John Lynch

My taptic thoughts on the Apple Watch

I received my new Apple Watch last week, as always with Apple, beautifuly packaged and I opened it with the reverence I reserve for Apple products. I laid the bits out and was first struck by the cleverly designed plug which was a little box, but with a flick, hey presto a standard UK plug. Genius, good start, what's next I thought....

Surprisingly, not a lot, but here are some thoughts;

Pros      

  • Its heavy, so you know you are wearing a watch. A strange yet pleasant feeling for those of us that left watches back in the 90’s.
  • The exercise app is positioned as second only to the time (time being handy on a watch), its novel and somewhat useful app and i havent had a sports watch. It told me my resting heart beat is 55 BPM which started a talking point on how accurate the monitor could be. VERY is the response. 
  • Good Apps however are scarce at the moment, but thinking about the watch gets you also thinking about apps that could work on the watch that wouldn’t say work on the iPhone. I thought of one that could count the punches on my boxing pads, as I was doing my cross fit. Did I mention my resting heart beat is 55 BPM… but i guess this is when the watch comes into its own once those killer apps are made (remember the iphone pre a million Apps). With the whole wearable tech wave building momentium its at least in a high growth area for many.
  • The battery life wasn’t an issue, for me anyway. I simply took it off and laid it its little cradle (or inductive magnetic charger) every night. 
  • There is a show off factor but when asked to impress it was 50/50 if it was going to perform.
  • The Taptic Engine” was interesting. It creates a tiny noise to go with the vibration, making the illusion of a mechanical click. The same device also vibrates to alert you when notifications are received. I set “prominent haptic” (where do they get these names), which ‘taps’ my wrist a few milliseconds before I get an alert.  Again the novelty wore off fast.
  • It can tell the time, you can change the colour of the catch with the wheel, or you can chose a Mickey Mouse watch face.
  • Did I mention the plug is cool? 
  • I’m struggling a bit here...

Cons

  • It’s a big and chunky piece of equipment and I became increasingly conscience of wearing it rather than less. I had what people referred to as a ‘cheap’ white strap, 'that’s £479 (AU$799) mate' was my response. The metal strap version starts at £559 (AU$949). But the gold one sported by Prince Andrew is £12k, or you can get the $25K one they made for Karl Lagerfeld. I do however recommend you watch the construction videos on the iPhone app to see how it’s constructed and where the cash goes. Crafted from a refined 316L stainless steel that’s been 'cold' forged, making it up to 80 per cent harder. Thats 80 per cent harder that stuff that was already pretty hard…wow.
  • Tethering to the iPhone means that the watch is pretty useless when the iPhone (not the Apple Watch) runs out of battery which happened often, or was simply out of range. Yes it tells the time but that’s about it. It also drains your iPhone battery I reckon as it seemed to die more often. However i have read some users have found a notable improvement in iPhone battery life with the addition of an Apple Watch. This suggests the act of offloading notifications and quick interactions to your Apple Watch makes your iPhone battery last longer.
  • The wheel at the side is difficult to master, zooming in on a postage size map for example emphasises how small the screen is rather that makes the map easier to read. But in defence I guess when you have hundreds of apps loaded it may come into its own.
  • Siri was difficult to call up on a number of occasions and sometime sent you to the iPhone for a better search.
  • From a UX perspective, it was not intuitive (for me at least) to use. I swiped left to right, top to bottom even corner to corner sometimes. It was just hard to work out.
  • Taking a phone call is possible but it is not the best experience I have had with apple. The speaker is tinny, so as a result you tend to shout to compensate, and everyone listens mumbling “knob” to themselves. Also it raises some concerns about phoning and driving as its half way between hands free and a mobile. 
  • Apps are limited at the moment to iPhone apps that offer an Apple Watch cut down version. That killer App is still elusive. 
  • Maps, and apps (the few I found) are too small. The screen is designed for limited messages. The BBC have understood this and send you to read more on your iPhone. Therefore making the idea of a casual read on your Apple Watch hard.

So in summary, first impressions were good, but the novelty was short lived and the frustration that it didn’t do a lot started to grate. There were some, but infrequent moments when you said 'now that’s nice', BUT as someone pointed out if you like it just for the sporting aps, get a watch designed just for that for half the price. There is no getting away from the screen size and what you can and can't fit on that, but then again what do I know, I predicted that nobody would ever watch a football game on their mobile. In short it's an nice expensive convenience gadget.... which is enough for many.


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John Lynch Digital Ministry John Lynch
Company: Digital Ministry
Position: Editor
Involved in the digital media and Marketing industry for many years, through working at the Economist Group (uk), Universal McCanns, Zivo, emitch, OneDigital, IBM (client side), Agency.com & now TBWA NY Now in Bath, UK working as a consultant

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