On the Apple Watch

Since Junior High, I’ve been an astronomy,  watch, and time nerd. I’ve owned a varied selection of watches, from cheap Casio’s to high end quartz chronometers, the Yes Watch, and an old school Omega “Great White” GMT I’ve had for ten years.

Originally, I wasn’t that impressed with the Apple Watch. In this bog, I’ve expressed my doubts. I pointed out that it’s UI was not intuitive and it lacked a “killer app.”

While waiting for my son to pick up his new iPhone at the Apple Store I got to demo the Apple Watch. It changed my mind. I finally broke down and bought one.

What changed my mind

This time the Apple Watch UI seemed much more intuitive and less clunky. Perhaps it’s the new Watch OS 2, or I finally grokked how it works. Most iPhone apps now have companion apps on the Apple Watch.

The black stainless version I liked is now available with the black fluoroelastomer band for about half the price of the watch with the black stainless band.

Impressions

Now I’ve had it for a while I’m beginning to form an impression.

Fit and finish are second to none. The crystal is sapphire and I haven’t scratched it yet. The black stainless finish has also held up with no visible wear or scratches yet. The only thing showing wear is the Fluoroelastomer band, which is showing a bit of rubbing on the outer surface. I expect I’ll end up replacing it with a non-Apple stainless band.

I typically have around 60% of battery life left at the end of the day. Since I charge overnight, it’s not a problem. I can’t see running low over the course of even a busy day.

Tons of apps on my phone have Apple Watch apps. I can look at live radar, charging status of my Model S, and flight info on the United app. The primary watch face is very customizable and can show a ton of information at a glance. Besides the time and date, I usually have icons for moon phase, temperature, sunrise/sunset, and live stock quotes. There are many options between analog and digital watch faces. There’s even Micky Mouse!

Notifications come across from my phone to the Apple Watch. Email, text, Twitter, breaking news, and alarms. A quick glance at the watch lets me see if it’s an important notification or not without having to take my iPhone out. It’s much quicker and less disruptive in social settings.

Cool Features

If I’ve been sitting for more than an hour, the Apple Watch vibrates and reminds me it’s time to stand up and move around a bit. It tracks movement and exercise and helps me set goals. I’m not a fitness buff, but I can see it’s appeal.

Selecting Airplane mode on the Apple Watch also puts my iPhone into airplane mode. You have to turn airplane mode off separately on both devices as they’re not talking to each other.

I can “ping” my iPhone from the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch can tell the iPhone to emit a tone, which makes it easy to find if misplaced and within Bluetooth range.

Siri works very well on the Apple Watch. Holding down the crown brings her up and Siri works as well as on the iPhone.

You can answer calls on the Apple Watch. But the speaker isn’t very loud and I think I look silly talking to my watch.

Answering a text is quick and easy. There is quick access to canned replies. You have the option to speak your answer and have it translated into text, but here’s no way to type a response.

Not so Much

There are times when the constant reminders of Emails and events becomes a drag. Sometimes it’s good to be quiet and uninterrupted. Granted, you can turn off notifications or simply take the Apple Watch off.

A few things are missing, I’d like to see a GMT option–it’s not available for the Apple Watch.

The charging cable is 6 feet long. Too long for me, but I guess not everyone’s nightstand is next to a power outlet. It’s awkward to coil up and pack away for travel. They do sell a 3 foot version.

Like the iPhone, the Apple Watch screen shows fingerprints and smudges. I’m always buffing it off with whatever cloth is handy.

There are still times I feel like wearing my Omega GMT. It’s a classic and I admire its mechanical precision and quality. I know that I’ll still have the Omega ten years from now when this Apple Watch is long obsolete. The Apple Watch will never be an heirloom, the technology changes too fast. Eventually it  will end up in my junk drawer.

That leads to the crux of the matter of the Apple Watch.

Is it essential? 

While it’s nice to have, and genuinely useful, I feel the Apple Watch is still looking for it’s “killer app.” It does a lot of things well, but there’s no one thing that makes it absolutely essential for everyone.

If you’re in the market for a new watch, the Apple Watch is a good buy–if you have an iPhone and love all things Apple. It’s well made and durable. The Apple Watch is on the leading edge of tech. If you’re an early adopter you’ll love it.

If you’re a well heeled tech loving person, the Apple Watch is a fun toy and nice to have.

If you’re not so well heeled and already have a nice watch, skip the Apple Watch and enjoy your classic heirloom.

 

 

 

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