Yesterday Was The Last Day To Return My Apple Watch, And I Didn’t
I bought an Apple Watch fifteen days ago, and yesterday was the last day I would have been eligible to return it for a refund, but I didn’t do that. I’m not entirely sure that’s the right decision, but I’m out of time and I want to see this through to the end. I’ve always been an early adopter and have been fooling around with wearables for the last year and a half. Wearable devices are still a new, budding category, and I don’t think there’s a single company that has absolutely nailed the wearable concept with perfection. Apple is no different. The Apple Watch is flawed, but I believe it has the most promising future out of all the wearable platforms; that includes Pebble and Android Wear, which I think are great products but fall short of what a wearable should be.
It’s hard to completely judge the Apple Watch right now because, in all honesty, the launch version of WatchOS is basically complete shit. I was at a bar visiting a friend in Virginia last week and he asked me to sell him the Apple Watch. I floundered around my wrist, trying to find the showcase feature to grab his attention, and I couldn’t. I can sell any of my friends on any electronic out there. The Apple Watch is the first time I’ve been utterly clueless on how to get my friends to make poor spending decisions. He ended up buying one on his own accord, but it had nothing to do with my pathetic attempt at salesmanship.
I’m not quite sure what Apple was thinking at launch, but it’s an embarrassment that the Watch launched without a native app experience. One of the biggest draws toward the Watch is its app compatibility–it does more than all of the other smartwatches combined. Call an Uber, order a burrito, check subway schedules, and see all kinds of glanceable information without having to dig into your pocket, pull out your phone, unlock it, navigate to the app you desire, and find your information. For those things, the Watch is an irreplaceable tool, but there’s a catch: apps can sometimes take up to a minute to load and display the information you’re looking for. Because the apps aren’t natively installed on the Watch, they’re pulled via your phone’s Bluetooth connection. And while it isn’t always a painful experience, it isn’t fast like we’ve come to expect from Apple’s software. The apps have also been limited to a very dull framework, which handicaps what they can even do, to begin with. Apple is launching native app support in the fall and supplied developers with a software development kit back in June. That update cannot come fast enough. Native applications and several other crucial features are the things that will make or break this experience.
The Watch isn’t all bad, though. It’s already helped me improve several aspects of my life with its convenience adding features. For instance, using Apple Pay in stores that accept contactless payments is nothing but a treat. It was actually quite hilarious yesterday at the grocery store. I was in the “Express Lane” and the woman in front of me (who had more items than the express lane allows) decided she was going to pay for her transaction with a check. Yes, I guess people still do that here in 2015. When it was my turn to check out, I looked at the cashier, who was obviously still irritated that his valuable time was wasted by someone writing a check, and said, “want to see something cool?” When he was done ringing up the four items that I was buying, I simply waived my wrist in front of the payment terminal and picked up my bag in one smooth motion. “Much easier,” he said with a distinct chuckle. Apple Pay is incredible and you really don’t even know how incredible it is until you use it a few times and work it into your routine. I don’t want to pay with any other form of currency and I get legitimately pissed off when I’m in a store that doesn’t accept it, which, for some reason, is most stores. Mobile payments ARE the future and businesses ought to start adopting them or risk falling behind.
Watch’s fitness tracking has also given me unforeseen levels of motivation when it comes to staying active and being a healthier person. The Watch won’t make you become healthier if you don’t want to be, but if you do, it’s one of the best motivating tools I’ve ever used. There’s something quietly brilliant about the Watch’s activity user interface. It’s broken into three categories, in the form of small on-screen circles–Move, Exercise, and Stand–that fill themselves throughout the day. Sitting too long? The Watch will tell you to get your ass up and move around for a little while. If you don’t exercise enough in a week, it’ll lower your calorie burning goals and make you feel like an awful human for not staying active. I’ve only had the Watch for two weeks, and while I haven’t noticed any significant change in my weight or physical appearance, I do feel less run down because I’m forcing myself to get outside and fill those circles. It’s silly and somewhat trivial, but it works, and Apple deserves credit for that.
I love that I can use the Watch as a replacement for movie tickets, boarding passes when I travel, my Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks cards, a hotel room door key, and so, so much more. The Apple Watch is cool right now, but it’s difficult to recommend to someone who doesn’t necessarily want to adapt to a more technological way of life. It’s hard to recommend to someone who asks the question “why should I spend $400 when I can just pull my phone out of my pocket?” That’s a good question that I can’t answer right now. It won’t make your life exorbitantly better. You can live without it. It will, however, add convenience to areas of your life that can be somewhat cumbersome. My advice? Let us crazy early adopters do the testing on the first version and wait for next year’s instalment before you cave and spend the $400+. I don’t think I’m disappointed in my decision to buy and keep the Watch, but if I had to make the purchase again, I’m not sure it’d be as easy as it was the first time. If you’re asking yourself if the Watch is for you, my best piece of advice (if you have the money to spend) is to take it for a two-week test drive and see for yourself. It’s such a personal device and needs to be tethered to your life in order for you to find out if it’s right for you. You won’t get that connection by simply playing with the models in the store.