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Nov 26, 2016

Who Watches the Apple Watch?

I've mentioned this here before a few times, but this blog originally started off, at least in part, as a bit of a tech blog. So, every so often I like to put up a post that harkens back to its roots.

My family awesomely gifted me with an Apple Watch for my birthday this year. Now, I'll admit, when the Apple Watch came out last year, I was fairly lukewarm to it. Partially because, as a rule, I try to never buy any first generation devices from either Apple or Microsoft. Both seem to like to use the buyers of their new products as guinea pigs. 2nd generation, however, seems to be where it's at, though. Thus this year two things happened to make me start to rethink my initial reluctance: 1) Apple announced the series 2 watch and 2) my trusty old sports watch broke, leading to months of me looking down at my wrist to check for time that wasn't there.

Let's just get one thing out of the way upfront. At no point did I feel I needed an Apple Watch. No. This is purely a want device. For most people it will be a luxury gadget, something to splurge your hard-earned money on because, damnit, you deserve it!  Even now, having owned it for a couple of weeks, I can say that for probably a good 99% of the people out there, there really isn't going to be a need for this. The only ones I can imagine who might think otherwise might be the fitness nuts among us.

After Apple's announcement of the series 2, I started dropping some major hints to the family, specifically my oldest son who I know listens when I bullshit about technology. I'm already heavily invested in Apple's systems, with both an iPhone and iPad, so a device that paired seamlessly with them was starting to make more and more sense to me (either that or I am a sucker for Apple's marketing).

Pictured: Professionalism
I personally favored the Nike+ model, because it was one of the more reasonably priced versions and because I just liked how it looked. Over the years,  in an attempt by my family to get to me look more professional, I've owned several leather band watches. However, I have never given two shits what others think of how I accessorize. If a company was ever going to not hire me based on my watch, then that told me it wasn't a place I wanted to work. Thus, rather than going through power watch after power watch, I always ended up falling back on durable sports watches - the kind that I could walk past a brick building with and enjoy the sound of the face scraping across the facade. Yeah, I'm weird like that.

As such, I didn't see a need for one of Apple's premium leather or metal bands (I like to keep the hair on my arms where it is, thanks).  Mind you, reasonable in Apple's ecosphere is still over $300.  And that's at the low end. Prices range to over $1200 for the highest end leather band, ceramic body, with build in blowjob port models (I might be exaggerating on one of those). So, no matter what, we're talking a pretty fucking expensive timepiece here.

So how is?

Well, first off, let's get something silly out of the way. This is easily the most comfortable watch band I have ever worn. No kidding. Most of the time I don't even realize its there. I don't know how the other types of bands feel, but they knocked it out of the park with the sports model. An expensive watch that feels like a torture device this isn't.

Battery life was a big concern to me, but so far I have yet to end a day with less than half a charge left. Would I want to take this on an extended camping trip with me? Probably not, unless I planned on leaving it in in my car to charge. But I'm comfortable thinking I could probably get through a weekend and still have a little juice left.  The wireless charger is neat, but I'm probably going to want to get a spare at some point.

Usage-wise, it pairs with an iphone (or ipad) and you can control it either from the watch itself, or from the phone. Let it be known, without a phone to pair it to it's basically tits on a bull. So you're either all in with this, or don't bother.

As far as that usage goes, well, I have to say the thing I use it most for is ... wait for it ... being a watch. Yep, I know, crazy right?  But I like having the time and date handy when I look down. As an added bonus, you can add additional info, like the current weather, to the face. Super handy for when I'm about to take the dog out and haven't yet grabbed my coat.

Thanks for reminding me what a lazy shit I am
The other major usage I get out of it is entirely circumstantial, but pretty awesome nevertheless. Perhaps the neatest thing about the Apple Watch is the ability to put my phone down to charge, walk away from it, and not have to worry about coming back to a dozen text messages asking "Why are you ignoring me?!" The watch functions as phone / messaging surrogate during those times. Heck, I was carrying something heavy up the stairs a week or so back when someone called. Rather than put everything down and fish my phone out of my pocket, I booped the watch with my nose and was able to answer it ("Yes, mom, I'm still picking you up for Thanksgiving").

