Although I’ve already pre-ordered an Apple Watch, I still wanted to try one on, just in case the experience was so underwhelming I could cancel ore-ory pre-order before I shipped. Also, I was curious what the whole “trying on” experience was like.
- I showed up for my appointment around 3:15, and the store was fairly packed, although I think that’s pretty common for the Apple Store on weekends.
- The person helping me seemed fairly knowledgeable about the Watch, though because I’m a huge nerd he wasn’t really able to tell me anything I didn’t already know.
- They didn’t have the exact model I ordered – a 42mm Silver with White Sport Band – but I was able to try the 42mm Space Grey, and it felt quite nice. It’s a bit smaller than I expected, which reassured me that I’d made the correct choice in ordering a 42mm – the 38mm is just a bit too small for me. I can see how it’d be perfect for someone with smaller wrists, though – the Apple Watch may legitimately be the first smartwatch someone with smaller wrists could comfortably wear.
- Although it was smaller than expected, it was also thicker than I expected – not something I noticed while wearing it, but definitely something I noticed while looking at others wearing it. You won’t mistake it for anything but an Apple Watch, which is likely exactly what Apple is hoping for. Still, it’s pretty easy to imagine a substantially thinner second-generation model.
- The back of the Watch was notably warm, probably from charging while in the locked drawer. It’s the same sensation I remember feeling from the 360 if I put it on immediately after it finished charging.
- The Sport Band is surprisingly nice – it doesn’t feel like rubber at all. However, I also tried on a Stainless Steel Apple Watch with the Milanese Band, and dammit I think I’m going to end up buying a Milanese Band. It looks and feels great, and I love that it’s infinitely adjustable. Fortunately, changing straps is incredibly simple, so it’s easy to imagine swapping the Sport Band out for the Milanese after I finish my morning run.
- While the Stainless Steel model was certainly nicer, I’m not sure it felt $200 nicer. I might feel that way after the Ion-X glass on my Sport model gets scratched to hell and back, of course. I think a Sport model with a Milanese band would quite likely look almost-as-nice as a Stainless Steel. Hopefully bands will be cross-compatible between generations.
- The hands-on demo devices run a static demo loop, but part of that loop did involve the “taptic” feedback for notifications, which is very cool. Definitely a step above the vibration motors of the Pebble and the 360.
After finishing the hands-on, I tried out one of the demo stands so I could familiarize myself with the interface.
- I took to the interface rather quickly, but again, since I’m a nerd, I’ve been following this stuff for awhile and already knew more-or-less how to use it, so I’m probably not the best judge as to whether or not it’s intuitive.
- I did get lost once or twice in the interface, since the Digital Crown will sometimes act as a way to get to the app launcher and will sometimes go to the previous screen. I wasn’t able to use it long enough to figure out when it did what.
- The Digital Crown is actually a pretty great way to scroll through a longer message or e-mail without blocking the content.
- Force Touching felt a bit weird, but that could also be because I wasn’t wearing the device. It worked fine and seemed reliable, though.
- Apps and Glances didn’t feel particularly slow, but it’s also not connected to a phone, so it may not be a good indicator of real-world performance,
- The UI definitely stuttered here and there, particularly when bringing up Glances or going to the app launcher. I have to say, it felt a little un-Apple-like in that regard.
- I think the interface looks better in motion than in static pictures.
- I like the built-in watch faces and the ability to customize them. The lack of third-party watch faces is a shame, but what’s already there is pretty good and provides plenty of useful information, depending on how you configure your Complications.
- There’s no Reminders or Notes app that I could see, which seems like a really dumb oversight. One of my favorite Moto 360 tricks was to put my shopping list on my wrist.
- By-far the best smartwatch hardware I’ve personally used, at least in build quality and thoughtfulness. The ability to quickly swap out bands is killer – Apple and (I assume) third-parties are going to make an absurd amount of money selling these bands. Appearance-wise, I’d need to put it right next to a 360 to know for sure. It blows the Pebble and Pebble Steel away, of course.
- Watch OS is better than I thought it would be back in September, but the interface lag is unfortunate.
- I’m certainly not second-guessing my decision to pre-order, as I came away mostly impressed and excited by the potential. As someone who is (mostly) sold on the idea of smartwatches, it’s probably the best one I’ve used – but I don’t know if that’ll be enough to sell the idea of smartwatches to everyone else. What Apple has made is good, but I don’t know if it’s that good – at least not yet.