I’m a self-confessed smartwatch skeptic. Early attempts like the original Pebble just seemed to me an extremely ugly solution in search of a problem. Some of the later models, like the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R (as well as the rather familiar-looking latest Pebble), overcame the ‘ugly’ part, but I still couldn’t see a reason to want one. I haven’t worn a watch for more than a decade, and smartwatches weren’t showing me any reason to change that.
Then along came the Apple Watch. It’s far and away the best smartwatch I’ve seen to date, and for someone deeply embedded into the Apple ecosystem, it would also be the most logical smartwatch to go for if I were to go for one at all. Yet I’m still not seeing a compelling user case–and as Benjamin observed in his own recent opinion piece, Apple doesn’t appear to be doing much to help me.
However, I’m not ready to join the ranks of those dismissing it, and there’s one very good reason for that …
When the iPad was first announced, there was a great deal of skepticism about the device, many dismissing it as “just a big iPod touch.” I can’t poke fun too much as I must confess that, while I could see it had a market, I was pretty confident that market wasn’t me. I was wrong: the iPad turned out to be one of my favorite gadgets.
Notably, the vast majority of the dismissive comments about the iPad were made before anyone had used one, and we’re in a similar position today with the Apple Watch. Even those at the Spring Forward event got no more than about 15 minutes hands-on time with one. Given limited time and the range of functionality on offer, it’s perhaps not surprising that it has been described as clumsy and confusing.
Even after “two long sessions with the watch,” NY Times reviewer Farhad Manjoo said he still wasn’t sure why anyone would want one.
Should you really spend hundreds of dollars, let alone thousands, on a gadget to free you from the inconvenience of accessing your $650 smartphone? That remains the deepest unanswered question about the Apple Watch.
That remains my question right now. Will the convenience of not having to remove my phone from my pocket to check notifications outweigh not just the cost, but also the hassle of another thing to charge, and put on/take off each day? So far, I’m not convinced.
But: the iPad. I bought one only because I loved my Kindle. Being able to carry hundreds of books around with me, no matter where I happened to be, was a delight. Having been so taken with that, I thought it would be cool to be able to do the same thing with movies. Which was the sole reason I bought the very first iPad.
I didn’t bother with the 3G version: I was only going to use it to watch movies. I realized I was wrong within days of buying it, and almost immediately swapped it for the 3G model. I’ve been through the original iPad, iPad 2, iPad Air and now iPad Air 2. Throughout those generations, I’ve rarely left home without it.
I do indeed use it for movies. But it also quickly replaced my Kindle as an ebook reader, simply because I couldn’t see a reason to carry two devices. I use it for email and web when out and about. I use it as a recipe book in the kitchen. I use it for FaceTime and Skype. I write on it (with a keyboard). I use it as a second screen for my Mac. I use it to do the shopping when I’m on the train. I use it as a moving map when hot-air ballooning. I use it as a WiFi-connected large screen for my compact camera. And more besides.
This device, that I initially thought was not for me, then thought would have just one role, has become an incredibly flexible tool I use every day for a wide range of tasks. So when I look at the Apple Watch as something I think I probably don’t need, I’m careful to stress the ‘probably.’
Zac discussed the reasons for the lengthy gap between Apple first announcing the watch and making it available for sale. I’m beginning to suspect there’s another reason. The more I think about the Apple Watch, the more appealing it seems.
Don’t misunderstand me: I still don’t think I want one. But on day one, I was ‘Meh, I don’t need this.’ I was planning to check that the 14-day return policy applies to the watch, then buy one just for curiosity’s sake, confident I’d be returning it afterwards. Looking at the range of options, I thought I’d try the steel model with link wristband. At a cool thousand bucks for the 42mm one I’d need, there was no chance of me choosing to keep it.
Since then, however, doubts have crept in. I mean, it would be kind of handy, when I’m walking down the street and hear a bleep from my trouser pocket, to merely glance at my wrist rather than dig out my phone. And that ‘communicate with your partner by taps and drawings and heartbeat’ is kind of sweet. And I do already charge my iPhone, iPad and MacBook every night, so is one more device that big a deal, especially as I don’t even have to plug it in?
So my plan now is to buy instead the aluminum Sport model with the black sport band. Because $400 is a little more reasonable than $1000. Not that it matters, you understand: I’m not going to keep it. But … y’know … just in case.