And Now for Something Different – the Apple Watch

I got my Apple Watch a month or so ago. I wasn’t going to but one night I decided on a whim that a treat was in order so off I went to the Apple Store. I’ve always been a techy guy and my curiosity was getting the better of me.

The learning curve was steep – I had read that it was going to be – but it was so steep that I, the guy who relishes figuring things out, was frustrated and annoyed.

I wore it to dinner that same night and found myself embarrassed to be wearing it. I felt like a geek which is not the normal feeling from Apple products. At the restaurant I actually took it off and put it in my pocket. It kept binging and I didn’t know how to stop it. I would take it back, I decided.

After a couple of days, I decided to give it another go and forced myself to watch some of the videos online. I figured out the new gestures and got the basics. Faced with some technical challenges (contacts not being recognized on the watch meant I was getting text messages from raw phone numbers), I spent a couple of hours on the phone with a surprisingly arrogant Apple tech who was a Watch specialist. I’m guessing his arrogance was the result of his last 5-6 weeks on the job. “Turn it off, wipe it and restart? Yes I’ve done that 13 times already.” In the end, the issue was being caused by a glitch with the optic sync feature used in set-up. I had to set it up manually by entering a long numeric code. The support guy bristled when I suggested this might be something they need to address.

The Apple Watch Lifestyle

I used the Starbucks app on the watch to buy a coffee (the Barista thought I was reaching out to shake his hand). I even used the United app to travel back from DC. The security guy looked at my watch, then he looked at me and he sighed a very heavy sigh. I awkwardly turned my wrist to scan the boarding code and he happily sent me on my way. When we got to the bottom of the ramp, the gate agent for the tiny plane asked to check my boarding pass. “its, uh, well, you see…its on my watch.” I awkwardly brought it back up on the watch and, without the aid of a microscope, this 60 year old agent and I shaded the watch from the sun so she could see. “Hmmmph,” she said. “Guess I’m going to have to get used to them things too.”

A few other things have contributed to my decision to put my Apple Watch away.

  • Fitness tracking: the default settings on the watch are manic, unexpectedly ordering you to stand up and sit down and walk around. Three concentric rings are supposed to help you track your progress but it took me a week or so to figure out what they meant. I switched all the stand, stairs, walking “challenges” off.
  • You gotta work harder: The watch has consistently underreported my distance, calories, etc as compared to my Fitbit Charge HR+ and the LifeFitness machines I’m working on. I had a long chat with an Apple rep about this and he tried to tell me that Apple had come up with a whole new technology that is better than anything else in the market and that’s why these data are different, more honest. Mmmhmm.
  • Notification Bracelet: the Apple Watch is tethered to your phone. There’s very little that it can actually do without it. This reduces it to a glorified notification bracelet that happens to tell the time. Meeting alert – your wrist buzzes. Text alert – same thing. Here I’d like to point out that while occasionally checking your phone in a social setting has become acceptable. Checking your watch has not. Over the last few weeks, I’ve realized that checking your watch clearly signals that you want to leave.
  • Dick Tracy…or just Dick: You can reply to texts if you’re willing to use one of the inane responses (call you back?) or you can use Siri to dictate a text response. If your phone rings, you can answer it on your watch. But really? I decided to use Maps a few weeks back while I was out and about. The second I held the watch up to my face to ask Siri for directions, I felt like an asshole. Even more so when the teeny tiny map came up on my (ladies’ size – I have small wrists) screen.

Maybe the promised Watch iOS upgrade this Fall will change everything and reinvent the Apple Watch world but I’m not so sure. For now, I’m very happy to go back to my trusty Seiko. As a techy guy, I have no regrets. As an Apple customer, however, I’m disappointed.

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