Friday, October 2, 2015

Apple Watch

Apple WatchAt the end of June I have bought myself the Apple Watch. Now that I have lived with it for over two months I want to share some thoughts regarding my experiences with the watch.

Decision


There is no need to go and check back into my older posts with regards to the watch. Yes, I did say that I’m not going to buy the first generation. I do admit it. Two things really pushed me into it.

When the watch came out I’ve read numerous reviews and blog posts filled with mostly positive feedback. That’s factor one. Another thing came about when we visited a local Apple Store to pick up some accessories for my dad for Father’s Day. We walked into the store and there they were. Alёna looked at me and said — “You can get one if you want it.” How can a gadget lover like myself resist such an offer?

I tried a bunch on, picked out the kit that I liked the most and — they didn’t have ANY in stock at all. Sold out because of Father’s Day. So I came home and placed an order online — 3-4 weeks wait time. Three days later though I was checking for stock at the stores around the area and one had an exact thing that I was looking for. I made a reservation and two hours later I had a box with my brand new Apple Watch in my hands.

Picking The Model


Apple Watch. 42mm Stainless Steel Case Watch with Bright Blue Leather Loop.I had a pretty good idea of the model that I would like to get right after the announcement. I have confirmed it during my first visit to the Apple Store. And even though the watch starts from $350, the prices of various upgrades and options add up to a hefty amount.

Want 42mm version instead of 38mm? $50. Want stainless steel instead of aluminum? $200. Want a leather band instead of a rubber one? Another $100. So my particular watch totaled out at $700. Another bracelet that I was considering was a steel bracelet, but it was another $400 instead of $100 for leather and it seemed a bit too bulky in person, even though it was much lighter than I expected.

I ended up picking out a 42mm Stainless Steel Case Watch with Bright Blue Leather Loop. I was actually thinking of getting either black or brown one, but Alёna thought that a blue one was much more interesting. Thinking about it I did agree. It’s a pretty dark blue (even though it’s called bright) and goes well with jeans that I wear on daily basis most of the time.

Experience


Heartbeat sensor.By now I have worn this watch from early morning to the late night every single day since I bought it. It has been many years now that I have worn the same watch for even seven days in a row, before this one. I like how it looks on my hand, but most of all I like the functionality that it gives me, and the killer app that I don’t want to be without — more on that later.

I like how the bracelet doesn’t have a fixed width and I can tighten it to my comfort. Sometimes I like it tighter, sometimes I like it looser. By the end of the day though my hand does kind of feel tired if I had it on tight setting all day long — but heart beat sensor seems to works better with the watch closer to the skin. The magnets in the bracelet are very strong and I haven’t had it come loose on its own a single time.

The battery life is perfectly fine. Yes, you do have to charge the watch every night (although I had days when went without an overnight charge just fine). I do however prefer to top off the batters on my phone and the watch nightly. Typically by the end of the full day use I’m at about 50% of battery reserve. So battery has not been an issue.

Software


The core software that comes with the watch seems decent enough. There is a number of decent looking watch faces — although a screen can’t really compare with aesthetics of a real thing. Most of the faces have a number of user settable complications — little gadgets with information. Third party software support is there, but it’s not usable. Only the UI shows up on the watch and everything else has to happen on the phone. This makes everything very slow and useless.

Apps.The only 3rd party app that i use at this time is Overcast to switch between podcasts when I’m on my bicycle or when I don’t want to pull the phone out. I would love to get good experience with Darksky and Fantastical but it’s not quite there yet because of watch OS limitations. All that is about to get fixed with watch OS 2. Really native 3rd party app support and 3rd party complications. This will open up a lot of possibilities.

Simple.Currently I use Simple watch face with four complications — Activity (fitness information), Date and Day, Calendar (shows next event) and Digital Time. Glances are simple screens that can be pulled out when in Watch mode. I use only three at this time — Settings (airplane mode, sound), Heartbeat (lets you have the watch measure your heart rate) and Battery (not really needed anymore).

Killer Apps


Workout goals.These are the things that I find very helpful and use on daily basis. There is only a handful of them, but here is where the watch excels over the phone.

Move goals for each day of the week.Activity and Workout — this is the pair that keeps me watching to wear the watch every day. Activity is a simple motivator app which makes you want to fill out 3 simple circles on daily basis — active calories burned (you can set your own goal), 30 minutes of exercise (anything like a brisk walk and above counts) and moving at least a little bit each hour for 12 hours or more per day. This actually seems to be a pretty good motivator for me to be active more.

Goals.I do try to achieve all these 3 goals every day. I get up every time it tells me to and run up a couple of flights of stares. I actually got out my bicycle out of storage and did some riding. And I walk a lot more than I used to. Strangely enough I would hate to walk now and not get credit for it — the watch must be on. Vacation do throw a wrench into those goals for me though. I lose my routine and have to make an effort to get back into it after one.

Apple Pay.Apple Pay is so much better with the watch. I love using Apple Pay in general. But with the phone there is a bit of an anxiety of getting your fingerprint being read right. People behind you are waiting, the cashier is waiting — not comfortable experimenting with your tech. With the watch you just have to double press the side button, credit card comes up on the screen, move the watch to the reader, fill a little tap on your wrist — done. Works every single time without a fail.

Communications.Communication encompasses in it several things. It’s great for an SMS to come in and show up on your wrist. You can respond to it with a bunch of pre-canned responses or send a message back via Siri — which by the way has gotten much better at understanding me. You can also initiate communication with a list of your favorites by hitting the side button once. You can start a call or send a message. Has been very useful to fire a short message to my wife without taking my hand of the top of the steering wheel.

Modular.Other group of little niceties is also there. Using the watch as a viewfinder for your camera phone, getting walking directions via maps on your wrist, seeing Slack and other pre-selected notifications and actually picking up and having a phone call. I was surprised that I would ever use it, but it certain situations it has been quite convenient.

Activity medal.The next version of OS that is about too land will definitely expand the horizons with useful software and I’m looking forward to that.

In the Wild


I’ve been surprised by the number number of comments and inquires that I’ve gotten by wearing the watch. My most expensive watches don’t get nowhere near the same kind of interest that this little watch seems to produce. I was also quite surprised at the number of people that I’ve run up against with Apple Watch on their wrist. Close to 20 sightings in these months and for a gadget like this that’s a lot.

Activity.6In all my time before that I’ve seen only two smart watches or any other brand — one Motorola 360 and one Pebble watch. So by the standards of smart watches Apple seems to be doing quite well.
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