Youâ€™d think that using a watch would be pretty straight forward, right? Strap it on, look at information on watch. Ok well what about a smart watch?
I originally wasnâ€™t even convinced Iâ€™d use a smart watch, so I wanted to try out the less expensive route before investing any significant money into this new fad. A few months back, I picked up one of the original Pebble smart watches on eBay for around $45. I was surprised to find that I really loved using it. I was tracking my steps and calories constantly and I loved being able to switch my music tracks on the treadmill right from my wrist. Even with the success of that little experiment, though, I still wasnâ€™t sold on the Apple Watch, primarily because of the price tag.
Well roll forward a few months later and I was surprised with an Apple Watch as a birthday present! Right away, I thought it was going to be an even more enhanced experience than what my little Pebble watch had going for it, so I was really excited. Pretty quickly, though, I found out that, once again, Apple has created a new set of interactions for us to learn and that even I, a self-proclaimed gadget nerd, had a hard time discovering many functions.
For example, for the first couple of days, I was going crazy because I couldnâ€™t figure out a way to keep track of my steps on the watch. Letâ€™s set a bit of context here:
Apple has decided that to keep track of your fitness, youâ€™ll want to track your â€œexerciseâ€ (what it detects as more than a brisk walk), your â€œactivityâ€ (how many times you stand up per hour) and your â€œcalories.â€ This last one is really confusing to me. I donâ€™t know about you, but Iâ€™m not a nutritionist, so unless Iâ€™m on the treadmill or some other kind of equipment that tells me regularly what Iâ€™m burning, Iâ€™m not great at understanding what kind of calories I should be burning. Iâ€™ve been so used to setting a goal of â€œsteps per dayâ€ and working toward that because it makes sense. I know about how long that will take me between work, home and the gym. Shifting to the calories format has been a challenge for me – one that Iâ€™m not sure Iâ€™m tackling.
So after struggling with trying to figure out calories for a few days (something you canâ€™t change in preferences, by the by), I was desperate to find a way to track my steps from the watch. If the Pebble could do it, surely the watch could. I finally found that in order to find it, I had to swipe up from the main â€œactivityâ€ screen. The only problem? Thereâ€™s no visual indication that you CAN or SHOULD scroll from that screen until you actually start scrolling. Meanwhile, there IS a visual indication that you can swipe left/right for additional screens.
The big new interaction, of course is what Apple calls Force Touch. Basically, rather than simply one kind of touch like on an iPad (tap here, tap there, etc.), there are now multiple levels of touch. Tap as normal for one function or press on the screen slightly harder and a second set of menus can appear. It has some really great possibilities with it for sure, but the problem is knowing when to use it. In the Activity app, you can Force Touch to reveal the option to change your daily calorie goal, for instance.
After discovering this in the activity app, I went searching and found several places throughout the Apple Watch environment where I ran into these same problems. Another big issue I had was that when I started Spotify from my phone, the watch wasnâ€™t controlling the tracks. I could control iTunes music just fine, but not Spotify. For nearly a week, I assumed that it just wasnâ€™t possible yet on the watch, but after experimenting with Force Touch, I found that itâ€™s actually an option I can set. How I would have known to find that, Iâ€™m not sure. This is a whole new level of interaction and discoverability that weâ€™ll have to get used toâ€¦ and if it follows Appleâ€™s trends at all, we will. (Full disclosure, Apple has done due diligence with pushing out a multitude of training videos, but I never seem to watch those and Iâ€™ve not had any problems in the past).
Itâ€™s not all bad, though. The watch is certainly beautiful and has some really elegant design in the UI. Additionally, Iâ€™ve been surprised to find that the thing that annoyed me the most on my Pebble (app alerts) has turned out to be my favorite feature on the watch. Subtle haptic feedback notifies my of alerts on my phone and with a quick flick or my wrist, Iâ€™m able to see if that notification warrants me pulling out my phone to address it (something thatâ€™s been particularly useful during meetings at work).
Itâ€™s still early days and Apple Watch is a brand new ecosystem. Much like other great Apple products before it, itâ€™s got some issues. However, the more I use it, the more I find Iâ€™m enjoying it and now that Apple is granting access to developers to make watch-specific apps, Iâ€™m really excited to see what comes up in the future for the watch and IoT (if you havenâ€™t seen the potential of Citrixâ€™s Octoblu technology, for instance, it might warrant a peep).