I’m a huge fan of wearable technology.

Not every piece of wearable, sorry Glass, but anything that I can wrap around my wrist. Up until this point I’ve used various fitness trackers to monitor my activity throughout the day. These days I prefer the Misfit Shine to anything else and continue to wear it. I once mourned the loss of my shine and they reached out to replace it for free. It says a lot about a company who reaches out to you before you even try.

Given my fascination with wearables I had to give the Apple Watch a spin. This is my first watch simply because the urge to buy an alternative never materialized. That’s not a jab at the other players, but they all operate in a completely different realm. The only one I was close to buying was the Microsoft Band, which I would have if I didn’t know about the Apple Watch.

I’m very curious to see if this watch will become more than a development device. If it’s something I’ll continue to wear or rest on my desk for development.

The early signals are mostly positive.

The watch is surprisingly comfortable to wear

While I notice it’s there, especially compared to my Misfit, the band material is so smooth it doesn’t become a distraction. I originally ordered a 38MM given how small my wrists are (152mm), but had the opportunity to receive an expedited 42MM. The size looks just fine on these skinny wrists.

The watch is confusing

It’s no wonder Apple created the retail store experience the way they did. People would have been absolutely lost.

Given the constraints, and as a developer, I understand that there is a lot to pack in here. That said it requires patience until Apple irons out a better onboarding experience. For instance, it took me a while to change the watch face despite seeing it done in videos in the past… Given how new force touch is you’d expect it, plus changing the watch face, to be part of onboarding. It also took me a while to realize I could double press the side buttons — the top taking you to a previous app, the bottom opening Apple Pay. Or, discovering that swiping your finger edge-to-edge (back 2 screens) is different than swiping from the center of the screen (back 1 screen). I’m also aware of areas that require a triple-tap…

Then, all of your notifications are enabled by default, which will be a nightmare if you don’t obsessively block them like I do. So the first few things you’ll want to trim are notifications, glances, and apps you feel are important to have on your wrist. 

Nothing here is a deal breaker, it just requires patience on the end user and more fine-tuning by Apple.

The watch does have apps worth having immediate access to

I’ve seen folks say how useless a watch like this is when their phone is nearby. I can safely say that I’ve noticed a handful of apps that just simplify the experience (for me). I’ll discover more as I spend more time with this, but a few very useful apps:

  • Alarm.com — easy on/off switch
  • Personal Capital — easily check weekly / monthly spending
  • Nike+ — Fire up a new run
  • Activity — Remind me to stand up at my desk (which is surprisingly nice)
  • Watchface Widgets — easy access to the date, temperature, sunset time
  • Now Playing — More easily control your music

These are just a few that I’m finding extremely useful to have access to. Again, this really requires patience to set the experience that fits your style. You can have 20 glances, but do you need 20 glances? Probably not. I’m going to stick around 10, with the first 5 being super important. I don’t need all notifications on, I need a handful. I don’t need all apps installed, I need the ones that make sense. This is an entirely different experience we’re getting used to.

An interesting observation is that I find myself focused on glances much more than going to the field of circles to open an app. I rarely see the need.

The watch is not every app’s playground

If you’re reading this as a developer it would be wise to consider what value your app could bring to the watch. Does the experience make sense? Crafting a good watch experience should take time. Given most use cases, most apps will not make sense on a Watch. It’s one thing to build a watch extension for fun, but it’s something entirely different if you expect it will magically drive sales. From my usage I only care about the apps installed on my phone already. I’m seeking a closer relationship with apps I’m familiar with. The trust and loyalty is already there. You’re really building an extension for your current base. This may change when apps go native, but I’m doubtful unless the watch app simply doesn’t have an iPhone app.

Closing Thoughts

My time is early with this watch, but things are looking good. Do you need to buy an Apple Watch and ignore alternatives like the Pebble or Moto360? Not at all. What I hope to convey is the value of having a wearable. There are great use-cases for it. Playing Angry Birds is not one of them, but keeping track of your spending, activity, most important tasks, and other things may be very valuable to you. There’s no need to dig for your phone for some of these things. Customize the experience that works for you.