My first day experimenting with BlueLink, I decided I would get the car cooled off before I actually got inside. You don’t get climate control options in BlueLink, but when you activate remote ignition, the AC or heater will kick on to get the cabin to a comfy 72F. I hit the remote start button on my G Watch R, and it said command sent. I walked out of my apartment and down the street to where I’d parked the silver 2015 Sonata Hyundai loaned us for this test, and lo and behold, the engine was running and the hazards were flashing (presumably to let [passersby] know the car was not going to just drive itself away or something).
So, how easy is it to send this command? Well, I think it’s fair to say that it’s not as easy as most of us would want it to be in an ideal world. First, you have to activate BlueLink on Wear. This means either tapping the face while the watch is awake and selecting “BlueLink” right below the red voice activation circle, or saying “OK, Google, start BlueLink.” There is no way to voice-ignite your car in a single step. Once BlueLink launches, you can either tap the option you want or tap a microphone and say what you want. At that point, you then have to type in your PIN on a little number pad on your watch, which while not as difficult as you might think, does require your concerted focus.
This sounds like a disappointingly pointless experience. It’s convoluted, tedious, and about two steps too many. If smartwatches are to succeed, they need to remove friction, not add it. Requiring the user to tap through a pair of menus reach a third, where they’ve now got to use henpecks to type in some PIN on a tiny screen on their wrist doesn’t seem smooth at all. It’s more sandpaper than sapphire (or, for the cheaper stuff, more grit than Gorilla Glass).
Of course, even after Apple makes this exact use case intuitively functional, critics will lambaste Apple Watch for being little more than a copycat or ripoff artist. If they’re really clever (and they’re not), they might even call it a Jony-come-lately.
But that’s okay. Apple knows that success isn’t measured by “first.” It’s measured by “best.” And that’s kind of Cupertino’s thing.