Heavens to Betsy! Did you know that the Apple Watch is sooooooo difficult to use? And it doesn’t do anything worthwhile! Why did Apple force me to buy this evil, confusing little device?
Eye on Apple
By Jim Lynch, CIO
There seems to be a technology scourge going around a lot lately, some users and bloggers have gotten a really bad case of the Apple Watch whiner’s flu. You know these people, they’ve been bitching and complaining non-stop for the last year about the Apple Watch.
I’m going to go through his post paragraph by paragraph and offer my own thoughts:
I bought the Apple Watch a year ago. I stopped wearing it two months ago, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever wear it again. That’s because it doesn’t really do anything that anyone needs, and even when it does, it doesn’t always work like it’s supposed to.
Doesn’t do anything anyone needs? Oh, you mean like sending and receiving text messages, playing games, making phone calls, counting calories, tracking fitness, dictating journal entries, playing music, etc? Yeah, it’s clear that the Apple Watch has no value whatsoever.
I wanted to buy the Apple Watch because I was excited to jump out of the hamster wheel that is buying a newer, slightly nicer version of something I bought a few years earlier. Anything we buy these days is just sequels of the same crap we already have at home, so it was fun to try something new! It was also frustrating as hell. Here are some things I learned over the past year (minus two months) of strapping the shitty screen vibrator to my wrist.
Okay, so the writer jumped on the Apple Watch bandwagon because he was bored with his current products. Gotcha. Shitty screen vibrator? What an amazingly thoughtful and insightful description of the Apple Watch. I learned a lot by reading that remark.
First, I still don’t know what the buttons do. This is ridiculous (and probably very stupid on my part) because, well, there are only two buttons, the digital crown and the side button. Most of the times, pressing the digital crown acts like an iPhone home button. But sometimes it’s a back button (like when you’re in the Favorites contact screen). It gets more confusing because you can scroll through a list with the crown but you can never select, you have to tap the screen for that to work. Most of these things you eventually figure out, but these little inconsistencies just add to the frustration of using it.
If there’s validity to anything in the writer’s article, the comments about the buttons are it. However, these are things that can easily be tweaked with a software fix by Apple. Personally, I have had no problems using either of the Apple Watch buttons. They don’t confuse me, and I know how to use them to do what I want on the watch.
With an iPhone, everyone knows how to use it, assuming they have access to fingers. With Apple’s wrist-time-box, I still find myself lost every time I grab hold, even if it’s just trying to recreate the steps to something I did earlier. Which mostly results in me just giving up trying to do anything at all. For its solid aesthetic design, the Watch is not at all intuitive.
The iPhone has been out for almost 10 years, but when it was first released nobody knew how to use it. Some folks no doubt found the first iPhone’s interface confusing, but everybody learned how it worked and adjusted to it. The Apple Watch is no different in that sense.
If you did somehow manage to figure out how to do something on the watch, there’s literally no comfortable way to actually use it. You’re constantly changing your grip style because none of them ever feel right. What I settled on is placing a thumb on the bottom left corner of the watch to stabilize it and then I use the left side of my index finger to twirl the knob and hit the crown. Other times I just use my finger tip to spin the crown. Or a thumb only method sort of works. With reasonably sized phones, your thumb can reach anything on the screen just by holding the phone in your hand. One grip, done. But with the small size of the screen on the watch and because it’s attached to your wrist, you’re always awkwardly trying to make things half-work with multiple finger dancing grips and none of them ever feel right. And yes, I’m aware that I also look like a total tool when using it (no matter the grip).
I wear my 38mm Apple Watch on my left wrist, and it’s always felt quite comfortable to use. I’ve never done any kind of finger dance to use it. I simply have my thumb on one side, and my index finger on the other to press the buttons. When necessary I use my index finger to tap the Apple Watch screen. Voila! Everything works fine.
And I’ve never felt like a “total tool” using my Apple Watch. Ever. That comment by the writer reeks of a self-consciousness that I doubt many other people share. A good therapist could work wonders there and help him get over it.
If you do manage to figure out how to do something with it and find a comfortable way to use it, there’s actually nothing worthwhile to do with the Apple Watch that you can’t do just as easily with an iPhone. Okay fine, that’s not all the way true but it’s not too much of an exaggeration. Most Watch apps just end up being a shell of the iPhone app.
Nothing worthwhile to do? As I noted earlier there’s plenty of useful functions that the Apple Watch performs. It’s not the fault of the watch or of Apple that the writer doesn’t seem to understand what they are and how to use them.
Yes, some watch apps are basically companions to the iPhone version of the app. What’s wrong with that? Lose It is a good example of this. The watch app focuses on just counting calories, while the phone app offers much more than that.
Remember that the watch is designed for at-a-glance information, not for trying to glom in all of the functionality of an iPhone app into a tiny screen. Watch apps are designed differently than iPhone apps, and that is as it should be given the form factor of the Apple Watch.
