Apple Watch: Three Weeks In

I was a little late to the Apple Watch party. Initially I was going to get a small Watch Sport which I ordered on day 1. So oversubscribed were the pre-orders that despite placing the order within seconds of pre-orders opening I was already bumped to the 3-4 weeks delivery timeframe.

I then book an appointment to try on the Apple Watch and realised the device isn’t quite as big as I thought. In fact I much preferred the larger version. So I cancelled my order and placed a new one. Which placed me in June sometime for receiving it.

Then my headphones got washed. At just shy of 1 Apple Watch in replacement cost I was faced with a fun decision. Given how much use my headphones get I cancelled the watch (again) and ordered new headphones.

Fast forward a few weeks and I managed to sell some old camera kit to fund my third attempt at buying an Apple Watch. Successfully this time. I’ve now had it for 3 weeks.

The Good

I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting with the Apple Watch. It’s a bit of an odd device. It doesn’t exactly do much, but then that’s the whole point. It’s just there when you need it, which is great.

I have two kids and do a lot of walking with a pushchair or pram. Trying to get your phone out of your pocket for simple things like checking the time, or the last notification is a royal pain in the behind. having all that on my wrist is a Godsend.

I also now do a lot more walking. The gamification of exercise stats with goals and badges to achieve mean I will actively now go for a walk on more sedentary days (Sunday especially) in order to achieve my daily goal and not jeopardise my weekly and monthly badges. This can only be a good thing.

I spend less time glued to my phone. Alerts come to my watch and I can quickly filter them there instead of getting my phone out and then getting sucked into all kinds of other things.

It took me a few days to get the balance of alerts right – I’ve turned off email notifications for example. I’ve also changed how alerts work on my other devices. Instead of a barrage of alerts on multiple devices the watch now handles most of the load.

And I have a watch back. I like watches, and on top of that they’re a fashion statement for me. My last watch was more expensive than the Apple Watch and did nothing but tell the time and, as far as I was concerned, look good.

So, three weeks in and I’m very happy with my purchase… but it’s not perfect.

The Bad

There are those who would argue you should never buy the first version of any produce (the Rev. A version). Wait for the second version where the flaws and issues are ironed out. This is not an unfounded view, just look back to the original iPhone or iPad.

The Apple watch has problems. It’s slow. Loading a new app can often take longer than the screen stays awake for. Some of the UI elements can be hard to press. Some things are non-intuitive, and I just hate having superfluous apps on there that I’m never going to use (although I suspect that will never change given it’s the same on iOS).

Some of my issues will be addressed in the next version of the OS which is due out in a few months.

I also have no idea how strong the screen actually is. My last watch supposedly had a sapphire screen and I managed to quite conclusively scratch that. I actually take the watch off at the gym for some exercises rather than risk banging it with weights. I’m probably being overly cautious, but I rather that than a damaged watch.

The Ugly

The button above the digital crown is utterly useless to me. I don’t use my watch to initiate contact with people so having a button dedicated to that is pointless. I want to be able to map that button to something else. The activity app would be a much more sensible binding for me.

The calendar app doesn’t show a month view for anything other than the current month as far as I can work out. I can’t think of any reason why. Finding appointments outside of ‘today’ is non-intuitive and the whole app needs a rethink.

Sending the funky animated emoji to non iMessage destinations just fails with a standard “message failed to send” error. At the very least this should be a specific “iMessage is needed to send these emoji” type message, and ideally it should try and work out up front if you can even send them.

The basic strap is a pickpockets wet dream. It’s secure enough to hold the watch on your wrist, but comes off very easily. I was very aware of this when walking around London. I think if I lived there I would have invested in a different strap.

Oh, and the battery…

Is fine. Seriously. I generally have 40 something percent left at the end of each day, and the one night I forgot to charge it I was able to get enough charge on it while I got ready for work for it to be fine throughout the day. I could see how heavy use of the heart monitor, along with using it to play music to bluetooth headphones all day, while messing with the screen lots will cause it to go flat quickly, but that’s not exactly a fair example of usage.

And charging it overnight isn’t a problem for me either. I charge masses of stuff overnight already. I’m not overly bothered about sleep monitoring (had it before with my Jawbone Up and it didn’t do much for me) and I never used to sleep with my watch on anyway.