Nine Days with Apple Watch

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My Apple Watch arrived late. It was in fact early compared to the estimated shipping date, but having to wait an extra week was extremely off-putting. Patience is not one of my virtues. My friends got their Sports on launch day while I had to bide my time and watch them flaunt their new toys publicly, more or less pleased with their choices. I chose the steel Apple Watch, thinking that it would actually ship sooner than the popular Sport. I was wrong.

I did have other reasons for getting the more expensive model. I am passionate about mechanical watches—these finely crafted works of art have a soft spot in my heart. The problem with them is that there are too many beautiful models which I yearn for. And if I had each and every one that I dream of, I would most definitely spend too much time picking which one to wear each morning. Hence I have only one that I truly treasure—an Omega that I fell in love with many years ago. It has rarely left my wrist since it came into my possession. This changed when I finally picked up my Apple Watch nine days ago.

Apple Watch

Apple Watch

Apple has two kinds of customers to convince—those that don’t wear a watch, and those that do. The second group is harder to tackle, and there must be more people like me who love their mechanical timepieces for irrational reasons. At first I assumed I would use Apple’s new gadget for a week or month and return to my Omega. Today, I am unsure as to the future—it’s been nine days and I’m getting more and more attached to it. What surprised me are the reasons behind this.

Apple was right in saying their Watch will be an extremely personal device. I strongly believe that everyone has their own reasons for this. Some people will value the build quality. Others will be grateful for notifications, navigation and other apps. Personally, I’m slightly addicted to two features—the fitness app is keeping me surprisingly motivated, compelling me to close the three rings each and every day, and the Messages app is giving me the ability to communicate directly from my wrist via iMessages.

Apple Watch

Apple Watch

I turned off nearly all notifications on the first day. This was followed by an experimental period where I turned various ones on, one at a time, and tried to judge which will stick. At this point in time I’m quite comfortable with popups for iMessages, Calendar events, fitness updates and phone calls. Anything else and I start to get extremely frustrated, feeling distracted whenever I get a tap on my wrist. I also keep the Watch on silent mode, not wanting to bug people around me. This is not really a problem since the Taptic Engine touches are so well executed. Apple should really expand on the explanation of this technology on their site. These are the words they use:

It’s called the Taptic Engine, a linear actuator inside Apple Watch that produces haptic feedback. In less technical terms, it taps you on the wrist whenever you receive an alert or notification, or press down on the display. Combined with subtle audio cues from the specially engineered speaker driver, the Taptic Engine creates a discreet, sophisticated, and nuanced experience by engaging more of your senses.

The wording is to the point but potential customers might gloss over it. I’ve had a lot of friends ask me to explain how the Taptic Engine works and, more importantly, what it feels like. I’ve always parroted Apple, mentioning ‘taps’ but it is so much more—a feeling which is not akin to the vibrations we’re used to from our phones and other devices. Much more sophisticated. Much more real. It needs to be experienced.

Apple Watch

Apple Watch

Unfortunately, my wife is still holding out, preferring her mechanical watch for fashion reasons. She also mentioned that she most probably wouldn’t have a clue how to use a fraction of the Watch’s features. This has left sending traditional iMessages as our preferred method of communicating. I had hoped for more interactions via taps and sending our heartbeats to each other, expected us to use the drawing functions too. Perhaps even developing our own system, unique to our needs and style. I don’t use these with my colleagues and friends, but the potential is huge. However, since I’ve been relying on Siri and dictation a lot recently, I’m quite shocked how far along those functions have come recently. Rarely do I have to repeat myself and my only regret is that I cannot ask her to delete a word which was interpreted incorrectly.

I was never excited about third party apps and that hasn’t changed. I have only a handful installed, most for testing, including: PCalc [App Store], CalcBot [App Store], Overcast [App Store], Workflow [App Store], mytaxi [App Store] and Navigon Europe [App Store]. The first offers the most compelling calculator experience. The second makes currency conversion a breeze. Overcast is an excellent remote control for the best podcast player on the market, thanks to it’s Smart Speed and Voice Boost features. I haven’t found anything else of interest to me and quite frankly don’t expect to do so for a number of weeks, if not months. It will take some time for developers to come up with something revolutionary and applicable to my needs. It will be interesting to see what happens once Apple releases its Watch SDK.

Apple Watch

Apple Watch

It took just a week and change for me to come to accept the Apple Watch to be the best fitness tracker for my needs. It does everything I want it to and more. It’s not perfect but nothing else comes close. Together with HealthKit, they form a great ecosystem which still has great potential to evolve. If you’re into this sort of stuff I strongly recommend you also get a Withings Smart Body Analyzer to get a more complete overview of your body.

It only took nine days for one aspect of my life to change completely—the simplification of my communications with my family. Sending and receiving iMessages is a wonderful experience. I only hope I can convince my wife to get her own Watch.

These two reasons are enough for the Watch to stay on my wrist. Despite thinking about my mechanical watches often I have never yet been compelled to put them on instead. I don’t expect this to change anytime soon.

P.S. I never use more than 70% of the battery charge per day. Daily charging is a must naturally, but this turned out much less frustrating than I expected it to be. I just take it off before bed and put it back on when I get up.

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