A review of the Apple Watch. It's like wearing a normal watch, but different.
One year and one day ago I received my Apple Watch. Never in my life have those around me been so curious about something on my person. (At least, assuming I’m wearing pants.) Everywhere I go everyone asks about it. Or hates on it. Or loves it. Or flashes me theirs to show solidarity.
Just to be clear, I’m still talking about the watch.
The Apple Watch is more polarizing than religion or politics. Never talk about your Apple Watch on a first date.
(I’m gonna sometimes abbreviate Apple Watch to AW from here on – which are also my initials I’m just realizing! Maybe that’s one of the reasons I like it. Like how I prefer A&W hamburgers.)
Anyway, you can read lots online already about what it can and cannot do. I won’t bore you with that. See, I love reading product reviews before buying something. But product reviews are as dull as dirt. They’re too technical and written by folks who only get to spend a limited time with a product. They all say the same things and they never say the right things.
You can’t learn much about what it’s like to own a car until someone has puked in the backseat. You don’t know how much you like a laptop until you’ve carried it across a couple continents. The Apple Watch? Like my last girlfriend, it took me months just to learn how to turn the damn thing on.
So here’s a review of the Apple Watch based around what it’s like to live with for realsies. Here’s how the Apple Watch made me feel.
I didn’t lust after the AW in the beginning. “Oh, that’s kinda neat,” was my approximate reaction. It was mainly curiosity, not lust, that led to the purchase. I’ve lusted after other Apple things a lot more. The new 12″ retina Macbook announced at the same time as the AW, for example, had me ready to drop trou and bend over the moment it was released.
The actual deciding factor for the AW? My existing watch (the only watch I had ever truly loved after owning a lot of them) was falling apart. The stainless steel black leather strap version of the AW looked like a perfect replacement.
— Angus Woodman (@angusw) April 16, 2015
Had that not been the case, I probably would have hemmed and hawed for a few months and eventually bought one just to stop thinking about if I should get one. That’s how I ended up with an iPhone 6.
I hate to admit it, but I do feel proud when I have the newest piece of tech. Having an AW on launch day was like “Yeah! I got me a thing. Suck it, world. I’m cooler than you!”
I like buying the newest Apple things. They smell amazing. But man, do I hate that I still get that little tinge of pride when I get one.
It’s a feeling I try very hard to squash because it brings up other unpleasant ones. It’s just a thing. It’s nothing more. One shouldn’t need things to feel good. One shouldn’t require things to justify their place in the world or to enhance their ego. Don’t get me wrong, I love shiny things, but I don’t want to have to love them. I don’t want to feel above people, especially if it’s because I’m lucky enough to be able to afford a $1000 watch.
Yes, it was $1000. ($976.14 CAD, to be exact.)
That’s probably the question I get the most. Followed by this face: o_0
I have no issue with the price, even though typing out $1000 just then was a bit of a “holy shit” moment. I spent a grand on it? Wow, ok. I mean, nice watches are expensive and tech is one area in which I don’t mind splurging since it’s my field and I’m generally quite frugal. But still. That’s a lot of tacos.
What I think is fucked about the price of the AW though is that it should start with the $1000 model. The cheaper “sport” model is not the most attractive thing in the world. I feel less like I wasted money on my watch than I would had I only spent $500. The $500 version would be in my drawer most of the time but the $1000 version comes with me every day.
When I speak to people with the sport model, it’s kinda like this:
Them: “Man, the new Toyota Corolla is garbage! I can’t go anywhere in it.”
Me: “Did you buy the one without wheels?”
Them: “Of course, it was cheaper.”
Apple, you make me so mad sometimes with your feature choices. On launch, there was one painfully obvious (and incredibly simple) feature missing that causes so many unpleasant and awkward social situations. That is: you can’t quickly disable the alerts and wrist-raise auto-display all at once. There’s no watch equivalent of silent mode.
It needs a quick in-and-out “black mode”. A button with the label “sssssh, we’re not alone.” (Even better, a physical toggle switch.)
Sorry to explain a feature, but typically the AW screen is aways off and there’s a setting so you can have it automatically come on when you raise your wrist. It’s very handy and works well most of the time. You get used to it. But that also means it thinks you’re looking at the time and lights up when you’re, say, reaching across the table for the butter or pushing the hair behind your mistress’s ears.
