As early adopters have already begun stockpiling the coffee to make it through tomorrow night, when the Apple Watch pre-orders kick off, select publications have now published their reviews of the highly anticipated Apple wearable.
After wearing it for about a week, journalists have shared their opinions about the device, highlighting what you can and can’t do with the Apple Watch. The consensus seems to be that Apple has managed to create the best smart-watch yet, but also raised questions regarding the functionality of smartwatch devices, since the wearables are yet to find their niche. For more than one reason, this isn’t a device for everyone, as Re/code’s Lauren Goode points out: you need an iPhone 5 to make it work and not everyone is thrilled by the idea of wearing a device on their wrist just to receive notifications, control an Apple TV or keep in touch with people without taking out the phone.
It took three days — three long, often confusing and frustrating days — for me to fall for the Apple Watch. But once I fell, I fell hard.
It was only on Day 4 that I began appreciating the ways in which the elegant $650 computer on my wrist was more than just another screen. By notifying me of digital events as soon as they happened, and letting me act on them instantly, without having to fumble for my phone, the Watch became something like a natural extension of my body — a direct link, in a way that I’ve never felt before, from the digital world to my brain.
The Apple Watch can certainly make you a worse dinner guest. But it can also make you a slightly better one. The difference is whether or not you’re willing to think about what really matters vs. what seems to matter.
The watch is not life-changing. It is, however, excellent. So Apple has succeeded in its first big task with its watch. It made something that lives up to the company’s reputation as an innovator and raised the bar for a whole new class of devices. Its second task—making me feel that I need this thing on my wrist every day—well, I’m not quite sure it’s there yet.
There’s no question that the Apple Watch is the most capable smartwatch available today. It is one of the most ambitious products I’ve ever seen; it wants to do and change so much about how we interact with technology. But that ambition robs it of focus: it can do tiny bits of everything, instead of a few things extraordinarily well. For all of its technological marvel, the Apple Watch is still a smartwatch, and it’s not clear that anyone’s yet figured out what smartwatches are actually for.
The most interesting observation from my workouts so far is that the heart-rate readings I’m getting from the Apple Watch during indoor cycling are very close to the readings I’ve gotten from a chest monitor. I haven’t yet seen the kind of wildly-erratic readings that I’ve experienced with other health watches that measure heart rate through the wrist.
Some people have already decided they’re getting Apple Watch on the day it comes out. Because they love Apple. Because they like new things and being the first to buy them. Because there has been so much hype around this product.
I’ve found the Apple Watch isn’t a replacement for the iPhone, but it’s the right screen for many important things. I only look at it in blips, for rarely more than five seconds. It shows me the weather with one finger swipe. It gets physical, gently tapping my wrist when something important needs my attention and lighting up when I lift my arm to look.
For now, the Apple Watch is for pioneers. I won’t pay the $1,000 it would cost for the model I tested, only to see a significant improvement roll in before too long. But I plan to pay $400 for the 42mm Sport version once it’s on sale. That’s worth paying for a front-row seat for what’s next in tech.
Apple Watch pre-orders will kick off on Friday, April 10 at 12:01 am PT. Those who want to experience the Apple Watch in person ahead of ordering can visit an Apple Store nearby and try before they buy (or not).
Update: Here are more reviews we’re adding to this post; make sure you read Gruber’s first:
- Daring Fireball – John Gruber
- Men’s Journal – Marissa Stephenson
- Techpinion – Ben Banjarin
- Breakfast Television Toronto – Mike Yawney
WSJ’s Joanna Stern’s real-life review that’s light and humourous: