Short Impressions Of the Apple Watch

I received my Apple Watch at night on April 24th, and I’ve been using it for a few days now.

Instead of going into the features side of things and discussing common issues like battery life, I would like to go into the behavioural side of things. That is, how my behaviour changed due to having a window to my iPhone always on my wrist.

  1. Always being able to quickly check the time is really, really nice: I actually noticed this half a year before I got my Apple Watch when I resumed my decades long habit of wearing a watch (a mechanical Swiss watch). I had stopped wearing a watch when I started to pick up our new-born baby. Now with the Apple Watch, I have a strong incentive to keep my watch on at all time, whereas with the Swiss one, I took it off when I got back home. This makes it just more convinient.
  2. Taking phone calls on your wrist is simply natural: When you are wearing your Apple Watch, incoming phone calls will show up on your watch. You will immediately see who it is from, and whether you want to immediately respond, or you want to call back later. If you do want to respond, instead of frantically pulling your phone out of your pocket, you can simply respond on your watch. This is much more natural and leisurely. If you decide that you want a bit of privacy, then you can take your phone out of your pocket at your own pace, while still on the line, and then use handoff from the iPhone lock-screen to transfer the call to your iPhone. I am convinced that anybody who takes several calls a day on their iPhone will appreciate not having to rush to pull it out from their pocket or bag.
  3. Dictating your messages becomes your preferred way of texting: On the Apple Watch, you simply have no choice unless the prepared messages or emoji are suitable enough. Once you do it however, you realise how good the voice recognition is. The result is not 100%, but it’s easily comprehensible to the recipient. If it is an internal message, it should be just fine. Then you realise that you could use dictation on your iPhone as well, and you start doing this more often. It’s much faster than typing.
  4. Clock faces are not just appearance. You change them depending on the task at hand: With the Apple Watch, the complications on the clock face are also the most convenient shortcuts to apps on the phone. For example, tapping the calendar complication takes you to the calendar app. Tapping the temperature complication takes you to the weather app. If you don’t have these complications, accessing these apps requires flipping through your glances (you are likely to have many), or going to the app list screen, scrolling to find your app, and carefully tapping the right one. Since you can only put 5 complications on a single clock face at maximum, it then makes sense to use different clock faces depending on what you are doing. For example, if you are cooking, you could use a clock face that has the timer complication. If you are at the office with a lot of meetings, you could use a clock face that can accommodate the text of the next meeting (Utility or Modular). At night, when you have no further appointments, you could switch to the Simple clock face and get rid of all other distractions. The Simple clock face, when pared down to the bare minimum, is also nice because it doesn’t light up your surroundings when it accidentally lights up in the dark when you are say in bed or in a theatre.
  5. You stop browsing Twitter: I think this is huge. With my iPhone, I would simply pick it up when I was bored and if I didn’t have any notifications, I would still quickly browse Twitter to see if anybody had said something interesting. However with the Apple Watch, you realise that you don’t really have an excuse to stare at your phone and you therefore lose the chance to go to Twitter. And as for the Apple Watch, it really is not suited for quickly scrolling through long lists. I sense that Apple Watch will teach us to prioritise what is important from what we just do to kill the time, and as a result, we will kill the time less and less. This has implications for the services that have a low S/N ration and I expect it will force Twitter to provide us with better tools to filter our noise from our Timeline.
  6. You stop worrying about missing calls: I missed calls all the time. A buzz in your trousers isn’t really that noticeable when you are walking for example. Women who keep their phones in their bags, I’m sure, miss calls all the time. The Apple Watch changes all this. You won’t miss calls or important notifications. You no longer have to worry about this. This is super important to the people who care about these things, and I think there are quite a few of us.
  7. You can now keep your phone in silent mode: Because you can feel your notifications at a tap on your wrist, there is no more excuse for you to attract unwanted attention to yourself with funny sounds when you receive a phone call. You can keep your phone in silent mode and receive notifications discretely. This is great for women who keep their phones in their bags, and who have to keep their phone call tones on. Of course, you would also want to keep your watch silent too.
  8. You will learn to tap slightly below your target: iOS devices have always registered taps slightly above the point where your finger makes contact with the screen. This is intentional, and I think it is a result of actually testing how users touch what they think they are touching. I think Android does this too, although some early devices missed this. Now with the Apple Watch, the touch targets are much smaller and your taps have to be much more precise. I found myself intentionally tapping a bit below the targets because my habit on my iPhone had been to tap a bit to high (so that the actual point of contact hit the target), and I found that my taps weren’t registering on the Apple Watch. This is something that I suspect quite a few people will have to adjust to. After the adjustment however, hitting even the very small buttons becomes very accurate. It also trained me to hit my iPhone buttons better.

Update

Added items 7-8 on the list.

  • Paul

    #4 was the biggest surprise for me. You can tell that a lot of thought went into each watch face, and they really are different from each other in terms of utility and aesthetics. I’m actually having a lot of fun with it.

    • Yes. It’s really interesting.