Let me come clean straight away dear readers, I do not own an Apple Watch, yet. I must admit I love all things Apple, especially the Beatles, however having been stung many years ago by the original iPhone and fairly recently by the iPad 1 I’ve been cautious this time as befits a middle aged Walter Mitty who’s recently retired!
As a result I decided to outsource the writing of the first of today’s two blogs to my eldest son Alex, aged 31 1/2, so over & out to him and let battle commence!
Apple Watch review
Let’s get one thing out of the way before we go any further: no one needs an Apple Watch, in the same way no one needs a smartphone. The difference is, everyone thinks they need a smartphone because it enables them to do so much cool stuff they weren’t able to do before. Finding their way home from anywhere, video chatting with relatives abroad, reserving a restaurant without having to call, sharing a picture online seconds after it’s taken – none of these things were easy, or even possible, prior to the smartphone revolution.
The Apple Watch is a very different proposition, one that’s difficult to communicate through marketing alone. The Watch does little that’s completely new or different to what a smartphone can do. But it does a lot of the the things your smartphone does, faster. Its killer feature is convenience. It’s a bypass for all of the things you do so often on your phone that pulling it out of a pocket or a handbag becomes, over time, a chore.
And that’s the question you should ask yourself if you’re on the fence about buying an Apple Watch – do you get sick of having to take out your phone? Is your phone such a crucial part of your everyday life that this moment of friction has become a ritual of frustration? If that’s the case, the Watch is for you.
I’m not going to spend any time reviewing the features of the Watch in detail and weighing up the pros and cons – there are plenty of reviews online that already do that. Instead, I’ve outlined five areas below that have made me a happy customer. If the below sounds indulgent, or unnecessary, or you’re wondering why these details matter, don’t buy the Apple Watch. If, like me, you’ve been wanting a gadget like this since you saw your first Roger Moore Bond movie, be prepared for temptation.
1. Payment: to pay with my iPhone using Apple Pay I have to take it out of my pocket, unlock it, wait for the contactless terminal to recognise the phone, and wait for the phone to scan my fingerprint. This is luxurious, wonderful technology that blew my mind the first time I used it. But with Apple Watch, all I have to do is double-press the side button on the Watch and hold it against the terminal. And I’m done. It’s even more luxurious. I’m surprised Apple didn’t tout this as one of the marquee features of the Watch – for me it exemplifies the point of making such a product in the first place.
2. Fitness: while I’m out running my iPhone can track my pace, my step count and my distance covered. But I have to carry it in my pocket or in a waistband (uncomfortable), and every time I want to check how my run is going I have to take the phone out and unlock it with sweaty hands, worrying I’m going to drop it. With the Watch, I raise my wrist to get all of the same information. And when I hit milestones or complete my goal, I get a tap on the wrist to let me know. And it measure the number of calories I’m burning and my heart rate – two things phones can’t easily do.
3. Information: if I look at my wrist right now I can tell how many calories I’ve burned today, how much exercise I’ve done today, whether I’ve spent enough of today standing up, what the temperature is outside, when my next appointment is, and the time and date, all in less than five seconds. How long would that take on a phone?
4. Navigation: the Watch provides a ‘glance’ of its Maps application (a useful shortcut screen that’s quicker to access than a full App), which is often filled with a guess as to my next destination, alongside a one-tap setup of directions to that destination. Once I start the directions, the watch will tap my wrist with a different rhythm depending on whether I need to turn left or right at the next junction. Compare that to the phone, where I would have to keep it out and unlocked the whole time to find my way around or stick in some headphones to follow the voice directions (rude if you’re with friends).
5. Security: again, this is one that Apple hasn’t shouted about but it makes a massive difference on a day-to-day basis. When you put the Watch on you only have to unlock it once. Then you can do everything: pay using Apple Pay, check your bank balance, buy products from Amazon, book an Uber, all without having to enter any additional passwords or pass any additional security checks because the Watch know you’re still wearing it. As soon as you take the Watch off, it locks again. It’s not easy to sell anyone on this until they’ve tried it, but imagine every time you picked up your phone it knew it was you and… unlocked.
That’s what gadgets are all about – making life a little easier, a little more enjoyable, a little more luxurious. I’m guessing more and more people will find a reason to buy the Apple Watch and products like it over the next few years, until pulling your phone out of your pocket or bag will seem as antiquated as typing on a Nokia phone. Sorry Nokia.
And if after reading this you still think the Apple Watch is nothing but an expensive trinket, bear in mind this quote from Bloomberg shortly after the iPhone’s announcement:
‘The iPhone is nothing more than a luxury bauble that will appeal to a few gadget freaks. In terms of its impact on the industry, the iPhone is less relevant… Apple is unlikely to make much of an impact on this market… Apple will sell a few to its fans, but the iPhone won’t make a long-term mark on the industry.’
(Note from editor, please ignore my comments re iPhone 1 and iPad 1 as I am probably turning into a Luddite. I’m writing this blog on my iPad mini 2 and my phone is a bright green 5c, now how much is that Sport Watch in the same colour…..?) 😁