This is distracting to others. It derails conversations. It kills moods. It’s puts the focus on the asshole guest with the blinking watch. It’s like wearing a yellow swimsuit to dinner with the words “LOOK AT ME” printed across it.
Also: movie theatres. Don’t dare reach for the popcorn unless you’re sitting in the very back row.
There needs to be a super-quick way of disabling the wrist raise feature and all the buzzing alerts. Something you can turn on when don’t want your watch to do anything. Let’s at least pretend to be a polite society, k?
And yes, there are settings you can tweak to accomplish this. And you can turn the whole thing off. But those are both slow. Try doing it 6 times a day and you’ll quickly be like, “Screw it. I look good in yellow!”
There is one time when a “shut up, watch!” feature would be absolutely completely unnecessary though and that’s when you’re wearing a white sport band.
I'm trying out the white sport apple watch band today. Has a very hospital-id-bracelet vibe.
— Angus Woodman (@angusw) June 2, 2015
Mine came with the black leather band, but it being a little too formal for the sweatpants look, I picked up a white sport band (total: $1090, now). I wear it when I’m running errands or at the gym.
And man alive, nothing says “look at me!” like wearing the white sport band in public. Here’s a regular interaction:
Store clerk: “Hey, is that an Apple Watch?”
Me, verbally: “Yep, sure is!”
Me, internally: Shit, I forgot to switch back to the black band. Brace for awkwardness.
For some reason there is no clean exit to the stranger-talking-to-AW-owner conversation. It’s usually something like this:
Stranger: “Is it better than a Fitbit?”
Me: “I’ve never owned a Fitbit but the AW is only okay at the gym. I don’t love it for working out.”
GIMME ALL THE BANDS!
Srsly, the bands are probably my fav part of the AW. They are crazy easy to swap, such that you can reasonably do it every day. And they have so many colours and shapes and styles. Watch bands are the only area in which Apple is still having fun and hasn’t gone totes serious 4 reals.
Watch bands — only area Apple is still having fun. Where's the neon green iPhone? Translucent orange MacBook? pic.twitter.com/XtTUod8SUH
— Angus Woodman (@angusw) March 22, 2016
I have just two bands so far. I want to get more but I haven’t yet, mostly because I can’t decide. Metal bands always catch my arm hair, so those are out, but I can see another leather one and another sport one (lime green!) in my future. (Total cost now somewhere near $1500.)
I was in a meeting once and my then-girlfriend called. My phone was back on my desk somewhere but my watch vibrated. I checked to see who it was, and pressed the ‘ignore’ button and went right back to the meeting. Everyone saw it and someone remarked, “man, so cool, that was like right out of an Apple commercial!”
Apple Watch. Ignore your girlfriend with style.
There are those moments when it just fits. When all the tech works exactly right and you think, “ah yes, that’s what it’s trying to accomplish.”
— Angus Woodman (@angusw) May 22, 2015
Hearing me speak about it, and after a little demo, you may want one. And then you ask me, “so should I get one?”
My answer: “hell no.”
Then you ask if I would ever give mine up and go back to a normal watch.
My answer: “hell no.”
How does that make sense? Well I know why I like mine. Here’s an easy-to-read list of the top sellers:
- Always having my next calendar appointment at a glance is amazing.
- Ditto with the weather, date and other time zones if travelling
- You don’t miss a txt or call on the watch, so there’s a lot less “checking my phone”. I know I would’ve gotten something so I know there’s nothing to check.
- Walking down the street, I get a call or text and I can check what’s going on without taking my phone out of my pocket. It just feels perfect in that moment.
- At a location, I can leave my phone wherever (bag, desk, in the fridge) and as long as I’m wearing the watch I won’t miss a single phone call or text.
- I can change it up from info-display to any level of classy-watch-face when I dress up (a small thing but makes me smile a little inside, like wearing funky boxers underneath dress pants)
Will those things be enough to justify the annoying parts for you? I cannot promise that. It is a very annoying device at times and it doesn’t really change your life. Plus if I recommend it, you may get the sport version and I cannot be held responsible for your anger.
It’s the cilantro of Apple products. You might love it, you might hate it, and there’s a higher than normal chance it’ll make you sick.
So if you get one, I had nothing to do with it. Recommending an Apple Watch is too much pressure. Though it can help you learn about the moon!
This post is dedicated to my friend Maeghan, who loathes the Apple Watch so much that steam comes out of her ears.
For some sweet free photos of my actual hand and watch, check out this collection on Unsplash: Apple Watch Photos