Up close with the Apple Watch
My Apple Watch finally arrived this week, a full two months after being ordered. This purchase was made purely for research purposes on behalf of you, dear readers.
Below are my first impressions, now I've got up close and personal with it. What's good? What's bad? What might be coming? This follows on from my initial post on whether it would be a hit or miss, here.
1. What's good?
The overall look & feel is, as you would expect from Apple, top notch. It is beautifully engineered and finished, with a sapphire crystal screen and a nifty rubber strap designed by one of my favourite designers, Mark Newson. Indeed, you could just spend your £300-500 and use it as a nicely designed watch.
Some of the apps have been very cleverly adapted for the Apple Watch and manage to cram a lot of info onto the little screen. For example, you can see a whole day's weather on the screen. And you can easily scroll down through the stock prices you are following (you scroll down by turning the crown on the top right hand side).
Some apps go further and offer an actual benefit in terms of convenience. In particular, the passbook app means you can, for example, have your BA boarding pass on your phone and just go, "beep", to go through security without having to get your iPhone out of your pocket, briefcase or bag. Then there is the health app, which monitors how much you move and during how many of the 12 hours per day you have stood up for at least a minute. As someone who sits at a desk for too long each day, this is quite useful, although I wonder if being reminded to stand up i. will become irritating, and ii. is a bit too much Big Brother-like
2. What's bad?
The first and most obvious issue is that you need your iPhone on you for most of the watch's functionality to work. And many of the iPhone apps are much, much better on the iPhone. For example, it is sort of cool to be able to order an Uber with a single click on the Apple Watch. However, there are several drawbacks: i. the watch can only order the type of Uber (X, XL, Lux etc) you ordered last time, ii. you can't enter your route to get an estimate of cost, iii. you can't share the cost of the trip with other Uber users etc. etc. And trying to navigate with the tiny map on the watch screen is much less convenient that using the maps app on your iPhone.
Other apps seem even more dumbed down. For example, the Open Table app just shows upcoming bookings, you can't actually do a booking on your phone.
You do need A1 vision and fingers ideally shaped lick match sticks to operate the incredibly fiddly home screen menu, made up of a series of floating little bubble-like icons. As they are so small, and so close together, they are hard to distinguish from one another, and I often tapped the wrong one.
It can be irritating to get the notifications (new text, stand up instructions etc.) via a buzzing and vibrating on your wrist, especially if, like the Taylor teenage girls, you get a notification every 10 seconds or so. You can turn these off if you want, but this does take a bit of time and hassle to do (more complex operations like this are done on your phone)
3. What's coming?
There are some cool things coming soon which could make the Apple Watch much more interesting as a device. First up is Apple Pay, due in the UK in July 2015. This will enable you to pay for things in participating stores using your watch. And Starwood Hotels have started to let you use your Apple Watch to unlock your hotel room door. And I'm sure there are more applications in the pipeline. One of Apple's smart tactics is not to "fire all the bullets in one go". They hold stuff back to have wave after wave of new news.
As it stands today, I like it. But I don't love it. However, my guess is that with the functionality upgrades coming down the pipe in the coming months that may change, and it may become much more useful.
If you are thinking of getting one, perhaps waiting to have it as a Xmas present would mean getting more out of your new toy, sorry, your new personal productivity device 😉