Crime investigators say that the first 48 hours are the most critical if you’re going to catch a killer. The Apple Watch is certainly no killer in the world of smart watches but the first 48 hours for most tech is where first impressions are formed and ultimately the do-or-die decision to return an item or not is made by consumers.
So for me, is the Apple Watch a do or a die gadget? Admittedly I am late to this party, but have chosen to make a late appearance for a reason. I didn’t like WatchOS1 that much. I felt it was extremely limiting, much like the first iPhone when it was released back in 2007, which I would have never bought on my own. Even still, WatchOS2 feels like a sheltered child with an over protective parent, Apple, whom needs to trust its developer community a little more and let the WatchOS grow wings and fly into the digital horizon of greatness.
A good example of trusting developers more and letting the OS spread its wings a little wider is allowing them to release custom watch faces. Simple, right? But, yeah, Mickey Mouse is cool with the second-tapping foot and all, but I would love to have a face with my favorite baseball team, the Red Sox, with the second hand like a bat swinging around the watch face. Fun, right? Or, maybe allow developers to develop stand-alone “complications” (this is what Apple calls those little widgets like, Date, Activity, Timer, Weather that are on the watch faces) that aren’t required to be part of another iOS app, such as an alternate battery-levels icon. The current one looks too similar to the Activity “complication” but as a user, I’m stuck with what mom (Apple) gives me.
The app marketplace has grown quite a bit with existing app developers adding WatchOS support, but I feel the adoption has been slow and limited. Some of my favorite apps apps outside of the standard Apple apps (like the Activity and Music apps as shown below in last screen-shots), for WatchOS include: Yelp, Shazam, My Fitness Pal, Wunderlist, and, yeah, that’s about it.
What I like
- Watch faces and the ability to customize with available “complications”.
- Music control of Apple Music and ability to sync playlists when not connected with iPhone.
- Activity and Workout app. The Activity app has a great user experience. The Outdoor app has lot of potential including more exercises as well as analysis of live data for real-time AI coaching. I know Apple typically leaves this type of development up to third-party developers, but right now they could really run away with the game against other teams like Fitbit and Moov.
- Maps navigation via watch face so you that you don’t always have to be glancing at your phone while driving. Turn-by-turn voice guidance is still provided with Siri through the iPhone.
- Apple Pay done right. They implemented it so you your phone is not required to use Apple Pay. This is great for those times you take a run, leaving your phone at home, and stop to buy a Gatorade at 7-11.
- Siri, at times, works with the right voice command, such as, “Set a reminder to take out trash when I get home” will set a reminder in the Reminders app and notify of you via your iPhone GPS when you arrive home. Other commands that are useful are: “How long until I get to home or to work”, “Add bread to shopping list”, or “what is the weather like in …”
What I don’t like
- The price. $349 for the 38mm Sport is a lot of money for the current tech it offers.
2. No built-in Wi-Fi. This would help it situations where your iPhone and Watch are separated. It would allow you send texts via iMessage, as well as maybe even place calls via Wi-Fi calling (AT&T). Update: Wi-Fi is available if your iPhone has previously connected to the network and the network is not public (e.g., Starbucks) or on a 5Ghz band. The phone icon on the “Connected” glance (swipe up and left from watch face) will become a cloud when connected to Wi-Fi.
- While separating out Apple Pay and Wallet, Passbook is also a separate app. This is most noticeable when you arrive at Starbucks. Double-pressing the side button only shows the current bank or credit cards in your “wallet” excluding other passport passes.
- No GPS. For me, this is a biggie. At the lowest price point of $349 I expected this. It would allow me to be completely iPhone free on a run or bike ride.
A few tips
- To return to the last app you used double-press the digital crown.
- To quickly access Apple Pay double-press the side-button.
- To take a screen-shot, press the side-button and then the digital crown. Your screen-shot will automatically be saved to your photo app on your iPhone.
- Press and hold the side-button to power-off the Watch, enable power-reserve or lock the device.
- Send your heartbeat to other Apple Watch users by clicking the side-button, select your friend, tap the Digital-Touch icon (center icon) and the lightly press two fingers on the display. Your heartbeat will show up on your friend’s watch until you lift your fingers.
Despite my quick-criticisms, my first 48 hours with the Apple Watch has been a fun, a new user experience that I don’t regret. However, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to trade-in my old iPhone 5 for a $200 Apple credit and that I only paid $228 out-of-pocket, which is still a lot of money for a device that honestly only mirrors my iPhone 6.
Purchased from Apple store, 42mm, Sport, $399.
Order at Amazon and save!
$295 (38mm) – $354 (42mm) Sport Edition