Apple Watch - does it live up to the hype?

Apple Watch - does it live up to the hype?

Jul 17 2015 | by HAYLEY YATES

Is it a fashion item? Is it a gadget? However you see it, one thing’s for sure: the Apple Watch has made quite the dramatic entrance into the market. Over the past few months, the Apple Watch has received more interest from developers than the iPhone and the iPad combined.

As is typical of Apple, the limited information provided about the Apple Watch prior to its release attracted a huge amount of interest, not least because it is the first piece of wearable tech to come from Apple.

Wearable technology was a prominent trend in 2014, and in 2015 it has shown no signs of slowing... So far this year we have seen the rise of FitBit, GoPro and Google Glass (although the latter may not be the best example) along with many others. Smart watches have been on the market for more than a decade, but even the most recent releases from Samsung and Sony haven’t put them on the map like Apple have.

The Apple Watch was launched in their UK stores on 26th June, with tech-savvy enthusiasts having pre-ordered and received their watches long before then. But if you, like me, thought it might be worth hanging fire on an Apple Watch until you could ascertain whether or not it would be worth it, you’ve no doubt been reading the reviews.

With retail prices starting at an eye-watering £300, some Apple Watch owners have complained about having to charge it nightly and some have queried the design breaking the mould of traditionally round watch faces. On the other hand (excuse the pun) lots of Apple Watch owners have applauded the small screen and the ability to filter out the unimportant - providing less distraction than a smartphone.

A feature that particularly interested me is ‘wrist-iquette’... Checking your watch when in company has traditionally been perceived as a sign of boredom or impatience; a societal norm that even a watch from Apple won’t change. However, will owners of the Apple Watch be able to resist? If not, they run the risk of appearing discourteous, which would be a negative association for Apple as a brand.

One of the first in line for an Apple Watch was our very own Managing Director and self-confessed Apple enthusiast, Jon Fletcher; this presented me with a great opportunity to hear the pros and cons first-hand that you can read below.

What first attracted you to the Apple Watch?

Apple have a well-deserved reputation for excellent design and reliability. As a result, I have accumulated a lot of Apple products and the watch fits into this technology family seamlessly. I made the choice to buy one two years ago, when the Apple Watch was only a rumour. I dropped my watch causing all the numbers to fall off along with the minute hand… which made time telling a little bit of a challenge. Instead of buying another watch I thought no, I’ll wait for the Apple watch when it turns from a rumour into a real thing. So, it was a well considered purchase.

Jon and his Apple Watch

What was your initial reaction?

Well, whenever you get an Apple box, it’s always stunning. You want to keep the box and cherish it, let alone what comes inside it. But when you open it up, the box pales into insignificance and continues to look stunning in the bin.

The watch is well designed, looks fantastic, and the first impression is only amplified when you first put it on. It’s also remarkably easy to use: it comes charged, press a button, you configure and it’s there. I’m not even sure if it came with a manual...

How long did it take to set up?

You can wear it in different orientations as long as you set the configurations on the associated iPhone app. So the bevel can be on the bottom left or the top right and on either hand; 4 different orientations.

I started wearing it with the bevel right, and then found that wasn’t very intuitive because you need to use the bevel more than you would on a normal watch; it isn’t a wind up, it is a control, so I altered the orientation. But then apart from going through the rest of the iPhone app, which takes all of a few minutes, that’s about it.

A point to note with Apple Watch straps – I’ve got hairy arms, and when you pull on the sports strap, it pulls the hairs out, which is quite annoying! Apple do not consider hairy arms in their design features... probably due to having a HQ in California?

What is your favourite aspect?

I can receive messages whenever I’m wearing it, wherever I am as long as I’m in Bluetooth range of my iPhone, I can see the important things as soon as they hit me.

And, if you have one, what is your least favourite aspect?

I get messages all the time - It’s both the best and the worst aspect of the Watch. And here’s the thing, which is really important, you very quickly get used to having those messages coming through and it ‘taptics’ (buzzes) you so persuasively that you just have to look at it!

You get a strong Pavlovian link between the buzz and twisting your wrist to have a look at the message on your watch… The result? When a message comes through during a conversation you can’t help but instantly take a look at your watch, but this communicates that you’re bored or ready to end the conversation, leaving you stumbling over an explanation that it wasn’t the time you were checking, just a message… Then that, by implication, is more important than the conversation itself, so you realise this and resort to simply changing the topic to how good the Apple Watch is!

Have there been any instances of this?

Unfortunately far too many, even now when I’m talking to you about it I want to look at my watch. That is quite significant - Apple Watch and other smart watch users will appear rude unless they’re really self-controlled.

Is the battery life noticeable?

Lots of people were moaning about this beforehand, but I think people need to realise that the Apple Watch is a watch. It is not an iPhone on your wrist, and if you treat it like a gadget and mess around with it all the time, the battery will barely last a day. If you use it like a watch, and occasionally use some useful features like the fitness app, then it lasts fine. I rarely get through more than half of the battery life in a day.

Do you consider it a ‘must have’ item?

Before I bought it, I was pretty convinced this would be the case... it’s a gadget, it’s really cool, it’s from Apple (they really do have me in the palm of their marketing machine). But now I’ve got it, absolutely not. I really do like the fitness thing on there; it does encourage you to do more activity and provides me with targets I need to reach. I also like the fact that I’m in touch all the time, so it does start to become a ‘must have’ item when you get used to it, but if you’d never had it, it’s not a ‘must have’.

You see it as a watch and not a gadget - do you think that’s why people are finding problems with it because they are treating it as a gadget?

Yes, it’s a watch. Having said that, one thing I haven’t mentioned, and this is the best thing it does... When you’ve got your phone nearby and you receive a call, you can take the call through your watch - you just lift your wrist and start talking. Holding your wrist to your mouth actually encourages you to have a quicker conversation and you get to say ‘Sorry, I’m on my watch’.

If you want to be really cool, wear a dark suit, dark glasses and turn the watch around so the face is on the inside of your wrist, then, when you take the call, you’re the FBI.

Any other points you would like to make?

In terms of value for money, I would say that based on what I get out of it, it is worth (to me) around £150. This is most definitely an early adopter piece of kit. When the price comes down, the design becomes a little bit thinner and the issues we’ve been talking about have been resolved then it will be better. I don’t think it’s worth £300+ and that’s not just because I’m over 50 and think a pair of trousers should cost less than a fiver!

Sorry, I have to stand up now, the Watch just told me so...