Apple Watch, first week and first impressions.

A few years ago the company I worked for sent me an e-mail to let me know that for my years of service and good behavior, I had a bunch of points I could use to buy something from an internal rewards website. I selected the Fitbit Charge. I liked it. It was nice getting notifications of messages and phone calls on my wrist and the pedometer made me think I was doing healthy things, but it had a flaw. If the battery charge ever went to zero, it died, hard and could not be recharged. They replaced the first one I killed that way under warranty, but I accidentally did the same thing to the replacement. Two years ago I bought a replacement in the form of a Pebble 2. I loved it, but the company went out of business less than a month after I bought it and despite being advertised as waterproof up to forty feet, it died the very first time I went swimming with it this past October. For Christmas my wife bought me an Apple Watch Series 4.

No one NEEDS a smart watch, but like when I bought my first iPad I use it far more than I thought I would. From the Fitbit, to the Pebble when I first started using either of them I would say “I like it, BUT”. With the Fitbit, I wished I had the model with the heart rate monitor and wanted a bigger screen to be able to read text messages on. The Pebble had a bigger screen and a heart rate monitor but, I kept wishing I could reply to messages I received on it and I kept poking at the screen, instinctively assuming it should be touch capable. (I also wish it had actually been waterproof) So far the Apple Watch addresses most of the things on my wish list.

The Good

iMessage app

Messaging is great on the watch. I’m not just getting notifications about messages, but actual apps for iMessage and Facebook Messenger that I can open up and check old messages, not just the most recent. Most importantly I can reply to messages. Either canned reply’s like ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘on my way’, etc. writing with your finger like a pencil, or by dictating. The canned messages can be modified, which is great, and the finger writing may be slow but is surprisingly accurate. Best of all though is the dictation. It is fast and accurate, while I was prepared for it to be terrible.

You can load music directly on to the watch, but I have not bothered. I already have my music on my phone, and most of my Bluetooth headsets and speakers and such can only be paired with one item. The cool thing is, if I start playing music on my phone, the watch automatically switches to the remote app and lets me control the phones playback from it, as well as letting me see the artist, album and track information. I like this a lot when doing things like shoveling snow or mowing where the phone is in my pocket. Do I NEED the watch to do this? No of course not, but it is so convenient.

The quality of the watch is fantastic. Some people like to hate Apple products for being over priced but I’ve never had a complaint about the build or materials used in any of the iPads, phones or MacBooks I’ve owned and this Watch is no exception. Everything is tight, fit, sleek, the functionality of the watch itself is fast and responsive. It has a weight, a solidness that lets you know it’s there without being heavy. Apple puts a lot of thought into their products, even with little things that are often just an after thought to other like the band.

You ever try to change the band on a regular watch? With those thin spring filled pins that are total PITA to get in and out? Apple designed their watch with recessed buttons on the bottom that let you slide bands in and out easily, while holding them tightly in place. The band that came with the watch is an example little things that make a big difference. You know how most watch bands have a little loop to hold down the extra length of an adjustable band? They often slide and don’t really hold it well. My Pebble actually had two to try and keep it in place. The band that is on my watch has a big hole in the middle of it to let the extra slide under the band. Not only does it hide the excess band length, but it bulks up the band juuuust enough to make it a little more snug. Every other watch band I have worn has either been too loose or too tight and this one is too… until I slide band through the slot and it snugs it right up.

Siri. Not exclusive to the watch, obviously, but I use it all the time with it, whereas with my phone I use it only occasionally and with my iPad almost never. It’s fast, easy and just seems more natural. Lift your wrist up and tell Siri to send a text message, start a timer, create a reminder.

The Bad

Nothing is perfect. For some reason notifications are hit or miss. Maybe I’ve not set things up properly, I may have to re-visit this article in a month or two, but at the moment some notifications just don’t seem trigger. I’ve gotten both iMessage and Facebook messages that showed up in my phone and iPads notification trays, but not the watches. If I open the apps on the watch I see new messages and they are even marked as new and unread, but just didn’t bing, vibrate, or put the little red ‘you have a new notification’ light on, but then I’ll get a message and everything works as it should. Not sure why. It may take some experimenting to figure out.

The battery is nowhere near as good as my Pebble was. I mean it could go for a whole week before needing to be re-charged, the Apple Watch about a day and a half. To be fair, the watch has a full color LTPO touch screen, wifi, cellular and GPS, but it was nice not having to charge it so often.

Infograph watch face

The included watch faces are really good. The one I’ve been using most often (you can change between them easily with just a swipe of the finger) shows nine distinct and easy to read pieces of information not including the time. It’s great, but, I know other people have other ideas I might like better. Problem is while people can design apps for the watch only Apple can design faces for it. Apples engineers are great, but there’s nothing to say someone else can’t come up with an idea I will like more (LCARS watch face please?)

The price is probably the biggest con. I’m not saying the price is not justified, I mean there is a lot of technology packed into this little package, that’s not cheap. My issue is that an expensive watch is something that should last you a long, long time, but this isn’t really a watch, despite the name and the fact that it fits on your wrist, it’s a tiny iPad and as such, will most likely be obsolete in four to five years. I don’t know why this bugs me so much. I mean, I know I’m going to have to replace my iPad in a few more years, but I knew that would be the case when I bought it and I love my iPad so much, I’ll pay the price. I just have trouble doing that every five years for a watch. Maybe it’s just the name, maybe I should refer to it as a wrist computer and I’ll be okay with it, or maybe I’ll love it as much as my iPad and find it just as indispensable. I know I missed the hell out of my Pebble after it drowned and it couldn’t do a fraction of the things this watch can.

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