I must have been a good boy this year as I received an Apple Watch as a Christmas present from my most awesome wife. I’ve been using it for about a week now and wanted to share my first impressions.
I have a 42mm Apple Watch (the larger version) and it is smaller than it looks in pictures. It does not feel big or overly heavy on my wrist. The watch is certainly not thin but doesn’t feel overly thick either. The Apple Watch is smaller than the Martian Notifier that I have been wearing for the last year.
I think it also looks better in person than it does in pictures. Everyone may not like a rectangular face, but it does leave room for “complications” (such as the temperature in the picture above) along with the circular face.
One feature of the Apple Watch is the ability to easily change bands. I think that’s a great idea and don’t know why other watches do not do something like this. Apple offers several differerent styles of bands and there are many third party ones also available (often for much less cost).
My watch came with a black “sport band” which is a “fluoroelastomer” (i.e. rubber) band. It doesn’t have a traditional buckle and putting it on takes a bit of practice. The best part of this design is that the end tucks in underneath the band so there is nothing sticking out to get caught on a sleeve or pocket. The band on the Martian watch is a really thick rubber band I found it often getting in the way.
Using the Watch
The primary mission of any watch is to tell time. Like all smart watches, the Apple Watch offers several watch faces. There are 13 to choose from and each one can be customized to your liking. It is pretty easy to switch from one to another so I’ve made a couple to with different styles that show different pieces of information (i.e. “complications”) for different purposes. It is a shame that Apple does not allow for third party watch faces. This seems to be a thriving market for Android Wear with lots of great looking faces available.
I’m left handed and wear my watch on my right hand. Since the display is a screen it can be flipped over in software to be configured so that the crown is on the left. I then had to switch the sides of the band, but that is really easy to do. A win for lefties!
To conserve power the display turns itself off when it thinks you aren’t looking at it. When you raise your wrist to view it or tap the screen the display turns on. It recognizes the raising your wrist gesture pretty well, but there are times when getting the display to turn on requires a wrist shake. I would like it to be less conservative about when it decides to turn on the display. I realize power is an issue, but I’d like to be able to configure how sensitive it is. There is a slight delay from when you raise your wrist until the display comes on which I find annoying. It is short but just long enough to make you wonder if it is working. They need to tighten that up.
I was concerned about battery life but have found it to be surprisingly good. I charge it each night so I start out at 100% in the morning and I’m yet to get under 30% by the end of the day. I assume battery life will get worse over time (as all rechargable batteries degrade) and third party apps could also affect the battery negatively, but as of right now I’m not at all worried about making it through the day. I was told to be careful of the chronometer watch face as it is easy to accidentally start the stopwatch which can eat up the battery quickly if left to run for hours.
Like my Martian Notifier, the Apple Watch can display notifications from the iPhone. I really like seeing the alert on my wrist so I could decide if I needed to pull out my phone to act upon it. With the Apple Watch in addition to seeing the notification you can also act upon it from the watch. This is really handy for simple things like marking a reminder as complete or replying to an iMessage or email with a canned response. While it is possible to do some more complicated things, like dictate a message using Siri, I find using the phone to be more convenient in those cases.
Speaking of Siri, it can be activated on the watch by saying “Hey Siri”. It can be used to launch watch function such as starting timers or setting alarms. This is easier then fumbling through the watch interface. It can also be used to dictate a quick note which can be handy when you want to get an idea down quickly.
I have many apps on my iPhone that have a Watch app with them. After playing with some of them I have decided that I really don’t have a need for any of these apps on my watch. Doing anything remotely complicated is just too hard to do on the watch’s tiny display.
So far I am really enjoying the watch. I think it is useful and looks nice. Getting notifications on my wrist is something I really liked with my last watch and the ability to act upon them with this one is a big bonus. My biggest annoyance is that the display doesn’t always turn on when I want. I hope that can be fixed in a future software release.
The big criticism I have heard of the Apple Watch in general is that there is no need to buy one. I would agree that I don’t need an Apple Watch or any other smartwatch for that matter. That isn’t the point of the device. It is a luxury item that is nice to own.