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"My God-Awful Year With the Apple Watch"

"My God-Awful Year With the Apple Watch"

April 26, 2016

Casey Chan writing for Gizmodo:

First, I still don’t know what the buttons do. This is ridiculous (and probably very stupid on my part) because, well, there are only two buttons, the digital crown and the side button. Most of the times, pressing the digital crown acts like an iPhone home button. But sometimes it’s a back button (like when you’re in the Favorites contact screen). It gets more confusing because you can scroll through a list with the crown but you can never select, you have to tap the screen for that to work. Most of these things you eventually figure out, but these little inconsistencies just add to the frustration of using it.

With an iPhone, everyone knows how to use it, assuming they have access to fingers. With Apple’s wrist-time-box, I still find myself lost every time I grab hold, even if it’s just trying to recreate the steps to something I did earlier. Which mostly results in me just giving up trying to do anything at all. For its solid aesthetic design, the Watch is not at all intuitive.

Chan is right about the Apple Watch being unintuitive. I’m really hoping Apple treats the Watch in the same way they’ve treated the Apple TV. Meaning, I hope they aren’t married to the idea of the UI looking the way it does today. I hope they’re willing to abandon certain elements of the Watch’s UI in order to make it better. It should not be treated like the iPhone where it looks nearly identical to way it did in 2007. WWDC 2016 is only a few weeks away and one of the things I’m most eager to see is watchOS 3.

Chan continues:

Getting information like the weather isn’t bad either, except that when you try to actually look it up, the watch slows down and gives you a spinning loading indicator. You don’t know if it’ll load in a reasonable amount of time, or if it’ll just keep on swirling about. Everything is so terribly slow. Like really, don’t even bother slow. Like, it’s easier to just pull our your iPhone from your pocket than use your watch slow.

This is something that can be solved with the next Apple Watch and it’s why I’m hoping that today’s WSJ article regarding cellular connection the next Watch is true. I know there are people who are skeptical that this could happen, but I think it’s super important. Let me explain why.

The Apple Watch relies a lot on getting information through cellular. In many ways it’s a lot like the iPhone in that without a data connection, the device is far less useful. Because the Apple Watch currently relies on the data connection of the iPhone, it can often take a long time for data to be displayed, resulting in frustration and in many cases just going back to your iPhone. This was a huge mistake by Apple because not only does it make the Watch look bad, it actually makes the convenience factor of having the Watch on your wrist far less compelling. If the one of the biggest selling points is convenience, then you can imagine the frustration one might have if it’s actually less convenient. By putting in a cellular connection, the Watch could then pull information directly without having to ask the iPhone for it. That’s a big deal. It’s one of those things that might be more important than putting in a faster chip.

Put another way, if someone gave me the choice between an iPhone with LTE vs an iPhone with 3G, I would take the iPhone with LTE every time. Of course, Apple would have to get battery life right, but that’s something I think they can do. I don’t think having to wait another year is good thing. I hope it happens with this years Watch revision.

Chan concludes:

I’ve told every person who has asked me about my Apple Watch that as the wrist-puter stands right now, it’s really not worth the money or the effort. That doesn’t mean I don’t think it’ll eventually get better as Apple improves the hardware and software or if it maybe simplifies its goals, but a year with it has told me that it’s going to be a very long eventually. You shouldn’t buy this Apple Watch, and my sense is you probably shouldn’t buy the next Apple Watch either. But maybe (just maaaaybe) you’ll buy the next next one. Or the one after that.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s not “worth the money or effort”. It honestly depends on your use case. For example, I have a baby on the way in a few months and I downloaded this app called Cloud Baby Monitor. It allows me to set up an iOS device as a camera and use another iOS device as the monitor. They happen to have an Apple Watch app and when the app detects movement, the Watch lights up and shows what the iOS device is seeing. I’ve tested it and it works really well. This, to me, is so awesome that it’s worth the $300 it costs to get into an Apple Watch. I can walk around without having to stare at my iPhone and be alerted if my child needs me.

There are plenty of other features too that I appreciate. Workouts, getting text message alerts, being notified of important things around me, Apple Pay. All these things are super valuable and I love having them. Would I recommend buying the $599 stainless steel Apple Watch? Probably not. But for $300, I still think this product is great.