last two days I’ve kept it on at night (the first night I wanted to use the alarm on the Watch to wake me up for an early call), and charged it in the morning, which worked fine. Speaking of charging, I’m surprised Apple hasn’t yet come out with a dual-port charger. It would have been useful before, especially when traveling, for charging an iPhone and an iPad at the same time. But you don’t have to charge an iPad every day, and I tend to plug mine in at my desk rather than the bedside, in contrast to my iPhone. But with both the iPhone and Watch needing nightly charging, a charger with not one but two USB ports makes perfect sense. Either Apple or a competitor should make one.
The one thing I have noticed, in contrast to what I’ve heard others say, is that the battery life on my iPhone is running down faster, rather than slower. I have heard others say that they use their iPhones less when using the Watch. I have to say that this is true for notifications and one or two items like sports scores for which I can now use Glances on the Watch, but the reality is that the iPhone is still being “used” in the background even if I’m not explicitly pulling it out and unlocking it. This shouldn’t be a great surprise – much of the functionality of the Watch is going through the iPhone, tapping into location services, using its cellular and WiFi connections for receiving notifications, and so on. For example, when using Navigation on the Watch in the car, the full Apple Maps app is running on the phone all the while. The screen might not be on, but from a GPS perspective, the iPhone is doing all the other things it would be if I were using Maps on the phone itself rather than on the Watch. This helps Watch battery life, but hurts iPhone battery life. This phenomenon certainly isn’t unique to the iPhone – I’ve noticed similar faster depletion on Android phones paired with smartwatches too, but I thought I’d mention it, since I hadn’t seen anyone else say this.
At the same time, I do use the phone slightly less than before in an active sense, but mostly for things related to notifications and a couple of things Glances take care of now, such as the weather or sports scores. I still return to the iPhone for many of the things I’ve always used it for – dealing with email on the go, checking blog stats in detail, catching up on Instagram or Facebook, etc. Some of this is because these apps don’t have Watch companions yet, but for the most part these activities are just poorly suited to the Watch screen.
Here’s a list of little things that aren’t worth of their own section in this review:
- On the Watch, you have the option of having it always show you the watch face when it wakes up, or returning to the last app you used. For the most part, returning to the watch face is fine, but when using workout apps in particular, you really want them to stay in the foreground while you’re using them for easy access to stats and so on while you’re exercising. However, the Watch only gives you the binary option here, and it would be really nice to be able to say on a per-app basis “keep this one in the foreground” instead. The other weird side effect of this is that if you don’t exit all the way back out to the watch face from the apps/home screen, it will return you to the last app used, even if you had already exited to the home screen. This feels like a bug that should get fixed in time.
- The Apple TV Remote app works really well, perhaps even better than the iPhone version, which tends to exaggerate movements in my experience. It’s also useful to have the Remote app on a device other than your phone, as I’m often using my phone for something else while watching something on TV, and it’s a pain to have to leave the app I’m using to use the Remote.
- Apple Pay on the Watch works great. I had some sort of glitch when I first tried to set it up, and it failed. But when I tried to add a card the second time it worked fine, and paying with it was a cinch, and didn’t require me to take my phone out of my pocket. The poor grocery store clerk who was serving me when I used it the first time was completely thrown by the experience, meanwhile – she found it baffling and amazing in equal measure. But this just gets to the genius of Apple Pay – it requires no training or intervention of any kind for store clerks to work, as the process doesn’t involve them at all.
- On my phone, I had Messages set to buzz three times rather than once or twice, and this is unique to these notifications. This makes it super easy to tell when I’ve received a text rather than some other notification. With the taptic engine it seems like the Watch should be able to do the same, but as of yet all my notifications feel the same. Either it doesn’t carry over custom buzz patterns from the Watch or I can’t tell the difference, which was a bit of a surprise.
- When I stopped using the 38mm Watch Sport and started using my 42mm Watch, the process of switching from one to the other couldn’t have been simpler. For most people today, this is a non-issue, but a while down the road people will want to update or upgrade their Watch, and then it’ll come into play. Simply put, you unpair your first Watch from your iPhone in the Watch app, then you pair the new one, tell the app you want to restore from the backup of your first, and it quickly sets up the new one just like the old one. A classic “it just works” moment. And because the apps on the Watch are all tied to your phone, there’s none of the annoying per-app re-logging-in or other stuff you have to do when you go through this process with a new iPhone.
- One wrinkle with third-party apps that I haven’t quite figured out yet is a screen timeout issue. The Watch has a pretty short timeout before the screen goes dark compared to the phone, and with Evernote in particular I noticed that if I didn’t speak quickly and continuously enough while dictating a voice note, the screen would go dark before I’d finished, and then the note would be lost. I can’t tell if this is an Evernote issue or an Apple issue, but it’s a frustration that one party or the other needs to take care of in time.
I published a report on smartwatches last year, shortly before the Apple Watch was announced, and as this post on Techpinions shows, I was pretty unimpressed with the offerings on the market at that time, and I graded them accordingly (all categories scored out of 5):
As you can see, the highest score any of these watches got was a 23 out of 35, not a very good showing. When the Apple Watch was announced last year, I revisited the topic in this post at Techpinions and gave the Apple Watch a preliminary (and very conservative) score of 27, based on the small amount of information known then. After having used it, I’d revise the scores upwards quite a bit, to at least 30 out of 35. But the Apple Watch is so different in many regards from these watches in what it attempts to do, that my original scoring system, though flexible, seems inadequate. It’s such a leap forward on so many levels from what the other watches in this category do that it’s not even completely appropriate to compare them in this way. Simply put, Apple has really cracked this category in a way no-one else has (and perhaps no-one else could have). The combination of the design of the device and the tight integration with the Apple ecosystem makes it totally unique not just among iPhone-compatible watches but all smartwatches on the market today. That’s not to say it’s perfect – others have talked about some of the problems in their reviews, and I’ve highlighted some of my own qualms with the device here. But this is version 1 of a product that will only get better over time, and it’s an extremely promising entry in a category that definitely needed a boost.