Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Few Months with the Apple Watch

As a registered developer I was able to get an Apple Watch on the first day it was available when most of my friends were still waiting for theirs to arrive. Now that I've had it a little over three months I felt I should write my thoughts about it.

I have the sport model and it came with the light blue band. I keep saying I'm going to replace the band with something nicer but haven't yet. It is quite a conversation starter as strangers still come up to me and ask if that's an Apple Watch or if I love it. I love it. There I said it. Is it worth $400? Only you can decide that. Unlike a phone or a computer it isn't a necessity. It's a nice to have but if I took it off I would really miss it.  

When I am sitting at a restaurant I no longer take my phone out of my pocket and set it on the table because if anything important comes in (message or email) my watch will let me know, I glance at it, and can decide if I need to reply (rarely) or just enjoy lunch.  

I use it on my bike rides to watch my time and milage. That's been a really nice addition to my workouts. I also use it to remote control my music while I'm riding on my bike (I have speakers on my bike, yes really, because headphones in traffic are dangerous) although the screen for the music controls is small enough when you are moving and sweating I often have to try a couple times before the skip button activates.  

It's comfortable. I was worried it might be too big for me but it really isn't. Have you seen how ginormous some of the other smart watches are? This one is fine. I love having the current temperature and weather info on the watch face. Whenever I check the time I also know the outside temperature. Living in Phoenix it's nice to know when it's over 110ยบ before you walk out the door for lunch.  

The analog faces are beautiful but the full text face displays more information more efficiently and that's more important to me than looks (I know and I'm and Apple user... go figure). I've answered calls with it when my phone was near enough for Bluetooth but not near enough to get to in time (say it's downstairs and I'm upstairs, yes I had it work that far away.) Obviously the speaker is tiny so you can have a fine phone conversation on it in a quiet environment but that's it. Outside with even mild wind or a small amount of traffic is enough to cause you to not hear the speaker.  

Siri is pretty good at letting me dictate text messages on it. There's no keyboard so aside from some canned responses (i.e. yes, no, I'm driving, etc. that you get to customize with the phone app) you have to dictate texts, which works better in quiet environments where you don't mind people hearing your asinine text messages.  

I scratched the face within two weeks of owning it. I know someone who works in a mechanics shop who wears their watch while they work (so they get phone calls and important messages) who has the sapphire faced model and he hans't scratched it yet so it does seem the sapphire makes a big difference.

Apps I tend to use: Alarms, stopwatch/timer, Workout, Music, Remote (for AppleTV), Shazam (which is slower on the watch), Weather, and Maps/Navigation. When you are using turn by turn directions on your iPhone your watch gently taps you three times when a turn is approaching and the watch will display what you need to do (turn left, right, etc) That alone is very cool because it's not as distracting as looking at the phone screen display. When I'm driving now with navigation I never look at my phone anymore.  

Oh and yes, the "taptic" feedback is pretty brilliant. You know how your phone vibrates and it's somewhat disconcerting? The taping is so gentle it feels pleasant. It's true if you are in an environment that's bumpy (jogging, riding a bike, etc) you might not feel a tap. But most of the time I feel it. And that's another nice thing. I often miss important text messages or even calls with my phone in my pocket without the watch but the watch is much better at subtly getting my attention. I rarely miss any important emails, message, or calls now. And I choose which email accounts notify me (only my most private one) so I don't get alerts from my accounts that get spam.  

Ok, that's enough for a blog post.