I've been struggling to come up with the best way to appropriately "review" the Apple Watch. We don't do many hardware reviews of Apple products because our primary platforms are the iPhone and iPad, two product families that are arguably pretty dumb to review because in the case of the iPhone we're on the 8th generation of a device that's only gotten better. Additionally, the historical precedence of how awesome iPhones get with each revision leads most people to (admittedly, very safely) buy one on day one. Sure, there's been a few *gates here and there between Antennagate and Bendgate, but by and large, every iPhone is better than the last one. I doubt very many people are out there who are waiting for the reviews to come in before buying a new iPhone, and people who do fall inside that demographic are likely just going to wait for the next (print) issue of Consumer Reports. Almost the exact same thing can be said for the iPad.

Apple-Watches

The Apple Watch, however, is a totally different animal. It's a whole new product line for Apple, with an entirely new operating system and usage patterns. Of course it comes with all the lofty claims of any Apple product including how it's their "most personal device ever," and they've aptly positioned it as more than a gadget, with celebrities everywhere rocking the watch, effectively turning it into a fashion object to lust over. The scarcity of the Apple Watch combined with so many people waiting to see how the Apple Watch pans out before deciding to get one makes it feel very worth reviewing. In fact, the Apple Watch is so scarce right now that despite having my order in by 12:03 AM the night preorders went up, I didn't get mine until Tuesday.

Being The Most Personal Device Ever and all, it makes sense to do a series of reviews as my personal usage of the Apple Watch evolves along with the inevitable maturing of the third party Apple Watch software ecosystem. So, keep your eyes peeled for weekly installments on life with the Apple Watch.

il_570xN.753074153_ltz6First off, a bit of background on me as a watch person. For whatever reason, I've been into watches all my life. As a kid I was always wearing various digital watches, I had The Legend of Zelda Game Watch (which wasn't much of a game) and a bunch of similarly gimmicky late 80's / early 90's time pieces. My first "nice" watch, or at least nice in the eyes of a ten year old, was a Dick Tracy watch I got from Disney. It served the dual purpose of being a real non-digital watch and everyone knows Dick Tracy had the coolest watches, so of course this one was also super cool. (If you want to be similarly cool, the same watch now sells for $15 on Etsy and now apparently is "vintage." *sigh*) From there I was absolutely captivated by Timex's Indiglo, and briefly dabbled in the earliest of "smart" (That's being generous.) watches with the advent of Timex Datalink, which might still be the weirdest sync solution I've seen. Essentially, you'd sync over the few tiny pieces of data the watch was capable of storing which initially was just brief contact data and eventually evolved into "apps" (Again, being incredibly generous.) in later iterations by holding your watch up to your CRT monitor which blinked like crazy. I hit peak crappy-late-90's-"smart"-watch with the Times/Motorola Beepwear which was the unholy union of a Timex Datalink watch and Motorola pager. Linking back to the original Dick Tracy watch, this was the first watch that actually felt anything like the way the Dick Tracy watch was portrayed as functioning in the Dick Tracy universe.

The reaction to wearing such a ridiculously massive watch led to be taking a total 180 in wrist-wear and as pagers stopped being cool I switched teams over to rocking mechanical watches. I came to appreciate the art of horology, and watches became less of a gadget on my wrist and more of a living piece of horological history as I learned more about the intricacies of different movements and manufacturers. My first "real" mechanical watch was an Omega Speedmaster I picked up from the incredible Wanna Buy a Watch in West Hollywood, CA. This exposed me to the amazingly vibrant second hand watch world, and after trading up, selling, and buying I eventually settled on my "forever watch," a gloriously date-free Rolex Submariner ref. 114060- Objectively the best watch. (Of course this didn't stop me from cheating on these watches with the Pebble, Pebble Steel and weird Galaxy Gears, but, I digress.) You may be wondering why all this is relevant, and it's because it seems like in the tech world many of the people reviewing Apple Watches have little to no experience with the world of watches with rare exception.

So, on to the Apple Watch. I settled on a 42mm Apple Watch with link bracelet, but I've done two different try-ons and fiddled with all the bands and both watch models and you're going to have a real hard time criticizing the build quality of any of the choices in the lineup. I thought the leather Apple uses for their bands felt a little plastic-y, but it's always difficult to judge leather bands when they're brand new. Most leather bands mature into something awesome with age, so I'll be very curious to see what Apple's leather bands look like in 6-12 months. I'm rather surprised by how much people like the Milanese Loop, as it's really not my cup of tea- But that's what's kind of neat about the Apple Watch, just how personalizable it is with their array of different bands.

