Conversations about my Apple Watch

I wasn’t planning on getting the Apple Watch, at least not the first generation. I didn’t wear a watch, and I had already decided that my next big tech purchase was going to be a new iPad. I didn’t even consider the Apple Watch when it came out. However, when I unwrapped my Apple Watch on on Christmas Morning, I was both surprised and thrilled.

I’ve worn it everyday since. And during that time, I’ve fielded more questions about it than anything else I’ve ever owned. The questions usually come when I’m least expecting it. And the resulting answer usually turns into some kind of incoherent apology for the watch not being the next iPhone. Most people that I’ve talked with about it walk away with the impression that I don’t like it.

But that’s not the case at all.

It’s important to understand what the watch is useful for.

Understanding how it’s useful means understanding that it is, in fact, a watch.

As a watch, it’s useful for telling time.

Earth shattering? No.

Useful? Extremely.

The second thing I use it for is the weather.

Yes, I can look outside. Yes I can open an app on my phone. Or I can just quickly look at my watch and see that it is 100 degrees outside and that going for a run would be a bad idea.

We also have an above average need for alarms and reminders in our house, as one of our boys has to be fed every 3-4 hours, around the clock. Missing an alarm because my phone is in my pocket would be a huge problem.

I also love screening calls without taking my phone out of the pocket. It is a delight.

As is quickly replying to text messages with pre-written responses.

(Note that I am militant about notifications on my phone. I only allow a handful of apps to send notifications. And those settings carry over onto the watch.)

The fitness tracking features are nice to have, and having workout apps that can tap your wrist for interval tracking or rest timers has been really nice for the gym. It’s great for people who are trying to get fit, which is clearly what Apple marketed their watches for (as well as other things), but it’s interesting to see how their fitness marketing tactics for rapid growth worked.

What about the apps?

Apps are a sore spot on the watch. I don’t use apps for anything beyond getting alerts or information. Apps open so slowly on this thing that it feels like a parody.

Luckily, the speed issue is supposed to be fixed with WatchOS 3 this fall. I’m looking forward to seeing if I find apps to be more useful once they are actually useable.

Other issues?

I’d like to wear the watch to track sleep, but doing so would mean charging it some during the day so the battery would last overnight.

Also, the face lights up when the watch thinks you are trying to glance at it. Having screens blinking on and off isn’t helpful for sleeping. It would be nice if there was some kind of sleep mode that locked the screen off.

Oh, and theres a split second delay between when you raise your wrist to look at the watch, and when the screen comes on. It’s normally not a problem, but if you’re talking to someone, holding your watch up for that extra bit of time can feel really passive aggressive.

I like it, and will buy another one.

The key to understanding and liking the Apple Watch is to understand that it is a watch that has some additional capabilities. I like what it does. I’m not even sure what else I’d like it to do at this point.

It is not a world changing, society altering, revolution in technology. The screen size on a watch doesn’t lend itself to that sort of thing. Though all of that could change with emerging interfaces like voice and AR.

So there you go.

Does everyone need an Apple Watch?

No.

Would I buy another one if mine broke?

Absolutely.

Minimum Viable Music Fandom

I like Apple Music. There. I said it.

I also liked Beats Music. So that might not be a big deal.

It came along at a time when my willingness to be fussy about listening to music was at an all time low. I’m trying to do the least amount of music management possible, short of listening to the radio. Having two boys under five at home and a time-intensive job will eat away at the margins of time where curating music used to live.

We walk in the door, I flip on my Bluetooth speaker, open the Music app, it shows me five or six playlists that are going to be fairly close to what I want to hear, I hit a button, and it just goes.

There’s no flipping through CDs, scrolling through music files, downloading or syncing or anything. There’s no time spent burning cycles and searching for what I’d even be interested in listening to right now. You also don’t have to make a playlist for every album you’d like to keep in your collection (looking at you, Spotify). All of my purchased music and streaming music that I like are together in one collection. At last.

As well as that, connecting through bluetooth to your speaker is as simple as 1-2-3. Bluetooth speakers are not only easy to use, but they play music so much better than if you were just playing it through your phone or your earphones. If you’re interested in purchasing, rest assured the meilleure enceinte Bluetooth 2020 are reviewed and listed on iTest’s site. They certainly are a valuable investment!

I’m also not trying to keep my music off of the cloud, or sync with iPods, or maintain metadata in my iTunes collection. Sure the UI is complex, but I haven’t found it to be the nightmare that many have. Also, I haven’t lost any owned music. But I don’t really worry about that, since I can’t imagine a time when I’d stop using streaming music.

All of that being said, I have two gripes with it. Both of which will hopefully be solved soon.

  1. It doesn’t work with Sonos yet — Sonos is launching their Apple Music beta later this month, but it’s been a really long wait. Bluetooth speakers are an OK stopgap, but not a permanent solution.
  2. It’s hard to tell what is downloaded versus what is in the cloud. When Wifi is problematic at the gym I’d like to listen to what’s on my device. I don’t have unlimited data, and I don’t want to accidentally burn through my data plan listening to Slayer on the treadmill, so I’ve turned wireless data access off for the music app. It’s a sensible solution until you’re away from wifi and want to search for something … it doesn’t work.

Ultimately, Apple Music gives me what I have always wanted from a streaming music client. Minimum Viable Music Fandom.

A Positive Outcome from the Apple Ebook Judgement

Say what you will about the ruling in the Apple e-Book price fixing case, at least one outcome will be beneficial to actual humans:

Apple will have to let rival retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble include links to their online bookstores from inside their apps under the terms of a Department of Justice proposal that was published on Aug. 2. Apple does not allow apps to link to outside stores.

Buying Kindle books on iOS has been the user experience equivalent of being flogged with a rubber hose since Amazon was forced to take out their store link a year or two back.