Rather than jumping on my first impressions of the Apple Watch, I figured that I would give it a few solid weeks of use to see how I felt about it. So, here are my highlights:
1) Notifications Shine: For those of us who are too lazy or too slow to actually dig our phones out of our pockets, notifications are a huge convenience. For instance, you can quickly scan and respond to texts. Flight alerts display gate changes. Breaking news gets through. The main challenge is managing your notification settings to keep your watch alerts to just the essentials you personally need, otherwise it’s a complete blizzard of interruptions.
2) Calendar Kills It: Calendar notifications display 15 minutes before my meetings with details such as meeting room locations. This is terrific, and so I’m setting reminders on all my meetings now. I find meeting reminders annoying on my phone, but useful on my watch.
3) Music is Magic: One of the main reasons I wore an iPod Nano on my wrist for 4 years was to easily listen to music on my train commute. The ?Watch raises this to another level. Essentially functioning as a remote control for the music on your phone, the watch provides a very frictionless experience. You can make selections for song, artist, playlist, etc. right on your wrist as well as adjust volume and skip tracks. For search, you use Siri. Using Shazam from your watch is also easy and the mic on the watch produces good results.
4) Small Apps Succeed: This is the most interesting aspect of the watch. Rather than building complex interactions unsuitable for such a small screen, some leading apps have already cracked the code for simple and purposeful interactions. Not surprisingly, Apple apps excel at this. Take Maps, for instance. After a proper beating for its buggy roll-out, Maps has improved and is now a solid app. However, I rarely use it because I’m so connected into the Google ecosystem. Now I’m using it frequently because Maps broadcasts to the watch your next instructions. I frequently wander through the streets of Manhattan looking for some obscure restaurant address. Using Maps I get a gentle tap on my wrist alerting me to the next turn. It’s specific and sparse and just what I need. (These apps could be a Trojan horse for using Apple software since they work so seamlessly with the watch.)
Similarly, MobileDay is an app that automatically dials you into a conference call with all your credentials through just one touch on the watch. I can also use Wunderlist while shopping in the grocery store – it shows my shopping list right on my wrist and I can check off items as I buy them. That’s a first world problem for sure, but it beats dropping my phone into the cart. More and more apps are coming out with these useful and lightweight interactions.
5) Siri Doesn’t Suck: I’ve never been a huge Siri fan. She seems to not be there when I need her most, and I must have friends with unpronounceable names since she often can’t find them. The watch is like Siri 2.0 – she actually works. There is a mic and speaker built into the phone which is surprisingly good, even for a Dick Tracy-style phone call. This makes Siri very useful on the watch. As I mentioned before, it’s the best way to search for and play music. You can also set a timer, dial a phone number, find an address, etc. using her. Whatever upgrade has been done, Siri is now a useful tool. In fact, if the watch is awake you can just say “hey Siri” to start her up.
The Apple Watch easily and immediately became a part of how I go about my day. It’s not going to be for everyone, but as a combination notification center and remote control for my iPhone it has some strong advantages. The watch phone companion app feels like a generation-one piece of software, but I’ve had no real issues. Compared to my experience using Google Glass, as a first-release product, the Apple Watch is polished, easy to use, fun, and bug-free.by