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Apple Watch: One year on the wrist – is it finally time to buy an Apple smartwatch?

APPLE WATCH is now a year-old, and having worn the Apple smartwatch since its UK launch, here’s everything I really like, and everything I hate, about the iPhone manufacturer’s first wearable device.

Apple rolled-out its first smartwatch, the Apple Watch, .

Since its launch in the UK, a 42mm Space Grey Apple Watch Sport has been securely strapped to my wrist – buzzing with every new text message, email, travel update and of course, nagging me to stand and stretch every hour.

It’s worth pointing out that this Watch is not a review unit from the generous folks in Cupertino, but one bought from an Apple Store with my own hard-earned cash.

After a year of wearing Apple’s first wearable – would I recommend it? Probably not.

And this is why –

Things I Really Like About Apple Watch

One of the biggest advantages of wearing a smartwatch over a traditional timepiece, is the ability to bring the most important notifications from your smartphone to your wrist.

And Apple Watch handles your iPhone notifications beautifully.

Apple Watch handles notifications from your favourite iPhone apps beautifully

Apple Watch handles notifications from your favourite iPhone apps beautifully

The Watch gently taps you on the wrist whenever a new notification drops in. Whereas rival wearables furiously vibrate, the Apple Watch’s Taptic Engine subtly double-taps you. That might sound like marketing spiel concocted within the Reality Distortion field, but the Taptic Engine really works and is much more pleasant than rival solutions.

Getting notifications to your wrist is much more convenient than constantly reaching for your smartphone.

Granted, that might sound like a solution to a non-existent problem or a bad case of 21st Century laziness – surely it’s not too taxing to take your iPhone out of your pocket when you feel it buzz? But it’s surprising how often your smartphone is out of reach. Whether you’re jogging on the treadmill, squeezed into a train carriage, sitting in a management meeting – or your iPhone is just on charge in the next room, it’s a fairly regular occurrence.

Would I be able to get through the day without reading every WhatsApp, Twitter or iMessage the second they are delivered to my iPhone? Yes, definitely.

The Apple Watch is like a posh espresso machine. Unnecessary – but fantastically convenient.

The Watch gently taps you on the wrist whenever a new notification drops in. Whereas rival wearables furiously vibrate, the Apple Watch’s Taptic Engine subtly double-taps you. That might sound like marketing spiel concocted within the Reality Distortion field, but the Taptic Engine really works and is much more pleasant than rival solutions.

Getting notifications to your wrist is much more convenient than constantly reaching for your smartphone.

Granted, that might sound like a solution to a non-existent problem or a bad case of 21st Century laziness – surely it’s not too taxing to take your iPhone out of your pocket when you feel it buzz? But it’s surprising how often your smartphone is out of reach. Whether you’re jogging on the treadmill, squeezed into a train carriage, sitting in a management meeting – or your iPhone is just on charge in the next room, it’s a fairly regular occurrence.

Would I be able to get through the day without reading every WhatsApp, Twitter or iMessage the second they are delivered to my iPhone? Yes, definitely.

The Apple Watch is like a posh espresso machine. Unnecessary – but fantastically convenient.

Apple's Taptic Engine gently knocks on your wrist, instead of a jarring buzz

Apple’s Taptic Engine gently knocks on your wrist, instead of a jarring buzz

Apple has packed a phenomenal amount of functionality into its compact wrist-worn computer, from the ability to send your heart-beat to a loved one, make and receive phone calls, and scroll through your entire music library.

But during the last year, the most rewarding interactions I have had with the Apple Watch are the briefest.

For example, glancing down at the Watch to check where my next calendar event is being held, reading a text message when it’s too cold to take the iPhone out my pocket, checking the temperature outside, getting an update about my next train from CityMapper and whether it affects my ETA, and summoning an Uber taxi with a quick tap.

It’s an unobtrusive way to quickly get the information I need, when I need it.

Throughout the last year, I’ve also grown to love the fitness features built into the Apple Watch.

