Apple Watch revisited

Over the last few months I have been surprised to learn how many people hadn't worn a watch prior to receiving their Apple Watch. It would seem that I am in the minority here. For a good part of  the last nine to ten years I have worn a watch most days. My current watch is a Braun which was a gift from the lovely Anna-May. It is light, comfortable and works as an everyday watch and a somewhat dressier watch thanks to its design. My Goldsmith friend may disagree, but it suits me. 

Wearing something on my wrist has never been an issue. I went through a phase of wearing a Fitbit. While the step tracking was a good motivator initially, in the end  it just wasn't enough. Tracking steps is a good start but not reaching your goals for the day despite a hour long circuits class defeated the purpose of wearing the band. 

So while everyone else was debating whether they would even like wearing a watch on their wrist, I was debating with myself whether I would get the benefit out of wearing an Apple Watch. A couple of weeks ago when the delivery time for the Space Grey Apple Watch Sport (42mm) dropped to 1 - 2 weeks I went for it. I received the watch three weeks ago and its been on my wrist since. 

First impressions are pretty important with hardware, and Apple are pretty damn good at this. People have raved on about the Stainless Steel Apple Watch packaging. I'm sure it is lovely, but Apple don't just send the Sport model is a piece of recycled cardboard. 

I am a big fan of the look Apple has gone with for the Space Grey Sport model. What confuses me is that the Space Grey Watch isn't the same colour as the Space Grey iPhone 6. Common sense would suggest that they would be the same shade of grey. That aside, I really can't fault the hardware. The sports band is extremely comfortable and, more important, easy to clean. The hardware itself is very nice. In fact, in three weeks very few people have even noticed that I have the Apple Watch. I think that speaks for the design itself. Thickness wise, the Apple Watch is slightly thicker than my Braun but not so much that I find it unwieldy or uncomfortable. One thing which is pretty clear, I have quite a specific  preference for how I like my watches to look. 

Actual Usage

Three weeks is still a short amount of time to form an opinion on a device I have never used before. As I've settled into normal day-to-day usage I am starting to see some of the benefits. Wearables are still a young technology. The majority of people have absolutely zero interest in them.

Watch Faces

For my watch faces I have kept it very simple. I use Utility for my work week. Big numbers and larger calender complication suit my needs for in the office. For the weekend I use Simple. No real reason other than it looks better and can have more small type complications.

Notifications

The biggest gain I have seen on the notifications side is being able to make use of actionable notifications. Apps without actionable notifications (Whatsapp, I'm looking at you.) serve more to annoy than anything. However, having actionable notifications on email (through Mailbox) are where things get interesting. It may just be laziness but I love being able to quickly archive or snooze a mail with only a quick look at my wrist. 

Apps & Glances

The amount of apps I have been using on the watch over the last few weeks has been quite small, with the number of Glances I use even smaller. 

On the App front, I frequently use;

For Glances I use;

  • Settings
  • Now Playing
  • Battery
  • Heartbeat (which is there mainly for when people ask me to show them something the watch can do). 

Written down like that seems like quite a small amount of functional usages right? When you focus on the frequency which I use these Apps in place of pulling out my iPhone the value becomes clear. I use Overcast, Wunderlist and Authy many times throughout the day. The ease of retrieving a 2-factor code through Authy or ticking shopping list items off  Wunderlist is great. But ultimately it is a convenience more than anything. 

Convenience sums up app usage on the watch for the moment. Until we see WatchOS 2 in the Autumn, the apps on the watch will remain to be  remotes for their iOS counterparts. They have their uses, but in a limited scope. 

Gamification & Activity Tracking

Fitness tracking was definitely one of the big draws to Apple Watch. As most of what I do exercise wise is a circuits type training, step counting alone did not capture my workouts effectively. I find the combination of active minutes and active calories a great measure of how hard I worked at a particular class. I have also found that the stand up alerts tend to work. I find a reason to take a break from sitting at my desk just to help fill that blue ring. 

Given it is now three weeks since I received the watch, it is obvious I won't (can't) return it. It is, however, an unusual product. It is not meant to be front and centre. The watch co-exists along with your iPhone adding convenience where it can. Trying to explain the benefits of the Apple Watch is like trying to convince someone they should watch Mad Men. When you describe the show as being about a guy who drinks, smokes and sleeps in his office it doesn't exactly fill people with the desire to watch it.  

The Apple Watch is a great product but it is  something you have to use  to see why it exists and why the people who have it, love it.