Admittedly, I ordered the Apple Watch because I am a geek girl at heart. I justified my purchase of the 36mm (smaller) sports version because of my research on wearables and to test an application under development. I pre-ordered it fairly early on the day it became available. My purchase confirmation stated “June” as my delivery date. Sigh, I will just have to wait, I thought.
Needless to say, as I am writing this now, I got it sooner. In fact, this was the first surprise and delight. I received a notification the day before the launch that my AppleWatch would be arriving with UPS the next day. Nicely done, Apple, under promise and over deliver.
I quickly set it up and began fiddling with it. I sent a voice to text message to my husband in Sweden. It was simple and actually got my voice. To be fair, I’ve had a little practice as I often voice to text when on the go: dictating thoughts for my dissertation, or texting. Speaking with punctuation doesn’t both me.
I wasn’t planning on writing a “review” per say of the Apple Watch. In fact I normally shy away from doing this for any one product or brand. But after reading some of the ridiculous reviews that I do not feel reflect my experience, I felt compelled at least to share mine.
This is my personal experience, so let me provide a little context. I wear many hats. I have 25+ years as a professional working with emerging social technologies. I am currently doing my doctoral dissertation on wearables and presence of mind in the workplace. I am 46 year old mother of a tween and teen (with very active schedules). I am married to a Swede who travels more than half the year. I have a pretty active lifestyle, in other words, I exercise but go through phases of inconsistency (who doesn’t?). We moved from Sweden to the San Francisco Bay Area just over a year ago, from one hyper-connected region to another. I needed to increase my year round vitamin D intake and activity to combat my season affective disorder (SAD). It worked! Given my many hats, balancing the various roles and their overlaps is a constant in my life.
My research set my expectations on the variables in developing wearables like battery life, sensor strength, size and even materials. I am impressed with the range from the phone. So far, this has not been an issue for me, often using them on opposing side and floors of the house. The aluminum frame is light and despite my activity level, seems tough enough for normal wear (no blender test here). The band is the nicest I have experienced for something rubber based. I actually don’t mind wearing it. I have been testing countless wearables in the wellness and notification category in the last three years and several I even continued to wear daily. This has given me a sense of their potential purpose as well as the expectations in the trade-offs. For example, I knew not to expect the Watch to extract from the ambient energy my body creates to power it (not yet, anyway). I would have to take it off and charge it. As I have said before, wearables are in their infancy. Think back to the mobile phone in a briefcase to align with where we are now using the smartphone. The factors of design innovation, user critical mass and infrastructure all had to move together to get us to where we are today with a computer in our pockets (or on our wrists).
So for the heart. I didn’t think I would be using the texting or answering the phone on my wrist. That said, these are the functions that I use most. In fact often at the same time (well replying to a text via the Apple Watch while talking on the iPhone). I like that with a gentle tap followed by the raise of my wrist, I can respond with quick voice to text. After a couple of days it came as second nature. So much so, that I caught myself wondering why people were looking at me talking into my watch as I walked through the square. Oops, I guess I just showed my inner geek girl on the outside. I had received a similar look while wearing my first handsfree headset. At least this time they didn’t look at me like I was crazy.
For productivity, I use it to filter and “feed” me just what I need. I no longer keep my phone on my desk, limiting the notifications of things that sneak through the filters. With the Watch, I keep my workflow going, only responding to what I have identified as critical (even then sometimes with a tap to send “can’t talk right now”). I add my thoughts through dictation to text directly into Evernote to integrate in my research notes from wherever I am. I have now resumed my morning hikes, accompanied by an audio book (a different kind of “action research”) which I control from the watch. Audible needs an app to bookmark and comment. Nothing like productivity and wellness combined.
The ApplePay function from the Watch took a couple times to figure out. That said, the additional step feels more secure rather than a hindrance. I paid from my groceries post-hike and even picked up an extra cable at the Apple Store, using it ApplePay from it.
The funny thing is, I thought I would mostly be using the Watch for the wellness functions. Particularly as Wellness is related to my research. The reminder to stand (or as I refer to it, “get off your bum”) feature has been a lovely surprise. I can normally sit and write when in flow for hours. This is not healthy. The gentle reminder to stand works great and so far enables me to keep right on working. I just stand at my desk while I finish typing. I like the fact that it does track and perhaps help with the aggregate capture of my health data. But not being personally into quantified health (someone who loves to track their own data), this is less relevant for me. That said, I do find it motivating to go for a hike when I see I haven’t moved enough.
I do still use my other fitness wearables when I want to track sleep patterns (the watch charges overnight on my bedside) and breath (Watch still doesn’t measure this). To be sure there is room for improvement, but this is only the first version. With time, as we have seen with all devices worth developing further it will get slimmer (battery), stronger (processing) and more capable with time and the dedication of the teams working on it.
As an active multi-tasking Mamma, scholar and professional, Apple Watch has got my vote! Nicely done Apple!