The link bracelet is really rad, and is sized without any tools. Typically with link bracelets you need a supremely tiny screwdriver and an eye for what you're doing to resize them. For most people, this means taking it back to wherever you bought it from whenever you need to get it resized. On the inside of Apple's link bracelet are buttons on the removable links which you press with your fingernail to get them to release. It's ridiculously easy, although I do wonder about long-term durability of all these tiny moving pieces. While the tool-less design might seem awesome out of the box, I feel like I might be wishing it was sized the traditional way if any of the tiny clips and clasps that make up the link band end up failing. The butterfly clasp itself feels incredibly delicate too, although that's me judging it against the new Rolex Glidelock clasp and Oyster bracelet which admittedly isn't very fair considering the exponential price difference. Grading on a curve of smart watch link bracelets, Apple wins here hands down.

apple_watch_iwatch_2

Oddly enough, outside of resizing the link bracelet, my out of the box experience with the Apple Watch was surprisingly lackluster for an Apple product. Aside from those giant pieces of protective plastic which joyously peel off in one piece, getting the Apple Watch up and running was pretty frustrating. My first two initial attempts at pairing the Apple Watch with my phone failed. The way it's supposed to work is you turn the Apple Watch on, it displays a swirly pattern on the screen, you open the Apple Watch app on your phone, and automagically everything is paired together.

Herein lies one of the major problem with Apple stuff, and this isn't unique to the Apple Watch at all- When something doesn't work how it's supposed to, there's really no step two. Something not syncing to iCloud? Well, uh, that sucks. Your iPad inexplicably not liking a particular WiFi network? Uh, I guess reboot it? When the Apple Watch doesn't pair, there isn't really anything you can do aside from reset it and try again. Problem is, this whole "reset and try again" thing takes a surprisingly long time, almost like it's restoring itself instead of just rebooting. When it failed the second time, I rebooted my phone and that seemed to solve the problem, but this sort of set the scene for the rest of my initial experiences with the Apple Watch.

Once you actually get it to pair, the Apple Watch app takes care of the rest. It asks you if you want to sync over the apps you've got on your phone which also have Apple Watch components, which seemed like a good idea. I might have more stuff on my iPhone than most people, but this also seemed like it took a surprising amount of time- So much so that I was actually running late for the dinner plans I had and ended up leaving while the transfer was still in progress. No big deal, I'll figure it out on the way, right?

What's weird about the Apple Watch is how surprisingly unintuitive it is to use for before you learn how everything works. I suppose the best point of comparison would be using the original iPhone for the first time, and I really don't remember not knowing how to do things on it. Maybe it was because the feature set was so limited with iOS 1.0, or perhaps the iPhone's software was just designed better than anyone was willing to give it credit for at the time, but everything made sense. On the Apple Watch, you're thrown into a system filled with tons of little icons (Particularly if you let it go wild installing stuff on your first sync.) and no clear division of what the difference between an Apple Watch app and an Apple Watch glance (Glances being the screens that appear when you swipe up on the watch face.) are. Some apps feel like they should be glances, and vice versa. Additionally, configuration options are all over the place. Some things are buried away in the Apple Watch app's settings on your iPhone, others are found via the "hard press" Force Touch gesture with no clear indication of how or why the user would know about those functionalities.

Essentially, it feels really strange to need to Google basic things to figure out how to use your Apple Watch as everything on the iPhone/iPad side of the fence is so painfully obvious that my late almost entirely computer illiterate father could flawlessly operate his iPad with little more explanation beyond the concept of how the home button and home screen worked. A few days later and I feel like I've got most things worked out, but an Apple device with a learning curve definitely feels foreign, and nowhere near "the most personal device ever" that Apple is pitching it as- And this is all coming from someone who is a very computer literate gadget person who quite literally works with iOS stuff daily.

Another strange thing about the Apple Watch is as a watch, it's really not great. Wearing watches all my life, I've grown incredibly used to just quickly glancing down and seeing what time it is. On a traditional watch, the time is always there, and you really don't realize how nice that is until you've got a device strapped to your wrist that requires a tap or a gesture to simply tell you what time it is. Worse yet, the gesture you need to do to make the Apple Watch turn on is very much the international sign for "You're really boring me, I've got somewhere else to be." The way to get it to activate with 100% certainty is to lift your wrist and pull it towards you with the screen face straight up. Basically, imagine how you might exaggerate checking your watch, that's not far off from what you need to do. The problem is worsened by the fact that this is how you also check the alerts you'll be getting all day long on your Apple Watch- It took less than 24 hours for my partner to tell me how much they hate my Apple Watch, as it's real hard to not look at your wrist every time it buzzes, and you're just constantly sending the "I've got sh*t to do" body language.

