I tried on the Apple Watch

Saturday afternoon I took a break from pulling weeds to run into my local Apple Store and try on the Apple Watch. If you actually want to try on the watch, you have to schedule a 15 minute appointment. If you only want to try the software, you can stroll in anytime and use display watches on the counter.

Note: The watches you try on are running in a demo loop, so you can’t actually interact with them on your wrist.

In true Apple fashion, someone greeted me as soon as I walked in, checked me into my appointment, and said someone would be with me shortly. Just a few minutes later another cheerful employee came up, introduced himself and said he’d be helping me try on the watch. We walked to a nearby table and, using his magic iPod Touch, unlocked an invisible wooden drawer under the display table. Out slid a tray of watches. He pulled out the one I was interested in and put it on my wrist for me.

First impressions – Hardware

I tried on the space grey sport model with the default band, as well as the stainless steel version with the Milanese loop (pictured above), and a black leather loop band. Both in 42mm (the 38mm looked positively puny on my arm – and I don’t have huge arms).

My first thought was, “Doesn’t this need to be tighter to detect my heartbeat for the fitness applications?” I asked the friendly gentleman helping me and he said no. It was quite comfortable to wear.

It felt great – solid, well-built, very Apple-y. The bands were comfortable and, surprisingly, the Milanese loop didn’t tug at my Chewbacca arm hair at all. The Taptic Engine (what taps your wrist to get your attention) was subtle and so much more elegant than the now-seemingly-crude “silent mode” vibrations of many phones, including the iPhone.

First impressions – Software

After trying on a few watches and bands, I meandered back to the display counters to fiddle more with the software. I came a way a little disappointed.

In addition to regularly missing tap areas, even when they were buttons and not the miniscule icons on the home screen, Force Touch wasn’t as easy to trigger as I hoped it would be. And to complicate things, there’s no way of telling if it’s available on any given screen. That lead to a lot of poking at the watch and wondering, “Does this area have Force Touch? Or am I doing this wrong?” Not a great impression.

P.S. “Force Touch” sounds like something people get arrested for. It’s a terrible name.

Also, the software was kind of laggy at times. I know this was a display unit, but the watch regularly lagged behind my taps, pokes, and swipes.

But the real kicker, was that apps crashed on me. Twice. And these are the native apps – there weren’t any third party apps installed on the display units.

This is definitely v1.0 software and folks are speculating Apple had to dial back performance to achieve the (reportedly) surprisingly good battery life. Thankfully, software can (and will) be updated (although I’m not sure how. Through the Apple Watch companion app on the iPhone?). I’m willing to bet these early gripes about the Apple Watch will be largely resolved by v2.0, if not sooner.

Conclusion – Would I buy one?

I’m still “meh” about the Apple Watch. To use Apple’s parlance, I’m not sure it needs to exist. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the iPhone and 1 being iPod Socks), I’d put my excitement about the Apple Watch at about a 4.5.

Would I like to have one? Absolutely. I’m a gadget guy and I’m sure this would be a lot of fun to own. Am I going to buy one? No. For the $400 it would cost me to get into the lowest-priced man-size watch I could get a friggin’ iPad.

Last-minute thoughts on the Apple Watch

In just a couple of short hours the Apple Watch will be announced (again?) to the world.

My initial thoughts about the Apple Watch (“So what?” and “To what end?”) haven’t changed. Based on Apple’s explanation of the device thus far, there doesn’t seem to be much point to it. Sure, they’ll sell a million of them but as far as being a compelling product, I just don’t see it.

I hope my mind will be changed. Here’s what I’d like to see Apple do today with regard to the Apple Watch:

What’s it for?

I still don’t get why the thing exists. Unless you can blow everyone away with a demo (iPhone), make a clear case for what this thing is/does. For example, when the iPod launched they said, “1,000 songs in your pocket”. Got it. Why does the Apple Watch exist? No idea. Yet.

How does it work?

While I haven’t gone back and obsessively watched the keynote, I don’t understand how the actual UI works. There are short taps, long taps, swipes, glances, alerts, a notification center, a digital crown (both for scrolling and to use as a button), and a home button. At first glance, the learning curve for a watch seems steeper than a phone – even when we have iOS as a supposed foundation for the UI.

How much does it cost?

