I’d made a diary note to ‘Order Apple iWatch’ on April 10th 2015, which I did, and mine arrived in late May. From the moment you open the box the iWatch meets all of your expectations in terms of quality, feel and style. It looks wonderful, its made so well and it keeps with many of the Apple mantra’s regarding style and simplicity of use. Its important to say this because the iWatch has been one of the most anticipated Apple products since the launch of the iPhone and of course the first ‘new’ product to launch since the sad death of Steve Jobs – so people are keen to see if his ideas have remained at the heart of Apple.
New product, new markets
The reason that the iWatch is so anticipated is that its not an extension or upgrade of an existing product line but a totally new ‘thing’, a totally new concept and totally new market for Apple – yes there are Android Wear items in the market, but they’ve not taken off as much as people hoped – Apple have the chance to make ‘wearable tech’ commonplace.
There will be many people that’ll buy the iWatch because its an Apple product, but for many including business users, the key questions are - is it any good? Is it useful? Is it something you need? Will it make me more efficient in my daily activity?
Lets start with something you may be surprised to hear - its actually a very good watch – many people have been talking about the features and email notifications but lets not forget that it does make a very good timepiece. You can adjust the face to suit your needs; practical, old-skool or comedy (Mickey Mouse for example) and you can add additional information to the watch face such as weather, calendar updates, world clock and stopwatch features - but its a nice watch and that’s before you get to the added benefits.
More than just a timepiece
So what people are really excited about are the features that turn this watch into an iWatch - linking to your iPhone and presenting notifications about new emails, Skype IM’s and Hangouts (yes, it notifies about Google Apps too), or allowing you to communicate with others without needing to reach for your phone. Let me say that these features are very well executed and there is a natural feel to notifications instant messages, phone calls and calendar reminders. The way you can read and respond to a notification, mostly via pre-written text responses or via voice recognition (Siri) is easy and intuitive. For me the biggest surprise is my increased use of voice recognition. I’ve never really used Siri on the phone and rarely used voice recognition for dictation, but with the watch (because there is no keyboard) you are forced to and quickly realise that its very accurate and very easy.
Let me say one very, very important thing however – the iWatch is NOT an iPhone on your wrist. Its not designed to be a device on which you surf the web or watch video, it’s an extension of the iPhone with a specific purpose in mind, to act mostly as a notification device. With a trend for phones to get bigger and bigger this key purpose becomes clear – it allows you to glance at the iWatch screen, see what the notification is about, assess the importance and then act or dismiss the request – all without having to reach for a phone in a pocket or bag. The range over which the iWatch and iPhone can remain connected is good as I left my iPhone upstairs at home and continued to work in the kitchen downstairs and received calls + mail alerts.
Embrace the silence
If the iWatch is a notification device then you will have to come to terms with treating it like your iPhone in meetings and quiet locations. What I’ve found over the initial period of using the watch day-2-day is that if your phone is on silent during a meeting then it leaves you alone; its silent – with the iWatch you get a tiny ‘buzz’ on the wrist to notify you of a message or text………. So unless you’ve put the watch into silent mode too then as your meeting goes on you have a voice in the back of your head saying “I’m missing things, I’m missing things” and that may be distracting.
Let’s also make one thing clear, you can make / receive phone calls on the iWatch too, so you are going to be able to look a little odd talking into your wrist on the platform waiting for a train or while on the bus. The call quality is very good and one of the first people I spoke to via the iWatch had no idea I was talking to them on a wrist watch.
Any good ?
So on reflection how has the iWatch worked for me so far? Well it’s a useful device which I find of value and which lets me deal with information that comes into me with a little more ease than I did before. I would say that if you have not been able to keep up with notifications as they arrive, maybe you were in a meeting or busy for a few hours, then you do have to ‘work through’ the notifications on the iWatch as there is no ‘acknowledge all’ or ‘clear all’ option – maybe in the next update perhaps. The iWatch does offer additional services such as fitness apps to record movement, a maps feature to help you navigate by foot in a busy street – again, all without needing to hold an expensive phone in your hand – but to be honest I’ve not found a real need for these - yet
To summarise, I can answer my initial questions at the top of this Blog like this – Is it any good? Yes, it’s a well-made and well-designed device but you have to understand its not an iPhone for the wrist, but a notification device for information. Is it useful? Very, especially if you are a busy business owner that wants to quickly manage information arriving to you. Is it something you need? Hmmm, no…………. but after a week of using mine I’d find it limiting to be without it. Will it make me more efficient in my daily activity? Yes, as long as you know how to use it and you embrace Siri (finally) and trust her with your voice dictation, because when used correctly that feature really does save time.
Craig Sharp is the owner of Abussi Ltd, a West Midlands based IT Support Service Provider. He can help you and your company gain maximum benefit from any IT investment while providing a professional support service to resolve any day-to-day issues