$_32

I feel like Apple made too big of a sacrifice in going with the Apple Watch's OLED screen. Sure, it beautiful and the animations on it are great, but from a functional standpoint the e-Ink display of the Pebble is so much better that it took me a week of wearing the Apple Watch to fully appreciate the extent. I totally, totally get what Apple is trying to do here. Retina displays are amazing, and the effort they've put into the different watch faces and various animations of the watch OS put it in its own league visually compared to every other smart watch out there. The problem is, I use gadgets as tools, so imagine this kind of thing in the world of actual tools. If you had a power drill that lights up like a light bike in TRON, has flames down its side, and instead of making that annoying drill sound it plays the ThunderCats theme song that'd be super rad, and would be great to show off, but if it didn't work so well as an actual drill, what's the point? That's where I'm at with the OLED screen of the Apple Watch.

Getting a notification on the Pebble is a wholly different experience. An alert will get pushed out, and it'll just live on the screen of your Pebble until you have a chance to glance down and look at it on the persistent e-Ink screen. Using a Pebble feels like using a watch that does extra stuff. Comparatively, getting a alert piped to your Apple Watch results in a noise (which I muted almost instantly) and a buzz. In theory, different alert types should have different buzz patterns but right now everything gets funneled through the generic double tap buzz. To see what the alert is, you have to do the exaggerated checking the time gesture mentioned earlier. Additionally, if you don't do this right away, your alert gets pushed to the watch's notification center... So if you're a few seconds later, instead of the exaggerated watch checking gesture, you need to do that, and swipe down. It sounds dumb to complain about, but it's such a massive difference from the Pebble that it's unreal.

I'm pretty vocal about how much notifications on my phone annoy me, and as such, I've got the alerts I actually get pared down to things that are super important or immediately require my attention. This still feels excessive on the Apple Watch, particularly with the extra steps to see the actual alert. Weirder yet, if you get two alerts at once, there's no way to display the actual individual alerts short of dismissing them and viewing the alerts in the watch's notification center. One of my biggest source of important alerts are from IF by IFTTT [Free] which I use to monitor all the crazy RSS feeds I use to source TouchArcade stories. IFTTT only scans RSS feeds a few times an hour, and if it's a busy feed there will be multiple alerts, which lead to the aforementioned problem being my primary alert type on the Apple Watch. Admittedly, I've got kind of a weird setup going here, but it's worth mentioning.

As far as the actual Apple Watch software, basically everything feels half baked and very, very version 1.0. The "Hey Siri" functionality is the coolest thing the Apple Watch does, but it's so slow and spotty that it feels like a treat when it works versus something you can count on all the time. It makes demoing the Apple Watch sort of embarrassing, and reminds me a lot of The Newton being featured in The Simpsons:

Nearly all of the third party apps I've tried very much feel like they were obviously developed without really knowing how people were going to use the Apple Watch. I've tried most of the games, and none of them feel compelling enough to make you want to play them on your Apple Watch versus just taking the extra five seconds to take your phone out of your pocket and load something up. The best one so far seems to be Runeblade [Free], but once the novelty of playing an exceptionally lightweight RPG on your wrist wears off inside of about 30 seconds I haven't found myself compelled to go back to it. The most useful thing my Apple Watch has done so far is run the Apple Watch component of the iDevices Connected [Free] app which when paired with the iGrill 2 shows the temperature of the meat you're cooking on your wrist which is surprisingly handy while you're trying to make sure all the elements of your dinner are done at roughly the same time.

Additionally, the glance Dark Sky [$3.99] provides is great. It tells you exactly what you need to know about the weather right now. If it's raining it'll tell you how long it's going to rain for (and how hard), if it's in the afternoon it'll tell you how much daylight there is left, etc. It's all I need to know about the weather, in a quick glance, and I feel like this kind of thing is what's going to be really great on the Apple Watch. It's just developers realizing this, and implementing it.

As far as battery life is concerned, like others have reported, the Apple Watch has vastly exceeded my expectations. Even on my heaviest use days complete with lots of app usage, an hour-long workout, and a silly amount of notifications I've yet to crack 30% battery remaining wearing it from around 8:00 AM until around midnight. Typical days end up in the high-40% to low-50% remaining range. Given how much headroom there is on the battery, it'd be supremely cool to be able to make the Apple Watch accelerometer a little more sensitive to trigger the watch to come on, or the screen lighting up on an alert instead of just on the wrist raise gesture. Instead, the only real toggle you have for how the watch utilizes battery is having it in normal mode or reserve mode. It'd be nice to have a "I don't care too much about battery, go wild" mode, and maybe something in between normal and reserve mode to still get alerts but maybe kill all other watch functions?

This might come off as thousands of words complaining about the Apple Watch, and while that's pretty much the case, that doesn't mean I'm not excited for the future of the platform. The vast majority of the "problems" of the Apple Watch could be solved through software updates, and it's no surprise to anyone that the very first wave of Apple Watch third party software isn't great. We're undoubtedly going to see many growing pains with the platform, and that's OK.

