I’m not the kind of person that buys technology to see if it works and fits their lifestyle. I have to picture how I’ll use that tech and do an ROI in my mind if it’s worth it or not. Even though I consider myself an earlier adopter, I’m also one who doesn’t like to waste money. The Apple Watch was a big gamble for me. I wanted partially for the tech, partially for the fashion statement. I bent my rules of having clear tech-ROI and I don’t regret, it was worth it.
A watch I can wear
It has been a while since I wore a real watch. I used the Basis B1 for a while when it came out. The Basis wasn’t a good watch. The Apple Watch is an excellent watch. It fits well in your arm; it’s easy to see the time, etc. It’s also very beautifully built, with rounded corners and the right balance of glass, metal and rubber (I have the black sports edition).
I was worried the bloggers and reporters were whining about how distracting the notifications were, and they had to customize the crap out of it. Bullshit. These reporters/bloggers are absolutely outside of the norm and probably get notifications every minute from the many apps they use. The default notifications are enough. Not only that, but since I get my phone’s notification on my watch (for all apps on my phone), I don’t have to reach to my phone as often. This has increased my productivity since the notification is not actionable on the watch, but at least I see it, and that satisfy my dopamine needs.
Who would have thought that this is the killer feature for me? Well, it is. Although the Timer app is not very sophisticated, I use it a lot. Primarily when I’m cooking, but also when I give N-minute warnings to my kids to stop playing video games or to get ready to leave. If the Timer app supported multiple timers, it would be even better.
The “experts” were so paranoid about Battery life saying it would be a weak point, and you’d have to charge it during the day. Another piece of expert BS. I use it a lot throughout the day. I go running for an hour or more with it, I check my heart rate several times during the day and at the end of the day (after 12-16 hours of usage) the battery is never below 50%. More often than not, at the end of the day the battery is in the 60-65% range.
I would not buy the watch just because of these features, but they add up to the value prop:
- Remote control for the iPhone camera.
- Weather app & current temperature on the watch face.
- Heart Rate: I had very low expectations of this since I wore the Basis for so long, and the HR of the Basis wasn’t very accurate, particularly during physical activity. The Apple Watch HR is much, much better. I still haven’t abandoned my Wahoo HR strap, though.• Steps.
- Apple Pay. It’s neat. Neater than using Apple Pay on the phone. Plus people’s reaction is also priceless.
- Water resistant.
Fitness App & functionality
What a piece of crap. Both, what happens in the watch and the companion mobile app. I probably have a higher bar for this since I’ve been in this industry for 4+ years, but the built-in fitness functionality is nearly useless (except for counting steps). I could give a two-page long list of problems with this. The bottom line is that it doesn’t compute even close your level of physical activity, and that’s a deal breaker.
Here are a few fun things: Even though I work at a standing desk the watch is constantly notifying me to stand. Any activity but running is not properly accounted in calories or the “minutes of activities” – I did paddle board for one hour, and the watch didn’t register at all. The way it measures calories is very wonky (that’s the technical term) – instead of going for all day calories burn they went to calories burn during exercise only, but since it doesn’t detect exercise well it also gets this wrong. The visualization of the data (in the watch, in the Activities app or in the Health app) is barely usable. On, and on, and on.
Please, someone, tell me an amazing and useful app that I can install, and it will make the watch experience better. I can’t find one! The apps are mostly useless. Twitter – useless. RunKeeper – useless. American Airlines – useless. Apple should have done what it did with the iPhone. Launch with only the built-in apps and that’s it. It takes time for app developers to understand fully the value of a new form factor and how to best build native experiences.
Wi-fi / LTE / 3G
The lack of any connection to the real-world without the phone is a problem. It would be the first problem I would fix if I were Apple. I have my phone with me nearly all the time, except when I’m at home and my phone is charging on my kitchen counter. If I’m more than 15 feet or so away from my phone, the watch loses connectivity. I also would like to be able to – once in a while – leave the home without the phone, using just the watch (and clothes, optionally), and be able to make calls, text and have GPS. These are particularly appealing scenarios if I’m going to the beach, running, biking, paddle-boarding, etc.
- Another power adapter. Another thing for me to forget when I travel.
- It will be stolen, broken, lost or become obsolete in the next 18 months. It means I’m paying $1 per day to use this thing. I’ve made peace with that feeling.
- Lack of GPS.
- The speaker is bad. Calls over the watch are of very low quality.
For me, the Apple Watch was worth the price and knowing what I know now I’d buy it again. That said, I’m having a hard time recommending it to people. Unless you are an early-adopter and you have $400 to dispose of, just skip it and wait for V2 or V3.