Brace yourself. We’re going to see lots of "one year later" retrospective articles about Apple Watch, which started shipping April 24, 2015.
Why the fuss? First of all, the Watch was Apple’s first new product line since Steve Jobs introduced the iPad (in 2010), so its debut garnered a lot of attention. [ Find Apple Watch on Amazon – *What’s this?* ]
Secondly, though Apple Watch was hardly the first smartwatch, it was, arguably, the most refined model for the masses. I can vouch for this, having purchased — and promptly returned — an early Pebble smartwatch.
But there’s another reason to expect an avalanche of Apple Watch retrospective articles. For many journalists and bloggers, myself included, the Watch was a milestone, against which we could measure how far we’ve come and where we may be going. When you found yourself talking into a phone on your wrist, it felt as if the Jetsons/James Bond/Dick Tracy fantasy world of future tech had finally arrived. Cool!
One year later, is the Apple Watch still cool? Is it really a step forward into the future? Or is it simply last year’s "next big thing"?
As someone who’s worn an Apple Watch every day since April 29, 2015, here are three things I still love about it, two things I’m bored with, and my take on whether the Watch is still cool, relevant, and worth owning.
3 reasons I still love Apple Watch
1. The motivation I get from the Activity App
Apple Watch’s Activity app encourages you to move enough each day to burn off a number of calories you define. My daily calorie goal is 400, which may sound low. But trust me: You can’t simply walk around the house brushing your teeth and expect to kill 150 calories. You’ve got to really move. And when you burn your preset number of calories, the Move activity circle is completed, a nice visual representation of your achievement.
Activity app also motivates me to walk at a brisk rate at least 30 minutes a day and to stand up once per hour for 12 hours daily.
The combination of all these motivators helped me lose 5 pounds fairly easily. Of course, several of those pounds have returned for a visit now and then. But that’s another story.
2. The ability to wear a large assortment of bands
Apple made it easy to change Watch bands, which can help counteract a creeping sense of boredom with the device. Along with Apple’s own bands, there are plenty of others worth exploring from Casetify, Reserve Strap, Pad & Quill, Gorillatronics, and for those without budget boundaries, Hermes.
3. Having current weather conditions on my wrist
Admittedly, being able to glance at a watch to get the current weather conditions isn’t going to cause a teenager to say “cool!” But I find this to be one of my favorite Apple Watch ‘complications,’ something I look at frequently throughout the day and evening.
FYI: I use the Modular Apple Watch face, which lets you shoehorn the most amount of informative complications.
2 reasons I’m bored with Apple Watch
1. The novelty is long gone
The thrill of owning and wearing an Apple Watch faded for me, probably within about four or five months. What seemed exciting at first—responding to text messages with animated emojis! — became just another item in the ‘been there, done that’ file.
This is inevitable. Think of how you felt when you bought your current smartphone. Look at those Live Photos, how cool! Now tap into how you feel about that smartphone several months later. See what I mean?
We’re destined to grow bored with our gadgets, to take all the amazing things they do for granted and start wondering what their next iteration will do, which, inevitably, we'll also take for granted later. It’s not the gadget maker's fault. It’s not ours. It’s just human nature.
2. It still feels like a first-generation product at times
Siri is a great example of this. When Jupiter aligns with Mars, Siri on an Apple Watch is convenient and fun to use. You can dictate a response to a text message, and the transcription is usually quite accurate.
But when, say, your iPhone is tucked away in a bag in the next room, Siri goes all AWOL on you. At best, that’s boring. At worst, irritating.
What would make Apple Watch cool again?
Apple Watch is no longer cool, and some would argue, it never was. These days, I hear and read more people buzzing about Amazon Echo than I do about Apple Watch. One reason why Echo deserves buzz is that Amazon gives it new ‘skills’ nearly every week, something you don’t get with Apple Watch or most tech devices.
Of course, rumors are already flying about Apple Watch 2.0, expected now to be released in the fall. Some say you’ll be able to text, send/receive calls, and do other things independently of an iPhone, and that the Watch will support native apps (as opposed to app extensions that depend upon the iPhone). Yes, please.
But while its cool factor has cooled, Apple Watch 1.0, one year later, is still relevant. It represents a polished baby step into our wearable future, vs. Google Glass, which was a leap most people weren’t willing to take (for good reason). And like them or not, wearables are where we’re heading. So if you want to get in on the ground floor, get an Apple Watch, or an Android Wear watch, or other smartwatch.
Just enjoy the thrill while you can.