Apple Watch, Two Weeks In

I’ve now had my Apple Watch for two weeks, starting from AW Emergence day (thanks to my Apple Store pre-ordering prowess). I spent one of the last two weeks abroad, and the other here at work, so I’ve had a chance to use it in various ways.

tl;rd: It’s neat, but can be borderline annoying, and potentially turns you into a watch-hole.

While traveling within the US, it was very cool to use it to pay for stuff, board planes, etc. The TSA didn’t like it, though, so I had to use my phone to show them my boarding pass. Also, none of the European airports knew what to do with it, so I needed paper boarding passes.

While abroad, none of that works, mostly because the ubiquitous internet connectivity needed to work all that magic is extremely pricey, and not worth the benefits. On the other hand, it works spectacularly as a travel watch, showing the relevant time zones, my next meeting, and even giving me walking directions (interesting fact: I was able to look up my route and start navigation using the hotel’s WiFi, and the Watch kept giving me guidance all the way to my destination without being online. Neat.)

Another realization: you’re going to be changing the watch face according to the occasion, like you’d change watches. I used the all-text-max-info watch face for my workday, a bare-bones minimalist face for evenings, and the chrono face for when I’m grilling.

Not all is awesome, though, so time for some quick thoughts:

The Good

  • Battery is not an issue – I’ve had it last for 30 hours+.
  • I can spend all day looking at the screen. It’s mesmerizing.
  • The animations are buttery, bouncy and entertaining. Again, mesmerizing.
  • Many of the applications are genuinely useful. Boarding passes on your wrist are awesome. Paying for a soda at a vending machine is awesome.
  • Notifications, once filtered down to the bare essentials, are awesome.

The Bad

There are some behaviors that border on annoying, and if there is something a smartwatch really really shouldn’t be, it’s annoying. My list of peeves:

  • The watch is supposed to turn on when you look at your wrist. It doesn’t always do that, so I look like an idiot flicking my wrist until it wakes up.
  • When I’m writing on a whiteboard, or gesturing, *that’s* when it decides to wake up. It distracts the people I’m talking to.
  • When I cross my arms, I usually put one arm over my watch. It should ignore this, but instead it turns on, and sometimes registers as a forceful press (which is how the watch lets you customize the watchface). Now I have to be careful to cross my arms in a Apple-approved fashion. This really does annoy me.
  • Siri on your arm works great, until it doesn’t. When it loses connectivity, or glitches, it doesn’t give you an indication that something went wrong, it just ignores you. I hate looking like an idiot (actually, *more* like an idiot, I mean, I’m talking to my wrist). Services like Siri have to work 100% of the time, or they aren’t going to get used. Ask me the last time I tried to tell my xbox to turn on…
  • The taps you get from the watch are strong enough to feel when you’re being active, like, you know, walking. What’s the point?
  • The activity monitor is neat, but annoying. It’s supposed to encourage to move around every hour. Except, you know, there are times when I can’t (I’m in a plane, for example, or in a meeting). The thing is, the watch *knows* I’m in a plane (airplane mode) or in a meeting (it has my calendar), so it should shut the hell up until there is something I can do about its prompt.
  • One last thing: the heart rate monitor is ok most of the time, but is woefully off when I’m doing my P90x workout – it’s cute that it thinks my HR is 59bpm right after I did 50 dead-lift squats (I happen to know it’s closer to 170bpm per my chest band HR monitor). If you’re using the HR to moderate your workout, this is worse than useless: it’s dangerous.
  • This has been mentioned before, but it bears repeating: you’ll be glancing at your wrist from time to time, much like you glance at your phone now when it vibrates. The problem is that while phone-glancing is mildly annoying but tolerated, wrist-glancing has ancient social connotations carried over from physical watches: you’re telling the people you’re with that there is somewhere else you have to be, that time is running out. I’ve had to explain more than once that I’m looking at my boss’ email, or my wife’s text, and please do continue. I guess I’ll have to train myself to ignore the taps until socially acceptable. Eventually, society will adapt, but for know I guess I’m a watch-hole.

Ok, got that off my chest.

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