Sunday, 6 September 2015

My Apple Watch review

Finally after having used the Apple Watch for a month it is time for my review!



I decided to go for the Apple Watch sports 42 mm aluminium grey model. I find this to look better than the normal aluminium model, although it is more difficult to combine with different colour bands. The basic black band looks very good on it, but I am not sure about any other colour. I have been thinking of getting some leather band for it, but Apple ones are too expensive (leather loop band at 169 EUR)



Apple Watch is not yet available in Finland, so I ordered it from Spain to be delivered to my parents place. I was ordering it the very same day it went on sale in Spain, at 07:00 local time, and it was ready for delivery within one business day. However, DHL, the transport company, had such a bad service that the watch was delivered finally one week late. It took a lot of calls, emails and nerves to deal with DHL customer service. After that, it took 3 week wait until I travelled to Spain and finally got it in my hands or should I say on my wrist.

The watch came on a very heavy box, with a too long charger cable, and with one band and a half, to fit on bigger and smaller wrists. It is only one side of the band that is different in size, so that is why it is one and a half and what you get :). The big size one fits me perfectly.

I have to say that the 42 mm watch is not too big nor too small. I have checked also the 38 mm one and it looked too small, at least on my wrist.

Screen is very readable even on direct sun light, if you use a watch face where text and numbers are shown in bright colour. Other colours, specially items shown in grey, are not so visible though.

Setup

Paring the watch with the phone was quite easy. You open the Watch app, you switch on your watch, and point the camera to the watch. They connect automatically without much configuration needed. After a quick setup process where you are asked for few details, the watch restarts and after that it is ready to use.

The Watch app offers all the settings to control different aspects of the phone, notifications, settings, what to synchronise, etc. It is very well done and you do not need to access it too often. You can also setup the watch so, that whenever you install an app on your phone that has watch app included, it will install them automatically. I have actually disabled this option, as I do not want too many apps on my watch.

Regarding notifications, I have only few notifications enabled (calls, messages, Whatsapp, calendar) as I had them on my phone. I do not like to get disturbed too often. I have also configured the notifications so that I only get them on my watch, but not on my phone screen.
You can also configure glances to be accessed directly from the watch with a swipe up. I have also reduced the number of glances and left only what I considered more essential: Connection, Heart rate, Battery, Music control, Reminders (3rd party app) and Transporter (3rd party app)

Hardware

A piece of hardware is nothing without good software. The operating system, WatchOS 1.0, feels very snappy most of the time. Data loading on the apps is another story. You get very often the loading sign specially when the watch is retrieving information from the phone. But some apps are always in sync with the phone (like email or message app) and you noticed lag at all.

The main interface is the watch face. Depending on the watch face you use, there will be more or less of what Apple calls “complications”. These are tiny bits of information (temperature, date, sunrise, etc.). Some of them are clickable and they launch their respective app (weather app for instance). This is very convenient.

The hardware buttons, the crown and the communication buttons are really easy to operate. I thought it would be difficult to get used to their functions, but soon I learnt the tricks and find them very convenient. For instance, the crown functions: double click on crown to go back to previous app, push and hold crown to activate Siri. The communication button launches your favourite contacts from wherever you are and brings you right back to the app you were using.

Talking about communications, the phone can take calls fully, as it has both microphone and speaker built in. It can be convenient to quickly answer a call if you are not in a crowded environment. The messaging part is one of my favourites. I use dictation to write messages and it works really well. It even detects the language you were using for that specific message conversation and transcribes it (for instance, I have conversations in English and in Spanish, and the messaging app detects it and uses the right language to transcribe the message). Watch to watch communication is fun but I do not use it that often as I do not have so many contacts with Apple Watch (only one at the moment).

Software

My more used apps are Workout, Activity, Messages and Calendar apps. And from 3rd party apps side, I also use Nike+ app for running, 7 minute workout app, Reminder for Apple watch, Transporter for public transport and a calculator.



I was surprised that Apple Watch did not come with a Reminder app. Although you do get the reminder notifications, you cannot see them on your watch. That is when this small app call Reminders for apple watch comes very handy. It is basically a watch version of the Apple official Reminders app. It works really well and I find it a must if you use Reminders app on your phone.



Some of the third party apps really work well. For instance, I have been really surprise with Transporter app. The iPhone side can use either Helsinki public transport API but also Google and Bing transport apps, doing the app useful world wide. The app reacts really quickly loading routes from the phone and the user interface is really well done. I should do a review of it maybe later on. I leave you here with a screenshot from the Apple Watch.


I hope with watchOS 2.0 we start to see more and more apps coming. I miss WhatsApp and Facebook messenger apps specially on my wrist. You can read the messages and even answer shortly on Facebook messenger from the watch, but a fully functional app would be great. I hope we start to see these big names in the autumn after the 2.0 update is released.

Daily usage

I have found myself using the watch for main communication during day. I usually text a lot and do not make so many calls. I tend to answer messages usually from my watch. Email handling also I do it from my watch mainly. Thanks to hand off functions, I can take message or email from my phone from where I left on the watch if I wish. Hand off fiction is really well thought and implemented.

Another thing has changed on my daily live after Apple Watch: I do not have to be checking my phone for messages, missed calls, or any other notification. You start to forget a bit more your phone as you are not afraid that you had missed anything. It is all in your wrist.

Battery is not a problem as it can last up to two days on weekends (less activities), while during weekdays I get to the end of the day with no problem.

Verdict

Apple is preparing the ground for what a future stand alone connected watch could be and it looks really promising. I could see an Apple Watch with no need for iPhone to be online anytime and everywhere using e-SIM card (like one of the new Samsung Gear 2 Smartwatch model) coming in the next years.

I do not think this device is a must, but it is great to have as a complement.

Price is one of the weakest points as it is overpriced in my opinion. Also, additional band prices are way too expensive in my opinion.

Anyway, Apple Watch is opening new opportunities and applications that only time will show.
Thanks for reading!

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