A week with Apple Watch: From Cynic to Believer

I had convinced myself the Apple Watch was an overpriced fitness band and that it wasn’t for me and was set to get a Garmin to track my running instead. Then out of the blue I was given an Apple Watch. So you can certainly put me down as a cynic, but I certainly like to think I am open minded, so here are my thoughts after a week with the watch.

I had convinced myself the Apple Watch was an overpriced fitness band and that it wasn’t for me and was set to get a Garmin to track my running instead.  Then out of the blue I was given an Apple Watch.  So you can certainly put me down as a cynic, but I certainly like to think I am open minded, so here are my thoughts after a week with the watch.

The experience of getting it set up was surprisingly frustrating, I had to upgrade my phone to iOS 8 before I could activate the watch and that meant deleting things to free a few Gb of memory (to upgrade my Operating System, really?).  So everything had to wait until after I got home and backed up my phone.

First I got this rather cool visual on my watch to scan with the phone and then it was paired and I got this screen telling me the model that I had bought.  OK so I still could not get the time from this watch and I have had the thing all day, I’m getting a little impatient at this point.

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After waiting about 5 minutes for it to synch, suddenly a load of my apps, including my email, texts, calendar, twitter fitness apps and more are available on my watch.  This is about to get interesting.

The first thing I noticed is that it is actually really easy to ready and see at a glance the notifications that are sent to your watch, such as Calendar reminders, text messages and Oracle Social Network updates (glad to see we are quick to the new platform with our own mobile apps).  This is good for me, I get a lot of these alerts and I found a glance at my wrist was much nicer than pulling out my phone and unlocking it and starting at it.  This sounds like a very small thing, but it is these small improvements in frequent interactions that make for a great user experience.  I also agree with Jeremy Ashley about the huge value in being able to retain eye contact, notifications on my watch are far less obtrusive and the glance at my wrist it is a great experience.

So I wanted to try using it for some different things so I decided to test out text messages first, a quick SMS to respond to my wife’s text ‘ETA?’ to let her know what time I am planning to get home.

My wife and I prefer very efficient communications.
My wife and I prefer very efficient communications.

So I tap once on that nice Reply button

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I can now either pick from a set of pre-defined responses and they would be sent without any other interaction from me. However I like the personal touch, this is my wife after all, so I decide I will click on the microphone icon to dictate a response.  I speak in my answer and see the sound wave at the bottom and the text comes up perfectly first time.

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So now I click done and get a really option to either send the audio or to just tap on the text and send that.  This is a great feature if maybe the voice to text didn’t work properly and I don’t want to waste time correcting it or speaking it again.

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After tapping on the text I am now done.  The whole interaction was very fast and felt very natural.  At this point I am really starting to like the Apple Watch.  In the next few days I try driving directions, twitter, my calendar, a variety of fitness apps and more and pretty much across the board I find the interactions are natural and quick and the fact I have to pull out my phone less is a much bigger deal than I expected.  I find I can glance down at my watch see a text or meeting reminder and carry on a conversation in a way that was not really possible if I had to pull my phone out.  The one app I haven’t yet mentioned is the time, I haven’t worn a watch for over 10 years and I have realized in the last week it’s much easier to glance at my wrist than to pull out my phone – who knew?

Does my GoPro Qualify as a Wearable Device?

Is this small camera a wearable?
Is this small camera a wearable?

Last week I attended a Wearables Design Jam organized by Ultan (@ultan) from the Oracle UX team (a future post is coming on the event) and since then I have been thinking about what makes a successful wearable device.  The most successful devices in the marketplace seem to be the fitness trackers and I have had great benefit from my fitbit, not least of all the inspiration for walking meetings.  A fitness tracker is not a new idea (I joke that a fitbit is just a $100 pedometer), but the wearable devices today make tracking your fitness so much easier.  No need to keep diaries of your activities, everything is there for you in a dashboard with all sorts of interesting analytics, goal setting, alerts etc.

The GoPro has similarities, it is a small personal camcorder with only memory, no tape and no screen for viewing, similar to the Flip camera which Cisco bought and then killed and many other cameras.  However it takes action videos really well, with very little effort and is pretty much indestructible so you can take it  anywhere.  They produce professional quality video and photos including time lapse videos, fast frame rates for smooth slow motion and have an ultra wide field of view so you rarely miss any action.  You can also attach them to your body, bike and other helmets, cars and of course surfboards. My model (Hero 3+ Black edition) has WiFi so I can control it from my iPhone or iPad and grab content from it easily, although that does drain the battery fast.

If you haven’t already seen it, you must check out the Time Lapse video I took with the GoPro of the Team USA Americas Cup yacht being installed at Oracle HQ.  This was around 9,000 photos taken over 50+ hours compressed into a 2 minute video.  I have also strapped it to my car to capture a journey down the highway 1, strapped it to the outside of my car, strapped it to a remote control car, strapped it to myself and my kids in a swimming pool, to my Son’s bike and to my daughter’s wheeled shoes.  Now I am trying to think of some enterprise applications of this amazing device, watch this space.

Finally, I’m embedding a shot from my car, especially for Jake (@jkuramot) who always likes to know how my car is doing, plus a few other interesting (IMHO) shots.

Good for 100 mph plus
Good for 100 mph plus

 

UPDATE (5/28/14):

I was reading a post from my colleague John Cartan this morning about his experience with the the Narrative Clip which is a smaller device, intended to be used for life logging.  It is worn all the time and captures a picture every 30 seconds.  The experience did not seem to be great, but I think a GoPro, altho a little bigger would be much better for this purpose.  I could imagine wearing it all day at a conference say, or in a series of meetings, brainstorming sessions etc. it would give a really good replay of events.  I will probably try some of this in the coming weeks, just to see how interesting it is.