Stay tuned for next week's installment, where I'll hopefully have a better idea of how much the activity tracking and other aspects of the Apple Watch change (or don't change) my daily routines. So far I've been pretty good about filling my circles and standing, but, weekends are a powerful catalyst for laziness. Oh, and you never know, an Apple Watch game that's actually sort of cool might come along.

  • scottsoapbox

    Great piece. Well written, informative & entertaining.

  • http://www.googlepants.com/ Wizard of Odyssey

    I love this kind of review. It's the kind of essay that makes me not buy something I didn't really want, but all the smoke around it made me wonder if perhaps I was missing something cool?

    Nope. I was right, I don't need this. Late last year, I snagged a cheap Pebble watch from Ebay and got the "notifications on my wrist" novelty out of my system. It was neat having a watch face that looked like Mac OS 6, and I suppose I liked skipping songs on my docked iPhone from the kitchen, but it wasn't an everyday device, and I certainly didn't want to wear it all the time.

    Another gosh darned thing to charge, not scratch, and not lose? No thanks!

    My Pebble got flipped back on Ebay, and my wrists are unencumbered by tech, the way I like them.

    • Zero Ehxe

      I like that you described it as an "essay". Across the board reviews are usually too short for my taste. I'm sure someone researched attention spans and how long internet users are willing to stay on one page, but it's nice to see some in-depth material worthy of consumption.

  • beaver_lions

    When I got my watch I had pair issues but then discovered you had to hold your watch in the display and slowly move your camera onto the orb on the screen. After that it was easy.

    Other than that, I really enjoy my apple watch. It makes my life much easier. I find myself pulling my phone out less, making me less tempted to play video games or such when I'm busy working or at school.

  • Saxon

    I actually returned mine yesterday. :-/

    My problem is that I'm glued to my phone as it is. I always have it on the table or in my pocket. There was just no reason for me to use the watch for anything when I have my phone that can do so much more.

    • http://www.googlepants.com/ Wizard of Odyssey

      I think that some people had the expectation that this could offload some of the tasks of your phone, so you could keep it in your pocket while it buzzes and chirps at you. Especially when paired with the larger 6 series devices.

      Personally, I have turned my notifications down to the point where if something makes noise, I want to check it and act on it.

  • DotComCTO

    I enjoy my Apple Watch Sport (42 mm space gray) quite a lot. Quick background: I'm also a watch guy, so I have a few nice watches; however, I've been a tech person since I was a youngster, so I'm often an early adopter of tech *if* it interests me.

    Here's what I would say about Apple Watch since I got mine at launch: there is no must-have/killer app. Instead, it's the collection of things that it does that makes is compelling for me. I'm sure this watch isn't for everyone; it's all personal taste and desire...just like any watch, I suppose.

    I definitely don't like how some apps are slow to load, and I've had some *rare* instances where the iPhone and the Watch have somehow lost connectivity, so I've had to reboot the watch (which really does take a long time to reboot).

    What I do like is the fitness & activity tracking (I workout and run almost every day), the iMessage alerts, the custom watch faces (though I'd at least like a roman numeral watch face), and apps like Dark Sky and SoundHound, Siri, and notifications from apps like Bleacher Report. I can also agree that even with daily workouts, my Watch battery is anywhere from 30-45% by the end of the night, so that's a non-issue. I disagree that the Watch UI is unintuitive. I saw plenty of preview videos and even went to an Apple store to try it out before mine arrived. By the time I got the watch, I didn't have any issue whatsoever.

    For me, the positives outweigh the negatives. It is not a perfect device. I also bought the cheapest option because I knew this was a v1.0 device and that it would get better. At the end of the day, the Apple Watch fits my use cases very well. If people want to wait for v2 or v3, then they should do that. For me, I wanted the watch and I'm enjoying it.

    • anabolicMike

      I meant to hit reply but like but that's fine it stands to the south. Anyways, it should have been more then a watch..... It should have been something everyone wanted. I wanted a watch that I could bring to the gym that tracks everything while its Bluetooth is sending some pounding tunes to my wireless headset. I don't want my phone on me at the gym for multiple reasons..... I break it when it's in my pocket because of various Dumbbells slamming into it, It never stops ringing or texting, for some reason the connection sucks when the otter box is on it and if I take it off say good bye to my little friend.... Oh lastly, it sucks when you forget your phone for a minute and head to get a drink, suddenly re,e,ber it run to get it and it's gone..... Nothing like burning around looking for some thieving arsehole who argues up and down that he has exactly the same daughter as you.... Heh watch would be awesomsj!

