Believe it or not, it is over a year since Apple Watch was first released onto the wrists of an eager public, and as Apple’s first wearable device, it was certainly a departure from anything they had produced before. Rumoured since 2014, it was widely assumed that the new device would be named iWatch to fit in with the rest of the range of iDevices, but this was not to be. At launch, people were astonished to find that there were three distinct models available at very different prices, and with very different looks, and this appears to have been an astute piece of design by Apple. One of the principle uses of Apple Watch (apart from being a timepiece and alerting you to emails, messages and calls) has been as a fitness tracker. People who have owned Apple Watch for some time are now reporting back on its successes (and weaknesses).
First of all, the appearance has been almost universally acclaimed as attractive and well-engineered. The major difference between Apple Watch and the wearable (dedicated) fitness trackers that were already on the market was that the fitness trackers generally had a rather functional, clumsy appearance, often with utilitarian plastic wrist bands. Apple Watch on the other hand is reported to feel comfortable, chunky and substantial on the wrist, satisfying to handle and modern in appearance with rounded edges which fit with the profile of the original iPhone (a design classic if ever there was one). The choice of models, wrist bands and the personalisation capability of the Watch face means that each Apple Watch can be altered to suit your own individual style, and even appear more or less unique – not at all bad for a mass-produced item.
Great design isn’t everything – functionality is important too. One of the biggest drawbacks to any Apple device is battery life – any Apple fan will tell you that a daily charge is more or less essential to get the best out of the iDevices, and Apple Watch is no exception. Apple state that ‘typical usage’ will get you a battery life of 18 hours, but define ‘typical’! In Apple’s opinion, a typical day is one that includes 30 minutes of working-out at some point, but if you work-out for longer, you will use up the battery more quickly. The same applies to using the Watch for playing music. During Apple’s own testing, the Watch battery (after a full charge) lasted for 6.5 hours while exercising and while playing music (although this is plenty long enough for most people). It does mean however that if you use the Watch during the day, you won’t be able to sleep with it on and take advantage of the apps that have been developed to help with sleep disorders, and monitor things like heart rate and pulse while you sleep.
One of the great advantages of Apple Watch is that it can help you to improve health and fitness by making small changes in lifestyle, and the Watch will tell you how appropriate your activity level has been. An accelerometer, gyroscope and monitor for heart rate tells your Watch whether you are sitting, standing, moving etc. in an easy to read visual format. Whether you are simply monitoring your own day to day activity, or doing a work-out, you can really see what your efforts are achieving, which is a great way to motivate yourself to do more. That sounds like a success to me.