Our office bought an Apple Watch to try. I’ve been wearing one since it came out.
I’m a stranger to wearables, so I’ve nothing to compare it to. Before the Apple Watch, I hadn’t worn a watch in over ten years.
Before the Apple Watch came out, I expressed my understanding of how an NBA watch app would work. My solution was flawed simply because users would never hold up their wrist for more than a couple of seconds. I didn’t really realise this until I actually used the watch.
I was not alone in that vision. Many of my interactions with watch apps have the symptoms of what happens with any new platform, where the functionality from the old is shoehorned into the new.
This happens with Instagram’s Apple Watch app, which is adorable. Browsing through your feed is like watching a cat trying to fit inside of a small space.
The idea of glances and being able to just quickly check your watch works most of the time, but apps can be slow to load up, and gestures between apps are fussy and unforgiving on the small screen, especially while you’re holding up your arm.
By far, the most convenient feature of the Apple Watch is being able to look at notifications without fishing out your phone.
Almost all watch apps are a variation of this behaviour. The watch is simply a notifications container on your wrist.
You just lift your wrist to see what the notification is. If you need to do a subsequent action, then the phone comes out.
It’s convenient, but more often than not, I just had to take out my phone anyway. There’s only so many ways to interact with the watch before you hit its limitations.
Also, when answering a call on your wrist, the watch-to-mouth experience will never be more convenient than headphones. Talking to yourself is much easier (and more natural) than talking into your wrist. The future will be like the movie Her, rather than the 60s James Bond.
The future of the Apple Watch
There’s been some warranted criticism of the watch in the past months: that it’s well made, but not well thought-out. In my experience so far, I tend to agree. Caring for the watch offsets most of the conveniences it offers.
The battery life needs the most improvement. Even in my relatively low usage, 45% remaining at the end of the day means I have to charge the watch every night. The Fitbit Surge lasts a week, which would be more than enough for the Apple Watch.
Back when Apple first acquired Beats by Dre, you could picture Apple’s imminent tech-fashion takeover. But even as a fashion accessory, it hasn’t sustained any traction. Neither Drake, Lagerfeld, or Beyoncé continue to wear the watch, and it’s been rare seeing it anywhere in pop culture.
I guess I’m still waiting for a moment where I realize I need it. Sometimes I almost forget to put it on in the morning.
But I wouldn’t count the Apple Watch out just yet, there’s still plenty room for significant innovation in the coming generations. The possibilities deserve an open mind and heart rate.