My first Apple Watch impressions

7 June 2015

We’ve finally received the 8fit Apple Watch. We worked on 8fit on an Apple Watch App one month ago and since then we hadn’t had access to a real device. Only a few users had shown us our app working there but that’s all. The first thing did today after the unboxing was installing 8fit. I was a bit worried because since we released the first app version we haven’t released any new update. Was it working? Had it something broken? Could I send messages to the coach?

After installing it and testing I was able to complete a workout, send some messages to the coach and see the next meal, amazing! I don’t know when we’ll work in future improvements but at least I can say we did a great job with our current version and that the next step will probably be workouts independent from the mobile app. But let’s see in the future.

As a gadgets geek I have been playing all day with the toy. I wanted to check out how user interactions were. Opening notifications, dismissing them, receiving messages from messaging apps, checking productivity apps like calendars, slack, … Although the impression was good there were things I didn’t like at all. Those are my impressions:

Things I liked

  • Activity alerts: Apple Watch comes with a default Activity app that helps you to keep active. It sends you an alert when you haven’t moved enough or when you need to walk a little bit because you have been a lot of time sat. It’s specially useful if you spend all day in front of a computer and forget about disconnecting periodically. I’m not a sedentary person and I achieve the activity goals easily but for sedentary people it can be a handy tool to become healthier.
  • Notifications: If I had to count the times I pick up my phone every day to see notifications that I end up dismissing I would get frightened. You can reply quicker with the watch and get your phone only if you received an important alert. Be careful! because it can also be annoying if you hate receiving notifications constantly, the watch shakes every time you receive a new one.
  • Glances At least for me, it’s the most handy feature of Apple Watch. You get the right refreshed information just when you need it. If it’s time to have lunch it lets you know your next meal, if you have 4 tasks to accomplish today it’ll give you a quick summary of your today’s productivity. I use Sunrise and Todoist to organize myself every day and I forget adding reminders to the tasks/events I created. Thanks to the watch I can periodically check the glance and see what tasks are missing or when I have the next event in the calendar.

Things I didn’t like

  • Loading…. When I tried to use some apps I got a bit frustrated because it took more than 5 seconds to load for some apps. Most of them don’t optimise their resources in the watch can’t process them as fast as the mobile device. When I take a look to the watch I basically want two things, refreshed information and quick presentation. I’m not going to be more than 5 seconds waiting for the app being loaded because I can pick up my phone, unlock it and open the app in 4 seconds. Wasn’t it expected to be a tool to avoid that? I think it’s something developers have to improve.. Optimize resources, specially images and refresh the information only if it has changed.

  • Running. I’m a runner and yes, one of the firsts things I did was trying a running a running workout with the watch. I expected going running and that the information was presented as the main glance when you took a look to your wrist. Unfortunately it didn’t happen. After some minutes running I took a look to my watch and the first view was the default dashboard. I had two swipe to find the running glance. If you’re running or practise sport it doesn’t free you from not using your finger while running (sweaty). EDITED: There's a settings option that allows you to specify that you want to see the last opened app when the Watch screen gets activated again

  • Open the iPhone app to use this Watch App: I’ve read this message in one of every three apps. We know that the Apple Watch SDK is quite limited and it forced some developers to rethink their apps for that platforms. There are some of them that didn’t do thought, and they tried to implement the same app core functionality on watch as well. I opened Shazam and the first message that I received was, please open your iPhone app to start detecting the song. Really? Do I really need a Watch App for that?. Hardware and SDK limitations are a good reason to rethink your app’s format for Apple Watch

  • Messy OS interactions: I haven’t get used to the Watch OS navigation yet. I still have some problems to show the notifications or open the glances list. I think the OS has to improve that part. Moreover when I turn my wrist, in order to activate the screen expecting any particular view, the watch resets the view hierarchy and then it shows you the dashboard again. Sometimes it freezes with a black screen blinking and thinking that you turned your wrist again.


Useful apps for Watch

  • Sunrise Calendar: It offers an app and a glance. They provide information about your next events in the calendar. I use the Glance a lot. I’m a very forgetful person and don’t check the calendar a quite often when I have it on my phone.
  • Todoist: It’s my best friend on the iPhone and OS X. I use it to organize my days and know at every moment what I have to do. Having it on the watch makes it even easier. Turn your wrist, swipe some glances and there you have your next task. Great format and well designed app.
  • Nike+ Unfortunately it’s the best designed (in my opinion) running app for watch. I tried Runkeeper, the one I use all the times, but the design is not so good. As it has happened a lot of times before, new Apple’s products come with a smooth Nike integration (best friends forever). I still remember using the iPod Nano with the small transmitter you had to put into your shoes. The app shows the running information in a pretty clear way, and also offers you two more screens to see the map and control your music. Apple watch also offers a Workouts app where you can start a running session and it provides more information like your BPM. The worst part is the fact that it reports your data to HealthKit (then you have data in two different services if you came from another running app)
  • Passbook I remember staying at the train’s queue, with the bag, my luggage and a lot of things in my hands and having to pick up my phone, with some difficulties to show the Passbook QR with the ticket. It’s easier now. You open the Watch Passbook app, open your next ticket, and voila! The QR is there.

Will I buy a Watch?

Sincerely I won’t. I wouldn’t use it as much as I expected. I have mostly used it to check notifications and I can do those actions using the iPhone instead of spending 400 Euros. Maybe if it allowed answering Telegram’s messages using your voice for example, i.e. a more opened SDK, so that the developers could offer richer apps, I would think about doing it. I’m not sure at all if the SDK is limited by hardware or by Apple. We know that here a product strategy comes up and they cannot offer everything at the beginning, even if they know it’s possible. They have to find a good reason to sell you the Apple Watch v2.0. I’m looking forward to seeing how the SDK improves with future versions and the things we’ll be able to do in a few months. I expected apps to rethink their formats for Apple Watch, so that they were independent from the phone but most of them didn’t. I don’t really want watch apps that tell me, open your iPhone app to keep using this one!. The SDK limitation shouldn’t lead us as developers to limitate the usability of our apps. And lastly, and as a runner, I expected a seamless experience with running apps and I didn’t. Only the Apple Workouts app has that integration (because Apple implemented it).

Have you tried an Apple watch and you would like to share your thoughts?

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