The writer found a few things he liked, but then added some additional complaints:
There are a few things I like about the Watch, though. I’ll list ‘em here:
Apple Pay on the Apple Watch is ever so slightly more convenient than it is on the iPhone. The downside is that enabling Apple Pay forces you to add a passcode to your watch for security purposes. This gets quickly annoying because the biometric sensors on the underside of the Watch that’s supposed to remember me once I’ve punched in my code, regularly loses contact with my wrist, making the security system think that I’ve taken the Watch off. Which means, I have to punch in my passcode multiple times a day to use it. It totally kills it.
Seeing text messages on your wrist is fine enough but responding on it is just silly. Aside from a few canned responses you can pre-program on your watch, it’s just easier to whip out your phone to text back.
There’s a nice watch “complication” (aka feature) that shows me what time the sunrise when I look at my watch face. Those sorts of additional tidbit-sized information available at a glance, are nice to know.
When I complete goals in the fitness tracking activity feature, I feel good.
I’ve Shazam-ed from my Watch like two times?
Changing bands is really, really easy.
He’s complaining about using a passcode on his watch because of Apple Pay? Common sense requires that anybody’s Apple Watch be protected by a passcode. What dingbat wouldn’t use a passcode for their watch?
I own two Apple Watches, and neither of them have ever had a problem with the biometric sensors losing contact with my wrist. If that’s a problem then the writer should have made the band tighter. I wear my watch’s band relatively loose and still never had a problem with the sensors.
Responding to text messages is silly on the Apple Watch? No, it’s not. It’s very fast and easy. Yes, you can use some pre-programmed responses but why not just dictate a quick response via Siri? It sounds like the writer never noticed the dictation button when replying to text messages.
Other than that, there’s really nothing fun about using the watch. Not even for the most basic thing: telling time. The problem is that the screen doesn’t always turn on when you raise your wrist like it’s supposed to. So you’re left trying to snap your wrist hoping it’ll activate the watch screen. When it doesn’t, you feel like an idiot and look really stupid in front of your friends.
Both of my Apple Watches are incredibly reliable when raising my wrist to activate them. I don’t remember the last time that that feature didn’t work. Of course if it didn’t, all I’d do is tap the screen to activate it. Talk about a first world problem!
He felt like an idiot? He was worried that he’d look stupid in front of his friends? That sentence gave me the feeling that the writer was still in high school and suffering from adolescent angst. Again, a good therapist could be a great help to him.
And even if there were cool things to do with the Watch and they actually worked, the guts aren’t good enough to keep up with the mediocre tasks the Watch is theoretically supposed to be good at today. Charging the Watch every night is not the worst thing in the world (charging by magnetic stand is great, btw), until you wake up somewhere without an Apple Watch charger, and the watch is dead for the entire next day.
Ugh, we are back to the “the watch doesn’t do anything” again. As far as speed goes, watchOS 2 has helped improve the performance of the Apple Watch. And you can also turn on Reduced Motion to help speed things up. Right now both of my Apple Watches perform quite well for me, regardless of what app I use on them.
If you wake up somewhere without the Apple Watch charger, who’s fault is that? The charger is tiny, and it would take all of about two seconds to throw it into an overnight bag and take it with you. Reasonable people would plan ahead when they were going to spend the night somewhere else.
Getting information like the weather isn’t bad either, except that when you try to actually look it up, the watch slows down and gives you a spinning loading indicator. You don’t know if it’ll load in a reasonable amount of time, or if it’ll just keep on swirling about. Everything is so terribly slow. Like really, don’t even bother slow. Like, it’s easier to just pull our your iPhone from your pocket than use your watch slow. For example, it takes me more than 15 seconds to get Twitter finally loaded on my watch. It takes less than 5 seconds to get my phone out of my pocket and onto the app. Oh, and the Watch’s app is useless as it only has room to show a single tweet at a time.
I just tapped on the weather on my 38mm Space Gray Sport Apple Watch and the weather popped up instantly. So much for that problem.
As far as Twitter goes, it’s a sea of inane drivel that is best avoided at all costs. But if you must use it, why would you complain about seeing a single tweet on the screen of watch? It’s a watch, how many tweets do you think can be crammed into a screen that size? Sheesh, give me a break.
And this hints at the biggest problem. With other Apple products, you realize the limitations but become mostly okay with them because the ease of use can outweigh the sacrifice (price, ports, customizability, walled garden, etc.) for some people. With the Apple Watch, I’m not exactly sure what the benefit is. To get text messages buzzed to my wrist? To scroll through a few pictures on Instagram? There’s really not a single thing that makes my life easier. No sane human will ever want to use Siri on the Apple Watch over their phone. I used that sharing drawings and heartbeats thing with my other Apple Watch-owning friends like three times before I never did it again. It’s a fun gimmick, but it’s pointless.
