As an Apple Store employee, I was fortunate enough to purchase one of the new Apple Watches and receive it about a month after it first started shipping. Over the past four weeks, I have tried to observe closely the benefits and disadvantages of the new device. Here are my top five takeaways:
- As Matthew Inman (of The Oatmeal) pointed out in his much more entertaining piece about his Apple Watch, it is a passive device that is not designed for creating content. In fact, the spectrum from most creative (but least portable/convenient) Apple device to least creative (and thereby most portable/convenient) would have the iMac or Macbook on one end and the Apple Watch on the other. But that tradeoff doesn’t make one device better than the other, only better suited to certain purposes.
- It is unnecessary gadget for almost everyone. No one needs an Apple Watch. Let’s just get that out of the way. But, as a timepiece and a tool for making my iPhone more useful, it is really handy. As a teacher, I don’t like to pull out my phone even to perform professional duties, like adding Experience Points in Classcraft or sending an email to a student. In truth, I want to model for my students how to engage with other people despite my own unhealthy obsession with electronics. The Watch lets me feed my desire to stay connected without drawing my attention for long periods of time.
- The Taptic Engine that provides Apple’s brand of haptic feedback is amazing. Until you actually wear an Apple Watch, it is difficult to understand how subtle and effective the notifications are. No one around me knows that I have received one and it doesn’t interrupt nearby conversations. This has led to the odd (for me) experience that many of my close friends and co-workers don’t even know that I own the Watch. It’s not something that asks for attention.
- Digital Touch is a fun and interesting way to interact with others. Unlike text messages (and much more like Snapchat) the taps, sketches, and heartbeats don’t remain on the watch after they are viewed. It is an ephemeral yet personal way to communicate and I see a lot of potential as more people purchase Apple Watches, in the same way that AirDrop and iMessage became killer tools once iPhone adoption reached a certain level.
- I am a lazy dude. That is a fact. I have tried using a Fitbit to track and thereby encourage more physical activity, but it didn’t work for long. For me, the tradeoff between getting exercise feedback and having other benefits of a true watch was a difficult one. Now that I can get all of that on one device, I find myself sticking with it a little bit more…. for now.
Do you have an Apple Watch? Share what you’ve learned from it. Have another wearable and want to share your opinion? Use the comments.