Apple Watch reviews: world's best smartwatch, but nobody knows what a smartwatch should do

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited April 2015
Journalistic luminaries have begun to go public with their views on Apple's new wearable in the days before it goes on sale, and they have generally found it to be a beautiful device that ultimately succumbs to the fact that smartwatches have yet to find their niche.


via Bloomberg

Bloomberg

Writing for Bloomberg, Joshua Topolsky found the Watch's hardware "beautiful in a surgical way," with a design that "wouldn't seem out of place in a futuristic lab or sci-fi movie." He sees the Watch as an "inconspicuous thing" that grows on the wearer, though doesn't approach the level of sophistication of a traditional wristwatch.

Apple's new Taptic Engine produes "strikingly realistic sensations," Topolsky says, and the digital crown makes navigation easy. He found the Watch faces' complications "one of the most useful parts of the watch, offering the kind of information that really does elevate the device beyond a simple timepiece."

"After using it, I had no question that the Apple Watch is the most advanced piece of wearable technology you can buy today," he wrote. He loved the Watch's timekeeping, which is so precise that every Watch in a room will tick at exactly the same time.

Topolsky wasn't thrilled with the responsiveness --?or lack thereof?-- of the Watch's automatic display activation, and said that the user interface requires some getting used to. He did like the new Activity app, but found new features like Digital Touch and the new animated emoji to be of limited utility.

In all, Topolsky believes that Apple has "made something that lives up to the company's reputation as an innovator and raised the bar for a whole new class of devices," but has yet to find a way to make the Watch an essential device.


via the Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal's Geoffrey Fowler thinks that the Apple Watch "is a computer built to spend [your time] better," and while he was not impressed with the battery life, apps, or "inevitable obsolence," buyers will be able to "wear the future on [their] wrist."

Fowler does not believe the Watch can replace a phone, but he does find it more useful for some tasks. "It has made me more present," Fowler wrote. "I'm less likely to absent-mindedly reach for my phone, or feel compelled to leave it on the table during supper."

He found the Watch's display to be "adequate" outdoors, though apps like the wrist-worn Maps app was "so slow it makes me want to pull out my paper Rand McNally." Software issues plagued Fowler's testing, and he did not find the Watch's home screen easy to use.

Fowler believes that "the Apple Watch is for pioneers," and says he will be picking up the Sport version when it becomes available. "That's worth paying for a front-row seat for what's next in tech," he added.


via Re/code

Re/code

The ability to read iMessages and email and browse photos without pulling out an iPhone intrigued Lauren Goode of Re/code, and she echoed Topolsky's admiration for the device's fitness tracking functions. The Apple Watch is also the best looking smartwatch on the marketing, though "Apple Watch strives for high fashion, but it still looks like a techie watch," she wrote.

Goode didn't experience the same issues with Apple's apps as other reviewers, but did note that the third-party app ecosystem remains barren. She found the quality of phone calls made with the Watch's built-in speaker and microphone to be "very good," and said that those on the other end of the phone "couldn't even tell I was calling from a smartwatch."

Apple Pay on the Watch was "pretty cool," and battery life was better than expected. Goode's iPhone often reached critical battery levels before the Watch did.

All together, "Smartwatches are still unproven, but Apple has made a pretty strong case for them," she believes.


via The Verge

The Verge

At The Verge, Nilay Patel called the watch "an extraordinarily small and personal device," though it is "surprisingly heavy." He found it "kind of slow," though Apple says a forthcoming software update will address those issues.

The display is "simply terrific," but Patel echoed Topolsky's complaints about its responsiveness and enjoyed the display's complications. "If the Apple Watch had no other functionality except for what you can do from the watch face, it woudl still be competitive," he believes.

Patel also found the user interface somewhat confusing, but enjoyed using Apple Pay, calling it his favorite feature on the Watch. Digital Touch "is remarkably small-time," and "a cool demo and not much more."