      • DotComCTO

        Hey Mike - to be clear, if you want to use the watch in the gym without the iPhone, you can do that. First, you have the iPhone sync/download your workout playlist to your watch. The Apple Watch has around 8 GB of space, but figure some of that goes to apps and who knows what else. I wouldn't plan on more than 4-5 GB of music, which is honestly a considerable amount for a gym workout.

        Anyway, once that is done, you can use the Apple Watch without the phone for a workout. You have the watch use your Bluetooth headphones for music output. Then, you use the Workout app on the watch and have it track whatever exercise you're going to do. When you do that, the watch will also turn on the heart rate monitor. What you don't get without an iPhone is any GPS tracking. Other than that, you can totally use the watch the way you're suggesting.

        BTW, there is no specific Workout tracking for weightlifting; you'd have to set it to, "Other" and then have it do an "open workout".

      • garbul

        Dude, if you forget your phone and it gets stolen, use Find My iPhone to delete and/or put in Lost Mode. Are you for real?

      • disqus_678

        His point is that he doesn't want it stolen??? his same daughter argument is people claim that it's their phone when the lock screen is a photo of his daughter??? I'm sure locking the phone in a locker is much safer/cheaper than going on find my iPhone, putting it in lock mode, and buying a new phone???

  • Rob Howard

    I disagree with most of this review (apart from the bit about third party apps, many – but not all – of which are pretty sluggish and not entirely well thought out).

    Hey-ho, it happens. Reviews are subjective.

    • Philip Stroffolino

      Curious - which parts do you disagree with?

      • Rob Howard

        I can't see how it's less functional than the Pebble (apart from my Evernote checklists which seem to now display on the Apple Watch). I can actually act on the notifications I get – reply to texts, delete emails, mark reminders as completed.

        I guess it is because I'd watched a few things on using the Apple Watch but I've never found the UI to be that confusing. If you know your way around the gestures in iOS most of it should be familiar.

        I've not yet had an issue with the watch turning on. I haven't needed to do any 'exaggerated' motions to get the face up.

        I've seen several reviews mention the difficulty of not looking at the watch every time it taps you on the wrist, even when in social situations where it would be considered rude. As far as I'm concerned this is a comment on the user, not the watch. I guess because I've been using a Pebble for two years I'm used to ignoring the buzz and looking later when not talking to someone.

        I do agree that getting a notification on a Pebble is a wholly different experience – but for the worse. Pebble notifications are a clearly audible buzz with the notification appearing on your screen, no matter what you're doing. All well and good if you want to do a sly glance and see what it is, less good when it's a private text from your wife or email you wouldn't want others to see which can be read by the guy sitting next to you on the train, or your colleague next to you in a meeting. Apple Watch only shows you the notification when you're ready for it - and you can act on many of them from the Watch, such as deleting emails, replying to texts etc.

        I wouldn't describe the software as half baked. Most of it seems to work pretty well. Sure, it could be better, but 'half baked' is a bit harsh. Siri for me works really well, apart from one sentence he had difficulty understanding earlier when messaging my wife. (He got it in the end, though.) I'd call him uncannily accurate most of the time.

        Third party apps are a bit hit and miss. Some run very well and are well featured, others are very slow and very lacking in functionality. City mapper, for example, is great. Overcast is wonderful. But Evernote is lacking compared to the Pebble version. JustEat is a bit pointless as you can only look at a past order, not reorder one. Skype barely functions at all (although the iOS app is far from perfect too). The hyped Rules is sometimes so slow as to be unusable. The good apps give me hope, however, that developers will soon figure these things out and we'll get some great apps.

        So, in short, this review seems to be overly negative based on my experience.

  • anemapen

    I read your article on the Apple Watch. I have not purchased one yet. I guess I'm waiting to see how they do. I was surprised you did not mention the Fossil Dick Tracy Web Watch or the Fossil IOS Web Watch. They came out a long time ago. I own both and I think you would love them. I guess the thing that bothers me about the Apple Watch is, the one that I want is $650...that's a fine price for a Tissot or a Citizen because they don't change much. My Tissot will always be what it is. The Apple watch will surely have updates after updates but at what point will the Apple watch change? In other words will I have to buy a new $650 watch every two years to keep it new with technology? The truth is its killing me not to purchase one, but I'm going to resist the temptation for now.

  • http://drrjv.wordpress.com/ drrjv

    I'm loving my Apple Watch. Notifications and functionality are heads above my Pebble (Kickstarter Edition.) The Apple Watch is much easier to use with both screen (and Force Screen) touch and with the Digital Crown is just fantastic. No comparison in my opinion. (Anyone want to buy an original Pebble (Kickstarter Edition)?)

