So the Apple Watch is out and about. The pre-release press reviews were hardly satisfying though. You had the pro-Apple posts with a dream like user experience description and you had the anti-Apple posts that raised critical concerns such as the 4-hour battery life limitation.
So what is true and what is a modification of the truth towards or against Apple? We talked with long-time Apple product and strategy expert Markus Mattern to share his honest views with us. We are happy to now present you with a ‘real’ user experience feedback interview based on a week of real usage.
1. How long does the battery last under normal circumstances?
At normal usage, with some messaging and reminder services, the Apple Watch battery will last for 12-14 hours – no extraordinary usage included here. I am however interested in what would happen at a higher workload. Navigation or sports tracking for instance. Such tasks with higher load on the sensors and processing, you know? I have not tested it yet, but this is likely to decrease the battery lifetime similarly to how the iPhone battery would behave as well.
2. What version do you have and why did you choose it?
I got myself a version with large display, sport design, black wristband and dark aluminum housing. As it is the first generation version, I was more careful in the version selection than with another Apple product in a later iteration. To be honest, I am not one, to always wear a watch. I want to gather some personal experiences with it. Will it fit? Do I like it? How does it feel? Beneficial to wear it all day long?
That’s why I did not want to spend too much money as I was not yet certain how much I will like the experience. That’s why I choose the sport version instead of the standard watch. I liked the black one as it fits to most of the suites and clothing I wear. If the color does not fit it, it would look rather strange on you. But I also planned to buy more belts later, different materials and colors. That is a feature that many other smartwatches don’t have.
3. What apps are you using on it? What apps are you waiting for?
In addition to the standard apps I installed the currently available social media apps like Swarm, Instagram and Twitter. I have also tried some other stuff for testing, Shazam, Deutsche Bank app, Komoot for hiking. A lot more will follow in the near future as development proceeds.
4. Do you think it will be compatible with the next iPhone and the one after?
Yes, of course. It is a completely new product and the development is only at the beginning. So I think there will be future functions and services on the iPhone which will use the watch as a tool. Like the already available remote photo shutter button, to take photos remotely (what was the first thing the kids tried at home).
At the moment the watch is backwards compatible to the iPhone 5 but it is not recommended. The development roadmap and product release cycle is most likely going to be similar to what we already know from Apple and it is expected that you can use the Apple Watch with older products too, but you will miss some functionality.
5. How does the interface work for you? Is it comfortable to control?
It looks tiny and difficult but it works absolutely well. It is comfortable and precise. I am as well surprised as I was a bit nervous about it before I got my Apple Watch. The new haptic control works quiet well too. It is comfortable to get notifications in that way and the ‘nudge’ does not irritate the user at all.
There are a lot of hidden functionalities which still need to be discovered by myself. At the moment most of the setup is controlled and set up via the iPhone. This looks like a good solution for the challenge actually and is similar to how the Android Wear system is set up as well. Upgrades or software installations are also controlled via the iPhone, as the connected apps are also installed on the iPhone and the Apple Watch works together with the iTunes Store managed by same.
6. How to charge it? And does it support replacing the battery?
As many other products get charged these days, the Apple Watch charger has a magnetic connector which fits well at the bottom of it. The charger is also holding the watch in place. This opens up space for third party devices. I could imagine that maybe docking stations would be a nice addition to the experience. Innovating product companies will see a lot of possibilities here, as you do not have a classic connector with the limitations of such a legacy design. Also from what I can see it does not look like you will be able to replace the battery similar to the conception of the iPhone as well.
7. Does it overall enhance your Apple user experience and is it worth it’s price?
One thing about smartwatches, connected to smartphones I like is that, you do not need to take your phone out of your pocket every time it beeps. To me that is an enormous benefit. A lot of messages you get though your day are just for information purposes or as a reminder and this is absolutely great to view a watch.
It is also a great way of using social media and communications apps in general. You get a first impression and the info you need and if the message is important you can pick up your phone. As a new Apple product it looks nicely designed and well produced overall. In summary it is a good product, even though they where a bit late with deployment, they still managed to make a classical Apple style product. You need to pay for it but it just works. The price is always a difficult topic, I agree. And yes, I would also say the prices in Germany, where I bought it, are quiet high compared to the US prices but if you are not sure about the investment, just as me, you can start on an average level by buying the less expensive models.
8. What else can we expect from Apple in the future?
Hmm, no one knows. I heard that there are some rearrangements in the product roadmap, as they have stopped the development of the Apple Smart TV, and that instead they are looking for some new viable markets. In regards to the Apple Watch, we are just at the beginning.
Comparing it with other products like the first iPad or the first iPhone it always took some time until the developers and supporting companies are up and running with the new product. When they initially released the products, the supported apps and service were not many at first. The first iPhone did not have any apps at all on launch and grew the app market based on user demand retroactively. Also the Apple Watch is a new product and market in itself, we can only assume what is going to happen at this stage. I am however looking forward to new follow-up products and services of Apple, developers and gadget producing third-parties.
YouTube: Apple Watch — Guided Tour: Welcome
Questions: Christopher Isak
Answers: Markus Mattern
Photo credit: Apple