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Believe me there are about a million things I like about the Apple Watch — the great materials, the thoughtful design, the beautiful interface. But me being a glass-half-empty kind of guy, I thought I’d skip to the things I don’t like about the new device. And here they are.
1. Arm motion doesn’t always wake up the Watch
When you want to look at your Watch you’re supposed to be able to just lift your wrist and the device will wake. But I found that this didn’t always happen. I was often met with a blank screen when I raised my wrist, causing me to have to do a wrist spin to tell the Watch to wake up and be useful.
2. Setup was a little rough
I have set up my Apple Watch twice now. I did it once, then reset it the device and did it again. Each time I found the process to be somewhat tedious.
Pairing the phone with the watch took a while — three minutes the first time and two minutes the second time. You’re supposed to be able to take a picture of a crazy design on the Watch face with your iPhone camera to make the two devices pair. I tried this four times, and it worked only once.
Setting up your preferences and apps on the Watch takes a good hour to complete, too. You have to move through screen after screen of questions, some of which I felt were unnecessary.
3. Phone calls don’t sound that good
I took calls and made calls for a few days, and I can’t say I had the best experience. I found that the sound quality of calls playing on the Watch’s small speaker left a lot to be desired. It sounded remote and crackly. Some of the people I called said I sounded “far away.”
4. Texting typos
Using voice dictation to compose text on the Watch works pretty well, in general. Dictation is one of three main options for composing on the Watch — you can also use canned phrases (“I’ll call you later”) or emojis.
I ran into problems only when I dictated a word that Siri didn’t understand. This could be slang, a nickname, or a piece of industry jargon. When Siri misinterpreted the word, I found no straightforward way of clearing the error and restating the word (or, perhaps, spelling it) to the Watch. Instead, I had to delete the text and start over. If that one problem word was essential, I had to pull out my phone to type it in.
5. The screen is not responsive with perspiration on it
I found the Workout app that ships with the Watch to be useful enough, but I also noticed that it became hard to control — to switch screens or whatever — when there was perspiration on the face of the Watch. I don’t expect miracles here, but I do expect my touches to yield some kind of response when the screen is damp or wet.
When I had been walking on the treadmill for about 30 minutes I wanted to touch and swipe on the screen to get my heart rate and the number of calories I’d burned, but the Watch wouldn’t respond.
6. A whole button for social contacts?
It’s interesting that Apple dedicated such a large portion of the Watch design to a button that brings up your social contacts. But there it is. The large button right by the crown is dedicated to displaying calling and texting options for 10 of your favorite contacts. It seems like there could have been a better way to trigger that one feature other than dedicating a whole button to it.
7. Apple Pay could be a smoother experience
Well, actually, that button by the digital crown serves one other purpose. You double-press it to activate the Apple Pay mobile payments system. That you have to do this is not a huge deal, but it is a slight disappointment when you consider that you don’t have to do anything like that when making a payment using the phone. With Apple Pay on the iPhone 6, the phone automatically wakes up to the Passbook screen when you put it near the point-of-sale terminal; you hear a beep and the sale is done. I was hoping that making payments on the Watch would involve one smooth motion of the arm and that’s all, but it was not to be.
8. Getting my city right
For the first couple of days the face of my Watch said “CUP,” which stands for “Cupertino.” Since I don’t live in Cupertino I wanted to change the name to read “SF” for San Francisco. I reasoned that the Watch had been set to Cupertino when the timezone was set. So I checked the World Clock settings, but found that the city had already be set to San Francisco there. To be honest I can’t even remember how I fixed the problem, but it was by making an adjustment on the Watch itself, not on the phone.
9. Not enough watch faces
I don’t like the fact that the Watch shipped with only ten watch faces to choose from. The novelty of the Mickey Mouse face wore off pretty quickly. The one with the giant numbers (called “X-large”) didn’t have any date and temperature data, so that didn’t work. I’ve now settled on a face called “Utility” that has the information I want but is nothing special to look at. I want more choices.
10. App developers remain handicapped
App developers have no access to key components of the Watch. For instance, in the Glide Watch app you can receive images on the screen, but the sound still has to come from the phone. Glide’s app has no access to the speaker. You also cannot speak an audio message into the phone in Glide, because the app can’t access the Watch’s microphone. Apps also can’t access the near field communication chip in the card for things like transportation payments and personal identification functions.
11. Stand up, already standing
I like the idea of being reminded to stand up and move around, which my Watch does every hour. But several times during my first few days using the Watch I got the notification saying “time to stand” when I was already standing. Did the accelerometer in the Watch really fail to detect that? I guess so.
12. Battery life is too short
Perhaps the biggest criticism of the Watch so far has been its limited 18-hour battery life, and I found that to be a problem. You can’t sleep with the Watch because you have to charge it every night. If Apple didn’t mean for you to be able to leave your Watch on while you’re sleeping, why did it include the alarm clock function? (It’s actually quite cool to be awoken by a gentle buzz at your wrist.)
Granted, these observations come after just a few days of using the Watch. So I may find other things not to like in the future, and Apple will definitely find ways to fix some of the problems mentioned above with software upgrades.
All in all the Watch is a great piece of technology, but let’s not forget this is Version 1. It will get a lot more interesting in future versions.
I haven’t written my full review of the device yet because I’m still trying to understand how the thing fits into my everyday life, and whether I really need it.
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