I have spent 24 hours with the Apple Watch and I don’t hate it. Inherently I should; I hate all smartwatches because who knows what they do, or what they are supposed to do. But my hate is turning to indifference and I fear it could evolve further still.
It’s not the Watch’s styling that’s winning me over. The design rings of an old-school Casio with a watchface that is square and a deep black screen. No doubt Apple’s DNA seeps through, with iPhone-esque curves and a sense the Watch is well built. But none of this makes it attractive. It is neither an eye sore nor a beauty.
To say it is the Watch’s functionality would be a stretch. Ordinary watches tell the time and that has been the only information deserving of my wrist. What does the Watch do that a smartphone can’t, anyway?
Ranting doesn’t change that there is ‘something’ there, a method to Apple’s madness that leaves me warming to its wearable after day one.
The Apple Watch is not imposing and this is paramount to its charm. It doesn’t turn on its screen every time I receive an email or a Facebook like. It vibrates subtly, like a tickle, and then waits. It waits for me to finish penning this sentence or to halt at a set of lights, and then when I am ready, I spare a few seconds glancing at only the most important notifications.
Figuring out which notifications are the most important takes some time. Fortunately the accompanying app offers a granular approach to settings so I can handpick those of merit. Work emails: yep, Boom Beach: no.
There’s more, I’m compelled to concede. The ‘digital crown’ functions exactly like a touchscreen swipe, but its precision makes it my preferred scrolling method. It keeps the screen visible and brings with it the fine control of an old stereo’s volume knob.
The tool comes in handy when using the Watch as a music remote, or to customise the different watch faces, of which there are eleven.
Each one can have the background, watch arms and complications customised, to such an extent that Apple claims there’s a possible 2.2 million combinations. Some are interactive, like the ‘Astronomy’ face. It shows in real time a birds eye view of the Earth, the current weather topography and when the sun sets. It does the same for the moon and the entire solar system. And this has to be a favourite face, not because it is animated, but because of what it means.
Time is linked to our place next to the sun. If a company is going to make a smartwatch, I want them to understand “the art or science of measuring time”. And there is a prevailing sense Apple has done its homework.
Other parts of the Watch are easy to hate. Loathing the battery life comes naturally. After a day of light use our Watch squeezed out 24 hours of life, and although that’s longer than anticipated, it’s still well behind that of an analogue watch. Short battery life is one reason why we’re sceptical of the category.
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I have spent five years using Android smartphones. I have spent a day using the Apple Watch. I did not hate it, and now I may have to spend time using the company’s phones too.
Good Gear Guide is working on a detailed review of the Apple Watch. Stay tuned.