8 things I learned from wearing Apple Watch for 1 week

Adrian Oggenfuss

In response to a blog post from The Oatmeal: http://theoatmeal.com/blog/apple_watch


Thing #1: The Apple Watch will never replace your iPhone

If we consider the introduction of the iPhone in 2006 a revolution (I do), the introduction of the Apple Watch can be seen as an evolution. It does not allow me to do anyting that I was not able to already do with my smartphone - except for measuring my heart rate. More about the heart rate function later.

What it does is making certain things more convenient. A few examples:

While riding the train to work I usually listen to music on Spotify. Apple watch let’s me skip through my playlist directly from my wrist, leaving the phone in my pocket. Revolutionary? No. Convenient? I used, and will keep using, this function – so for me Yes.

Text messages: In the past, when my phone vibrated I most likely feel curious enough take it out of my pocket to have a look what it is about and if I need to reply. Now: A glance at the watch and I decide. As a side note: The speech recognition works really well. I personally never use it, because I feel awkward doing it.

The same is true for getting a quick reminder about your next meeting or if you are into social media, checking your twitter or instagram feed.

Thing #2: Battery life (of the Apple Watch) is not a problem

Prior to the launch of the Apple Watch there was a lot of talk and concern about the battery life. After using the apple watch in my first week, which can probably be considered as above average usage because of my interest to try out all functions, at the end of the day I still have 50-60% battery life remaining. So you could go two days without charging it, which will only happen if you sleep over at a place where you don’t have a charger. Wearing it during the night is pointless, because there is no sleep tracker (at least in the current version). Leaving out this feature could be intentional by Apple because there would haven been an issue when to charge the watch.

By the way: The charging is via a small, magnetic piece, that you place the watch upon.

The downside of battery life is not on the watch but on your iPhone. Having Bluetooth activated, to connect the watch to the iPhone, seems to reduce battery life of the iPhone -at least that was my impression (I have an iPhone6).

Thing #3: The Taptic Engine could mean the death of the ring tone.

What is taptic engine? Apple describes it like this: a linear actuator inside Apple Watch that produces haptic feedback. In less technical terms, it taps you on the wrist whenever you receive an alert or notification, or press down on the display. In my opinion the tap feels very comfortable. It is discreet, but strong enough not to miss it. Another “fancy”, but generally useless, feature of the Apple watch? Perhaps. Maybe there will be more to it in the future, we will see.

One function of the tap that is convenient to me: I always have my phone on mute (with vibration). However when I am walking I’m sometimes missing a call that comes in, because I cannot feel the phone vibrating in my pocket. With the tap on my wrist I am made aware of the call, also while moving.

And finally: I agree with the statement in the Oatmeal blogpost, that it would be nice if taptic engine would replace annoying ringtones.

Thing #4: The crown is not useless.

Apple gave some thought to the issue what happens when you are scrolling (i.e. through your twitter timeline) and want to be reading at the same time. This could be made impossible (or annoying) because your finger is always in front of the text that you want to read. The solution is that the crown of the watch can be used as a scrolling wheel.

In reality I find that scrolling with my finger is not a problem and I don’t cover any content that I want to read. The author of the Oatmeal blogpost finds the crown useless. I personally prefer using the crown to scrolling with my finger, because I find it a bit more convenient. Convenience once more.

Thing #5: I am amazing for not lying in bed all day

Apple watch tries to encourage you to reach your “standing goal”. At the first time I was (like the author of the Oatmeal post) not sure about the meaning of this. The standard standing goal is 12 hours a day. I should stand for 12 hours? How should this be possible with my job, that requires to sit me in front of a computer the hole day?

The intention of the stand up reminder is meant exactly for people like me. Sitting at the desk for a long time uninterrupted is unhealthy for our body. One advantage for the smokers here: They regularly stand up and go outside to smoke a cigarette. Now I can do the same, without the unhealthy effects of smoking (I am exaggerating a bit here).

Maybe the reminder to stand up will get annoying after a while, I will see. One negative thing about it is, that it can interrupt you when you are in a flow-phase of working – where you don’t want to be distracted at all.

Thing #6: Phone calls suck

As I wrote before you will be notified on your watch if someone is calling you. The first time I tried the function I was riding in the train and listening to music, so wearing my headphones. I generally find it convenient to do calls via the headphones so I intended to pick up the call by accepting it on the green button on my watch. Instead of putting the caller on my headphones the watch put her on the speaker of my watch. So everyone sitting next to me could hear her (in bad audio quality).

Obviously I cancelled the call and rang her back from my phone. I really don’t see why anyone EVER would do a call via the phone. Only exception could by while driving in the car. There are better (and more convenient) options for this however.

Thing #7 It's a great fitness tracker

I was never the person that was into measuring my heart rate when doing sports. When buying the apple watch I also had serious doubts about the accuracy of the heart rate measuring function. Having tried it for a week I am really surprised how accurate it is. I don’t have to wear my watch unusually tight or press it on my arm. It just works in any position.

I have not yet used it with the Nike+ running app (which I use for tracking my runs). According to the blog post of the Oatmeal the watch can track a run (via accelerometer) without you having to take the iPhone along as well. What will be missing this way are all GPS functions (tracking your route).

I personally hope that a future model of Apple watch will be equipped with a standalone GPS function, which would be a great improvement.

Thing #8 This is the future

Will the Apple Watch be around in our future or is it just a trend that will disappear? As I said at the beginning: At the moment the watch cannot do anything special or radically new. It might improve the convenience for certain use cases. I personally think that smart watches are here to stay. Payment will be one important use case (not yet covered in a usable way in Switzerland). What will be one important step for apple is to allow standalone applications on the watch (apart from their own). At the moment it’s a huge drawback that all third party apps are running via the iPhone. This means that the watch has to connect to the phone after starting the app, which can take from one to five seconds, depending on the connection. Looking for five seconds at a loading wheel on my watch (where most of the use cases are very short anyways) is really not an option.

Could I live without the watch? Yes. Will I keep wearing it? Yes.