My Apple Watch and I have been an item for just over a month now, but I think I might be cooling things off a bit. It’s not him… it’s me.
Like so many Apple products before it, the Apple Watch was so greatly anticipated it bordered on annoying. When I got mine, after a midnight pre-order and an agonizing month of waiting for it to arrive, I was super-excited to open the box, set it up and put it on. And yet so many of us, myself included, have suffered gadget fatigue and disappointment— we invest heavily in a new device, only to find that over time, it just doesn’t hold our interest. I had tried so many other watches, wristbands, and trackers before, only to break up with them not long after… would the Apple Watch be different?
Here’s what I loved about it
I had heard using Apple Watch was difficult to get used to, and that it would take about a week to really get the hang of it. I couldn’t disagree more. It was very simple to understand, albeit an entirely new way to navigate (the “digital crown” is truly innovative and fun to use), and the entire design felt the most intuitive of any smartwatch I had worn to date.
As soon as I put an Apple Watch on my wrist, I became an ambassador for the product, whether I wanted to be or not. I found myself explaining to people over and over what was so great about it, mostly exalting this one idea:
I like that it lets me keep my phone at a distance, and I can see whose calling or texting without putting a screen between me and the person I’m with.
That was the biggest selling point for me. I no longer put my phone on the lunch table when dining with a friend, yet could still be connected in case an important call came in.
I restricted my notifications to calls and texts only, so I wasn’t turning my wrist to read a New York Times headlines, or an invitation to come back to a Words With Friends game. When I did turn my wrist to glance at an alert, the whole action was speedy and less intrusive than grabbing a phone and holding it up to my face. And quieter: I set my watch to silent, so that I would only get a haptic alert when it wanted my attention (pistons on the underside of the watch would “tap” my wrist… much more subtle than a ringing/vibrating phone). I could also choose to ignore my wrist tap entirely, which isn’t as easy to do if your phone is ringing or buzzing loudly on the table. All in all, I felt more in control of interruptions.
Reading a message or incoming call on my watch meant I could dodge the temptation to jump into other apps to “quickly check” those too (we all know that’s never quick). In this way, wearing the watch was a total game changer: Even though the phone needs to be close by for it to work, I didn’t feel as tethered to it. I could let it rest in the bottom of my purse and feel more connected to what I was doing in real life.
Other things like the battery life (I always had plenty of juice left after a day of wear), and the supririsingly-useful timer feature (I could ask my watch to tell me when my meter was up, or my cookies were done!) felt well-considered. And while I’m not a fitness tracker fan, it was nice to have things like step counting built into the watch— at least you don’t have to wear yet another device.
Oh yes, and I haven’t worn a watch regularly for years. So it was nice to tell the time without bothering to fetch my phone.
What I didn’t love about it
As I mentioned, just wearing the watch seemed to invite everyone I knew (and people I didn’t know) to ask me about it, with responses ranging from, “Wow, that’s so cool!” to “Wow, are you trying to be, like, even more connected?” Needless to say, it attracted attention, which sometimes I was in the mood to entertain, and sometimes not. It’s not the most expensive watch I own, and yet in some people’s eyes it looked ostentatious. I wasn’t prepared for feeling like I had to defend myself for wearing it.
The apps were very slow, so I deleted most of them after trying to make them useful. This is, without a doubt, a Version 1.0 problem; I’m sure they will get faster in time. And while being able to answer a phone call from the watch was handy (especially if my phone was floating in the bottom of my handbag), talking into the watch felt ridiculous and embarrassing. It drew attention, and not in a good way. So I stopped using that feature altogether.
Lastly— and this was the big kicker for me— the design was a lot thinner and prettier in person than it looked on the TV commercials, but it just didn’t capture my heart the way I wanted it to. I felt like it was bulbous and curvy when it wanted it to be flat and streamlined. It’s also a bit of a bummer that when you’re not looking at it, it’s just a dead screen— of course, that preserves battery life, but it makes it look less like a watch and more like a little iPhone attached to your wrist. What makes a beautifully-designed gadget (Apple’s secret sauce) isn’t what makes a beautifully-designed watch. It didn’t feel fashionable, no matter how many magazine covers I saw it on.
Another red flag? The fact that there was a 5-day stretch when I simply forgot to put it on. Something life-changing wouldn’t have just dropped out of my consciousness like that, right? I am a big believer in adopting tech that really makes a big impact on your life, and ditching the rest. This was a sign that, in this incarnation, the Apple Watch wasn’t life changing enough.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that I’ll get another one in time as features improve and the design evolves. But for now, mine’s going on the market.
What do you think about the Apple Watch, or smart watches in general? Let me know in the comments!