Slightly late to the party, but I got a chance to use and test out the first generation of the Apple Watchh, courtesy to the RSBC.
I have written for their website, learn how the watch helps you at work.
This is the first Apple Watch that came out in 2015, not the upgraded series 1.
The watch offers a more personal and personalized experience than any of Apple’s line of products, even more personalized than the iPhone itself. This is shown by the three variations of the watch: Watch Sport, Apple Watch and Watch Edition, which also feature different bands, allowing customization. These differences are purely cosmetic, as a £299 Sport has the same specs as an £8000 Watch Edition.
Notifications are sent directly to the watch, so you can access information from your wrist and there is no need to pull out your phone. Initially, people were sceptical of the watch: ‘Isn’t it just an iPhone strapped to the wrist?’
From using it for a week now, I can answer… Yes and no. Sure, the watch mirrors a lot of the phone and it’s dependent on the phone for most of its features. But that is the idea behind it. The watch is there to provide instant information that matters to you the most, so you won’t miss anything like you might if your phone were in your pocket. Not all notifications are sent to you; only those you care about to have on your wrist.
Health and Fitness
Apart from the personal notifications, the feature that makes the watch excel is its health and fitness tracking. From checking your heartbeat to calculating the distance you’ve moved, all the information collected is to help you keep fit and active. You can set goals for each day to aim for, and from wearing the watch it has made me more active than normal. I would rather walk home from the station than catch the bus after work, just to see the activity rings being satisfyingly filled, signifying I am hitting my fitness goals!
Productivity is another feature that I love about the watch. It is linked to my work phone, which makes the job even more enriching. All my calendar events, to-do tasks and e-mails are accessible from my wrist; I can respond to each one without opening outlook–just a tap to confirm a meeting and a dictation to respond to e-mails.
Just like any other Apple product, the watch comes with accessibility features, from Voiceover and Zoom for vision to mono audio for hearing. As a visually impaired user with a little working sight, I will be going through the accessibility features regarding vision.
First of all, apart from the three Watch variations, there are also two sizes to the Apple Watch: 38mm and 42mm. I say this because with a larger size, text and other visual elements are easier to see. And with a larger watch, there is more room for Voiceover gestures, so having the 42mm version of the watch will be practical as long as it suits your wrist and isn’t oversized.
If you are simply short sighted, there are basic settings you can turn on without enabling Zoom or VoiceOver. You can change the text size to a larger font or even make it bold. A larger digital watch face is also available.
The built in screen reader featured in the Macs iPads and iPhones is also on the watch, with similar gestures to interact with items on the screen. However, this could take some time getting used to, as you are given less room on a watch face to execute them. In addition, listening to the voice in a noisy environment is difficult since the speaker is rather small. A solution to this is to pair Bluetooth headphones to the watch.
Despite its tiny screen, there is still room to zoom on the watch. This is achieved by double tapping and holding the screen to pan around. Personally, I find this rather hard to navigate due to the size of the screen, so I exclusively use VoiceOver.
Although it’s not an accessibility feature, Apple’s voice assistant is even handier here. Get things done faster by simply asking Siri to do it; it’s much quicker saying ‘tell mum that I will be late’ than going into your friends, selecting mum, tapping on message, and then dictating the text. Such a process is pretty slow on the watch–something I will address later.
Haptic feedback and Discreetness
This is another reason why I love the watch so much: It doesn’t just provide me with information, it provides me with information and it does it discreetly. Notifications are just simple taps on your wrist and nothing intrusive that might disturb others. No one will know about the activity, as only you can feel those haptic taps. This is even handier when navigating: Instead of having your phone out in the streets where it could potentially be dangerous, your watch is safely out of site, and as you walk, it will be giving you feedback constantly–3 pairs of double taps to turn left, for example.
The largest disadvantage to the watch would have to be its £300 minimum price tag, which is rather steep considering there are other wearable devices on the market for half of the price. However, no other device will work as well with your Apple product than Apple’s very own watch. And given that most visually impaired users prefer the iPhone over other platforms due to accessibility, it’s a price worth paying.
Another drawback to the watch is its dependency on the iPhone. The watch needs the phone to receive notifications, as it doesn’t have any Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity. If the watch loses that connection, it will simply be a timepiece with limited health tracking, since some workouts such as running outside require GPS, and Apple recommends that you take your phone for accurate results.
Some people have complained about poor battery life, but personally I am happy with the daily charge every night before bed. The watch is not a replacement for your phone, so playing games on it will quickly diminish the battery. Finally, my largest complaint is the speed: I will often wait for over ten seconds to open a third party app when I could have opened it faster on my iPhone. Once the app is open, I still find the whole experience rather sluggish, as I’m used to the speed of the phone’s processor. Mostly I would simply ask Siri to do the task for me, saving loading and tapping time.
In conclusion, the Apple Watch is a useful piece of tech that looks great when worn. It allows a person to increase their productivity by responding to notifications quickly and discreetly. The fitness tracking is a fantastic bonus, as it means living a healthier life.
If you can look past the price tag, it’s a wearable well worth investing in. If speed and performance is a problem, Apple claims their next version of the watch OS will address these issues. Or you can be like me and just wait, and buy the next generation of the watch!
Will you be buying the first generation of the watch?
Or will you wait for the second generation?
If you’re an owner, what do you like and dislike about it?
I would love to know! Share your thoughts in the comment section below!