At the beginning of all this, I confessed my history of Apple products and my pending “issue.” In the past I have had some problems with keeping devices for a variety of my own reasons, but mainly caused by my personal indecisiveness. To be sure this wouldn’t happen again, I documented and held myself accountable for the research that went into my decision to purchase an Apple Watch. Well, I said all that to say I returned my Apple Watch after the 14 day grace period. Largely in part of another project I am committed to that needed some expensive software from Apple and that situation very quickly became a need vs. want thing. Need being the software and want being an Apple Watch. Although I enjoyed my time with Apple Watch, there were some bumps in the road. All in all, Apple Watch and I didn’t sail into the sunset together, but made a few lasting memories that certainly weren’t all bad. Below is my ramblings of what the 14 day experience for ME was like.
This is I guess you can say, my review. But really the word “review” would be setting this up for failure. I’ve tried really hard to not be biased (because I am huge Apple fan) and give a fair account of my opinions on Apple Watch. It is important to keep in mind that all these words are indeed opinions. Meaning no one can have a “right” opinion or a “wrong” opinion. It is also equally important to note that I only used the Watch for 14 days. So in no way is this meant to be an in depth review or even really a valid one. Just one guy’s thoughts, that’s all.
I guess its fair to start with my situation since we last spoke. I was on the fence regarding Apple Watch. So, update time: I did indeed preorder a 42mm Space Grey Sport, but not at 3am like my usual practice. I actually showed some resilience and waited until I was dead set on the size. I’ve never worn a watch before and was completely unfamiliar with the sizing. I didn’t know what a 38mm or 42mm watch felt like. Once I went to the Apple store to try on the Watch, I settled on 42mm and was ready to preorder. The issue was, by this time (4 days after preordering started) the watch was pushed back till June. That didn’t matter to me. And the preorder was executed.
I received the watch on June 3. I was excited! There was so much possibility of fresh and new ways to interact with people. I reminisced of the iPhone’s release and how I could never have known the impact that device would inevitably have. I looked at the watch similarly which maybe was my first problem. I thought the watch could be a revolutionary thing that changed the way I personally communicated.
So the Watch arrived! I was psyched, like a kid on Christmas morning. I strapped it on. Immediately it felt odd. Not anything of Apple’s doing, but because the realization hit me that i’ve never worn a watch before. Funny, I was looking forward to the Watch, even convinced myself it had a place in my life, but I forgot it was indeed a watch. It was like being really excited for cheese and then when you eat it you realize you’ve never ate cheese before. Anyways….
First things first, I don’t mind saying without hesitation this is bar none the best physical product Apple has ever made. I purchased the “cheap” model and it still was “take your breath away” stunning. Apple never ceases to amaze me. I can spend months staring at promotional pictures of a product and when I finally see it in person, it’s still amazing.
Jony Ive and team completely outdid themselves. I mean I can’t say enough on the quality of the device. My best friend has the stainless steel model and a fancier band, and they are well worth the steeper price point. The craftsmanship shown on the device is breathtaking. The digital crown moves as smoothly as you would imagine, with a slight bit of resistance but enough slide to achieve a luxurious feel.
Personally I loved the feel of my sport band. It was supple, yet strong. It fit like a good glove. The actual Watch I decided on was the Space Grey model. From the get-go I really clung to the look and I stayed with it. Even seeing all in person I ended up happy. Again, it was awesome. There is so much positive I can say with absolute zero negative comments, that I’ll just end on it’s a flawless design!
To me this is even more impressive considering hey, Apple has never made a Watch before! Or any wearable for that matter! They make screens and keyboards! Amazing they were able to nail and I mean nail this on their first try.
OK, here is where things get a little hairy (for me). So let me speak on the good first. The Watch faces are fantastic. Simply put, I loved, LOVED the watch faces and the “complications” (little widgets in the corners displaying info) Some days I would sit there and just play with the faces. They were polished, well done and purposeful. Bravo Apple!
The BEST, BEST, BEST feature of the watch in my opinion was the fitness tracking. I absolutely loved it. Apple really cares about Health and it shows in how much attention they put into fitness. I constantly was checking my 3 rings and was obsessing over filling all of them. The one feature I will miss the most no question. I really think the mark of something great, whether it be film or anything is learning or discovering something new about yourself. Apple’s take on fitness really made me more aware of my situation and was a delightful feature that made my experience really special.
So the bad, (again these are opinions) if you swipe up from the Watch face you will find “Glances.” These are supposed to be quick references you can flick through to get some fast, but needed info. The idea sounds great and reciprocates the philosophy of Apple Watch. But when I started to use them problems became very apparent. Besides the little dots on the bottom of the screen, you have no navigation whatsoever. It was odd. Glances were meant to be fast and efficient , but overtime I tried to use them I would lose my place and have to swipe around to find where I was at in my list. Also, they needed to be refreshed every time you accessed them.