    • Goggles789

      How much? I've been interested in one

      • http://drrjv.wordpress.com/ drrjv

        $55 delivered

  • witedahlia

    Excellent review, Eli. I am happy to say that you seem to be very qualified to write said review, because your status as a "watch person" ranks pretty high. As someone else already stated, articles like this make me want to keep an eye on something I wasn't interested in before. I had no interest at all in Apple Watch until 10 minutes ago, but from now on I'll be checking for your updated impressions. Thanks for another informative article/review.

  • Roadblocked

    Look at Eli preaching about his Rolex Sub an 8,000 dollar watch and he doesn't like the apple watch, waaaah 1%er

  • James Cameron

    Great review. Balanced, flowing and informative. I'm not really a watch person but this looks like the first baby steps for smart watches

  • dancj

    I'm not really surprised. The first iPhone was an incomplete product and I've heard a lot of people say the first generation iPad wasn't really up to snuff.

    I'm happy to watch the iWatch from a distance over the next couple of years to see if it evolves into something I want.

  • jamesdbailey

    Any site in 2015 that shows only Flash videos kind of loses the high ground on tech opinions. Flash? Really?

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      I don't think anyone is trying to take the high ground on anything here. It's just my opinion on using the Apple Watch. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

      • http://alexbartis.com Alex Bartis

        But still, you should switch to an html5 player

      • garbul

        If Apple Watch gaming takes off, I hope you guys can update the Touch Arcade app... with a special alert for banned apps like Floppy Cloud... hey, a guy can dream.

  • Rob LeFebvre

    Lifeline. Check it out.

    • DotComCTO

      That is an excellent game, indeed. The integration on the Apple Watch is excellent!

  • Quazonk

    Man, totally can't wait to get one you guys! 😀

    /sarcasm

    This review really confirms many of my fears and reservations I had about buying an Apple Watch. Almost all the reviews I've read, from even the most seemingly-biased of sources (not this one, to be clear) say the same thing: operating the first generation of Apple Watch can oftentimes be a frustrating and cumbersome user experience. Think I'll wait this one out, or even sit this one out altogether if I continue to hear the same things. Hopefully Apple will iron out these issues (plentiful though they seem) and put together a truly Apple-like operating system and smooth user experience for the Apple watch. For now, I'll just sit on the sidelines and enjoy my iPhone. Good review Eli.

    • DotComCTO

      Rather than read the reviews, why not go to an Apple Store and check it out for yourself. Then you make your own decision using your own experiences.

  • Goggles789

    Screw the watch; I want that power drill you described! Hey guys! Check THIS out!!

  • worldcitizen1919

    I'd much rather a watch I don't have to charge every day. I don't see any real use for this except for isheep but then a watch that can't tell the time anymore once the charge has run down after a day is pretty useless to me when you also consider apps don't seem to be suited to it either as stated here. But isheep would buy $100 toilet paper if Apple sold it and this is what this basically is. Without a minimum 1 year battery no thanks.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      The charging is sort of a non-issue as I just charge it on my nightstand right next to my phone which I have to charge every day anyway. The battery of the Apple Watch, surprisingly enough, isn't a problem at all.

  • anabolicMike

    The fact that you need an iPhone to use it makes it no different then the Samsung watch. I may have an iPhone but I expected the watch to be a santalone behemoth that could work without any kinda help. I thought You would be able to use it as a phone if you had a Bluetooth earpiece. I thought it was gonna try and replace the phone for people who didn't like lugging it around. A stand alone unit that takes a micro sim or whatever. I was disappointed when I saw that it wasn't any different then the rest. I agree with the author.... I'll keep my pebble and my shocks. You failed Apple! You can tell Him that is Idea Himself isn't around anymore. The man who ascended to where he belonged would never have such poor design choices.... Such obvious greedy, and product pushing items that really aren't very much innovative. Drop the watch, or keep it. You failed. Start putting your huge technical balls into building invincible screens or screens that can sense pressure, heat and other such things! Come on an be innovative again! I don't care if all you guys living in your mums basement say he just ripped off other people's ideas, he did not! He built on an idea. On a thought! He knew simple was better....,he knew things we didn't.... He had a weakness though, he seemed to not understand how diet can't stop cancer...... Natural Paths are gonna cause, actually already are, cause old diseases and stuff to repop! Polio 4EVA oh oh oh SMALL POX FOR THE WIN we dont need to be immunized! Never goto an APPLE employee or fanboy for medical advice.

  • ChubbyPig

    Good review but I'm still lost why people buy these devices. I was horrified to see Kevin Bacon taking photos from his wrist with the Galaxy Gear a year ago on an EE advert and still wonder if smart watches could even be thought of as innovative. It seems like a gimmick to me but I suppose each to their own.

  • knowsnothing

    When is the TA app going to be updated to iOS 8?

  • NickyNichols

    I am gonna stick with waiting till Apple Watch 2 or 3 come out, the platform has so much room to grow and can only get better.

