Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Apple Watch Review

I just spent a week with the Apple Watch. I thought it was going to be the answer to my sports activity tracking needs, however it’s not. Surprisingly though I’ve found a ton of value in it in ways I didn’t anticipate.

The Good

Wearing the following on my wrist has been nice…

  • the time. dragging your phone out of your pocket a zillion times a day to check the time sucks. looking at your wrist for that info is a convenient blast of functionality from the past.
  • text notifications. getting inbound text notifications on your wrist means you’re not dragging your phone our of your pocket a zillion times a day.
  • email notifications. getting inbound email notifications, of emails you care about, on your wrist means you’re not dragging your phone out of your pocket a zillion times a day.
  • “the crown.” the crown felt like a useless gimmick for the fist few days, but now it’s a really nice refinement on scrolling. I’m a big kinesthetic feedback person, so physical buttons/dials matter to me.
  • ordering up an Uber from your wrist is magic.
  • using Apple Pay from your wrist is double magic!
  • Siri works incredibly well for composing text messages.
  • the heart rate monitor seems to work pretty well, but it’s clearly a step backward in terms of frequency/preciseness if you’re used to a chest strap.
  • it does “activity tracking” just fine. the issue I have with it is in heavier duty “sports activity tracking.”
  • as you’d expect it’s a high quality piece of design/construction.

The Bad


  • too many spinning “beach balls” when loading third-party apps.
  • it’s really just a remote control for your iphone. as such, you have to have your phone within range of it in order to do anything.
  • currently, third party apps can’t use the sensors on the watch, so watch apps like Strava’s, again, are really just start/stop buttons for the on-phone app. I had visions of ditching my chest strap heart rate monitor, and my phone during sport activities, but it’s clear I’m going to have my phone on my workouts for the foreseeable future. I also quickly realized that I don’t want to wear the thing on my wrist that gets covered in sweat and goop from a 3 hour mountain bike ride, on my wrist to a nice dinner a few hours later. fundamentally there may be a gap between devices you use for heavy workouts, and otherwise just hanging around.
  • no on-board GPS. it relies on the location services of your iPhone for this.
  • I cross my arms a fair amount and the watch has trouble understanding the difference between that motion, and just raising the watch for viewing. this leads to inadvertent app usage/running.


I’m hooked; not for the reasons I expected though. All the little nervous twitching we do with our iPhones these days is being nicely distilled into a smaller piece of hardware that’s more readily accessible on your wrist. I feel like a more efficient Pavlovian dog when I have the watch on.

No comments: