Monday, November 9, 2015

Will Apple Watch Save Wearable Technology?

I admit that I’m an early adopter for technology.  I like to get the new stuff and play with it right away.  I know that the next version will probably be better, have less bugs, and look cooler but I can’t wait for version 2.  Then I’d feel behind the curve and have to catch up. 

That’s one of the reasons I bought an Apple Watch.  I have been watching wearable technology evolve and while excited by it I was not impressed with what it could do.  I know some corporations are buying the Apple Watch for their executives but I’m curious what impact if any the Apple Watch and wearable tech.

Before the Apple Watch, wearable tech was relegated to health and fitness applications with a secondary focus on telling time.  Have you tried to change the time on some of the fitness-based devices?  It is almost as if they forgot that while being worn on the wrist to monitor your heartbeat it could also double as a watch.

Smart watches have also been around for a while but nothing as integrated as the Apple Watch promised.  Big companies have been working on these devices for years but nothing had really taken off.  There wasn’t an “Ah-ha!” moment where everyone realized that they couldn’t live without a wearable technology device.

I bought my Apple Watch the day they were released but I didn’t order it at midnight, I waited until after I had a try on appointment.  I wanted to touch and feel the bands and compare the sizes of the watch.  While some wearable technology devices are relatively inexpensive and the same price as normal watches the Apple Watch is not.  It is an investment – and an investment with a ton of choices and options.  Not only do you have to decide if wearable tech is right for you but once you do decide you have another round of decisions regarding features, construction, and style.

I’m glad I stopped to try one on.  I was able to pick the band I like and determine the size that worked best for me.  I ended up with a 42mm stainless steel watch with a black sports band.  I picked the 42mm size, as it was comparable to the size watch I was already wearing.  I chose the sports band because of its leather like feel and its multipurpose applications.  It works well if you are working out and very active but it also works well if you want to dress it up.  Granted I would like to have a Milanese loop or even a link band but at Apple’s prices, I figured multi purposing the sports band was a much better use of money.

I admit that I struggled between the aluminum Sport version and the stainless steel Watch version.  Not only is the case made out of different material but the glass surface of the watch is different.  The Sport version uses Ion glass while the Watch version uses the Sapphire glass.  For me the decision was easy, I needed the Sapphire glass.  I’m left handed and I wear my watch on my left wrist.  As such whatever device I wear is prone to a lot of abuse as 99% of what I do is done with my left hand.  The Ion glass is more subject to scratching then the Sapphire glass and I needed as much scratch resistance as possible.  Remember though that the Ion glass is more shatter resistant than the Sapphire glass.  That’s why it is on the Sports version of the watch as you may scratch it up but if you fall down running; your watch should survive whereas the Sapphire glass is more prone to shatter.  For me I needed the scratch resistance over shatter proof so I went with the Watch edition.  Let’s just say I don’t do that much running.  In addition, I like that stainless steel shine vs the dullness of the aluminum Sport watch.

Now that I decided what type of watch to get, I had to order it and wait for it.  It took Apple 5 weeks to deliver my watch.  It is hard to tell if that is because they were selling so many or if that is because they had so few.  No sales numbers have been officially released but my guess is they had too few.

As an early adopter, I’m often asked about my Watch.  The novelty has definitely worn off when people say I’m the first person they’ve seen board an airplane using my watch as my boarding pass, or buy groceries or gas and use my watch to pay.  I’m often asked if others should get one.  That is difficult to answer because wearable tech and the Apple Watch are lacking universal appeal.  The “Ah-ha!” moment I mentioned earlier.

One easy way to tell if you need an Apple Watch is to look at your wrist now.  Go ahead; I’ll wait, look at your wrist.  Are you wearing a watch?  Do you wear a watch?  Do you wear it all the time?  Many times I’m asked if I think someone should buy a watch and when I inquire why they don’t have a watch on they tell me they don’t wear a watch.  The Apple Watch is far too expensive not to wear.  I wear mine all the time but if you don’t like have a watch on or don’t wear one a lot save yourself some money and don’t’ buy an Apple Watch, or any other wearable tech for that matter.

Otherwise, whether or not to buy an Apple Watch really depends on how you live your life.  While the Apple Watch is great for me, I don’t think it is great for everyone, yet.  I’m not sure what corporate America is using it for.  Right now it is just too immature and lacking necessary applications.

For me the Apple Watch could not come soon enough.  I don’t care that much about the health statistics or being able to tell how far I’ve walked in a day or how fast my heart is beating.  I care a lot about having an accurate timepiece – I travel a lot and love how the Apple Watch helps me manage time zones.  I also care about easier connectivity.  I get a ton of texts and other communications.  Getting all of that on my wrist is a huge time saver for me.  I no longer have to pull my iPhone 6 out of my pocket several hundred times a day, now I can just glance at my wrist.

As I mentioned the Apple Watch is great for traveling. Not only does it manage time zones well but I also keep a hand free.  To board the plane now I just scan my watch, keeping one hand free while the other hand pulls my carry-on.  If my flight is delayed or the gate changes I know by looking at my wrist after the Watch taps me without having to dig out my phone.  The Apple Watch functions as an easier to access extension of my iPhone screen.

I also really like the complications.  Complications doesn’t refer to how difficult the watch is to operate but rather is a traditional watchmaker’s term.  Complications refer to the other functions of a watch beyond telling time.  Things like showing you the phases of the moon or the date are watch complications as they complicate the mechanism necessary to tell time.  The Apple Watch provides several great complications that provide data when you glance at the watch.  I had several complications on my previous watch and enjoy having them digitally on my Apple Watch.

Again, this works great for me but it may not be worth the expense for everyone until there is more universal appeal.  Wearable technology in general is still in its infancy.  As it matures, the appeal will become great and the Apple Watch will become more than a heartbeat monitor that is an extension of your iPhone screen.  It will be able to do more and more independently making its appeal boarder.  

The next version of the Apple Watch software, Watch OS 2 was a great improvement but also brought about a few bugs.  Many good things are happening there but I think we are several more hardware and software versions away from the “Ah-ha!” moment where everyone says they need some sort of wearable device to better their everyday life.

For me, the Apple Watch has already become a valuable tool.  Whether or not the Apple Watch or any other wearable technology is a needed and valuable tool for you for now depends on how you live your life.