Apple Watch Review: What we didn't expect
From the initial wow moment of its unboxing to the integration of the watch into daily life, here are Tien Chew's key takeaways about Apple’s first foray into the wearable world.
The Apple Watch is first and foremost a watch and I can’t seem to emphasise that enough.
While you can send messages, tweet, browse Instagram, take it out for a workout and much more, its purpose as a timepiece is definitely front and centre. Don’t expect the watch to replace your iPhone but instead to act as an extension of it.
It is a device meant to curb your smartphone addiction and when you treat it as such that’s when it shines through.
You become more aware of time
There is an increased frequency of times I spent glancing at my watch in a day. Because my Apple Watch serves as the conduit between my phone and I, notifications of all sorts are now redirected to my wrist instead of my phone, showing me notifications from my iPhone on top of the time, thus making me more conscious of the time at hand. Some watch faces also provide the option to display upcoming scheduled calendar meetings.
You learn how to personalise time
As a timepiece, the Apple Watch offers 10 different watch faces out of the box with eight of them being highly customisable with what Apple calls 'complications' that range from functions such as a stopwatch, timer, world clock, battery indicator, activity monitor, sunrise/sunset indicator, weather or even a moon phase tracker. Apple Watch OS 2, which will debut this coming fall, will add more watch faces and open complications to third party developers, allowing for further customisation.
You learn to better prioritise your notifications
The watch comes with Apple’s new Taptic engine, a feature that provides users with haptic feedback akin to rhythmic taps on their wrist to alert them of different notifications, ranging from a gentle or intense tap with or without a pattern. Smartphone habitual impulses make me reach for my iPhone every few minutes to check up on information, which distracts me. Using the watch has allowed me to prioritise the importance of my notifications and manage my time better.
You interact less with your phone
As I master my Apple Watch, I also allowed myself more freedom from my always-within-reach iPhone. I leave it in my room when I move around without fear of missing an important call, message or notification. Out of the house, my watch allows me to get turn-by-turn directions from map apps via the aforementioned haptic feedback, answer calls without taking my eyes off the road whilst driving, hail an Uber ride, check on the status of my daily fitness goals and more.
You stay more connected in the real world
As the watch is designed to give you the information you need in a lightweight package, you needn’t interact with your iPhone unless the situation calls for it. This translates to allowing me to stay more focused to my surroundings, social or otherwise. Unhealthy use of the smartphone is a modern problem and the Apple Watch seeks to be a modern solution.
You become more alert of your physical health and fitness
Apple’s new toy is also a fitness tracker. Its default activity app monitors my daily calories, exercise and standing activities and assigns goals for me based on my physical attributes. Sit down for 50 minutes with idle movement and the watch will send me a tap to remind me to stand up and move around. Having a consistent overview of my daily activity goals has an oddly positive affect on the wearer.
You learn that life isn’t always greener as a first adopter
Apple Watch’s current OS works in such a way that a bulk of an app’s computing gets done on the iPhone, which then gets pushed to the watch, causing third party apps to suffer from lags. A new platform also means that a lot of developers have yet to discover the perfect balance of displaying relevant information and providing them in a simplistic package. This means that although there are hundreds of watch compatible apps, only a handful of them are truly essential. However, expect this to change with Watch OS 2 this fall, as Apple will shift all of the app’s logic to the watch instead of the iPhone.
You learn that it was designed to be charged nightly
On paper, the Apple Watch is built to last 18 hours, depending on the type of usage. In my experience, donning it from 8:00 am to 11:00 pm with moderate usage left me with above 40 - 50% worth of juice left. Even on days where I use the watch with heavy usage that includes workouts, I still manage to end the day with 20% or more battery. Those wishing to use it for longer than a day will be disappointed.
You learn how to not treat it like a smartphone
Many will have difficulty treating it differently from a smartphone due to familiarity despite the shift of a big screen to a small screen. Users will go through a learning curve before eventually feeling right at home, which took me around two to three days. Already versed with Siri on my phone, I quickly realised that she and I would have more interaction once I started using the watch frequently.
While I initially manipulated the watch’s screen via my digits, I quickly learned that scrolling with my finger obstructed the view and blocked information. Hence, Apple’s solution to the aforementioned problem is the digital crown, a rotating button that acts as the watch’s home button and scrolling mechanism.
Changes like these make it operate differently than the iPhone and users will have to treat it as a new separate device.