One of the things I like about working for Asynchrony is that the management is willing to spend some money on employees to give them an opportunity to experiment. Ultimately, it makes sense: if the company can spend a little bit of money to improve employee productivity—which morale greatly impacts—it effectively pays itself off. One example of this was on one of my previous teams: we requested a 4K monitor to hook up to a desktop to see how it ended up working as a pairing monitor. It was a risk, and I’m not convinced it really increased our productivity, but it was a good experiment.
Another example of this is on my current team, we have a team Apple Watch. That is, the company bought us an Apple Watch even though we don’t actually work on a watch app, just so we could play with it and learn about it.1 In practice, this means that everyone on the team2 got a chance to “have” an Apple Watch for a week or two, myself included.
During this time, I tried to treat the watch like I would if it were really mine. I set it up to be on the right3 wrist, and even flipped the band to be “right”. I spent a bit of time re-arranging icons and playing with apps, though admittedly nowhere near as much as I would if it were really mine. I was pleasantly surprised by most of the defaults.
In terms of clock faces, I don’t like analog, so I pretty quickly landed on the Modular design. I thought about Astronomy because I’m a geek like that, but I really did want to play with complications. Speaking of, I ended up with the date in the upper-left, Fantastical in the middle, and temperature, activity, and moon phase along the bottom. Not that I really care about the moon phase, but nothing else felt “right” there. I played around with sunrise/sundown times, though I didn’t really like how they were implemented—notably, the lack of recognition of dawn/dusk times.
My opinion, on the whole, is that it’s a watch. There aren’t a lot of things I have to say on this that other people haven’t already. The wrist-flick is really annoying. The screen is bright in the dark, and it coming on and turning off seemingly randomly kept bothering me. I would definitely want to have a model that kept its screen on all the time (or at least the time).
One thing I hadn’t really considered before was that I would need a ring-holder. Normally, I take my watch off when I get home and empty my pockets, and I put my wedding ring on the watch band, so I don’t lose it. It’s something I picked up from my father from when he wore a watch. But, since I would keep the Apple Watch on all the time, I had to put my ring somewhat more precariously among my pocket things.
I set up Apple Pay with a credit card and tried to use it. On the whole, I wasn’t impressed by the experience. That’s not to say I disliked it, just that it really wasn’t much improved over getting my credit card. I suppose if the readers worked better (I had to wiggle my wrist a lot to get it to pick up) and cashiers were more aware of it (“What are you doing? Please get out your credit card.”), it would be better. I’m not going to write it off yet, but I’m not particularly convicted.
I hate the standard sport band. It felt wrong against my skin, and kept catching on my wrist hair. Also, it was very difficult to adjust one-handed, and I tend to adjust my watch band multiple times over the course of a day.
After returning the Apple Watch to my team, I paid a little bit more attention to how I used my regular watch (a Casio Wave Ceptor). I found that I really did miss being able to see what temperature it was outside. And, the first time I checked it and didn’t have to wait a moment for the screen to come on, I was a little surprised.
Ultimately, what I want on my wrist is something to tell me the time that I don’t have to set or mess with. I could realistically live without it, now that my phone more or less could do that, though I like the discreetness of a watch—and more importantly, the ability to look at it without taking my phone out of my pocket; it’s more convenient that way, especially if I have occupied hands.
In the end, having an Apple Watch for a week was a good learning experience, I thought. In particular, it kills the desire I once had to go out and get it because it’s a new, shiny gadget; I’m sure at some point in the future I’ll get a future model, but for now, it’s not quite interesting enough to be worth it.
Of course, if I happen to suddenly come into some extra spending money, I might re-evaluate. At least now I have more information.