I will give Apple a bunch of room for error here because I’m aware it’s a first gen product. But my sports app “glance” was stuck on the Mets game from 6 days ago and just wouldn’t update. I’m unsure if this is Apple’s issue or my App. Either way it made for a bad experience for me personally.
Lastly is the App grid. Press in the digital crown and you will be introduced to an array of tiny app circles that move impressively as a grid. This also turned into an overwhelmingly frustrating. I completely understand why Apple has included this, and why Apps will be a very big deal. But it just seems it was handled somewhat clumsy. I found myself actively trying to avoid going to the screen which i’ve never done on an Apple product before.
REAL LIFE USAGE
Like I said, I loved using the Watch faces. I found myself checking them all the time just to see what time it was, which was cool. I never wore a watch before so this could have been just the new effect of having time on my wrist but either way, I enjoyed it.
Also its important to note I am a firefighter 1 day out of 3 and I learned very quickly the Watch was a no go there. The job is just too physical and wearing it just one day produced a scratch on my screen. This wasn’t a deal breaker for me, but it bummed me out seeing those activity rings being blank 1 day out of 3!
Real life usage is where I had a love-hate relationship with the Watch. I can break these down into 2 simple groups:
LOVE = The way the Watch makes me aware of my surroundings.
HATE = The way the Watch enabled me to interact with people.
Lets talk about LOVE first :) There were some aspects of the Watch that really spoke to me. It sounds silly, but knowing the moon phase and current temp was super fulfilling to myself. I don’t know why but I loved being informed of my surroundings. And I admired how they updated. Apple Watch made me feel connected to the Earth in a way no other tech product has. I really enjoyed this, and will miss it severely.
OK now hate, I had high hopes for notifications. I thought the process of feeling a non invasive tap would be great. Would put my mind at ease knowing OK, when I have time I will check that. But, it never worked that way for me. Instead, just like I would check my phone when a notification came in, I would immediately lift my wrist when I felt something. To the point where I couldn’t control it and would display open rudeness to my loved ones and strangers alike. I do understand this could be a “me” problem and not a “watch” problem, but these were my experiences.
That was my biggest issue. I really felt like I was making people feel unimportant. I would check out of a conversation and try to do heavy tasking with a watch the minute I was tapped. Whether that be reply to a simple text message or try and expand some notification into an action. It felt morally wrong and more so, like complete overkill with a small device. The last thing I wanted this to do was give myself another screen to manage, and at the end of 14 days, instead of being an efficient person with more free time for loved ones, I was an overly rude conversationalist with too many devices.
Honestly, I got to the point where I even asked myself: “Do I wanna be a guy who needs to know every alert as fast as possible?” And for me, that answer is no. I have a good system on my iPhone where my phone is always on silent besides phone calls. Meaning, my phone works for me, I’m not a slave to its noises. I understand everyone’s needs are different, so the idea of getting up to the second alerts on wrists may be amazingly enticing for some, for me it turned exhausting.
CONCLUSION (yes, there is one)
Looking back I should have stuck to my mind’s first thought when the keynote took place. I was puzzled. Personally I thought the Watch did too many things and it was a “confused” product. I never really got a clear message of what the watch wanted to be. Over the months of researching and podcast listening it seemed either I forgot about that or I just was really hoping I would find a use for it. After using the Watch for 14 days, I must admit I am still a tiny bit confused. But I also want to be clear, I’m sure there are thousands of people for which the Watch is great and fits perfectly into their lives. For me it was just more of jamming a puzzle piece in the wrong spot. I’m still unsure as to who’s fault that was, me or Apple Watch.
I am more than willing to admit 14 days is way too short of a timespan to make a valid opinion on any device. But like I said, this was my attempt. It’s not at all that Apple Watch is bad. It’s very, very far from that. And maybe theres a day in the future where Apple Watch and I reunite? I wouldn’t say no if history has taught me anything. I’m also extremely aware I am not great at change in general. So maybe the 14 day period was enough for me to roll Apple Watch into my life comfortably?
At some point I think we all have to realize that EVERY device is not for everyone all the time. The Watch and I clashed on many levels and were in perfect unison on many other levels. It was a tough decision to return it, but like I mentioned earlier, other factors played heavily and I had to make choice based on priorities. I feel I made that right one. I am at peace with my decision, Who knows what the future holds, but my present day status is the Apple Watch is a Phenomenal, 1st-gen device. Just not for me, just not right now.