3 Days with Apple Watch

I placed my order for a Space Gray 42mm Apple Watch Sport at 12:03 PST, and was one of the fortunate ones to have it delivered on launch day last Friday. It came in the later afternoon and I’ve spent the last few days getting to know it. I’ve got a few thoughts that I hope will be helpful to those waiting for theirs to arrive or wondering what the experience is like.

Before I dive in, I want to couch my thoughts as very much initial impressions. This is a device that needs to be lived with. It’s definitely Apple’s most personal device yet (as they’ve been calling it) and I have only a few days with it. It’s also a 1.0. There are some things that work really well and some things that don’t; this is to be expected, and will only get better over time.

  • The build quality of the watch is outstanding. It’s slightly smaller even than the analog watch that I have been wearing for a few months now, and definitely lighter. The fluoroelastomer band really is comfortable. It’s soft and almost disappears when you are wearing it. I like the look of it as well. When I did my try on at the Apple Store, my wife commented that she liked the one I got the best. Vindication!

  • I was shocked when I looked this up the other day, but at 30 grams, the 42mm Sport watches are the same weight as a Jawbone Up. The Jawbone has no screen, yet Apple Watch has a wonderful retina display that enables worlds of other functions besides just fitness tracking.

  • The setup process is really great. There’s an information cloud that serves as a QR code for your phone to capture and then as the pairing continues, it narrows down into these cool shapes and finally an Apple logo with a circle around it. The circle fills up as your settings get moved over to the watch. Overall it took about 10 minutes or so to be up and running.

  • The first thing I tried was a speaker phone call to my wife (with our son also in the room so he could hear his first speakerphone calls). That was the first glimpse into the future for me. It’s so cool to finally have a Dick Tracy (or Michael Knight) watch finally on my wrist. I can see it being a big help in the car, but out in public might be a bit weird.

  • The fitness tracking works quite well, but there’s room for improvement. I really like having the goals on a daily basis. When you achieve them you get “awards” which are oddly fulfilling. I’ve set modest daily goals and have been able to hit my move and stand goals without problems the past couple of days. They can be adjusted, as well. The thing that I will probably have to look to an app for is weight training and tracking. The exercise app only supports cardio things (bike, treadmill, elliptical, etc). That’s not a huge deal for me.

  • The pedometer actually leaves something to be desired for me. It functions like a normal wrist-worn pedometer would, meaning that you need to swing your arms for steps to be counted (which wouldn’t work for Raquel Welch). I like to walk with my hands in my hoodie pockets, so the watch won’t tally those steps either. I have to be cognizant of how I’m walking in order to know my steps are being counted. What bums me out about that is my iPhone is most likely in my pocket, happily counting my steps. I wish the two would talk to each other. This feels like a low-hanging fruit feature for a future update.

  • I’ve installed a few apps, and am trying to keep that number as low as possible. So far my favorites are Overcast (which provides a great remote control feature to control playback) and MLB At-Bat. The At-Bat app offers a glance, so I can see the Mariners score easily from the watch face. I’m excited to see what developers will do with the Watch now that it’s available and we can use them.

  • The front Glance is always going to be the settings one. This is the equivalent of Control Center on iPhone, and it works really well. You can enable airplane mode, do not disturb, mute, and even ping your iPhone if you’ve misplaced it. The killer thing is you can mirror the settings from the watch to the phone. So if your phone enters do not disturb, so will your watch (and vice versa). It’s really nice.

Here are 2 tips that I hope you will find helpful:

  1. If you’re a heavy app user, then changing the “Activate on Wrist Raise” setting of “Resume To” so that the watch resumes where you were, rather than the watch face, could be very useful. I did this just after starting to use Overcast and it’s been great. I would like Apple to have a timeout on this, though. If I haven’t raised my wrist in 15 or 30 minutes, then go back to the watch face. That would be perfect I think.

  2. Go slow with notifications, glances, and apps. You can customize this all on your phone and it’s really easy to do. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with buzzing and tapping on your wrist. My default on the phone is to deny notifications to start so this might need to start on the phone for you, but on the watch you can allow the notifications to go through for any app you have them enabled on the phone. I like that touch a lot. Being picky about what buzzes your wrist will make for a more pleasant experience.

So those are a few thoughts and a couple tips. If you’ve got any questions you’d like me to answer, hit me up on Twitter or by email and I’ll try to post some follow-ups if there are any.