24 hours with the Apple Watch

Apple Watch face

I told you last week that I had an Apple Watch on order and that to get to that point I had gone through a few different emotions before eventually landing on one that had me rather excited about Apple’s first wearable and the future that it could have. As I write this I have had my Apple Watch on my wrist for a little over a full day, and I thought someone somewhere might be interested in how I feel about the purchase. I also wanted to share one or two things I have noticed after spending my first day with the Apple Watch, too.

For those who may not have read my previous Apple Watch musings, I flip-flopped between not caring about the wearable and being stupendously giddy about it. After ordering and then trying the thing on in an Apple Store, I was left eagerly anticipating the delivery of my very own Apple Watch Sport in Space Grey, with black band. Turned out I managed to pre-order at the right time and with the wind blowing in the right direction too, because it came on launch day. Not everyone was so lucky.

The first thing you notice about the Apple Watch and something that is driven home during the first days of use is that the fluoroelastomer band is actually surprisingly nice to wear. It’s not going to stand up to some of the leather or metal bands as far as looks are concerned, but it’s probably more comfortable on the wrist and it has to be said, doesn’t look cheap. For what is ostensibly a rubber band, I was worried I would be counting down to days until my leather loop arrived. As it stands, it’s crossed my mind to cancel that order all together.

Set up is easy as can be, though I had to use the manual configuration system that used a numerical code as authentication because the watch wouldn’t show me the fancy blue globe QR code whatsit that I was supposed to scan with my iPhone. It just didn’t draw on the screen, leaving me to try and scan a black screen. A timely reminder before I even got started that this is still very much a version 1.0 product. Still, onwards we go.

After spending longer than I care to admit trying to decide on which watch face to use, I set about installing all the apps that I wanted. It’s at this point that I found myself making two decisions. The first was to decide which apps I actually wanted on my wrist. This isn’t a simple case of installing everything with an Apple Watch component because note everything suits being on a watch. Being discerning about what kinds of apps you use is something I’ve spoken about before, and I think it’s going to be important moving forward.

In the end I installed a handful of apps. More will no doubt get installed in due course.

The second decision revolved around glances. Accessible via a pull-up shade when the watch face is in view, glances are best described as Notification Center widgets for your wrist. Glance-able – see what they did there? – data lives here, and it can be very useful indeed. Not all Apple Watch apps have a glance, and of those that do, you won’t want to enable them all. Again, it’s worth being a little more picky at this point because the more glances you use, the more power you’re draining and the more CPU time you’re tying up.

Speaking of power and CPU, I haven’t noticed too much slowdown yet. The odd app has thrown me a spinning progress wheel with no end in sight, but a close and relaunch has sorted that and I’m putting it down to buggy software rather than anything hardware related. I know some people have gone on and on about Apple Watch apps being slow, but so far I haven’t found myself unduly concerned about how long it is taking for things to happen, even when using location data being fed in by my iPhone.

As far as power is concerned, the battery life on this thing has been stellar so far. Supposedly rated to last around 18 hours on a full charge, I’m finding that after about 16 hours of use, I have almost 40% of my battery remaining. That was the case for the first 24 hours of use and it’s looking very much on the cards for the second, too. Given the likelihood that I’m using the thing more than usual thanks to the novelty of it all, I’m rather pleased with how the battery on the Apple Watch is turning out.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for my iPhone.

Pre-Apple Watch I would routinely see my iPhone 6 go through a day’s use without charging. That means around 16 hours or more without needing to be plugged in. Since I got the Apple Watch, that has dramatically reduced. The first day of Apple Watch usage saw my iPhone die after just 13 hours. That’s with neither the watch nor the iPhone being used for a solid 3 or so hours because I was at a football game, too. This is hopefully a case of software optimization, and once true Apple Watch apps arrive, the watch and phone shouldn’t need to talk to each other quite so much, thus saving battery. Time will tell in this regard, and all we can do is cross our fingers and hope.

Other notes from my first day include:

  • Nobody has noticed I have an Apple Watch yet, and as a result I haven’t either been mugged or told how awesome I am for having it.
  • I made my first Dick Tracey call using the watch and it worked well. Will I use it beyond the first few days though? No, probably not.
  • If you happen to be using EE in the UK, having Wi-Fi calling turned on seems to affect making calls from your watch. Or at least it did for me. It just wouldn’t work.
  • Yes you get a lot of notifications if you tell your iPhone to send them. Turn them off, and you won’t. Who’d have thought?
  • The Apple Watch is comfy. Whether that be down to the band choice or the fact I’m using the light Sport option, I don’t know. All I know is I haven’t worn a watch for years and I’m not finding myself desperate to take this one off.
  • Speaking of the Sport band, I had read reports of it being difficult to put on and take off. And it is. If you only have one hand.
  • The Mickey Mouse watch face is silly.
  • Did I mention the battery is awesome?
  • That magnetic charger is awesome, and we need the iPhone to get the same technology as soon as possible. The iPad I’m not so sure about, but the iPhone is a no-brainer. Make it so, Apple.
  • Force Touch is all well and good, but I keep forgetting it exists and even when I do remember it, I don’t know where it can be used. Maybe that’s my sieve-like memory, but it might also be poor user interface design. I’ll let you decide that one.
  • Being able to shout ‘Hey Siri’ and then ask it to set a timer for something you just put into the oven may be something I could have done with the iPhone or iPad, but there’s something undeniably magical about doing it with a watch. Shouting ‘Hey Siri, show me my timer’ is just as awesome as well.
  • Bulleted lists in blog posts can go on forever.
  • I’m glad I didn’t spend $500+ on one of these things.

And there’s the rub. As a version 1.0, the Apple Watch is very good indeed, and it could certainly find a corner of my life in which to live. It still might, but right now I’m back in the mood where I’m not 100% sold on keeping the thing. I want to, because it’s super cool and having the thing on your wrist is awesome. But it’s not cheap, and it’s missing features while some of the features it does have need tweaking here and there to either fine tune, or simply rework completely. Ultimately I think I’ll stick it out and wait to see where the Apple Watch goes over the coming weeks and months as Apple, and third-party developers, start to get comfortable with what can and cannot be done with this little computer.

In the mean time, it’s great for walking around the supermarket with a shopping list!