  • unexpect3rd

    oh oh, do an extended review on playing various games on an actual Apple Watch. It feels like many articles about Apple Watch games right now (here and elsewhere) are just pre/re-viewing those games from videos and press releases.

    Comments like your "The best one so far seems to be Runeblade , but once the novelty of playing an exceptionally lightweight RPG on your wrist wears off inside of about 30 seconds I haven't found myself compelled to go back to it. " feels most truthful for a review for a Apple Watch game.

  • L0ck

    Great review. As a dude who loves his iPhone bit is by means a cultist of Mac, the honesty of the positives AND negatives (and not just for the watch) is nice.

    I'm a watch dude too, and the idea of smartwatches interests me if only for terrible Nintendo game watch emulation and being able to choose watch faces on a whim. I'd kill to be able to pair an Android watch with my iPhone, and know I could choose any face I want.

  • ARD

    your review is too long. i dont care what u think. all i wanna know is how the product is. stop blabbering about other products and other stuff. come to the point man!

    • Big Papa

      If that was too long of a read for you, I suggest you stick to Curious George and Clifford, I'll bet they're much more suited to your level.

  • V for Viennetta

    I've never liked wearing watches - clingy, sweaty things clamped on your wrist & prone to getting grubby, scratched, smashed or pilfered - more of a tolerated nuisance worn out of necessity in the days before I owned a mobile phone. So getting my first mobile phone all those years ago meant I could finally stop wearing a watch. Essentially, I now had a pocket watch with built-in phone, texting & snake game. That's not to say I don't like the design of the Apple Watch - it's a thing of beauty & the innovative tech & build quality are admirable (if the bordering-on-self-parody iAdverts are to be believed), there's just not much about the Apple Watch in its current form that's liable to make me buy one. Having reminders tapping or buzzing on my wrist throughout the day would be detrimental to my job, which requires a great deal of focus & attention to detail. Plus I spend most of my spare time designing, building & painting theatre scenery, so I'm often covered in a variety of paints, adhesives & sawdust - literally from head to toe - so not an ideal environment for wearing or having to use an intricate, luxury item. I'm also not someone who exercises all that religiously or feels the need to generate graphs & stats on my physical exertions - life's for living, not for being your own lab rat. If a company like Skype develops a Star Wars style holographic projection app for the Apple Watch, I'll probably change my mind & get one. Until then…

  • J C

    Here's my 5 cents:

    I've owned a Pebble, and IMO the Apple Watch is better looking, and more useful. You can argue over battery and water resistance sure, but the major take away from the Pebble was that constant email alerts on the wrist are a real drag. The first thing I did was turn them off on the Watch. On iOS the connectivity was questionable too and the aesthetics (even with the Steel) a little dorky.

    As a watch it tells me the time, what's coming up, and where I have to be discreetly, whilst looking attractive. That's really my baseline for a smartwatch. And let's not forget it's a Watch, something to get information from in glances, and I'd argue as importantly, something the wearer finds attractive.

    The wrist activate thing, that's kind of overblown. If it doesn't happen just tap the screen lightly. It's only bothered me when lying down as it won't turn on unless your wrist is face up.

    I mess around on my phone less. This is definitely a plus.

    I agree with a poster below it's the sum of lots of things that make it compelling: Maps on foot with an ETA; as a remote control; Workout with music & no phone; Siri playing songs, launching apps, or taking dictation or reminders; quick text messages. Not life changers for sure but enough to surprise and raise a smile on occasion.

    Is it a little rough? Yes. Are 3rd apps rubbish? Mostly. Am I looking fwd to the next software update? Of course.

    Is any accessory truly essential? No.

    Overall, I don't think it's expensive for what it is and I think it can only improve. So if you desire it and you feel it's worth it go for it.

    If not chose a time piece that appeals to you or keep your wrist bare.

    It's up to you.

  • hwobstj

    Now that's a useful review. I believe the product has great promise and, frankly, am not surprised at the issues pointed out here. If Apple is smart they will take this feedback to heart. Many of the suggested improvements make sense.

  • LEK56

    That's the best review of the Watch I have seen. I am, as a tech director, generally an early adopter, but I cannot bring myself to put out that kind of money for this 1st generation watch. But I am also insane, so there's that to deal with. I went to the Apple Store and frankly it's a thing of beauty. Surely there is something to be said about that.

    • DotComCTO

      I'm a CTO. See my earlier note.

