It must take a while to get used to the Apple Watch. It’s more than just getting to grips with what seems to be a not-quite-so-intuitive interface but also what is it trying to do in the wearables space? Then, of course, you have to consider how it may impact on your life and how you will actually USE it.
You can pre-order one NOW, if you want, from the Apple store. Full release is next week w/e Friday 17 April 2015.
Everyone’s heard of the $17,000 gold variant. But judging by the image above would anyone pay $17,000 for a watch that you can ‘just’, seemingly, download lots of different watch faces for. (Probably!). But of course, it is more than watch faces!!
I’ll cover the sporty and activity stuff further below.
Firstly having a wrist-based mechanism to tell you what’s happening on your digital life via your smartphone adds a level of separation from the digital world (that’s potentially GOOD). You might find you spend less time opening your phone and then getting distracted for many more minutes on end with what the phone leads you in to. Maybe. But it’s also convenient just having to look at your wrist for a notification when cycling or shopping or driving. Safer too of course in two of those cases.
But I’ve been doing that since last year with other watches. So nothing new there.
Then again Apple NEVER was the great innovator. They just tended to do things a bit slicker than those that came before. Perhaps one reason why Bill Gates invested in Apple all those years ago 😉 [Yes, the one who founded Microsoft, THAT Bill]
So once again Apple have , for sure, created a good-looking device. Quite a few wearables come across my desk. Some ARE pretty, VERY MANY are not pretty.
Digging deeper though it seemed to me that the complexity of the interface is geared towards those who are tech-savvy. A techie novice may well have problems. Then again, an Apple-loving techie novice is more likely to persevere than others with their new purchase.
But other than a glorified extension of my mobile phone I was left wondering what to do with it.
There are obvious avenues that Apple and the industry are relying on. Those being wrist-based payment mechanisms and wrist-based health management. Two HUGE arenas that many companies are scrambling to make a space for themselves in.
The TAPTIC ENGINE: That sounds great doesn’t it? But it basically means nuanced vibrational alerts for different types of digital message. A phone call (on silent), a text, an appointment all FEEL different. I like that. It also means that a TAP and a PRESS are treated differently. Sure I’ve had touch, vibration- and audio-alerts on many wrist-based devices over the last several years but this is a clever mini-step forwards.
The screen: OK it’s good 🙂 I can’t keep being too neutral on that front. I’ll just go ahead and say it!
The bevelly side button thing. Yeah. Well. Maybe. I thought we all wanted touch screens these days? To be fair it does augment the touch screen for zooming and scrolling.
It’s just the size of the interface that is the problem that generic navigational innovations have to overcome. Watches are just so small relative to a smartphone. Maybe that’s why SIRI comes to the rescue. A wee bit of voice-activated control. Would be nice if it worked 98% of the time. Maybe I mumble?
The battery life is not great. It needs a battery that lasts a WEEK rather than not even a day. 18 hours and then put it on charge until the morning means that it’s not a sleep tracker!
All-day battery life is based on 18 hours with the following use: 90 time checks, 90 notifications, 45 minutes of app use and a 30-minute workout with music playback from Apple Watch via Bluetooth, over the course of 18 hours. Battery life varies by use, configuration and many other factors; actual results will vary….Charge Time1.5 hours to 80% Source: Apple.
One of your first tasks will be to tone down the vibration alerts (turn off) to eek a few minutes extra of battery time.
A friend said, “So can you talk into it then?”
No you can’t. That would have been nice. Then again even if you could talk into it I’m not sure how you would hear the response.
Apps look a bit ‘limited’ at present but will improve for sure. I look at other apps on the sports watches that I am more used to (Suunto and Garmin IQ) and they are all a bit rubbish too, on the whole. The much larger potential market for Apple iWatch apps means that some serious development effort will be invested in apps for them. So, yes, they are already slicker. Just not that awe-inspiring. Several are reported to not even load and other to, dare I say it, cause a reboot which I always thought Apple’s were supposedly immune from? When you have ONE end-device-configuration surely it can’t be THAT hard to test the app properly? I look at Garmin IQ apps and they have to work across several different devices – much harder I would have thought (albeit the same software development platform).
Current Apps include BMW iremote, American Airlines, Nike+ Running, Trip Advisor, Twitter, Instagram, Runtastic, ebay, PayByPhone Parking,
Made for sports training? Hmmm. Not sure. It has an inbuilt heart rate monitor (accuracy to be confirmed) and it has an accelerometer and GPS capability. Those should play havoc with the battery life. Then again those are the bits that sports and health-related app NEED. Not all competing devices have all those component technologies.
It has beautiful-looking activity functionality like this. Each ring shows how far you are from your daily target for each of: exercise; low-level activity; and from taking breaks from sitting down.
Each ring has its own screen and so you can progress to the exercise screen and get this:
You get personal records too. These are motivational. Even the sportier ones amongst us, who wouldn’t like to admit it, secretly love this sort of stuff. If you can’t beat someone else then you can at least beat yourself!
Triathlon functionality is perhaps a little too adventurous to be claimed as in-built (it’s NOT claimed). Although, again, the implementation of closely related sports functionality is beautiful. You can use the elliptical trainer or you can walk, run or cycle. When it comes to swimming I mused mysteriously on “Apple Watch is water-resistant, you don’t have to worry about getting sweat on it or working out in the rain.”
Has anyone got a spare $17,000? OK, I’ll settle for $500 and get the lower end one 😉
Summary: It’s a fairly good toy, a pretty toy. The current iteration will be surpassed by its replacement in less than 3 years time. Perhaps the replacement and a whole host of properly tested and accepted apps will tempt me into buying one. Perhaps. It does VERY LITTLE new. It most certainly does it prettier. The pretty-ness comes at a battery cost. My not-so-pretty Garmin can do sleep tracking, an Ironman triathlon, be a multi-face watch and keep going for more than a week without a recharge. Choose wisely.