Marty’s Apple Watch Review

Introduction

In the past I’ve truly loved and admired every Apple product I’ve ever bought.

The iPhone was a great phone and PDA with a great camera that also happened to play my favorite music. It literally replaced half a dozen other devices and did every one of those things particularly well.

My first Mac was a Mac Pro and with the Mac OS X operating system not only did it do what I needed insanely well it actually cost less than a comparable Dell workstation of the time.

My first Mac laptop was better built, thinner, longer lasting, and again worked better than any comparable Windows laptop.

Over the years these observations have held true to subsequent generations and purchases of Apple products. The iPhones got better (personally I think the 6’s are stunning), the laptops got thinner and cheaper while getting more powerful, and don’t get me started on the iMacs (gorgeous). Even the packaging and subsequent unpacking has been a treat!

Then there’s the Apple Watch….it doesn’t suck but it’s one of those things where reality hasn’t lived up to expectations. The launch was sucky, I was in at 1:20 AM (20 minutes after Apple Watch pre-orders started) and I was already delayed until late June. Disappointing.

Then the watch itself just doesn’t appear to know what it is. Unlike the iPhone which does a number of things very well or even exceptionally (like the camera). The Apple Watch does a number of things ranging from ok to somewhere above adequately. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great device in its field but somehow I expected more and disappointment is the gap between expectations and reality.

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Split Personalities

Whereas the iPhone is a computer that happens to make phone calls or a phone that happens to be a computer the Apple Watch is not exactly a watch that happens to be a fitness band nor a fitness band that happens to be a computing device (the device form factor isn’t right). To me it’s a device that doesn’t know what it is.

Here are the three top things I think the Apple Watch is;

Fitness band

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Truly, on a daily basis this is the feature of the Apple Watch that I use the most by far.

I use it to monitor three key metrics to help improve my health;

My standing hours, the watch makes sure that I am standing for at least one minute every hour for at least twelve hours every day,

My burned calories, the watch in combination with the fitness app on the iPhone make sure that I burn my calories every day and if I succeed too many times it even it even encourages me to increase my goals.

My exercise hours, which are separate from my burned calories in that exercise goals require me to raise my heart rate above a threshold level (yes the Apple Watch has a heart rate monitor built in).

Overall I’d say the watch has really changed my fitness and activities lifestyle to the better.

See this great review by Jim Dalrymple about his lifestyle change with his Apple Watch.

Notifications

In additions to the watch reminding me to stand every hour I also get my calendar notifications, message notifications from the iPhone, bank balances whenever I use my Apple Pay credit card, whenever someone calls me even if I don’t have my iPhone with me. Today I got a brand new notification when there was a question about one of my Ebay auctions.

Others

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These remaining features are incidental features, I use them but rarely with purpose, more incidentally but still features I use semi-regularly.

Well it does happen to tell the time, my favorite face happens to be Mickey. I can also use it to control my music when I’m listening to my iPhone (no more digging in my pocket for my iPhone while I’m walking).

Trying to use Apple Pay more but it’s not an easy process yet. Canadian banks are retarded.

Lastly I happen to enjoy the link to the iPhone Maps app and instead of listening to Siri on the Phone the watch just “tickles” me when there’s an upcoming change of direction.

Battery life hasn’t been an issue to date, by the time I put the watch down every evening it still has about 40% of battery life left. In a pinch you can turn on Power Reserve mode which keeps the watch running but essentially disables all the non-watch features. For those who complain about that kind of battery life I still remember my first mechanical watch which I had to wind every day.

Annoyances

  • Why on earth do I have to push Stop then Save when completing a workout?
  • Sometimes the watch is pokey, I end up pressing button multiple times before it reacts.
  • Despite Apples claims that “it just works” the connectivity to the home network and/or other Apple devices is spotty enough that I just gave up trying to use that feature (i.e. remote control my Apple TV).
  • Raising my wrist to see the watch face doesn’t always work, in my opinion this should work every time!!!

The future

Apple just announced Watch OS 2.0 to be released in fall of 2015. One new key feature will be native apps (today the watch depends on the iPhone for its functionality). Watch OS 2.0 will also introduce new faces and “complications” which will give us users more control of bits or widgets we want to put on a watch face.

Overall I’m hoping it will become more streamlined and more responsive to the point where it’s as much of a treat to use as my iPhone.