  • Brillo_Has_No_Life

    Oh look another Android reviewer giving a negative review just as all other Android wearables have failed so badly!LOL!
    All Android wearables COMBINED sales in 2014 was 720kL M F A O!!
    Apple Watch sold more in its opening week!
    It really is hilarious how cry baby Android lovers want the Watch to fail just as all Android wearables already have!LOL
    The first Galaxy Gear was far worse than the Apple Watch yet that got positive reviews and still sold pathetic!
    The first versions of Apple products are always not the best,just look how bad the original IPhone was,buggy,no 3G,no App Store and was only perfected and hit its peak 5 years later!
    The same with the IPod and IPad all got so much better over time!
    It really is hilarious how reviewers expected this to be perfect in its first version which is laughable!
    The Apple Watch is great for fitness tracking,running,going to the gym and listening to music without your phone,and it's even better put and about hardly ever having to take your phone out of your pocket.
    Again as with all Apple products firmware updates will cut out all the bugs eventually and in time more better 3rd party apps will be available.
    What cracks me up is when people say why pay so much for a watch there are cheaper versions out there!
    The exact same thing can be said about rich people and their need to buy 1.5 Million dollar sports cars,they can buy cars for $50000 that do what a car should,the reason they buy sports cars is that they make all other cars look inferior and the exact same thing can be said about Apple products!
    Apple products have and always will make rivals look like cheap plastic toys!
    If people have money and like to spend and splash their cash why should they be judged on buying something that the average troll can not afford?
    Apple Watch makes the pebble look like it was made in a shed!
    LOL

    • vicsark

      He took so much time to write his angry post about Android fanboyism, and yet didn't take 5 seconds to first and foremost read that TouchArcade is an iOS gaming site since the beginning of iPhone. Internet, you'll amaze me each and every day

    • EvanJO14

      Where did you come from dude?

  • Ti Bettle

    Great and honest review. I rarely take my watches off except to bathe. I always wear them swimming, kayaking and surfing, I will not buy the Apple until it's waterproof. Until then, Pebble is the way to go and I can afford to abuse them, if you break it just get another for $89 and I'm sure they'll drop lower than that, it's brighter in the sun and the battery lasts all week.

    • DotComCTO

      You should probably look at all the Apple Watch water torture videos out there. In any case, I wear mine all the time (except when charging). I've had zero issues with the Apple Watch in the shower or in the rain.

  • pjs_boston

    This article is utter BS. Yet another blogger trying to gain street cred by knit picking the Apple Watch. God forbid that a tech blogger might be called a fanboy!

    Needless to say my experience with the Apple Watch is quite different from that of the author.

    Pairing? Seamless.

    Raising the Watch to check the screen? No issues. Besides, a simple tap on the dark screen turns it on.

    SIRI? Works great.

    Apple Pay? Works great.

    Watch OS? Unbelievably polished for a version 1.0 product. Anyone who describes the Apple Watch UI as confusing is a either an idiot or full of sh*t.

    • EvanJO14

      God forbid that you ever become a tech blogger

    • Big Papa

      That's funny, because I quite frankly agree with just about everything that Eli has said here so far. I've already shelved my Apple Watch and gone back to my trusty Pebble Steel with the intent on revisiting it at a later time to see if it's gotten any better. If it doesn't, I'll sell and it that will be that. You, on the other hand, sound like someone trying so incredibly hard to justify not to others but to yourself that you haven't thrown money away on this. Spoiler: we may have done just that, thrown money away.

      • pjs_boston

        I'm wearing the Apple Watch every day. It works exactly as advertised. It's a really nice watch that integrates with my personal data ecosystem and allows me to deal with a variety of notifications with less interruption to my day.

        Apple Pay on the watch is utterly fantastic. This feature alone is worth the purchase price.

        The exercise and activity tracking functions are super well done. Most importantly, these capabilities are inspiring me to be more active and to exercise more frequently.

        The Apple Watch is not an earthshaking revolution and it is not meant to be. It's meant to be a respectable wristwatch that enhances the iOS mobile computing experience. It does both things very, very well.

  • Raygun

    iSheep was coined for a reason.

    • DotComCTO

      It's a good piece of tech, but yeah, of course...anyone that buys anything from Apple is an iSheep. Got it.

      • EvanJO14

        I love my apple stuff, but I think android is also, without a doubt, a good os. Just that there is so many crappy phone and tablet makers has caused people to think that android is junk.

      • Raygun

        It's an ok piece of tech for its price. And yes people who buy apple are buying into the 'status' of owning apple, which in and of itself is a complete fallacy. There is nothing apple can do that someone else does not do better.

      • http://www.minimalobjective.com/ Acejas

        I've had my Apple Watch for 4 days and I think it's an amazing gadget, not only for what it can do but how nicely designed it is. The latest Pebble sounds interesting but it just looks a bit basic and low resolution. I'm an intermediate watch wearer (not fancy watches) and I find it useful to do so many things that a standard watch doesn't do. Yes you can do a lot of these things on your phone but it's much more convenient on your wrist. It gets a thumbs up from me.