One Week with the Apple Watch

The first few hours with the Apple Watch were full of exploration, discovery and excitement. Here we are a week later, and the awkwardness is disappearing while the bigger picture is emerging.

Here are insights that I’ve discovered with my new gadget this week.

  • Battery Life
    I watched the juice drain rapidly from the device that first day, and it left me very concerned about its usefulness on active days. But when I stopped putzing with it every four minutes like I did at the beginning, the battery life was just fine. One night I didn’t even bother taking it off because it still had 67% charge at bedtime.
  • Workouts
    On Sunday I participated in my first half marathon in more than a year (notice I didn’t say that I RAN the half). This was the debut of the Watch’s heralded Workouts app. You just tap on the app, choose a workout, choose a goal and go. When you just want to start a walk or a run without a goal, you have to swipe through several screens, which is kind of a pain.

    The Watch had two major problems during the half marathon. First, turns out you have to calibrate it while holding your phone. I didn’t do that, and because of my short little legs and tiny stride, the device told me that I covered 20+ miles instead of the 13.1. Sure, I looked all athletic in the stats, but it was a lie. The second problem is the battery life. Despite the fact that I’m happy with it overall, the battery life is worrisome on very active days. We finished the event way before noon, and the Watch was down to 37%. The good news is that I didn’t move much for the rest of the day since I took a nap then parked myself in front of the tv before taking another nap. So the battery didn’t drain much after that.

    I’m guessing that the Watch wouldn’t hold up for a marathon at my pace (which is very, very slow). You can turn off the heartbeat monitoring during exercise to save some battery life, but that metric is helpful for measuring fitness (not mine, you know — it’s not hard to measure a fitness level of zero).

  • Notifications
    On the go, notifications are quite helpful because I don’t have to dig into my purse for the phone every time someone texts or calls. I think I like the Messages notifications best on the go because with just a glance, a text message pops up, and I can quickly reply with a canned response, an awesome animated emoticon and an audio (or transcribed) note.

    But at my desk, it’s really unnecessary. My phone dings. My Mac plinks. And now the Watch buzzes and thunks. Ok. I get it. I have a message. Jeeze.

  • News and Articles
    In a word… fugettaboutit. For the most part, all you’re going to see is headlines. I’m a news junkie, and every time I start browsing headlines on the Watch, I give up and open my phone so I can get the full story. Several tools do let you see a headline then save the article to read later. But still.
  • Activity
    The Watch tracks your daily activities and motivates you to move with goals. Every hour it thunks you to get up and walk around, and if you do it 12 times in a day, you win. 🙂 When I’m not on the road, I am latched to my computer, and these reminders really help me from disappearing too far into the screen. It’s one of my favorite features, and I used to wear a Garmin Vivofit for the same reason.
  • Presentations
    I was quite excited to use the watch as a clicker for presentations. You can advance PowerPoint slides if you’re presenting from an iOS mobile device. And if you use Apple’s version of PPT, Keynote, you can use your watch to advance the slides on your Mac. I tried it out on a presentation today, and frankly it was a little unnatural to keep clicking my wrist. It’s one thing to hold a clicker in the palm of your hand. It’s another to hold up your wrist and tap with your other hand. But high-tech gadgetitis caught hold, and I ended up ordering this.
  • Apps
    Last week I complained about the complete lameness of the Solitaire app. And just a couple of days ago, a new version made the app wonderful. I can now play solitaire on my Watch (just another way to spend the day staring at a screen). The point is that the Apple Watch App Store changes even faster than the regular world of apps. Developers are improving the capabilities by the second, and it’s really too soon to understand the full functionality that we can expect.
  • Discoveries
    I kinda thought I had all the mechanics figured out within the first day, but just yesterday I discovered a whole new realm of possibilities with the Force Touch functionality. Even though the basic gestures are swiping, touching, force touching and scrolling, each app can use those movements differently to expand what you can do.

A big thank you for all my nerdy friends
26 Hours with the Apple Watch