A friend of mine received his Apple Watch recently and I had a chance to play with it. In short, I am not swayed.
I am a fan of wrist watches. Personal timepieces have been marvels of engineering for centuries. I have an Oris Complication automatic, a couple of Citizen Eco-Drive wrist watches, a custom Zegarki piece and a $25 Casio sports watch. The one I wear 90% of the time is the Citizen Eco-Drive world traveler watch with atomic clock.
With the exception of the $25 Casio sports watch whose battery will die any day now, all of my watches can last a lifetime without looking outdated. The Oris requires regular maintenance due to its mechanical nature, but the Citizens don’t even require charging, ever. All of them are waterproof to 20 BAR.
While smartwatches are a huge step above the dorky Google Glass as far as wearable computing goes, they are far from convincing me to purchase any of them – Apple, Android or Pebble.
One issue is battery life. It means dragging extra cables and extra chargers with me when I travel. It means that on a 10 hour flight to Europe I have to worry about a yet another device dying on me. From what I gather, even the app to control a GoPro using the Apple Watch requires the phone to be paired with the GoPro first – so now I am draining batteries on three devices, instead of two.
Second issue is that I just don’t get the point of having what effectively is a smaller external screen for a device that is already in my pocket. To take advantage of any of the functionality the Watch needs to be in the vicinity of the smartphone. This is a make it or break it for me.
I would gladly give up my smartphone and exchange it for a smart watch with its own cell chip. I imagine a watch, just like Apple Watch, that has its own cellular and wifi chip that can work completely independently of the phone. I can use it as a hotspot for my laptop or my iPad. I can use it to make phone calls – using either speakerphone or a headset. In fact, the wrist band can have a speaker on one side and a microphone on the other so when you unclasp it from your wrist the watch works as a flip phone. When I get into my car, the watch pairs with my car’s bluetooth system and let’s me make phone calls. All of this without having a smartphone, or yet another device that requires cables and charging.
Third issue is that I happen to like the classic looks of the watches that I own already, and Apple Watch (and all other smartwatches for that matter) is quite ugly. Walk into any watch store and you will see a huge variety of shapes and sizes. To imagine a world where everyone wears an ugly smartwatch is to imagine an Orwellian or a Brave New World reality where everyone thinks and acts exactly the same.
Fourth issue revolves around notifications. Today, when someone messages me on Facebook my phone vibrates and shows notifications. My iPad, which is at home, also gets a notification. So does my computer. Even if I read them on my phone, the same exact notifications are waiting for me when I come home. To add a yet another device that will be beeping and blinking any time my mother clicks “Like” on Facebook, or any time my boss has a question would send me into therapy.
I am sorry, Apple and Google, but for now I am simply not interested. Make me a product whose battery lasts for at least a week, that can be used without also owning a smartphone, that won’t become outdated in a year, and I will take a look again.