The fitness apps are fairly useful, offering reminders throughout the day of little things one can do to improve their health, as well as being super handy for working out ("You're heart rate currently is ... err ... dialing 911 now"). Mind you, being reminded to take a minute an breathe when I'm in the middle of a hard chapter can be an exercise in "Hey Siri, go fuck yourself!", but it is what it is. 

Speaking of Siri, she/it works just fine with the watch.  For instance, it proved to be a great help this past week for cooking, with a quick "Hey Siri, set the timer for 20 minutes".

In short, the Apple Watch is almost entirely a convenience device. A must have? Definitely not.  A nice to have? Yeah, I'm beginning to see that it is. If you're invested in Apple's devices, and can afford to blow the cash, it's a handy little thingee to have.

Can you live without it? That's for you to decide, but I'm pretty certain the answer is yes. I definitely could, but I also can't say I'm not enjoying having it strapped to my wrist. 


3 comments:

Snowdog1967 said...

I have the Moto360 (first generation) and you are correct. It's a really nice to have item, a MUST to pair with a phone, else why aren't you wearing a Casio.
But, being able to read texts/emails without grabbing the phone, the fitness reminders, etc. is really cool.

Martin Barrett said...

I am both a little sad and greatly relieved that at no time in my life, past present or future, would I be able to finish a sentence "the fitness nuts among us".

I am going to have to hold out a little longer for the smart watch. I remember in the 1970s getting very excited about a huge lump of chrome which displayed the time in faint red digits when you pressed the appropriate button. Of course you had to replace the battery every seventeen minutes, and it's surprising how often you really don't have both hands available to tell the time.

I was even more excited, years later, to get my first LCD watch - a Seiko, no less. At last, battery life measured in months, not days, and I could find out the time when one hand was otherwise engaged. Well, I was a teenage boy.

When I worked in various businesses, mainly for US companies, I nearly fell into the statement watch trap. I noticed how many men - I think it is always men - took a surreptitious glance at the wrist of any person joining the group. Suddenly I started thinking that a Breitling, a Tag Heuer or an Omega might say more about me than my Corporate AMEX ever could. There were times I could have (nearly) afforded to jump on this bandwagon, but whenever I came close I always ended up thinking of all the other things I could do with the money - purchase a small car, perhaps, or acquire a third kidney - and I kept coming back to the fact that, well, all the thing could do was tell the time. And perhaps the date, but usually only if I remembered which months had less than 31 days in them.

Later, when I became a cop, I had a genuine technical need. A watch that was accurate, instantly readable, waterproof, wallop-proof, subtle enough to read in low light but not garish enough to give my position away, and - most importantly - it had to be cheap enough so that when smashed, torn off my wrist etc. it didn't initiate six months of mourning. I remember asking a particularly irritating little arrestee about his rather unfortunate baseball cap and he remarked "I bet my hat cost more than your watch". I was forced to admit that he would win that bet, as the watch I was wearing at that moment was a Timex with a plastic case that had cost me UKP9.99 (it's only defect was an irritating and unnecessary ticking sound).

Now, in preparation for my dotage, I find myself considering watches once more. The Pulsar on my wrist follows a simple military style, with a black analogue face and no need to ever change a battery (some sort of perpetual motion device lurks within). It works, and it's "NATO" nylon strap is tough, cleanable, and if I ever find myself having to don an armoured exo-skeleton, capable of expanding considerbaly to accommodate cyborg wrists. I like to thing it's the watch that Wade Wilson might have chosen, were he on a budget.

And yet. And yet I can hear another timepiece singing to me. It's the Omega Speedmaster "Dark Side of the Moon", the Pitch Black edition. It's not an Apple watch, and it certainly doesn't let me answer my phone from a distance. "What does it do?" I can hear my wife asking, my response being a slightly embarrassed, "Er, it tells the time, but really well." Then I would have to explain it costs over $11,000, and suffer further discomfort as her supplementary questions include, "Can I drive it to work?", "How will the children benefit?" and "Will it produce urine for you when your kidneys fail?"

One of my wife's great talents is that she can produce this sort of dialogue in my head well before I get anywhere near handing a credit card over a counter. And so I occasionally Google the watch, check the current price and admire its unique look, and imagine how those old colleagues of mine would be amazed to see it on my wrist, and advertisement that I too had more money than sense.

[Sigh!}

Konica Croft said...

I love my watch!! Do you use the share activity?? I think it's a fantastic motivator.