I’ve worn my Apple Watch all day, every day for almost 4 months from the moment it arrived on 24th April and, tl;dr, I don’t see any reason that I wouldn’t continue to do so. I put it on when I get out of bed in the morning, and remove it last thing before I go to sleep at night. Before this, it was some years since I wore a watch regularly, mainly because my watches were all too heavy or rigid to wear comfortably while typing and mousing – that this one isn’t is one of the most lovely things about it.
I wear it in the standard way, with the crown at the top, facing outwards (rather than the inverse, favoured by nerds), and it’s durable, water-resistant beyond my expectations, and the white band continues to be bright and free of scuffs or grime.
In the first month I had it, I fiddled with it a lot, playing with all the apps, using it to check in on Swarm or get directions to a place or summon an Uber or check the weather forecast or scroll through news headlines, but it’s honestly too slow to bother with any of that. Non-Apple apps take many seconds to load, and as far as I can tell most don’t update in the background, meaning that I wait ten seconds to see the weather from three days ago.
Most apps also, by and large, ask too much of the user – too much tapping and squinting. If a touch target is any smaller than a quarter of the screen size, then it’s too small for my fingers to hit reliably, and if an app requires more than a swipe or tap to reveal the information I need, then it feels too complex. Apple’s own Clock app, which is simple enough on the phone, is broken up into three separate apps on the watch, not including the face itself, to ensure that level of simplicity. Apps that include any kind of multi-level menu don’t make much sense to me. I frequently wish for a hardware back button for these situations, rather than the fiddly top-left “back” link offered in most apps.
For these reasons, I now rarely interact with my watch beyond a glance, and it’s so well-calibrated for that action that I still occasionally marvel at it: a tap on the wrist alerts me that there’s something to look at, I raise my wrist and the alert is displayed, I lower my wrist and it’s gone. Magic.
By default, the watch mirrors the notifications from your phone, but within a day of putting it on for the first time, I had disabled almost all of them – being tapped on the wrist for every Instagram like, Facebook notif or retweet is obviously ridiculous if you have an even moderately active online life, and it surprised me that it was configured that way. I’m also surprised that none of the apps I use have yet come up with more sophisticted bundling mechanisms for notifications – a message for “this is your most faved gram this week” or “you’ve had 10 retweets in the last hour” would be much more reasonable.
The most useful and habit-changing function of my watch is activity monitoring. I use it every morning to track my walk or run, and I check in many times a day to see that I’m going to meet my movement goal. Other watch users talk about “keeping the circles happy” – the three concentric coloured circles that track standing, movement and active exercise – and I admit to experiencing a so-far undiminishing note of pleasure every time I complete the trio. I will definitely go out for an evening walk if I don’t hit the target before dinner, and I’m happy to be reminded to get up from my desk and move a bit every hour. In the four months since I’ve had the watch, I’ve increased my average steps per day from 9,000 to 17,500 (aided by conducive weather in San Francisco, since it’s never -15C), and I’m much more consistent, which delivers unsurprising benefits for my mood and physical health.
Almost incidentally, I use other features: Siri, to set a timer or make a quick reply to a text message, Apple Pay to check out at Whole Foods, Passbook to show my boarding pass in airport security, but overall its grander ambitions also stretch the watch’s capabilities, and I’m generally just prepared to wait for these things to become simpler and faster before making them part of my routine.
There is a kind of philosophical companion piece to this post wherein I would wonder about what the watch really says about me / humans / technology, but I’m not sure if I could ever make enough sense of it all to put it into words. So for now, this is probably It on the subject of the watch: it is a nice thing. I like wearing it. It will improve and become more useful over time. Fin.