I’ve been accused of Apple fanboyism more than once. It’s a fair assessment at first blush. I’ve had nearly every iPhone since the 3G hit, and my iPad and MacBook Pro are among my favorite gadgets. However, I maintain that I’m provider agnostic when it comes to technology. I have no corporate loyalties, and I switch whenever a better option comes along. Sure, I’ll tell you that Apple makes the best hardware, but my favorite OS and dev tools come from Microsoft and JetBrains. I buy music, books, and movies from Amazon, and I look to Google to help manage my email, calendar, and contacts. I don’t even have an Apple TV!
That said, I was awfully excited about the Apple Watch. I set my alarm for 2:00 AM on April 10 so I would be sure to be among the first to get one… and then I slept through it. I finally ordered my watch at 8:00 AM only to be told, “June.” Long story short, it arrives tomorrow. Fortunately one arrived far sooner here at MentorMate, and I nabbed it before anyone else could.
My plan was to wear the watch for a week and scrutinize my experience day to day. Unlike the first crop of Android Wear (too big and boxy for the most part), the Apple Watch is a thing of beauty right out of the box. It has smooth lines and a crisp design that does an amazing job of masking how thick the thing actually is. (My bet? It’ll be nearly half as thick in a year or two). Very nice. Feels good on my wrist and looks good too. A bit small, but this was a 38mm Sport version, not the 42mm I had ordered, so I was confident that mine would be the right size.
Actually using the thing at first was surprisingly frustrating. I didn’t read the manual or watch any of the guides, and this was intentional. The distinctions between App, Glance, and Notification aren’t immediately obvious, and the transitions between each state aren’t consistent. What I expected to happen when I did something rarely did, and pressing the buttons on the side seemed a little awkward. At the end of the first day, I put it on the charger at work without even taking it home.
Over the course of the next day, the thing really grew on me. Having a tiny portal to my phone on my wrist is very fun and convenient.
I loved getting notifications for messages there, dismissing emails at a glance, and starting workouts through the Activity app with ease. I started making my experience more personal too, removing glances I didn’t use, organizing the home screen, and setting up a few different watch faces.
I was having a lot of fun with it, and from the second day on, I wore it all day, from waking until bedtime (or until the battery died, which was pretty close to then).
Over the next few days, I had a couple of, “This is awesome” experiences. The first was when I was playing tennis with a friend while waiting for my girlfriend to join us. My phone was in my tennis bag on the sidelines, and the watch was on my wrist, recording my heart rate. As we were playing, my girlfriend texted me a few times about whether or not she should come. I was able to correspond with her through the Apple Watch between points without interrupting the flow of the game.
For one message, I responded with the standard Yes, No, OK, buttons. In her next message she asked, “Should I walk or drive?” and the watch gave me automatic buttons for “Walk” and “Drive.” Slick! Her next question required a more involved answer, but I was able to tell Siri on my wrist. It was translated quickly and correctly and sent all while 20 feet from my phone.
The next awesome experience came when I asked the watch for directions. While I love navigation and mapping apps, I hate the sound and interruption of the voices they use, and I can never understand why they have to give me each direction three or four times. I always turn those sounds off.
Navigating via the Apple Watch was perfect, and perhaps more miraculously, makes Apple Maps my go-to navigation app.
I asked Siri for directions to my destination via the watch, a map came up, and as I drove I was prompted by gentle buzzes on my wrist. At the same time, the connect app on my phone is synchronized, so I can glance at that in its cradle to get more detail. Supposedly the buzzes are different for left vs. right turns, but I wasn’t able to distinguish those.
Can’t wait, but…
By the end of the week, I was awfully sad to give the Apple Watch up. It’s a great gadget, and I’m pretty sure I will wear mine daily when it arrives.
That said, I do have a couple of gripes about its UI.
The choice of having two buttons is a bit mind boggling, and it breaks an expectation set by its peers, the iPhone, iPad, and iPods.
The positioning of the buttons on the side is also awkward. Over the course of a week, I almost never used the crown other than as a button, and the contacts button feels unnecessary. One home button on the bottom edge of the watch, the position used on Apple’s other gadgets, would be both easier to press and a more consistent user experience.
Curious about developing for the Apple Watch? Talk with us.
Image Source: Unsplash, Crew