Obviously, this one will be completely covered by the time the event is over. We know the Apple Watch Sport will start at $349, but speculation has run rampant about the rest of the lineup. Will the large/men’s sizes cost more? How much will the gold one cost? $5,000? $10,000? $20,000? Will they charge extra for the bands? Will there be more storage space in the more expensive models, which has been Apple’s way to upsell in the past?

Conclusion

We have about an hour to go. Of course, I’ll watch the event. But it’s out of bemused curiosity rather than any sense of excitement that this thing is coming into the world in a matter of weeks. Frankly, I’m more excited about the possibility of a new MacBook being announced today than the certainty of the Apple Watch being discussed in more detail.

That being said, I’m trying to go in with an open mind. Wow me, Apple. Please.

Visiting Alcatraz

On a recent work trip to San Francisco I got to visit Alcatraz. It wasn’t nearly as creepy as it had been hyped – except the hospital wing. That definitely exceeded the creepy expectation.


The Internet wins

But you can’t take the internet away from the people. The internet doesn’t belong to Comcast or AT&T or Verizon or your local carrier or anyone else. The internet is us — it is the people who live and breathe and love and fight on it every day. The internet is the backbone of the economy. It is the foundation of the new (and old) media. It is home to hobbies and clubs and fools and dreamers alike; a million potential billionaires launching apps into the void. The internet is a basic, simple part of American life in 2015. It is freedom, and we deserve to be heard when our freedoms are under attack. – Nilay Patel

 

The FCC is reclassifying the Internet under Title II of the Telecommunications Act which means the government will regulate it like it does phone lines. This means, theoretically,  there won’t be any paid prioritization or fast/slow lanes on the Internet. That’s a good thing.

The best outcome, however, would have been one that broke up telco monopolies/duopolies and fostered real competition in the marketplace. I only have two options for Internet service at my house – CenturyLink and Vivint Wireless. If there were 16 options, the government wouldn’t have to get involved (I worry about stifling technical advances/progress – our country is already lagging behind the rest of the developed world) and the market could sort itself out.

Perhaps this victory is a lesser of two evils? Time will tell. In the meantime, I’m glad the telcos are throwing a fit. Serves them right.

First time trying yoga

I tried yoga for the first time today. I’m really bad at it.

But I enjoyed it.

OK. Enjoyed is a strong word. But I liked it enough that it’s now a recurring event on my calendar.

It’s painfully obvious (literally) how inflexible I am so I thought I’d give it a whirl. I was told by my coworkers/fellow yogis the class was relatively mellow. This frightens me a little.

Some of the stuff I could do – no problem. Like standing with my palms touching in front of my chest. And the last part where we laid on our backs on the mat and tried to relax in a dark room. Nailed that. But there were other parts that were more difficult. Like this.

No. I didn’t accomplish that. But I tried.

And I’m pretty proud of myself for trying something new – especially at work with my coworkers who had all done it before.

Someday I hope to be as good as this guy who has beef with that pumpkin.

 

Thanks Eric Ward for the photo.

Desk.PM is on sale

If you’re interested in a Mac-ified blog writing interface, check out Desk.pm. I’ve been eyeing it for a while and now that it’s half off (Reg. $30) I jumped.

The whole thing is designed to focus on writing. So far, I’m really enjoying it.

I’ve been slacking quite a bit in the blogging areana lately. Why? A combination of factors.

1. Writing a blog post feels laborious

Sad, but true. I love writing, but the idea of sitting down and cranking out a blog post when all most people look at/share pictures feels somewhat like a wasted effort.

I need to remind myself that I should do this for me, because I enjoy it, and if anyone wants to come along for the ride they’re welcome to.

2. I became cynical

Also sad. Also true.I used to be into the social medias pretty hardcore. This was back in the day when people weren’t quite sure why everyone was talking abou Twitter. I’m pretty much off Facebook and only check Twitter due to a mix of boredom and obligation. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I feel like there’s too much “stuff” out there, so my desire to contribute to the stream of everything has waned considerably.

I never stopped writing

Just for the record, I never stopped writing – just switched platforms and goals. A year or so ago I wrote a book (you can read it for free). In 2014 I made 399 entries in my Day One journal plus many more in my paper notebook. I’ve started a new book that I may turn into a full-blown online course sometime. Plus, I’m writing every day at work.

 

This was my first post with desk.pm and I think it’s going to be a good tool.