I’ve had my Apple Watch now for a few months and I’ve become comfortable with it in that time, although there are still things I miss from my Pebble. With the Pebble support waning, and Fitbit not seeming to understand anything about those of us who want a smart watch rather than a fitness tracker, the switch to the Apple Watch came at a good time.
This is a very quick summary of what I like and what I do not like, but I will prefix this by saying overall I am very happy with the Apple Watch experience.
The style might not be anything outstanding, but I actually like the understated simplicity of the design. The display is gorgeous for sure, and the UI for the most part makes sense. More importantly, the integration with iOS is seamless, as you’d expect from an Apple product.
Unexpectedly, Siri on the watch seems better than Siri on the phone, although there are less things she can do herself. It seems all too easy to run into a case where she says I need to continue on my phone. The one place she excels though is in handling dictated replies to text messages.
As I’ve mentioned before, apps on my watch don’t interest me that much. The few I have installed disappoint me. The most common app for me to use is the weather app. Aside from that, notifications are what I love about smart watches. The Apple Watch delivers on that front, so all my messages and appointment reminders come through beautifully. The quick access to canned responses for text messages is great (although the order of them puzzles me a bit), and, as I mentioned above, dictating replies to Siri is useful too.
I have a series 2 watch with a nylon band, so swimming in the watch is safe. I do not generally shower with a watch on, but I do swim with it on. I’ve taken it in pools, a fresh water lake and the salt water of the Pacific Ocean. The water lock feature is useful (the touch screen is basically inoperable in water anyway). Unlocking it clears water out of the crown mechanism but also makes it chirp to clear water from its speaker. Even after that, sounds can be a bit odd for a while after swimming. I usually try to rinse the watch in fresh water after a pool or salt water swim too.
Battery life has been less of an issue than I expected. Partly that’s because the Apple Watch lacks the sleep tracking feature of the Pebble, so I don’t really have a reason to sleep in the watch. While it looks like I could usually scrape two days out of it, rather than push that I bought a stand for it & I charge it beside my bed every night. That has the added bonus of enabling the bedside clock mode.
A couple of times I have tried the pool workout feature, and while its lap counting seemed a little inaccurate, I was impressed by the stroke detection feature. For one of my snorkeling swims in Hawaii I started it in open water mode. The distance was totally wrong, perhaps because I spent much of the time with the watch under water (I had a camera with me to shoot some turtle & fish pics). The big issue is trying to start it once I’m in the water – the touch screen is almost unusable in water. I guess if you’re planning to track swims you need to activate the workout before jumping in.
The bedside clock mode crazily also turns the screen off. While on a charger. This is annoying at the very least as I can’t just glance at it during the night. It does (most of the time) wake up any time the bedside table is tapped, but that is more effort than just a glance at 4am. The alarm clock is usable though, so not all bad. If only the screen would stay on.
The lack of an always on screen is perhaps the thing that causes me the most problems. The most common time I notice is when I am racing to catch the ferry in the morning on my scooter a, with the Pebble, I could just glance at my wrist without taking my hand off the handlebar to see how much time I had. With the Apple Watch I need to raise my arm to active the screen.
The second place I notice it is when trying to glance at a notification. I have yet to fathom why sometimes the screen switches on and sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t I seem to need to not only raise the watch to turn it on but also swipe down to see what notification I missed.
Answering calls was something I would often do using the Pebble so I didn’t miss them while trying to get the phone out of my pocket. Sure, I can answer a call from the Apple Watch, but it answers it on the watch. Then I am having a Dick Tracy style conversation through my wrist, and the quality seems to be poor most of the time. Once I do get the phone out I can at least transfer it back there, but I’d love to be able to answer on the watch and talk on the phone or on my Bluetooth headset without that extra step.
Finally, raise to wake is something that gives me problems sometimes. I will say that a majority of the time it works as expected, but that just makes the times it doesn’t work more noticeable. I find myself having to double tap the screen to check the time more often than I thought I would.