Apple Watch: an interesting first generation product

imageWell today was the day! After ordering my Apple Watch on April 10, today the UPS man delivered it to my door. It was quite a long wait. i’ve really been looking forward to getting ahold of this device and putting it through its paces. And that’s exactly what I did.

I ordered the Apple Watch sport edition with the black band. I fully intend on adding a black leather band in the near future, but I thought I’d go with the default upfront. The Apple Watch comes in 38 mm models and 42 mm models. I opted for the larger watch since I have pretty large hands. Just like most Apple products, the Apple Watch is elegantly packaged. Removing it from its packaging you actually feel like your opening something of value.

Once turned on, you use the Apple Watch application on your iPhone to pair the watch to your phone. The process is fairly simple, basically using your iPhone camera lined up over the activation screen on the watch. After responding to a few questions, entering your Apple ID, and allowing Apple Watch to install apps already on your phone that have embedded Apple Watch apps included with them, you sit back and allow the applications to be installed from your phone by Bluetooth. The whole process takes about 20 minutes.

Since Apple released an updated operating system for the watch last week I next immediately updated the operating system of the watch to 1.01. This update took another 20 minutes. At this point the watch restarted and became active with my information loaded on it. Next you use the Apple Watch app on your iPhone to go through all the settings and configure them to your liking. I removed a few of the Watch apps that were installed by default in the set up and configured the settings of a few others. All of this was pretty standard fare and all of it was fairly intuitive to do.

Using the Apple Watch is pretty much as I’ve seen the videos I watched from Apple. I’ve also done large amountimage of reading on how the watch operates and what you can do with it. Most of the apps installed are relatively rudimentary. This is to be expected from a new product that developers have just now begun working on their Applications for. Some of them have some nice value including some of the weather apps and others have relatively minor usefulness.

In my first day of use I was able to try out a number of applications. I was particularly impressed with the Apple maps application and it’s ability to route me and track my route on the watch. As each turn in my route came up, the watch would make a small amount of noise and vibrate on my wrist. It was actually much easier to use and trying to watch the route on my phone. It was also much safer by not having to hold my phone in my hand. I received a number of texts throughout the day and reading my text message turned out to be very useful also. I particularly liked the ability to send back a quick and easy reply of a word or two.

Some apps required some additional configuration. 1password initially showed no information on my Watch but I found additional settings need to be turned on and also realized I needed to select specific passwords that I wanted to be presented on the watch. The weather applications required me to reconfigure my cities. A number of other third-party applications also required configuration, passwords, or other information input to allow for the watch functionality.

One thing that was slightly disappointing was the need to reconfigure my credit card to be able to use Apple Pay on the watch. I say that because my credit card company is one of the ones that require me to call in prior to activation.

In general, I have to say the Apple Watch works as advertised. All of the things I’ve read work just fine and the watch seems to be fairly responsive in  performing those functions.  But in general, I still seem to be asking myself if this device is something that everyone needs. I’m kind of a geek so I’m sure I’m going to learn to love it even more than I do now. But is it a must-have for everyone with an iPhone?

I guess at this point I’d have to say no. I think we are a little too early in the third-party application arena to find applications that are truly mind changing when used on the watch. I really have little doubt that those applications will come. I just don’t think they’re quite there yet. In addition, the watch configuration in the Apple Watch iPhone application seems to be a little disjointed. It doesn’t really flow and it certainly doesn’t seem to be organized in the best way, or even in an Apple way. So don’t get me wrong, I love the watch and I think it’s going to be big. I’m just not sure it’s at that point for the average user. The learning curve for  the watch once you have it configured is quite steep and will even take me a week or so to get good at.

So if you’re an Apple geek like me, you better place your order because delivery is still 6 to 8 weeks out for most watches. But if you’re just an iPhone user, looking for that next big thing, you might want to hold off a while until some killer apps get released from third-party developers. Then the Apple Watch will be truly useful to you out of the box and you won’t have to wait for additions or changes to feel good about your purchase.