Watch turned two months old this weekend. The model I chose was based upon two factors. The first, Watch 1.0 likely is an interim product, and second, money is an object, so no expensive stainless steel or expensive watchband.
I went for the space gray (black) with the matching black rubber (fluoroelastomer) band, instead of what I really wanted (other than the gold Edition model) which was sapphire screen, stainless steel model, and both leather and stainless steel bands. Watch has been in daily use for the past two months. What’s the verdict?
Not A Product (yet)
Allow me to echo the thoughts of fellow colleague Jack Miller who argues that Watch isn’t really a standalone product in the same vein as Mac, iPhone, or iPad. There is no getting around it. Watch is an iPhone accessory. That’s the first big conclusion, but it comes with plenty of supporting evidence to support the premise.
First of all, Watch requires an iPhone, so it’s definitely not a standalone product. It may be the leading product in the still nascent smartwatch segment, but if you must have an iPhone to make Watch work, then it’s an accessory (which, oddly, enough, comes with other accessories to purchase; bands, stands, faux covers, etc.).
Secondly, Watch needs to be used to be appreciated and a few weeks are not enough. Watch is not just an electronic watch. Watch is an extension (accessory) to iPhone, a utility tool which offloads some of iPhone’s alerts, notifications, and most obvious functions and apps.
Siri is prevalent on Watch. ‘Hey, Siri. Set an alarm for 1:30 pm.’ Siri responds. Done. ‘Hey, Siri. Open Maps.’ Siri responds. Done. Maps appears on the Watch screen. Notifications can be audible bells and dings, or haptic buzzes, and sometimes both, often not noticeable by anyone sitting nearby. That’s priceless.
Navigating Watch brings me to my second big conclusion. Watch is a work in progress and though we may not see the form factor change much in the first few years, what Watch does and how it works inside will undergo Apple’s typical incremental improvements.
Here’s an example. Flip the wrist to view the Watch screen, and the screen comes on. Flip the screen up to view what is called Glances; quick windows into an app. Glances are navigated left and right and has a maximum of 20 (which tells you how useful Watch can be; I filled it up fast). Navigating back to the Watch main screen is easy. Just pull down on the Watch screen. But if you open an app by touching it while in Glances, you must touch the digital crown to get back to Watch’s main screen. So, navigating needs to be improved and more intuitive.
Here’s another example. Many Watch extension apps provide notifications that are both sound and haptic buzz. But some cannot have the sound turned off without turning off the haptic notification. Those settings need to be granularly controlled.
To Watch critics who said it’s too expensive, I say rubbish. It’s priced the way Apple prices everything. Within reach. To those who say the parts cost less than $85 to make, I say rubbish. Only Apple knows the parts cost, but price and cost are not the same thing. There are design, manufacturing, marketing, and support costs which must be accounted for in the price.
Watch is misunderstood. Critics lambast Watch as an overpriced bauble that won’t sell as well as iPhone or iPad, and does not have a clear value proposition. Use Watch for a week and you’ll see the value proposition is time and convenience. But Watch is an accessory so don’t expect a Watch connected to every one of the 150-million iPhones sold each year. It won’t happen. Apple will be happy with 5-percent penetration per year.
Those who say Watch was rushed to market do not understand manufacturing and marketing. Obviously, Apple had a major issue with a supplier of the haptic electronics, and that delayed volume shipments. Big whoop.
Watch lives in the fashion industry, yes, but as a fashionable iPhone accessory (of which there are many) that is also utilitarian. The Watch design, like those of many luxury watches, is timeless and will look great for many years. Apple did the design homework necessary to become both an accessory and a fashionable item.
Watch is designed and manufactured in the same vein as Mac, iPhone, and iPad. It’s both luxurious and utilitarian. It’s both fashionable and useful. It’s finely crafted but easy to use, but has a learning curve because Apple has crammed a lengthy list of capabilities into a device lightweight premium package that won’t be all things to all people, but will set the stage for future, standalone wearable products.
The Good And The Bad
I do use Watch for directions (haptic buzzes are great), notifications, alarms, Siri queries (oh so easy), Music control on iPhone, quick, almost hands free communication, including making calls, email, Messages, Calendar, and exercise and health tracking. Battery life has never been less than 40-percent at the end of a 16 hour day. Indeed, Watch is as personal as iPhone, but perhaps more so because it’s an extension of iPhone functionality. Camera remote works well as does the built-in Apple Remote extension, further obviating the need to have your iPhone on your person at all times. The Power Reserve function is to die for. 10-percent can last half a day.
I do not use Watch to view photos, listen to Music, and I don’t bother with the tiny round Launchpad app icons (Siri does that easier, faster). On the negative side a few apps don’t work as promised, or, at least not all the time, and not all use consistent settings, but the overall experience has been good, top to bottom. Watch needs more watch faces and more complications.