Two of the biggest benefits of the Apple Watch are convenience and time-saving. It lets you perform some of the functions of the iPhone right from your wrist. If you choose not to do so then why did you buy the Apple Watch in the first place?
As far as heartbeats and drawings go, I don’t use those features. But I’m sure some folks do, so what’s wrong with Apple offering them? Just because the writer doesn’t use a feature doesn’t mean that nobody else uses it.
Wearing the Apple Watch for nearly a year did change something in me though, but it’s the opposite effect that was probably intended: the Watch’s constant low-level notifications made me realize that there’s nothing really worth being notified about. Being able to feel every text, email, and whatever else, made me see how useless they mostly were. I used to joke that wearing a watch is handcuffing yourself to time. Wearing an Apple Watch (or any smartwatch, really), doubles down on that by locking you in a barricade of notifications too. So I’ve taken the Apple Watch off and don’t know when I’ll put it back on. The Watch isn’t at all worth it, but I’m not sure it’s even possible to make a smartwatch that I, or any reasonable non-tech nerd, would need. The more ambitious a smartwatch gets, the more complicated it is to use.
If the writer of the Gizmodo article is getting too many notifications, it’s his own fault. He has total control over which apps are allowed to use notifications, and all he has to do is turn the notifications off for those apps. Problem solved!
I keep notifications off for most of the apps on my iPhone because I don’t want my attention constantly being shredded by them. The writer could easily do the same thing, but why accept responsibility when you can simply blame the Apple Watch?
I’ve told every person who has asked me about my Apple Watch that as the wrist-puter stands right now, it’s really not worth the money or the effort. That doesn’t mean I don’t think it’ll eventually get better as Apple improves the hardware and software or if it maybe simplifies its goals, but a year with it has told me that it’s going to be a very long eventually. You shouldn’t buy this Apple Watch, and my sense is you probably shouldn’t buy the next Apple Watch either. But maybe (just maaaaybe) you’ll buy the next next one. Or the one after that.
And with his closing paragraph, the writer demonstrates his utter cluelessness. The Apple Watch is worth every cent I paid for it, as it is right now, with no improvements whatsoever. The folks who don’t own one are missing out. Once you get used to having it, the Apple Watch quickly becomes part of your daily life and proves its worth many times over each day.
Yes, the Apple Watch will improve with new hardware and updated software. That’s a given for any technology product, and we’ve seen it happen over and over again. But why wait for the “perfect” version when there will always be a better one just on the horizon? If we all did that then nobody would own a computer, a phone, a TV or any other gadget.
Seriously, the Gizmodo article is an amazing example of a whine-fest by somebody who clearly shouldn’t own any kind of a watch. He’s an extremely phone-oriented individual who simply could not adjust to using wearable technology. If he had had an Android Wear device instead of an Apple Watch, I have no doubt we’d be reading about “how awful Android Wear watches are…”
The Apple Watch is a complement to the iPhone
One of the things that seems to have escaped the Gizmodo writer is that the Apple Watch is not intended as a full replacement for the iPhone. It’s a complement to it that moves some of the iPhone’s functionality to your wrist so you don’t have to keep reaching for your phone to do certain things.
For example, I use my Apple Watch frequently to send or reply to text messages. I also use it for phone calls, and for tracking my activity and calories burned during workouts. And, of course, I use it for at-a-glance information such as the weather, stock prices and other similar kinds of information.
I still love my iPhone 6s Plus, but the Apple Watch saves me the trouble of frequently having to pick it up and open an app to get certain information. If you consider how many times each day you don’t have to pick your phone up, the Apple Watch literally saves time over the course of the day.
Apple makes it easy to learn how to use the Apple Watch
When I read hysterical emoto-babble like the dreck from Gizmodo, my eyes roll into the back of my head. Seriously, how lame is it that some people still think that the Apple Watch is difficult to use? It’s one of the simplest devices to use if you spend a few minutes actually learning how to use it.
Apple has even gone out of its way to provide video tutorials on how to use the Apple Watch. You can see quite clearly how to use Digital Touch, make phone calls, access Siri, play music, use Apple Pay, track your activity and workouts, etc. It’s all there in the videos, it’s not like you have to spend hours trying to figure any of it out.
Maybe the writer at Gizmodo will take a few minutes to watch the videos before writing another article filled with inane commentary about a product he clearly doesn’t understand.
Will the Apple Watch whiners please shut up now?
I really wish that the folks whining about the Apple Watch would just shut up about it. I fully understand that not every technology product is going to work for every user. That’s fine, and if the Apple Watch doesn’t meet your needs then don’t buy one.
But please stop bashing the Apple Watch, and please stop making grandiose and inaccurate statements that it “doesn’t do anything” or that it “isn’t worth the money.” It does quite a lot for some of us, and it’s also worth every cent to those of us who understand what it is and how to use it.
You’d have to pry my Apple Watch from my cold, dead wrist to take it away from me.
Related video: Apple Watch review: The good, the bad, and the ugly
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