It’s been a month since I bought the Apple Watch. I bought it mainly because I’m an iOS developer and I think wearables are the future. Had I been just a normal Apple user/fan, I’m not sure I would have chosen to buy one. But I did, and these are my impressions on it, both as a user and as a developer, after using it for a month.
The Apple Watch as a user
I have to say that, strictly from a user perspective, the Apple Watch is awesome! Mine is a sport model with white straps. I think it was slightly overpriced at 469€ here in Spain, but I was buying it for work anyway.
Health & Sport
I have been doing heavy weightlifting for around 12 years now, so I am kind of like Rainier Wolfcastle in the Simpson’s “Undercover nerd” (only I don’t wear glasses or bow tie ;). However, aerobic exercise has always been a hassle for me. I don’t enjoy running, and I find it hard to be motivated or find an exercise that doesn’t suck.
That’s where the Apple Watch shines for me. It’s really great at motivating you and encouraging you to do more exercise. It has those three rings: calories burned, active exercise time and the standing time. Being conscious of those values has helped me to adopt a more healthy lifestyle, and it seems I am not the only one. Since I put the Apple Watch in my wrist, I do more (aerobic) exercise, stand more, sit less, and feel better overall. I also have started to look more carefully at my eating habits. I have to admit it, it has given me that extra motivation I needed to be more healthy.
In general I’m quite satisfied with Apple Apps for the Watch. I tried the navigation two days ago and it was excellent. The instructions in my wrist, emphasized by subtle haptic touches, really allowed me to focus more in the road (and that’s a good thing in Madrid). The iMessage App is just awesome, and the Weather and Calendar Apps are really nice too. I love to be able to control my music and videos from the watch. One exception is the Mail app. It has yet to stick with me.
The notifications management is another plus for me. Now, I feel like I’m more in control of the notifications I receive and the time I spend (read: waste) attending them. The Apple Watch minimizes the time you spend looking at notifications, and you can seamlessly ignore those who don’t interest you, with a quick glance or movement of your wrist. I compare that with the hassle of having to get my iPhone out of the pocket, unlock it, open the App and probably respond to a message or an email (because, you know, I have the App open already). Now I can just give a quick answer if I feel like it with a dictation, or ignore the notification altogether.
My only gripe is the WhatsApp application. As there is no way of answering from the watch, you have to get your phone out and answer it “the old way”. I plan on disconnecting WhatsApp notifications for the Apple Watch if it doesn’t improve in WatchOS 2. But this gripe is actually my biggest complain regarding…
3rd Party Apps
Third party apps are not yet there. I have many of them, like WhatsApp and Wunderlist, that are mostly useless, while others have a limited interface that doesn’t allow for many interactions. One exception is Twitter. Not only I find it cool to get the notifications in your wrist, but it also allows you to favorite, retweet or even respond easily.
However, my complaints are not really fair, as WatchOS 2 (coming this fall) is supposed to give more life to 3rd party apps by allowing them more control on the system.
The Apple Watch as a developer
As a developer, I have to say I’m really disappointed with the WatchOS as it is now (version 1.0). Our possibilities for developing something “useful” are really poor given that currently the Watch is little more than a interface to show info coming from the phone and sending back info to the phone. You have no direct access to WiFi, the haptic engine, and most interesting things right now. This is not to say you cannot build anything in the Watch right now, but you have little to no leeway.
Nevertheless, as I said before, this is about to change, and WatchOS 2 is a really big step forward. Now we have access to the haptic engine, accelerator, wifi, real audio and video manipulation, and more importantly, our Apps are real apps, allowing you to do things independently from the iPhone (even though you still need the iPhone for some things like the GPS).
All in all, I’m really excited about the possibilities of this technology and the open future for the developer community. I hope the Apple Watch, and the rest of Android wearable devices, will continue to evolve so we can see some wonderful things soon.