This isn’t my first smartwatch.
I had a Gear Fit and I loved that little device even in all its simplicity.
Back with an iPhone now, I watched and read all the reviews, and had such a strong feeling that the Apple Watch would deliver that I decided to order my own. It’s an Apple Watch Sport with a green band, 42 mm.
This is a great device, especially for the first generation. I’ve spent five days with it now and in love with what Apple’s done with it in most respects.
Look and feel
It’s a beautiful gadget. Despite some people’s concerns about the chunkiness of the watch, I really don’t feel any of that thickness. And to be honest, when you compare the size of the Apple Watch to a nice, regular watch, it’s the same if not smaller in some cases. So, girth is not an issue, and unless you really want to save the $US50 I can’t see a great reason to get the smaller screen size either. 42 mm is small, don’t worry.
The Sport band is also very comfortable both in daily life and during exercise. As I’ve written before, I wasn’t a fan of the Milanese loop when I tried it, though I haven’t sampled Apple’s other offerings. But everything is significantly more expensive than the $US49 Sport band.
One thing I’ve had a problem with is accidentally hitting the digital crown during certain exercises. Making the band tighter helps a little bit, but it can still happen from time to time during exercises like push-ups where your wrists bend backward. But hitting the crown button during an exercise session doesn’t cancel anything so it’s no big deal.
I didn’t find it cumbersome in the sweaty situation of a workout in general. It’s comfortable and mostly doesn’t get in the way.
The other issue I’ve had is that I don’t feel the haptic feedback on notifications 100% of the time. I’d say it’s closer to 90%. Of course, that’s still fine, and it could have a lot to do with how tight or loose I’m wearing the band. But it needs to be better in version 2. I have the “prominent haptic” function turned on and I still miss things on occasion.
The Apple Watch’s OS has a solid base concept behind it. It’s a watch that does some other stuff, and that’s how it should be.
There was a lot of talk about how incredibly customisable the watch faces were, but I actually expected more. There are 10 in total, each with its own level of customisation. A few you can’t tweak at all, which I found frustrating. I don’t feel as if, right now, I have a ton of workable options to choose from. This one on the right is the only one I really like after testing them all.
One added bonus about having these extra things on your watch face (activity, calendar, weather) is if you click the icon it sends you right to the app. So, for example, if you click the activity ring, it will take you to that app so you can look more in depth. It’s the same with calendar and weather.
Glances are pretty solid but you have to make them work for you. These are the displays that pop up when you swipe up on the watch. The point of them is easy access to information, and they do that well, but there’s room to improve and they aren’t great right out of the box.
There are too many, and most are not that helpful. Luckily you can delete and re-order them.
The app layout is a good and attractive idea that’s not yet perfect. You may find yourself sometimes clicking and launching the wrong app by accident from time to time because the icons are so tiny. That’s not a huge problem and I’m guessing Apple will find innovative ways to perfect it over time.
Notifications are the best I’ve ever seen on a smartwatch, but still have a ways to go. They’re dependent on the apps running on your phone and “mirror” the notifications you normally receive there.
Siri on The Apple Watch needs a lot of work. You can only expect it to do the most basic functions right now, and I’m guessing that it will eventually improve dramatically.
Right now with Siri you can easily do things like text message people, set reminders, and check the weather. But for many other queries, Siri will simply tell you to try it on your iPhone instead.
I’m glad Siri is there, it has to be to input information into such a small device, but it has a long way to go.
The crown and the button
The digital crown is the big button on the right.
The digital crown is genius. If you click it, it takes you to the app screen. Double click it, and you are whisked away to your most recent app, and if you’re in anything that needs scrolling, the crown is your best friend.
When I first got the watch, I didn’t use the crown at all. Instead, I swiped down on the screen because I’m so used to phones, but once I trained myself to use the crown for scrolling, I fell in love with it. It’s best to do as little as possible by tapping the screen so you can be precise and quick.
I wish the button below it would do more, but it’s not as if I have any suggestions. Right now if you press it once it goes to your favourite contacts list, click it twice and it goes to Apple Pay (which I have yet to try).
Most of what’s available at this early stage are Apple’s built-in apps, which are pretty good overall, but limited. The weather app could use more detail, and it would be great if eventually we can find a way to actually respond to emails through the watch. Right now you can just archive and read emails.
The maps app is fine, but it’s small, and I can’t think of any reason to use it with this kind of functionality and speed. For the most part, when it comes to this kind of stuff you’re better off using your phone. The onus is on developers to find innovative ways to create apps for the watch that are useful and take advantage of the screen. Most developers are trying to basically port the iPhone versions to the watch which isn’t working too well.
For example, you can view a feed of Instagram photos but only a few and the screen is a little too small to view pictures on anyways. The ESPN app is basically useless right now, only showing your favourite teams and news from those teams.
Trivia Crack’s app is actually pretty solid, I’ve played whole rounds on it easily and it can be a lot of fun. Other notables are Slack and Uber.
Fitness is great on Apple Watch. I love the three ring system. It encourages you to hit goals not tied to just your step count, like other fitness trackers. That’s much better for overall health. Walking a lot is great for you, walking a lot and doing other kinds of exercises as well is even better.
I almost exclusively do cross training type exercise routines that mix resistance with cardio, isometrics, yoga, etc. So I’m almost always using the “other” category in the fitness app’s list of programmed exercises. And while the heart rate monitor doesn’t seem to get me all the time, in the end the calorie counts and exercise tracking always comes out looking great. It seems accurate compared to the type and level of work I’m doing.
Apple did a great job making the Apple Watch a solid way to track your movement throughout the day.
It’s going to be a huge hit
The Apple Watch the best smartwatch you can buy. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to buy it, but it is a nice thing to have. There’s a geeky stigma around these things now, but I have no doubt that will dissipate within the next year. It’s a perfect companion device and exactly what we all need to finally divorce us from our phones once and for all.