Jim Harrer

STARTUPS, TURNAROUNDS, APPDEV, AGILE & LIFE...

Why my Apple Watch is in my drawer, instead of on my wrist. My review after 4 months.

Apple Watch Goes in DrawerApple Watch - My 2nd review.

My Apple Watch moves from my wrist to the drawer. Why the product failed to maintain my enthusiasm.

I purchased my black Apple sport watch back in June and for the past four months, I wore it every day.  I wore it at the gym, work, doing yard work, and special dress-up events, like a wedding and business events.  I used all of the most popular apps and installed Apple's new WatchOS update a couple weeks ago. For me, the watch has been a disappointment.  Let me explain why.

#1. The Apple Watch fails at being a watch.

Apple will tell you the watch is just beautiful. The truth is, 99% of the time the watch is blank. The face is turned off. In my case it's like wearing a black cube on my wrist. Apple will tell you it's stylish, in fact they recently released a host of new bands to show you how personalized it can be.  I find this hard to swallow, because it's still not very personalized when you stack all the watches side-by-side, they are just different watch bands attached to a blank silver or black case.  As a fashion accessory, or even as jewelry, I think the Apple Watch fails without the watch face on.  This could all have been solved if Apple just given us more choices of how long we wanted the watch face to remain illuminated. Today you have two choices, 15 or 70 seconds.

Apple ignored how many times people glance at their watch, without moving their risk.  Apple ignored how often people glance at other people's watches when in meetings.  With the display off, the watch simply fails at its core duty - telling you, and anyone near you, the time.  This is where Apple blew it with me.  The watch fails to always tell me the time.  Turning my wrist, tapping the screen to tell it to turn on, that is ridicules. 

What if...

Apple would have allowed me to set the auto-off length, from 70 seconds, to say 15 minutes? Now, you would have a unique watch face, with personalized complications, your case in black, silver or gold, your colored band...  now you have something truly unique on your wrist.

Concern with Battery Life.

I get it, the press made such a big deal about the watch needing to run all day on a single charge, Apple locked down the wake timer.  But what if I only want to wear the watch when I'm in the gym for an hour a day? I should be able to have the display on the whole time.  

Apple Watch Heart Rate Wrong#2. The Heart Rate Monitor is isn't accurate.

I've been tracking my heart rate during my workouts for the past 10 years.  That's right, 10 years when I purchased my first polar watch. I'm 57, I know if I get my heart rate in the 130-151 range, I'm having a pretty good workout.  I'll go on a mild walk and my Apple Watch will tell me my heart rate is 176!

The image to the left will give you a good idea of what I'm talking about.  Here is mild workout, you can see my Polar H7 chest strap is accurately capturing 109 and 99, the Apple Watch is suggesting it's more like 171 and 176.  If my heart rate hits 176, I'm going to be dead a minute later.  Apple knows my max heart rate is 163 (220-age), so when it constantly hits 176, it should automatically dial 911.

I've tried adjusting the band, making it tighter, looser, I can't get it to record a single hour-long workout reliably. This has a trickle down effect, because the watch will record my heart rate higher than it really is, it will give me more credit for my calories burned, then my meal plan and weekly summaries are all wrong. You can't allow this bad data to get into your health journals.

So, since I can't trust the Apple Watch Heart Rate Monitor, it's as if the watch doesn't have the feature anyway. I've thought about turning it off altogether to save battery life, but I seldom use more than 70% of the battery in a given day, so why bother?

Sadly, this means the Apple Watch also fails as a fitness tracker.  The calories my Fitbit Charge is tracking is likely more accurate than the Apple Watch. 

#3. Notifications, Calls, Texts are often delayed.

So, that leaves notifications.  Apple's pitch is, leave your phone in your pocket and simply look at your Apple Watch for those text messages.  And, with the release of WatchOS it even goes one step further and suggests you can leave your phone in the other room and still not miss a text. My experience is different. My Apple Watch rarely delivers my text messages at the same time as the phone.  In most cases, it is several minutes later, if not longer.  My watch doesn't alert me to phone calls 100% of the time either, it often misses calls altogether.  So I find myself always arm length away from my iPhone 6. 

#4.  Lack of "Must Have Apps" for the Apple Watch.

It's still early, I realize that, but there isn't a single app for the Apple Watch that I must have.  I think the possibility is limitless and I know great developers have some amazing things in the works, it's just a matter of time.  When they appear, I'm sure I'll give the Apple Watch more wrist time.

Conclusion

If I had one ask of Apple it would be to let users set the "Wake Screen" timer. I would love to see a setting for 15 minutes after no activity, and by no activity I mean no movement versus no taps.  Yes, I realize the battery won't make it a day, but it will make it through a dinner party, where my customized watch face will be on for all to see, making it a beautiful time-piece, it is, while giving me the opportunity to glance at my watch to see the time.  I would like choice, how about it Apple?

Agree or disagree with my point of view? Please share your comments below.

Thanks for reading.

...Jim

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Friday, 17 November 2017
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