“You’re going to love it!”


Alex said that.

Alex: You’re going to love it!

It’s been a few days ago and we discussed the Apple Watch and why would you use one and why did his Apple fanatic colleague actually return his. I admit I did not understand why the guy sent it back, but I did agree that maybe I wouldn’t like it.

Alex: You’re going to love it!

I hate to fuel his bias that I am an Apple fanboy, but…

God, I love it!

At least after one day of usage. So things might change, but right now I honestly wonder why one would not want to get an Apple Watch. This excitement might change after I have it a week or two when the newness of the shiny new toy has rubbed off. But right now my expectations have been exceeded (which might be due to the fact that I had read a fair share of unusual critical takes from bloggers and journalists I trust).

The UPS delivery guy had dropped Bernhard’s parcel with the three watches at our place yesterday night just before 8 pm (unexpectedly without pre-warning on how much duties I would have to pay and no indication that the parcel was out for delivery… does not seem like the UPS tracking works well – but I still prefer this over a painfully documented history of how a courier service screws up).

Lamia started playing with our watches and the first impression you have to get is that this thing has a learning curve. After 24 hours this has passed, but it was unusual to start up a device from Apple and not intuitively knowing how things work. Good I read so much up about it during my long weeks of waiting.

The setup is rather time consuming. There are lots of choices to be made. What notification do you want to get, which one can be turned off? What glances do you want to keep? Who should be in your list of favorite contacts? And many, many more…

Before doing all of this, I put the watch on, of course. The device itself is wonderfully built and looks premium to me. It actually gives a much thinner impression when wearing it on the wrist than what I thought seeing the watch being displayed somewhere. Another pleasant surprise was the wrist band. I got the black sports band, which is made from plastic. But the term “plastic” doesn’t do it justice (Apple calls it “Fluoroelastomer”). In fact, this is an awesome wrist band. I have not worn a watch for, what? 10 years? Longer? But this band did not feel uncomfortable at any time of the day – quite the opposite. It’s so good that I consider getting two or three different colored sport bands to adapt to what clothes I put on during a day. Really nice.

So okay. Once the watch was on my wrist, the first thing I did was of course choosing the watch face.
Funny. Just looking at those more or less customizable watch faces on the web, I had already pre-chosen the “Chronograph” one (left image below). After a few hours this morning, I decided it did not fit me and I picked the one called “Color” (right image), which does not look that attractive when seen out of context, but feels just right to me when putting it actually on.

There are built in apps from Apple on the watch which did not get much coverage in the reviews I had read and one of them, the camera app, is worth mentioning a little more. This is basically a remote for your iPhone camera app, similar to what I can do with my Canon 6D and the iPhone. To be clear, the Canon-iPhone combo is waaaay more powerful, hands down, and the scenery the SLR is directed at virtually transfers from the camera to the phone in realtime. The remote app on the watch has a much slower connection to the phone, because it runs on a Bluetooth and not a Wifi connection, which means the image that is transferred from the iPhone to the watch is stuttering at best. But it’s fun to use and less work than setting up a pro camera. For a quick selfie this works nicely…

“Digital touch”, the technology to connect with others by literally “tapping” them on the wrist if they are Apple Watch wearers, is cute and I like it – but it did not work very reliably today. I had several tries with Lamia and Abraham and it was hit and miss. Let’s see whether this has to do with settings or something else. I hope we can make that work reliably, because I just love to tap Lamia to let her know I think of her.

Next, the Activity app. It took a little bit to make sure I fully grabbed how to use the Activity app, which is an important element for keeping track of your movement during the day. In the end it’s of course simple. It’s just different from what you are used to on a phone. Tracking the activities is gamifying how much exercise you’ve done, how many calories you’ve burned and how much you’ve stood during the day. This is nicely done and fun to accomplish, because each of these activities are depicted as a circle that you have to close during the day.
Looking at the steps alone (something I keep track of quite rigorously already), I was surprised that there was a significant difference between what Apple Watch and what my Withing’s Health Mate recorded. Nearly 20% difference. Hum. Maybe a watch on the wrist is simply less accurate than a phone in the pocket? A reason can be that I did not move my arm so much in certain situations during the day. For phone calls I often hold my office phone in my left (watch) hand, which is then not moving much, and then I walk through the building.

I was also going for a half hour run in the gym tonight, which was one of the reasons I had bought the watch.
And boy, this was great!

It’s one thing that it is wonderfully easy to see in the Workout app your steps, heart rate and the calories you’ve burned right on your wrist. But besides, my favorite podcast app, Overcast, has a pretty decent app for the Apple Watch and I love that I can control a podcast with it while running. This is so much more convenient than having to handle a phone.
Interesting, by the way, that when I am running at 12.0 km/h, my heart rate goes up to what I consider a reasonable 150 bpm during the first 15 minutes and then rises to ~160 bpm in the last 10 minutes. That’s not bad, considering that in Brussels I often was at 170 bpm when exercising at that pace.

Other apps are soso… the built-in Apple apps are working very well but most third party apps, which are limited in that they currently cannot be installed on the watch itself, are very limited. They have to run through the Bluetooth connection with your iPhone and are hence generally not that hot. I like a few of them: as stated, Overcast is nice. Shazam loads pretty quickly and seems to work well, too. Health Mate is okay. And funny enough, Webex is good, simply for the fact that I can mute and unmute a call from the watch (you can appreciate that if you use the Webex software to mute/unmute from your desktop but rather like to wander around during phone conferences).

How about the smoothness of the user interface? Well, it’s good, but not great. The watch does feel like a little underpowered for some of the animations, e.g. as you zoom in and out of something. As a purist, I do observe slight stuttering at times and while it moves fast enough to be usable it is not as snappy as I am used to from my phone. This is not really a problem, but it is noticeable.

What about battery life?
Looks good. As I write these lines, after a busy day for the watch, I am still at 21% charge. That’s already more than 15 1/2 hours use today. The experience from other bloggers and reviewers shows that after the first few days the remaining charge on a day will increase because you play less with the watch and use it only for the things that you actually care about.
I did not see a change in iPhone battery charge, but I do pull out the phone less often. Simple things like checking stock, the weather or just the time which I do once in a while and which does amount to quite some phone pulling was noticeable less today.

So, yes: as an overall device, I come out impressed after day one.
Let’s see what the next days bring, but today I would say that despite some shortcomings, this is an absolutely fantastic and maybe far underestimated device. Is it for everyone? I would have said no yesterday before I got one.

Today I wonder why you would not want to have one…

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