Watch Reviews

UPDATE 5.12.15. Veteran tech reviewer Walt Mossberg, formerly of The Wall Street Journal and now of Re/code, just posted his impressions of Apple Watch after wearing it constantly for one month. The highlights:

“I will probably buy one…But it’s a fledgling product whose optimal utility lies mostly ahead of it as new watch software is developed.”

Mossberg added: “Some commentators have complained that the Apple Watch lacks a “killer app” — the one thing that would make it irresistible to consumers. But I disagree. I think any new device like this becomes attractive when it looks good, works well, and does multiple useful things of different value to different users.

“For me, the three big winners among the watch’s functions were fitness, texting and paying for things and checking in at airports. All can be done on the phone, or indeed without digital devices at all. But I found that the Apple Watch made each easier and, in the case of fitness, more effective.”

Regarding the three Activity app rings, Mossberg wrote: “The built-in fitness app, which uses the metaphor of closing three colored rings each day as you make progress toward goals like movement and standing up, gets in your face. For someone like me, who’s not as fit as I should be, that makes me actually do more.” Amen to that.

4.11.15. Neil Cybart, who writes AAPL Orchard, an email newsletter  that tracks all things Apple, read (or watched) 21 Apple Watch reviews. His review of Apple Watch reviews is worth quoting here:

“To my surprise, when you actually read the reviews, and not just random quotes pulled from the pieces, most of them loved Apple Watch. Out of 21 reviews, 14 were pretty much glowing recommendations while 3 were on the fence (more of a discussion about the device than a clear yes/no position), and 4 had more concerns than positives. Even if you took a look at the negative reviews, I wouldn’t necessarily say the tone was any different from other first generation Apple products that these sites published. Said another way, these publications were grading on a curve.”

Cybart also summarizes the prevailing pro and con sentiments from reviewers:

“Pros:
1) Cool-looking – Most of the reviews had positive things to say about how the Apple Watch looked, arguably one of the more important factors for most consumers.
2) Change behavior – Many reviews said that having information on the wrist did bring about behavioral change. This is a very big deal for the watch to truly succeed. I would have liked to see reviews last more than 7-10 days, but that was the given timeframe.
3) Fitness and Health – While the device isn’t for serious endurance professional athletes (yet), most reviewers said there was something intriguing about the fitness and health tracking.

“Cons: 
1) Too many notifications – This should not come as a surprise. Just like with iPhone, you need to be careful on how you handle notifications. As we previously discussed with the ‘The Evolving Notification’ post, both users and app developers need to treat Apple Watch notifications differently than notifications on a smartphone.
2) Unsure of purpose – There was some confusion as to how the watch fits in with the iPhone and if the watch is actually freeing up someone’s attention. Essentially, the watch may in fact be able to do too much.
3) Third-party apps seemed problematic – With very limited time with the device, I’m not surprised if some apps still need a bit more work or slightly different strategies.”

Here are some summarizing quotes from reviews I read:

David Pogue, Yahoo Tech: “You don’t need (an Apple Watch). Nobody needs a smartwatch. After all, it’s something else to buy, care for, charge every night. It’s another cable to pack and track. Your phone already serves most of its purposes. With the battery-life situation as it is, technology is just barely in place to make such a device usable at all…In the end, therefore, the Apple Watch is, above all, a satisfying indulgence.”

Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times: “What’s most thrilling about the Apple Watch, unlike other smartwatches I’ve tried, is the way it invests a user with a general sense of empowerment. If Google brought all of the world’s digital information to our computers, and the iPhone brought it to us everywhere, the Watch builds the digital world directly into your skin. It takes some time getting used to, but once it clicks, this is a power you can’t live without.”

Geoffrey A. Fowler, Wall Street Journal: “With the Apple Watch, smartwatches finally make sense. The measure of their success shouldn’t be how well they suck you in, but how efficiently they help you get things done. Living on your arm is part of that efficiency—as a convenient display, but also a way to measure your heart rate or pay at a cash register. This is a big idea about how we use technology, the kind of idea we expect from Apple.”

Joanna Stern, Wall Street Journal: “Every time I gaze down to admire it, I start seeing how the next one will look better. You could say the same about many fashion objects, but watches should be timeless (ironically). Unlike the Cartier I got for college graduation, the original Apple Watch’s beauty will soon fade. Unless you opt for the cheapest $350 sport version, you should really wait for the future…The Apple Watch makes you look good. But the next one is bound to make you look even better.”

Edward C. Baig, USA Today: “Now that I’ve spent more than a week wearing the Apple Watch, I’m reserving a prominent spot on my wrist. Apple Watch is an elegant combination of style and purpose, even if it indeed often serves as an at-a-glance stand-in for the iPhone tucked away in your pocket or purse.”

Scott Stein, CNET: “If you’re curious where Apple is going next and have $350-$400 to spend, the entry-level Apple Watch might be fun to explore. Everyone else, I’d wait and see how the apps shape up, how the kinks get worked out, whether any software updates help with battery life. There’s a lot more time to decide.”

Joshua Topolsky, Bloomberg: “After using it, I had no question that the Apple Watch is the most advanced piece of wearable technology you can buy today.”

Lauren Goode, Re/code: “Of the half-dozen smartwatches I’ve tested in recent years, I’ve had the best experience with Apple Watch. If you’re an iPhone power user and you’re intrigued by the promises of wearable technology, you’ll like it, too. But that doesn’t mean Apple Watch is for everyone.”

Nilay Patel, The Verge: “There’s no question that the Apple Watch is the most capable smartwatch available today. It is one of the most ambitious products I’ve ever seen; it wants to do and change so much about how we interact with technology. But that ambition robs it of focus: it can do tiny bits of everything, instead of a few things extraordinarily well. For all of its technological marvel, the Apple Watch is still a smartwatch, and it’s not clear that anyone’s yet figured out what smartwatches are actually for.”

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