When I first made the leap from a traditional clamshell phone to an iPhone 3G, I knew I could never return to an iPhone-less life. The Apple Watch does not have the same effect.
In recent weeks, I’ve been using my Apple Watch less and less, and that makes me worried for Apple’s latest product line.
When I first received my Watch at the beginning of June, I was enamoured by its “newness.” The clever animations, the beautiful watch faces, the novelty of notifications on your wrist — it all worked for me, really.
But after a couple of weeks of wearing the Apple Watch nonstop, removing it only for showers and sleeping, its flaws have become more apparent:
- The Apple Watch’s charging system is a mess. Though the actual connector is quite clever — it connects magnetically and doesn’t require any precise alignment — Apple seemed to have put zero thinking into the design of the cable. Each Apple Watch comes with a 2-meter cable — I bought a 1-meter cable for the office — but both options are excessively long. Why not offer a fully retractable cable, where you can set the length yourself? Or better yet, why not a cute little charging cradle for each Apple Watch? This feels like a missed opportunity for Apple’s design geniuses.
- I really dislike charging the Apple Watch once per day. I don’t use it with the same frequency or intensity as my iPhone, and yet it requires just as much power, just as often, as the phone. I can only imagine how third-party apps will further impact battery life when they become native later this year.
- The sport band for the Apple Watch is a sweatband, literally. Granted, New York City is a hot, muggy swamp, but I find myself sweating much more when I’m wearing the Apple Watch, particularly in the sun. This is great for the gym, but not so much for work. I frequently need to take it off when I arrive at home, or at the office, just to cool down.
- The Apple Watch is great for work, but not great for life outside of work. It gives me notifications, which is particularly useful since I frequently rely on my Reminders and Calendar apps for meetings and such, but I really don’t need it when I’m just lounging around the house. I’ll see my iPhone light up or make noise on the couch and attend to that; I don’t need my watch lighting up and ringing when it’s not attached to my wrist, I’d rather it reserve its power.
Over this past week, I was in six different states, and constantly on the move. I brought my Apple Watch for all these trips, on planes, trains, and car rides, but I rarely plugged it in at all. My computer and phone were priorities for my power outlet, so I went several days consecutively without wearing my Apple Watch. And you know what? I didn’t miss it from my wrist. I wore it on just two occasions, and I wore it mostly for show.
This morning, I forgot to bring my Apple Watch to work. It’s the first time I haven’t worn it to work since I’ve owned it, and to be honest, I still don’t really miss it that much.
Mind you, I was not a watch-wearer before the Apple Watch, but I was excited for the prospect of Apple changing my mind. That has not happened, unfortunately. Not yet.
The Apple Watch interface will get better — as early as September — but the first-generation hardware has clear limitations, particularly when it comes to battery life. I want an Apple Watch I rarely need to charge; why Apple hasn’t explored the e-ink technology pioneered by Amazon’s Kindle or the Pebble smartwatch is beyond my comprehension.
The Apple Watch has a ton of potential, particularly in offering new ways to communicate with others. But if Apple wants the Apple Watch to succeed, it needs to give customers fewer reasons to take it off.