According to Patel, "if you're going to buy an Apple Watch, I'd recommend buying a Sport model; I wouldn't spend money on how it looks until Apple completes the task of figuring out what it does."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 132
    tmaytmay Posts: 2,990member
    Early adopters will figure out the Apple Watch workflow and capabilities. Then Apple, and everyone else will have a path for future development. It's possible that there are better paradigms for wrist wearables than watches, but I don't see that happening for quite some time.

    As for the social annoyance of lifting your wrist to check your watch, that will have to be worked out, but it will, just as loud mouth's using their headsets in the bank were given the evil eye.

    Glance don't stare, and give a head's up in a conversation that you have need to make a quick check. That, and 5 second's isn't going to torpedo a conversation.
  • Reply 2 of 132
    shenshen Posts: 434member
    If your phone battery dies before your watch battery, the battery life might be sufficient for a first gen.

    Please Apple, in the name of all that is good, stop making the phone thinner and start improving the battery.
  • Reply 3 of 132
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,560member
    It would be interesting to know which iPhones they used with the Apple Watch as I would imagine that alone could have a bearing on how well certain apps work.
  • Reply 4 of 132
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    So far Ben Bajarin has been the most positive about ?Watch. Check out his Twitter posts. All the other reviews are pretty much what I expected. Too bad the Verge review seems to be getting the most attention. Nilay Patel has been negative on ?Watch from day one. The way I see these reviews is if you're bullish on the Watch you'll find things in the reviews to reassure you and if you're skeptical the reviews will have enough to confirm your skepticism.
  • Reply 5 of 132
    sflagelsflagel Posts: 571member
    It's all about notifications (and to others, health, but I don't understand why). Question is, do you need such a sophisticated piece for notifications, or does a bluetooth chip in a Swatch/Tissot/Omega suffice?

    I will order my Apple Watch at 08:01 UK time and will decide then. At worst, its $ 350 thrown out the window.
  • Reply 6 of 132
    smiles77smiles77 Posts: 668member



    For those who want to read all the reviews (not just the 4 listed here), here are links to the rest I've found.

     

    Wall Street Journal

    Bloomberg Business

    Re/code

    The Verge

     

    New York Times

    Mashable

    Techpinions

    USA Today

    CNet

    Independent.co.uk

    Daring Fireball

     

    Biggest surprise to me: can't seem to find any reviews by fashion mags.

  • Reply 7 of 132
    vrfvrf Posts: 12member

    Well, at least I won't be lusting after 100% of Apple products...

     

    Bring on the iPad Pro!

  • Reply 8 of 132
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Fyi in case anyone is interested, Wired has more information on some of the watch faces. The motion watch faces are all photography and for the jellyfish Apple built a tank in their studio to shoot at 300 fps with high end slow motion cameras. Wow.

    http://www.wired.com/2015/04/apple-watch-design/
  • Reply 9 of 132
    [QUOTE] until Apple completes the task of figuring out what it does.[/QUOTE]


    Reviews are entertaining but I can't take them seriously. Usually people use the devices for a week or less and write something silly.

    Maybe if they lived with devices for a while they'd get a long term perspective.
  • Reply 10 of 132
    flyingdpflyingdp Posts: 24member
    Not mentioned was New York Times tech reviewer Farad Manjoo who found the the first three days of using the %uF8FFWatch frustrating and confusing but on day 4 fell for the device and fell hard. He mentions that it has the usual new product, gen 1 limitations and issues, but "The first %uF8FFWatch may to be for you - but someday soon, it'll change your world."
  • Reply 11 of 132
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,023member
    The compelling use case for any smartwatch, Apple Watch included, really hasn't been clearly defined. We had already seen reports that Apple's version isn't what they had originally envisioned (no fault of theirs) requiring them to change focus and marketing plans. IMHO it will take a couple of years to see whether a wrist-worn smart device adds enough value to attract the 10's of millions of buyers required to make it worthwhile for a dozen or more companies to bother targeting.

    For the time being smart watches seem to me to be a solution in search of a problem.
  • Reply 12 of 132
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,747member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    The compelling use case for any smartwatch, Apple Watch included, really hasn't been clearly defined. We had already seen reports that Apple's version isn't what they had originally envisioned (no fault of theirs) requiring them to change focus and marketing plans. IMHO it will take a couple of years to see whether a wrist-worn smart device adds enough value to attract the 10's of millions of buyers required to make it worthwhile for a dozen or more companies to bother targeting.

