A Review of the Apple Watch
A Cure for Nomophobia or Just a Fancy Accessory?
Fashion Accessory or Communication Device?
The Apple Watch launch in April created a hype that is typical of the Cupertino giant but with doubtful lasting effects. Since the launch, search queries for the Apple Watch have dropped by 60% in most countries, signaling a decline of interest. In terms of sales, early Apple Watch sales beat the original iphone and ipad. How this will translate in future sales is related to what applications, features, and functionalities will be launched with the new software update this fall. At the moment of writing this article, the Apple Watch is running on Watchos 1, which has severe restrictions on what third-party apps can do, including microphone access and running apps natively on the Watch, in addition to complications (we’ll get to that). Watchos 2 will provide developers access to all of the above, thus allowing for further functionalities that are currently not possible.
The Purchase Experience Compares More to Buying a Suit than a Technology Piece
The true Apple Watch experience begins at the Apple Store. Unlike any of their other product launches, Apple opted against the familiar long-queues and created an online reservation system with same-day appointments available across Apple Stores.
I arrived at the Apple store at Grand Central Station in New York five minutes early to my appointment. An Apple Genius greeted me and was happy to spend 30 minutes to take me through the available wristband options for the model I was interested in. Through it all, I was being walked through the intricacies of the wristbands, the materials, the process, and the fashion. The Watch feels light and, for someone who has tried various wearables, it feels just right. My first smartwatch was an I’mwatch: A bulky and pricey 2011 Android device that never managed to pick up because of how buggy, clunky and, if I may, useless it was. I used the UP and UP 24 health trackers. Both were quite comfortable to wear all day were easy to charge and maintain, but both broke in less than six months. Android Wear is the closest match to Apple Watch, but has as more wristbands than apps available. Because of all the third party apps, the Apple Watch has more types of notification, but Android Wear’s notifications for text and phone calls are just as good as Apple’s. Nothing I’ve tried before felt so light and yet so functional; and the watch connects to the phone seamlessly, in contrast to any other wearable that still requires you to fiddle with Bluetooth every now and then.
I chose my model: The Apple Watch with a bright blue leather loop. The Sport does not offer a Sapphire crystal screen and silicon bands are more designed for exercising than for daily use, while the loop wristband allows for constant adjustment for the Watch during the day. Overall, it felt more like buying a suit than a piece of hardware. That’s because all the Apple Watch models have the same internal hardware; thus how the Watch feels becomes as important as what it does.
It’s a Personal Device that Takes a While to Get Used To
The $549 Apple Watch and the $17,000 Apple Watch Edition are essentially the same device. However, the Apple Watch might just be the most personal device I have yet to use. Far more personal than the iphone, the Watch is customizable, personal, and slightly counter-intuitive.
Within 20 minutes from unboxing, the Watch was powered on around my wrist and had all the supported apps loaded on to it from my iphone. Almost every watch face is customizable in numerous ways: layout, color, detail, visuals and complications. Within allocated complication spaces, you can choose to see another timezone, your next meeting, the position of the moon, or the current temperature (Figure 1).
In many ways, it’s the most un-apple interface for a device that only Apple could do. While Apple hardware and software are usually the least customizable in comparison to Android and others, the Watch in my opinion has far too many customization options that are yet the easiest to use.
Fawzi Rahal is the Founder of Gamutt, a strategic digital consultancy, focusing on setting world-class web, social, mobile, and content strategies for brands in the Middle East. Previously, Fawzi headed Digital at Grey MENA.
Erik Duindam, Co-founder and CTO, Cloud Games Erik is a tech entrepreneur specialized in scaling platforms to huge proportions. Erik is co-founder and CTO of Cloud Games, a casual gaming company founded in 2013 with around a million Arabic-speaking visitors per month. He has led the development of the payment platform for Spil Games, reaching 170 million unique monthly users, and vakantieveilingen.nl, which became the #1 Facebook brand in the Netherlands. He has advised the Dutch Cyber Security Center on cyber security matters and sold his development company in 2014 to focus on new startups.