There are several ways to test device and gadgets. You can “stress test” them by putting them under exceptional conditions to see how they cope. You can “benchmark test” devices by running through a set series of test to see how they compare to other devices.
When I test devices my aim it to see how they integrate into my life and how they preform under normal work and social conditions in other words, I want to see how they work in the real-world.
It was this “real world” test that I did when I was given the Apple Watch to try by the iStore. After a period of over two weeks, here are my findings:
Pre Requisite – Before you eve consider the Apple Watch, you need to have an iPhone. It is a nice watch without it, but pretty much just a watch. The magic happens when you pair the Apple Watch with the iPhone via Bluetooth.
The Apple Watch is charged via a magnetic charger that comes with the watch. Simply place the watch on the charging circle and it begins to charge. The Apple Watch battery lasted around 20 hours but does vary with how many Notifications, Navigation and other apps you use.
As Bluetooth needs to be enabled, the iPhone battery does take a knock and drains faster than normal but you can keep an eye on both the phone and watch battery level in your iPhone’s notification screen.
Hit and Miss on Apple Watch Apps
The Apple Watch has a touch screen that allows you to access apps that are already installed on your iPhone. Mail, WhatsApp, Uber, Skype, Evernote,Twitter, Instagram to name but a few, simply load onto the Apple Watch and begin to appear as little circle icons once they are ready to be used.
There is limited screen real-estate on the Apple Watch which is understandable why apps are “scaled” down. That is understandable however the time it takes some apps to open can be frustrating. Apps like WhatsApp instantly fire up whereas Instagram takes much longer. It seems if the phone is close to the watch the apps open faster than if the phone is further away. Therefore, the watch tends to notify of “stuff” and then I would use the phone to launch the app. For me the watch became more of a notification mechanism and the iPhone the brain where it all happened.
Where the Apple Watch app does shine is in an application like Map Navigation. Once you set the destination on your iPhone, you can put the phone away as the Watch screen takes over with clear Left, Right Arrows showing you when to turn.
WhatsApp notifications were also rather handy. With a quick glance I could see who the messages was from. While you can read the message on the watch, most of the time I would read it on my phone if it was longer than one line.
Having a quick glance of the upcoming meetings is also rather nice with a quick flick of the wrist as the Apple Watch displays your calendar appointments (if you have that enabled in your chosen watch-face screen).
The Camera shutter release app is great too. You can use the watch to see what the iPhone’s camera “sees” so when the perfect shot is in place, simply press on the Watch and you snap your pic. Nice if you want to take a group shot and be in the picture too. This is also useful if you use a selfie-stick and can remotely set off your camera from a height above the crowd.
A cool tip: if you have multiple apps open on the watch you can switch between them by double-pushing the “crown button”
The advantage of a smartwatch over a regular watch is that you can select the watch face to match your mood, your outfit and your style. On a formal elegant night out, select a classy face. If you are mountain biking, select a large display. With the Apple Watch I found the selection of faces was adequate. I feel like this section could be greatly enhanced with watch faces that have utilities like direction, stop watch, altitude etc. There could also be more detail put into the watch faces to make them look like a watch and not a digital representation.
The feature that works well is Siri and that is if you don’t mind talking to your wrist. Questions such as “What time is it in Dallas? “ or “Whats my next appointment?” are transcribed remarkably well. Some answers are displayed on the watch face however, with some questions like “Who is the president of South Africa ?” the Apple Watch refers you to the iPhone for the answer.
Why you gotta be so rude?
Finally, the one comment that was constantly being made was “do you need to go?”. With every buzz and vibration I was instinctively checking my wrist not realising that to the person I was with it looked like I was checking the time every couple of minutes – a social cue for “I am late” or “I am bored”.
So in summary:
The potential is definitely there however software developers need to create apps that fit the form an function of the Watch and not just a scaled down version of existing apps. In the future where you might be able to swipe your watch past a Point of Sale terminal to make a payment or your watch has a Panic app that alerts your contacts that you are in trouble, or the watch directs you to your car in the parking lot then I can see massive uptake.
The watch’s limited input (small keyboard & prescribed replies) doesn’t make it conducive to a work environment or even social – beyond sending some NSFW pic that you draw and send to a contact.
The Apple Watch has great potential but is currently too reliant on the iPhone as its brains and partner. Its not the Apple Watch’s fault but wearable devices today are an extension of the phone and since we are too attached to the phone, the watch quickly becomes a “nice to have” but no necessary. Saying that, I am sad to see it go and will miss it on my wrist…
Geeks and iPhones fans around the world love their Apple Watch as its adds to the growing eco-system of their Apple products and I can definitely see their attraction to it. Apple has once again dominated a category and will not improve and develop on it to be Bigger, Better, Faster than competition.
Available at the iStore starting at R5899
[tweetthis]Time to get hands on with the Apple Watch #AppleWatch #Review[/tweetthis]
*The Apple Watch was given to me on a loan basis for this review and it going back…sadly…