Apple watch

The Apple Watch came out at the end of April. I’ve been wearing one for over three months. How much has changed since my original review? Well, not much.

There has been one firmware update, mostly addressing performance and reliability (and adding extra language support, plus access to more emoji). Otherwise, for the most part, the Apple Watch still does what it did before. I still use it in the same ways: mostly, as a simple way to stay connected without always checking my phone.

The Apple Watch is still available in its original configuration of three different models, two different sizes, and six different finishes, all with a range of swappable bands. The digital timepieces are priced from $349, £299 or AU$499 all the way up to $17,000, £13,500 or AU$24,000.

The company’s first smartwatch is an evolution, of sorts, of the iPod Nano that could strap to your wrist. But it’s far more advanced than that. It’s a device that can act as a wrist companion for all sorts of things: fitness tracking, communication, phone calls, Apple Pay, wireless music playback, and a lot more. But for most of those functions, right now, you need an iPhone nearby that it can pair to.

I use it mainly for message notifiapple-event-0909-28cations, and for fitness. It’s become a reliable go-to type of basic Fitbit: it counts steps and tracks my walks, and reminds me to stand. Its handling of notifications is, mostly, better than Pebble or Android Wear: it’s fast and efficient. Apple Pay is great, if you can find places that accept it.

Battery life still isn’t great. But at least it lasts a full day, plus a little more. I’ve stopped carrying a charger around, but I still need to take it off at night — or charge first thing in the morning.


Setup is easy, but you’ll need to crack open that user manual

Getting an Apple Watch and unboxing it is an occasion in itself — far more so than unboxing an iPhone or an iPad. The Watch Sport, for example, comes in an overly elaborate oblong box, with an embossed Watch logo on the front. There’s considerably more empty space inside than actual content, but it all adds to the drama. Buy a Watch Edition, and you get a smaller, but considerably plusher box, which doubles as a charging stand.

The Apple Watch could be one of the first pieces of tech that’s better with a friend.

Syncing the Apple Watch with your iPhone is an absolute breeze. Forget all that messing around with Bluetooth connections and pairing that you experienced with Android Wear or Pebble. Apple gets you to point the iPhone’s camera at the Watch, and that’s about it. You set everything else up in the app. The Apple Watch activates most of the notifications as standard, and it’s up to you to trim them down. However, the Watch doesn’t bombard you with notifications; it keeps things simple. It took less than 10 minutes to set up.

Here’s where the quirks begin. There are two main screens. The first is the app homescreen that’s populated with colorful bubbles depicting your apps. It’s manipulated using the Digital Crown on the side of the Watch, or by pinching and swiping the touchscreen. It looks awesome, but it’s also a bit of a confusing mess, and almost impossible to navigate while you’re moving around. Forget trying to do anything when out for a run; it’s just too fiddly.

The trick is to get rid of apps you won’t use. There is a real risk of stuffing the Apple Watch full of fun, but ultimately useless apps, but it ruins the experience. Slim it down, and apps are easier to pinpoint on the screen. You can also select the ones you use most often and put them in Glances, so they’re always easily accessible. To see Glances, simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen. Then you’ll see your main apps, and you’ll be able to swipe through them at will. For example, I’ve got weather, transit, music, and a few other apps in Glances.

The other main screen is the standard Watch face, and it’s the first time I’ve ever needed to watch an instructional video to find out how to change the face. I’m not a stupid person, but I just couldn’t work it out. Turns out, you have to press the screen harder than normal to see the alternatives.

This sets the tone for using the Apple Watch. It’s very different to the iPhone, and requires you to learn how it responds to touch, gestures, and the Digital Crown. It’s natural to feel lost, and there is a real learning curve. You’ll need to have patience, and prepare to take time to understand how it operates. The tutorial videos in the app certainly help, and the user guide Apple published not that long ago is invaluable. Yes, you should actually read the user manual for this device.

WatchOS 2 arrives, and promises plenty for the future

The Apple Watch received its first software update in late September. Does it change the entire Apple Watch experience, or is it more of the same, with a few tweaks for good measure? We’ve spent a short time with the software to find out.

WatchOS 2 certainly doesn’t refine or alter the Watch experience drastically, but it does go beyond only offering a few tweaks — although only just. Downloading and installing the new version gives the opposite impression, at first. It takes two hours to complete, but unlike the iPhone and iPad, there’s noting else to do once the software’s on the Watch. There’s no messing around with yes to this, and no to that.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment