My Apple Watch: First Impressions

I am a very lucky young lady. I have a fiance who loves to cater to my whim and desire, and so when he found me drooling over the Apple watch on launch day, it was only a matter of time before he got me one. I held out though. I’m not some crazed Apple fan-person who will buy the latest product for the sake of it. I didn’t like the iPhone 6 when it came out (although I am warming to it). Instead, I love Apple products for their beautiful and thoughtful design, intuitive interfaces, and impressive processing power.

So, this week I got my Apple watch. 38 mm, black leather strap with a traditional buckle. Because I’m a traditional kind of gal.
Before D bought it, I’d spent hours watching and reading the various promos and reviews, which on the most part, seemed to come up good and bad in equal measure. I’m no tech expert, but I wanted to share a few of my first impressions after a couple of days with this bad boy on my wrist.

My Apple Watch

Packaging 

Ohmygosh I just love the iPackaging. I think it must appeal to my stationery fetish – its a petit mort as every sheet of plastic is peeled away, and every tab lifted. And the packaging for the Apple watch is the jewel in the crown. It took me five whole minutes of quivering over the box before I got it out. Yum yum yum. Oh, and I was very pleased that it came in a squarish box, as opposed to the long ones I’ve seen on other videos. Much better form factor. Yum. 5/5 Would unbox again

On my wrist
I’m not used to wearing a watch. In fact, I rarely wear bracelets because I’m conscious that anything there makes my hand look fat. Vain I know, but there you go. Anyway, I just love the look of this watch on my wrist. Its sleek, and stylish, and fits well, although I am still adjusting to how tight it needs to be. I’m just not used to something so black and shiny and so very much fixed on the top of my wrist. Also, by the end of day 1, I’d got a very clammy upper wrist. I think is very much a personal thing, and it will take time to feel completely comfortable. I’m hoping, too that the leather will soften a bit. 4/5 Cool but clammy

Showing off 

Oh wow! Is that the Apple watch?! Why, yes, yes it is. I’m among one of the first of the people I know to have one, and it has attracted the expected amount of green admiration. I’ve felt a combination of guilt of having one, the need to justify it, and the desire to show it off. If you’re not impressed by the face of a clock, the Apple watch doesn’t really do itself any favours. There’s not a great deal to show off, and the functionality really does shine when you’re just using it. It’s just a pretty thing that is pretty good at doing a job that people don’t really think they need. And one more pet peeve: its an Apple Watch, not a bloody iWatch!  3/5 Beautiful but boring

The Interface

Like I said before, I love Apple products because of their intuitive interfaces. I’m an intuitive kind of person, and I’ve always found it relatively straightforward to adapt to new iDevices. Not so with the watch. It is a completely new, and relatively steep learning curve that deviates considerably from the normal way of doing things, and it just feels strange. Take, for example, the force touch. An amazing piece of engineering and very clever way to add functionality to such a small screen, but do you know what it feels like? It feels like a right click. It feels like, whenever I’m force touching, I’m accessing a little-used menu or changing a setting that shouldn’t really be fiddled with that often. It doesn’t feel natural or easy, and in most of the watch apps, it’s not immediately obvious what I’m going to get from a force touch. Again, I know it’s all about getting used to it, but I was shocked at how tricky it seems.  3/5 Force touch my what, now?!

Watch Apps

I’m going to be honest. I’m pretty disappointed with what I can do with my watch. And I’m pretty sure that’s down to the functionality of the apps. I’ve explored to the greatest possible extent the force touches, wheel turns and etherial gestures that the apps could possibly be demanding, and have still found the majority of them lacking. Oh, I’ll happily get the notifications from my phone “Arch Enemy has liked a photo you are tagged in!”, but there’s no native Facebook app for me to check which photo. I’d like to look again at that important email I received minutes ago, but I have to navigate through the bubble menu to get at it – no glances for mail. I can’t reply to an email, not even with a standard ‘OK’ or ‘Great!’. I can’t add an item to my calendar, I can’t send my watchless fiance a picture of a comedy penis, I can’t review my whole Wunderlist to do list, I can’t easily review the forecast for when I get home from work, I can’t add f*cking punctuation to my texts (that deserves a rant of its own), the map navigated me to a Priory Road in London, instead of my home street. And why oh why is Activity buzzing me incessantly to say “Well Done! You’ve achieved 43% of your standing goal!”, like I’m supposed to be pleased with myself?!

am impressed by the speed and the neatness of a lot of the apps, and especially by Siri, but I just find that the functionality has been pared down waay too much for my lifestyle. I want to interact with the world, not just be aware of it.  2/5 Why can’t I just reply?!

OK. Texts. 

I’m a bit of a grammar nerd. I truly believe that if something’s worth saying at all, it’s worth saying well, with a well-worded sentence and appropriate punctuation. Since I had my first phone, I’ve been writing texts, even short ones, as sentences. My iPhone made that even easier – it spell-checked, it autocorrected, it put lovely full stops and capital letters in. And now, my watch, which is exceptionally good at understanding what I’m saying is hurting me with its cold lack of expression.

 

Me (via siri on watch): How are you feeling

D: “A bit better. Did you use your watch for that last message?”

Me: Absolutely

Me: Not sure I can handle this

D: “I know, right?!”

D: “Wait. Are you ok? Was that about the texting or something else”

Me: I’m fine

D: “Are you ‘fine’? Or really fine? Like, fine fine, or not fine?”

Me: Stop teasing me

D: ; )

Ok I know I can put in punctuation if I say “What time are you home question mark” – but really? Am I expected to be comfortable with telegrammatic dictation in 2015? Surely those clever people in Mountain View can come up with a way of recognising my tone of voice, or at least giving me options for sentence construction. I feel as though this has all been rushed, and in Apple’s desperation to get a functional voice-driven personal assistant, we are being expected to abandon the niceties of text-based communication, which is something I resent. Is it going to learn from me? Are my common messages going to be remembered (I send D a lot of “I love you”‘s, to remind him that I appreciate my expensive gifts)? How is it going to deal with homophones?  2/5 It’s fine

 

So this has turned into more of a rant than a review, but with such high hopes, I think it’s inevitable that the first impressions will be niggles and disappointments. Don’t get me wrong, I’m seriously impressed by the power, design and potential of this watch. But it has left me wanting more. More functionality, more intuition, more intelligence.

I’ll write something else in a couple of weeks, when I’ve had chance to acclimatise to the sheer newness of this gadget. Overall, I’m extremely happy that I have a beautiful and powerful game changer on my wrist. But it’s not going to change any games right now, at least not for me. I can’t make the best use of a ‘smart’ watch until it is smart enough to know what I want, or at least offer the opportunity for me to tell it.

 

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