Apple’s smartwatch is almost available, and the first reviews are rolling in. What’s the verdict? For most reviewers, the sentiment is mixed: There’s some love for the design and functionality, but also a distinct air of wait and see.
Regardless of reviewers, thousands — or more likely, millions — of people are going to pick up the Apple Watch when it goes up for sale on April 24. Given that, what are the best bits of Apple’s new product category?
It’s gorgeous, and who doesn’t like wearing nice things? “I’ve worn my fair share of smartwatches and none are as good-looking as Apple Watch,” says Re/code’s Lauren Goode.
That sentiment is shared by The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern, who writes, “Going out with the watch has given me added confidence. It looks nice. The steel body and mesh band match almost any colour I wear — admittedly, mostly black.”
Yahoo Tech’s David Pogue is similarly excited about the watch’s looks. “The Apple Watch is much smaller, sleeker, and more beautiful than any other smartwatch,” Pogue says.
Beyond looks, the Apple Watch is apparently great at making smartphone “power users” less rude. Everyone has that friend who incessantly checks their phone for notifications. Maybe you’re that friend. If that’s the case, Apple Watch can help you focus less on your phone while still staying on top of your popularity. The New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo is apparently just such a user, and he says that Apple Watch helped him kick the habit.
“By notifying me of digital events as soon as they happened, and letting me act on them instantly, without having to fumble for my phone, the Watch become something like a natural extension of my body — a direct link, in a way that I’ve never felt before, from the digital world to my brain. The effect was so powerful that people who’ve previously commented on my addiction to my smartphone started noticing a change in my behaviour; my wife told me that I seemed to be getting lost in my phone less than in the past. She found that a blessing,” Manjoo says.
Power user or not, Apple Watch is said to be intuitive and easy to use. Would you expect any less from the company behind the iPhone, iPad, and iOS?
“Checking text messages and emails by quickly glancing at the watch saved me some time, and it was certainly helpful when I was deeply engaged in an important activity,” writes Bloomberg’s Josh Topolsky. Similarly helpful is the Apple Pay functionality built into Apple Watch: Tap your watch on an Apple Pay kiosk and you’re good to go.
“It’s incredibly easy to make purchases with Apple Watch. I bought a Shamrock Shake at McDonald’s, where the clerk didn’t bat an eye when I double pressed on the side button, selected the credit card I wanted to use and then waved the watch over the NFC reader,” saysMashable’s Lance Ulanoff.
But maybe you’re not interested in shelling out the minimum of $US550 for a fancy steel Apple Watch with a sapphire screen? That’s understandable. Thankfully, the Apple Watch Sport, a $US350 model with slightly less fancy materials but identical functionality, is said to be more than enough. It’s also said to be a great fitness band replacement. “In my rigorous 45-minute SoulCycle spinning classes, the watch’s sport band hugged my wrist snugly, enabling a surprisingly accurate heart-rate reading. It stayed within five beats of my trusty Polar chest-strap monitor — still the closest you can get to an EKG, according to my tests,” Stern writes at The Wall Street Journal. “At the end of three workouts, both the Polar and the watch reported similar average beats per minute. That’s far more accurate than the Fitbit Charge HR and Microsoft’s Band.”
Caveats aside — andthere are lots of those— Apple Watch reviewers are reservedly excited about Apple’s first entry into a new product category. Whether you’re willing to put up with first-generation bumps in the road is another question altogether, but it’s good to know there’s a smattering of great functionality in Apple’s first attempt.