Watch is not a necessity, especially at a starting price tag of $349. Where Watch fits is in the front lines of a busy lifestyle, one filled with messages, email, alerts, notifications, and all the digital social paraphernalia that clutters our eyeballs these days. If the Mac and iPad are used for hours, and the iPhone is used for minutes, then the Watch is for seconds at a time.
4 Weeks Watching
Why will Watch become a popular device? And why won’t it be as popular as the iPhone? It’s math. The iPhone is more of a necessity; a device we need because it’s also a phone, and there’s little that most of us can do on a Mac that can’t be done in one fashion or another on an iPhone.
Here’s the problem. Most of the time an iPhone is in the pocket, purse, or bag. When we want to use it, we dig it out, then we put it back. When we feel a buzz or hear an alert, we dig it out, then we put it back. Ad nauseam, multiple times per day.
Watch changes that dynamic by making specific functions easier to use. After a few weeks of both learning and using here are my initial observations and a few issues.
There’s much to like about Watch, including the simple newness of exploration. It’s fun to find things Watch can do and how it interacts with apps on the iPhone. The overall experience is positive, but with a few mixed results.
Activity Tracking – My Watch reminds me to standup and when I do so often during the day I feel better, heels and all. The rewards are nice, too. Watch also tracks my daily exercising and measuring performance is a good thing.
Design – Apple decided to go for three basic models– similar all– with slightly differing sizes (38mm vs 42mm) and case and glass materials. But it looks like a watch, albeit not an expensive or notoriously obvious Watch. The design is classy, and the weight nominal, though it seems to sit a little high on my wrist.
Notifications – This is the killer set of functions on Watch and takes much, much effort to get settled and used properly. Otherwise, dozens of apps on my iPhone are already Watch aware, and very happy to send me an endless stream of beeps and buzzes to alert me of this or that. Discipline is needed, but it starts with trial and error. Not all Watch app extensions are created equal.
Battery – Surprise! All the hand-wringing from the technorati elite over poor battery life was just so much bunk. I start at 6:00 in the morning and it’s on and used frequently all day up until about 10:30, and I still have well more than 30-percent battery remaining. This is a non-issue unless you’re watch movies on Watch all day, in which case, where is your iPhone?
Siri – With little public fanfare, Siri has become a good companion and works great on Watch and iPhone. It takes awhile to get used to verbal dictation methodology, but Siri is remarkably accurate these days; although watching anyone talk into their Watch still looks odd.
Taptics – That’s Apple’s name for the little wrist vibrations in Watch and you’re going to love them– if you exercise restraint and don’t have every app on your iPhone banging on your hand with a notification. The Taptic engine is subtle enough not to bother anyone nearby, just strong enough to notice.
Watch Faces – Apple doesn’t provide much choice. That’s too bad. Mixing and matching Watch faces could easily become a cottage industry, not unlike iPhone cases. I expect this will change in the future.
The Not So Good
There’s no bad. Once you play with Watch a few days you’ll understand that the total experience is greater than the sum of the features. Still, I have some issues to share.
No GPS – Watch is not a standalone device for anything except telling the time. It needs your iPhone to be near. Yes, that will change in a few years as Watch becomes more powerful inside, but for now Watch loves iPhone.
Slow Apps – This may change soon, too (Apple just launched a Watch OS update), especially now that app developers actually have a Watch to use while updating their apps, but application extension loading from iPhone to Watch– for some apps– can be painfully slow at times.
Wherefore Art Thou, Office? – Unfortunately, I live and breathe Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite, and it’s unlikely you’ll see Photoshop do much on Watch, but already I miss Outlook. Microsoft’s Office suite for iPhone and iPad are top notch, so getting some Outlook email and calendar items to show up on Watch will be a much loved plus.
Unlike the pleasure of moving from a CrackBerry to an iPhone, Watch takes some getting used to. It’s a new device and using it isn’t at all obvious– at least, not as obvious as using an iPhone was from day one. Overall, the initial experience is very good, so Watch is a recommended device, even for family members and friends where I’m expected to add some measure of support.
One worry that has yet to be addressed or experience is longevity. How long will Watch remain useful? A $350 watch would be expected to last for 25 years, if not longer. A $350 smartwatches does more, but won’t be doing it the same way even five years down the road.