Google Productivity Pad: Apple Watch, First Thoughts

Monday, September 15, 2014

Apple Watch, First Thoughts

As promised, I will now give my initial thoughts on the Apple Watch that Apple announced a few days ago. First let me just say that if you haven't gone and watched the video of the Watch it is worth it just so you can see the bands snap closed. Apple has such a great way of presenting a product, if they made a garbage can it would have a cooler video than most luxury cars.

It is beautiful
A lot of people have said and are going to say, "its just strapping a screen onto your wrist." And that is true, in many ways it is, but only Apple could take that concept from nerdy to fashionable. All smartwatches, beyond basic fitness trackers, are going to be a screen on you wrist, but nobody has made one that looks so nice as Apple's does.

Don't get me wrong, I love my Pebble Steel and I am totally convinced that it is the best looking smartwatch on the market right now, but let's face it, it isn't 14 karat gold. That being said I will not be throwing my Pebble out any time soon.

The bands
It is a testament to Apple's design prowess that the bands on the Watch are one of the things I am most impressed with. I was telling some friends the other day; leave it to Apple to take an experience as bad as changing your watch band and make it fun.

The bands will be easily switched by pressing a release on the bottom of the Watch, no need to go to jeweler to remove pins. This will mean people can easily have multiple bands to switch out, but it also has a more practical purpose for some people, namely left-handers. The switchable bands me that left-handers, most of whom wear their watches on the right hand, can easily swap out the two sides of the band to orient the watch correctly on their wrist with the crown the correct spot for left-handed operation.

The digital crown
Speaking of the digital crown, this is one of the most awesome parts of the Watch and it is another example of Apple ingenuity. Digital watch navigation has been a pain since the beginning of digital watches. The more features your watch had the harder it was to get to them. Settings have always been a pain as well because they required so much button pressing.

Having been using a Pebble for a few months now I can tell you that navigation on it isn't any better. It has many great features, but accessing them is often difficult. I think the digital crown will be a very intuitive solution to this problem. I thought it was interesting that Tim Cook pointed out that with every major new product Apple has had to design a new interaction interface for it. And so far they have always done amazing jobs (pun intended).

Is it a Watch?
One of the most interesting things, I thought, about the announcement of the Apple Watch, was how much time they spent trying to convince us it was a watch. They told us how amazing it is a keeping the correct time, they showed us a ton of watch faces and how to change them, the talked about how the studied the meaning and importance of time in different cultures while making it; it was all really quite involved.

So yes, it is a watch, and I am impressed with the amount of effort that Apple put into that aspect of it. My only problem is that the clock does not stay on all the time. The watch is suppose to "sense" that you are lifting you arm and then turn on the screen for you to see the time. I don't really like this because I feel like it is going to make it too much work to check the time.

I have had a couple watches that were suppose to turn on the backlight when you raised your wrist to look at it and that was super annoying because it was not very accurate when you needed it to be, but when you didn't it was turning the light on all the time. We shall have to wait and see how Apple's implementation goes, but I wish they could have found a way to leave the clock face always on. That is one of the nice features about the pebble and its low power eink screen.

The battery
The battery life is a major concern on the Apple Watch, and one of the reasons its beautiful tiny LCD retina display can't constantly show the time. But Apple left any mention of battery life out of their presentation, which gives me a sense of foreboding because they never do that.

The only thing I have heard so far are a few cryptic statements by Apple employees saying things like it is expected that you will charge it every night. That doesn't sound good for those like me who would want to use it as a sleep tracker. This is probably better than most Android watches out there, but it is terrible for those coming from pebble who are use to getting 5-7 days.

Apple has created another amazing product that is going to change the world. But I will not be getting one any time soon. Here is why:

  1. I have a 4s that is working perfectly fine still, I would have to upgrade to at least a 5 to be compatible with the Apple Watch and that won't be happening soon.
  2. I am happy with my Pebble Steel that does work with my 4s.
  3. I don't buy anything new, so I have to wait quite a while before used and refurbs are available. 
  4. I need to know what battery life is going to be, and I need it to be good.
That being said, I think there are lots of people who will buy it, and I don't think it will be a bad purchase for them. Haters are gonna hate, no matter what Apple released, and they really did release something that is leaps and bounds ahead of the Android attempts, expect Samsung to fire up their Xerox machine soon.

That being said, this is going to be a great leap forward for the wearables market overall, not just for Apple. To see this just look at what happened to the smartphone market in 2007. Did it exist before the iPhone came out? Yes indeed, nerds like me remember Blackberrys and Palm Treos, and other attempts at a smartphone before it. But when the iPhone came out it took that market mainstream, and everybody benefited from it. In fact it created its own micro economy. A very similar thing happened for MP3 players with the iPod, and for tablet computers with the iPad.

I expect to see the same thing happen with smartwatches, Apple's will be the most popular and the one everyone refers to, but everybody will see increased sales as the concept becomes more mainstream, because of Apple.

There is a lot more that could and will be said concerning the Apple Watch, and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. My feel is that it is something that can help intentional people live better.

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