    I think they'll sell plenty of watches to early adopters and it will obviously continue to improve incrementally in future versions.
  • Reply 13 of 132
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,023member
    I think they'll sell plenty of watches to early adopters and it will obviously continue to improve incrementally in future versions.
    Oh, I agree they'll sell well. It's from Apple. I just think many won't otherwise really know why they want one or what they'll regularly use it for once they have it.
  • Reply 14 of 132
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,128member
    Wow. Those photographs don't do the watch any favors. It looks thick and huge on the guys wrist in profile. I've no doubt it looks much nicer in person.

    But seeing the steel link bracelet on this guys wrist only reconfirms my initial reaction -- I'm not a fan. No doubt it's impressive in person, reading about how it is made is compelling. A great idea in theory, but to me it makes look like a cheap digital watch from the 70s.
  • Reply 15 of 132
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,747member
    mac_128 wrote: »
    Wow. Those photographs don't do the watch any favors. It looks thick and huge on the guys wrist in profile. I've no doubt it looks much nicer in person.

    But seeing the steel link bracelet on this guys wrist only reconfirms my initial reaction -- I'm not a fan. No doubt it's impressive in person, reading about how it is made is compelling. A great idea in theory, but to me it makes look like a cheap digital watch from the 70s.

    Compared to the Android hockey puck watches, the Apple Watch looks like a thin mint.
  • Reply 16 of 132
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,128member
    rogifan wrote: »
    Fyi in case anyone is interested, Wired has more information on some of the watch faces. The motion watch faces are all photography and for the jellyfish Apple built a tank in their studio to shoot at 300 fps with high end slow motion cameras. Wow.

    http://www.wired.com/2015/04/apple-watch-design/
    I love that Apple has the resources and interest in providing this level of detail. But I can't help but cringe when it comes out along with reviews suggesting the watch still has some software issues. There's a lot of pumped up confidence from Apple in this launch, from the fashion push to the $17k price tag. So much effort and attention to detail, but still software problems. I'd rather they not talk about the custom jellyfish tank to capture details no one else can see until after they blow us out of the water with their engineering prowess.
  • Reply 17 of 132
    sflagelsflagel Posts: 571member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post



    The compelling use case for any smartwatch, Apple Watch included, really hasn't been clearly defined. We had already seen reports that Apple's version isn't what they had originally envisioned (no fault of theirs) requiring them to change focus and marketing plans. IMHO it will take a couple of years to see whether a wrist-worn smart device adds enough value to attract the 10's of millions of buyers required to make it worthwhile for a dozen or more companies to bother targeting.



    For the time being smart watches seem to me to be a solution in search of a problem.

    It seems to me that three use cases have already been identified:

     

    1. Health, including biometric tracking (don't care much about this)

    2. Notifications (the most obvious one, I find that really useful)

    3. anything that requires identification, such as replacement for keys, payments, tickets, work security passes (I think this is convenient but just a nice to have; and besides, I always wondered why Passbook never took off)

     

    The question is, do you really need such a sophisticated device for these functions, or is bluetooth and an NFC chip enough?

     

    Although I'd love to hear more ideas from the forum members.

  • Reply 18 of 132
    sirlance99sirlance99 Posts: 1,094member
    The Verge gave the Apple Watch a score of 7 and the Moto 360 a score of 8.1. That's pretty telling.
  • Reply 19 of 132
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,128member
    Compared to the Android hockey puck watches, the Apple Watch looks like a thin mint.
    In total agreement. But I don't see any reason to compare Apple's effort to it. Nobody can touch Apple's design and build quality. They're offering is in a class by itself. They only have themselves to compete against at the moment.
  • Reply 20 of 132
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SirLance99 View Post



    The Verge gave the Apple Watch a score of 7 and the Moto 360 a score of 8.1. That's pretty telling.



    Yep. That's pretty telling about The Verge.

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