Granted, it doesn’t offer me the same deep-dive into , nor does it have the , but Apple Watch does enough.

The Watch's fitness tracking might be a little simplistic for some, but its enough for me

The Watch’s fitness tracking might be a little simplistic for some, but its enough for me

The Watch keeps track of calories burned, total steps, mileage and the number of times I stand-up from my desk during an average day.

It’s not the most incisive data, but the small notifications are just enough to convince me to take the stairs over the lift at the end of the day – or prompt me to reassess my commitment to the gym after a particularly disappointing weekly report from the Watch.

Aside from the built-in fitness features and incredibly useful notifications, the only other headline feature I have constantly used throughout my time with the Apple Watch, .

The works great on the iPhone. But if I am going to take the time to reach into my coat pocket and pull-out a smartphone – surely it’s just as easy to use the contactless credit card in there, too?

Double-tap the button under the Digital Crown to launch use Apple Pay

Double-tap the button under the Digital Crown to launch use Apple Pay

Double-tapping the side button on the Apple Watch and waving it past a terminal to pay is much, much more convenient. It also feels incredibly futuristic. Unless it fails for some reason, which has happened in the last year, and leaves you with your arm outstretched, and your face burning red as the queue behind you mutters about the reliability of good ol’’ fashioned chip-and-pin.

Things I Really Don’t Like About Apple Watch

First things first, the Apple Watch is really, really slow.

There are a swathe of clever features built into the device that I never bother to use, simply because it takes longer to load the app on my Apple Watch than it does to grab my iPhone. And standing with my arm at a right-angle like I’m waiting to be served at a bar, staring at the spinning loading dots, quickly becomes tiresome.

Checking the weather forecast for the next week or finding out the delivery time for my Amazon parcel, would be incredibly convenient from the Watch. But to launch an app, you first need to navigate the infuriatingly-fiddly honeycomb of installed apps – something I’ve never managed to master while walking – only to be faced with a seemingly interminable wait for the app to load.

The arrival of native apps with the watchOS 2.0 update hasn’t solved the problem either.

Apple Watch lets you answer calls from your wrist. Not that you'll ever want to

Apple Watch lets you answer calls from your wrist. Not that you’ll ever want to

After a few days of wearing the Apple Watch, I completely lost interest in the built-in Digital Touch and Friends panel. This is launched by tapping the side button, and reveals a carousel of your closest friends.

With a few taps, you can then send any of these contacts a hand-drawn illustration, kickstart a new phone call, dictate a text, send an animated emoji or your heart beat. It’s a great demo in the Apple Store, but in reality the idea of dictating my text – punctuation included – to my wrist as I’m walking along is not appealing.

In fact, I’ve stumbled into a few social stigmas during my time with the Apple Watch.

Summoning Siri and using the virtual assistant to set a timer or a quick reminder works incredibly well, but you wouldn’t want to do it outside of the comfort of your home. And while the ability to glance at a notification on your wrist is brilliantly convenient – it does give the impression that you’re bored with present company.

It’s not a problem specific to the Apple Watch, but it is a problem with the Apple Watch.

Raising your wrist to wake-up the display works reliably, but having to do it at all is annoying

Raising your wrist to wake-up the display works reliably, but having to do it at all is annoying

But my biggest bugbear with Apple’s smartwatch is the fact that it doesn’t always work as a watch. In an effort to save battery life – which reliably lasts the entire day – the Apple Watch will only wake-up when you raise your wrist. That means every time you need to check the time, you need to make a deliberate arm swing to trigger the face.

So, if you were planning on throwing a glance to sneakily check the time during a work meeting – forget it.

The Apple Watch also refuses to activate its display whenever I’m lying down or slouched and raising my arm above my head, a small niggle that has become increasingly frustrating over the last 365 days.

 


Brown, A. (2016) Windows 10 FINALLY gets some apps that people actually want. Available at: http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/science-technology/665689/Apple-Watch-UK-Review-Price-Should-I-Buy (Accessed: 9 May 2016).

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