Early Thoughts on the Apple Watch

At some point I will do a full review of the Apple Watch, but since I only received it Friday, I cannot yet make fair judgements about it. What I can do, however, is give some initial impressions. I have several likes and dislikes with what I have experienced so far.

Like

Build quality is fantastic. It feels solid, yet light. The sport band feels much higher quality than you would expect, and it is extremely comfortable to wear.

Dislike

The setup process for me was actually not great. It did not want to turn on at first. On iPhone and iPad, holding either the lock or home button turns on the device, but on the watch only the side button does, not the digital crown. It is a little counterintuitive there. Also the automatic pairing did not work at all for me. The image never appeared on the watch. Not sure why. Lastly, what is with that terrible Apple logo when it is booting? It is an odd gradient and I seriously though I had a defective screen until it booted all the way. The iPhone app had an image that confirmed it is supposed to look like that.

Like

Notifications on the Apple Watch are far less intrusive than they were on my Pebble. Since the software is tightly integrated, I only get notifications in one place. If I see them on my phone, they don’t go to the watch. Otherwise the watch intercepts them. It feels less overwhelming. And the watch finally gets the “clear all” option we have wanted for years. And I love how it is smart about interactive notifications from iPhone. I can archive emails from Mailbox with a single tap, even though there is no Mailbox app for Watch yet. Actually, I don’t even think there has to be. The notifications work great for this.

Dislike

This is clearly version one of the OS, and it is still a little rough around the edges. Twice I had to reboot because haptic feedback stopped working, but it has been fine for two days now. Sometimes it gets confused when I raise my wrist and it cannot decide if it should be on or off. I suspect there will be several software updates over the next few months to address these issues.

Like

Force touch took a little getting used to but once you do it works great.

Dislike

I keep force touching my iPhone, which does nothing other than a long press. When force touch does come to the iPhone (can we all agree that this is pretty much a guarantee at this point) I can see there being some confusion between the two very similar gestures.

Like

The Activity app is very well done. It is bright, colorful, and displays data in a useful way. It has actually become my preferred activity app on my iPhone.

Dislike

My biggest gripe so far is with the Workout app. I have been a RunKeeper user for years and they have an app on the watch. But the Activity app, along with its achievements, only pulls data from the built in Workout app, not from third party apps. So if I want to have my activity still stored in RunKeeper as I always have (I do), and I want credit in the main Activity app (I do), I need to start two different apps for each activity. That is a bit of a pain. I really want to see third party apps be able to write data to the Activity app. If only Apple had a Kit for Health, or something like that. Also, third party apps can’t access heart rate info. That is probably a limitation we have to live with until true native apps become available.

Stray Observations

  • So far I have not experienced the same slowness in apps that many reviews mentioned. I have seen the loading screen a few times, but most apps load quickly enough. I have noticed they load faster when I am on WiFi, but that makes sense. I suspect lots of Watch app updates will be coming very soon purely to address real world performance.

  • Haptic is capable of very light touches. By comparison, the Pebble felt like a jackhammer on my wrist. I had to turn on the “Prominent Haptic” option since I was missing it so many times, which may be because I got so used to the Pebble.

  • Moving apps around is a pain. Trying to place one app in the spot you want is difficult, and has a cascade effect. I am never sure which way things will move.

  • Less is more with Glances.

  • I think that so far I have “settled” on nearly every watch face possible. I really like Mickey, but I wonder if that will kill the battery faster being the most colorful and animated of the bunch.

  • Speaking of battery, so far it has not died on me, though I do wonder if it will make it through a whole marathon since using the Workout app seems to drain it faster. I also intend to buy another charger for my bag for long days, just in case.

  • Digital touch is interesting. Will doesn’t get his until today. So far the only people I can send them to are my boss and my sister. I can’t see regularly sending my heartbeat to either of these people, particularly as one would likely lead to a conversation with HR about “boundaries”. It seems mostly for your significant other, but then does the feature warranty a whole dedicated button on the two button device?

  • I am surprised by how much I liked making a phone call from the watch. I would have though it would be a gimmick, but it actually felt more natural when I was sitting at home than I thought. Outside though, not so much.

Early Thoughts on the Apple Watch was last updated April 27th, 2015 by Michael Truskowski