Ever since September, we’ve known what Apple Watch is, what it does and how it looks. What we didn’t know was whether it would be the revolution that the iPhone and iPad turned out to be. Could this product validate a category?
Over the past few years, Mubaloo has spent a lot of time looking at wearables to understand whether or not they can help businesses make further improvements to operations. Though we have teams of Windows, Android and Web developers, iOS remains the platform of choice for many businesses we deal with.
This made Apple Watch a product that was highly interesting to us. This meant that we were going to order one for testing, joining our Android Wear, Galaxy Gear and Google Glass. It also meant that a number of our team, including our Chairman, two designers, a couple of developers and me, our PR manager felt compelled to order one.
The only way to truly understand the role Apple Watch plays in the world of business, is to use it.
First impressions and set-up
As a device that’s worn and visible, I decided to opt for the Stainless Steel watch. Out of the box, the decision seemed to be the right one. It isn’t as ostentatious as some watches, doesn’t scream out for attention, but does have an elegance about it. It’s something that you can wear, even though it’s clearly a gadget with it’s black screen.
The experience of setting up the Watch was truly that, an experience. To pair with your iPhone, the Watch screen shows what looks like a particle cloud swirling around, that you use the camera on your phone to authenticate.
After several more steps, using the app on the phone, it identifies that apps on your phone that have been extended to the Watch. From here, you have the option of installing them all or choosing which you want.
For anyone who isn’t technically minded, Apple will do this for you in its stores, or if you have Apple Watch, or Edition, via a live video chat.
Virtually everyone who’s seen the Watch, even those who were sceptical about it, has said it looks nicer than they expected. Other people who’ve tried it on have been captivated by the way it works and the different Watch faces. Whilst the first experience of Google Glass got people excited, it also gave them a bit of a worried look on their face. With Apple Watch, people smile.
Now, whilst much has been made of the user interface and how it takes some time to get to grips with it, once you do, it makes sense. It’s not going to be as simple as an iPhone, but anything that’s this small, and does this much won’t be.
One of the things about Apple Watch is that people will continue to find things out about it as they use it.
Spending time with it
**Day One**: The first day with any new gadget is always about discovery and play. Having watched all of the tutorial videos ahead of its release, it felt pretty straight forward to use, but most of all, it felt fun.
I felt taps on my wrist from our Bristol office, felt the excitement of one of our developers wearing it for the first time by the rate of their heartbeat and experienced tiny drawings appear then vanish. I used my voice to order a film from Amazon and, at the end of the day, was told where to which direction to walk in by touch alone.
One of the first things anyone should do with Apple Watch is control the notifications. There are apps which I don’t need alerts from Angry Birds on my wrist, because they’re not that important.
The Watch comes into its own when you’re on the move. Because it’s designed to help us use our phones less, it means we don’t walk around running the risk of walking into lamp posts because we’re reading a message or trying to reply to someone on our phone. This became immediately apparent when walking from Central London to East London.
Not only could I listen to a Podcast or Audiobook without being interrupted by voice directions, but I could also be aware of what was going on around me. Instead, by either telling my Watch where I wanted to go, or starting directions on my iPhone, the watch simply taps you to tell you when to turn. Mobile technology is guilty of encouraging people to live outside of their surroundings, the Watch helps to put you back.
**Weekend – Day two and three**: On Saturday, I put the exercise features to the test, starting with a 5K run in the morning. I still took my phone with me, for music (I don’t have Bluetooth headphones yet), but this also meant I was able to see messages that I received and reply to them without slowing down.
Very quickly, filling those activity rings has been something I’ve wanted to do on a daily basis. I suspect this is something that other people will feel as well, and that developers will adopt for their own apps, especially for enterprise apps relating to tasks.
One of the main benefits of Apple Watch is removing the need to pull out your phone, every time a notification comes through. You simply raise your wrist and get a quick glimpse of what’s come in. Hold it up for over two seconds and it’ll show you the message or more information, letting you quickly take an action, or dismiss it.
Taking photos when your phone is propped up on the side, or on a tripod with the Watch is great – so long as you’re on the same Wi-Fi Network. Loading it via Bluetooth appears to be quite slow at the moment, though this will probably get better with time.
A trip to the shops quickly revealed one of the major current weaknesses with Apple Watch, hands free use. Whilst you can use Siri to do some actions, you need to have the watch face on to activate it. With your hands full, this can either be dangerous, or difficult.
Even when you do have a hand free, you need two to do many of the tasks with Apple Watch. Take opening a boarding pass for a plane, or a store card in PassBook. Though Siri can open PassBook, it can’t open specific cards. The iPhone remains the easiest way to do this, especially if you only have one hand free.