Thursday, September 13, 2018

Review of Apple Watch (series 2)

Summary: I like mine.

I've worn a watch since I was 10, starting with a Casio F-91W, replacing it with an identical model about seven times over the years. Last year the strap broke (it's almost always the strap that breaks), and I made the decision to buy an Apple Watch. I'm very happy with my Apple Watch (series 2, 38mm).

What I use it for

The main things I use my watch for are:

  • Alarms and timers, often using Siri to set them. If you treat the voice interface like a bad command line it works well - if you say "Add an alarm at 4pm" and you had an alarm at 4pm yesterday, it just shows you the alarm but doesn't enable it. Instead you have to say "Set alarm at 4pm". If you say "Set alarm at 4:10pm" the odds of getting an alarm at 10pm are quite high.
  • Receiving notifications, email, texts, Slack messages, phone calls. When you lift your arm you get a quick preview of the message, which is enough to decide whether it's important (take out the phone), or can happily be ignored.
  • Sleep tracking, via the Sleepwatch app. It's an awesome app that tracks your sleep showing trends.
  • Paying for things via the ApplePay. Nowadays I'm on the verge of not shopping at places that don't take ApplePay. It's more secure than contactless, works everywhere contactless works, has a higher limit, and is incredibly convenient. It can also swipe through multiple credit cards. Easy and seamless.

What I wish was better

There are other features the watch offers that I was hoping to use, but for various reasons haven't worked out.

  • I am terrible at navigation, and wanted to use Google Maps on my watch, particularly while cycling. Unfortunately, there is no Google Maps app for the watch, and the Apple Maps one is even less useful than normal Apple Maps. There is a recurrent bug where it loses the map display and just displays a checkered background - which can be fixed by some complex steps including wiping the watch and reinstalling. Part of the reason for buying this watch was for navigation, so I hope this gets resolved eventually.
  • I wanted to quickly and easily track train departures on the move. Unfortunately the National Rail train time app is useless - it omits the time the train is leaving, merely saying "On time" or not. As a consequence you have to memorise the timetable, plus believe it has refreshed and isn't just showing stale information. All in all, impressively close, and totally useless.
  • The actual display of the watch is adequate - it takes a noticeable pause to display the watch face (sub-second), but compared to my Casio, it's not always available. I like actual seconds on my watch, which limits me to exactly one digital watch face. I can't believe "knowing the precise time" is such a niche feature on a watch.
  • You can't hide apps from the watch that you don't use, which means my watch face has 50 odd apps, of which I use maybe 10. Removing most of the apps would make navigation much easier.
  • The watch slows down over time, so after a couple of months it starts to lag. A reboot fixes that.
  • The straps you can buy for the watch are fantastically overpriced. The default one is OK, but my wrist in between two holes, so it's usually either a bit loose or a bit tight.
  • Exercise features haven't been much use to me, but I'd blame that on me rather than the watch...

Conclusions

The positives are enough to make it worth me having an Apple Watch, and inevitably replacing when the battery life gets too bad (for the moment, it runs about 30hrs on a charge, which is fine).

1 comment:

Unknown said...

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