Apple Watch reviews hit the web: most advanced smartwatch, but not essential

Apple is set to start taking pre-orders for its Watch this Friday ahead of the big April 24 reveal and first reviews of the wearable device are now available from big media and Apple’s favorite bloggers.

The vast majority of reviewers praise the device’s functionality, design and advanced software features.

However, the consensus out there seems to be that the Watch is not essential to one’s life. This is actually a far better outcome compared to early reviews of the iPhone and iPad which blasted these devices as unnecessary, limited and unappealing.

Here are some choice quotes from Watch reviews.

The Wall Street Journal

Geoffrey Fowler writes:
Living on your arm is part of that efficiency—as a convenient display, but also a way to measure your heart rate or pay at a cash register. This is a big idea about how we use technology, the kind of idea we expect from Apple.
Yet the Apple Watch isn’t quite the gatekeeper to my digital life that I wanted. Take app alerts—there’s a fine line between being in the know and having your wrist jiggle all day.
Of course, one can assign VIP status to individual contacts so you’ll only receive notifications from VIPs. Furthermore, the Apple Watch companion app on your iPhone lets you specify which apps can trigger alerts.
Nevertheless, Fowler opines that setting up all of this “is a tedious—and unfortunately ongoing—chore.” Despite this, the Watch is the right screen for many important things, according to Fowler:
I only look at it in blips, for rarely more than five seconds. It shows me the weather with one finger swipe. It gets physical, gently tapping my wrist when something important needs my attention and lighting up when I lift my arm to look. It nudges when I’ve been sitting too long.

The New York Times

From the desk of Farhad Manjoo:
By notifying me of digital events as soon as they happened, and letting me act on them instantly, without having to fumble for my phone, the Watch become something like a natural extension of my body—a direct link, in a way that I’ve never felt before, from the digital world to my brain.
He does note that the Watch’s software introduces a new user interface paradigm which takes some time getting used to.
There’s a good chance it will not work perfectly for most consumers right out of the box, because it is best after you fiddle with various software settings to personalize use. Indeed, to a degree unusual for a new Apple device, the Watch is not suited for tech novices.
So who is it for then?
It is designed for people who are inundated with notifications coming in through their phones, and for those who care to think about, and want to try to manage, the way the digital world intrudes on their lives.
Good enough for me.

The Verge

Nilay Patel weighs in:
It’s a supercomputer on your wrist, but it’s also a bulbous, friendly little thing, far more round than I expected, recalling nothing quite so much as the first-generation iPhone. It is unbelievably high tech and a little bit silly, a masterpiece of engineering with a Mickey Mouse face. It is quintessentially Apple.
He goes on to call the Apple Watch “the most capable smartwatch” on the market today and “one of the most ambitious products I’ve ever seen”:
It wants to do and change so much about how we interact with technology. But that ambition robs it of focus: it can do tiny bits of everything, instead of a few things extraordinarily well. For all of its technological marvel, the Apple Watch is still a smartwatch, and it’s not clear that anyone’s yet figured out what smartwatches are actually for.
The Verge also has a nice review video, here it is:

USA Today

Edward C. Baig:
Add Apple Watch to the list of devices you best charge nightly. Still, Apple’s claim of 18 hours between charges seems accurate based on my pretty heavy daily usage. I only ran out of battery once, on my first full day of testing. I’m guessing the watch might not have been properly aligned the night before with the proprietary magnetic charging cable because I’ve had plenty of daily juice since.
Hit the source link for their nice video showing off Watch in real-life.

Bloomberg Business

Joshua Topolsky writes:
The watch is not life-changing. It is, however, excellent. Apple will sell millions of these devices, and many people will love and obsess over them. It is a wonderful component of a big ecosystem that the company has carefully built over many years. It is more seamless and simple than any of its counterparts in the marketplace. It is, without question, the best smartwatch in the world.


Scott Stein sums up:
The watch is beautiful and promising — the most ambitious wearable that exists. But in an attempt to do everything in the first generation, the Apple Watch still leaves plenty to be desired. Short battery life compared with other watches and higher prices are the biggest flags for now. But Apple is just setting sail, and it has a long journey ahead.


Carolina Milanesi, reporting for the research firm:
In my opinion, there is no learning curve with Apple Watch; there is a discovery curve. Users will find different ways to perform the same tasks and the Apple Watch will learn more about the user and adapt to them as time goes by, thus refining and enriching the user experience.


Lauren Goode:
One day this past week, I woke up at 5:15 am, exercised for an hour using the Watch, ran Maps during my commute, made phones calls and received notifications throughout the whole day, and by 11:00 pm the Watch was just hitting its Power Reserve point.
She does acknowledge that the Apple Watch isn’t for everyone, especially if you hate the idea of your wrist pulsing with notifications. “Smartwatches can sometimes feel like a solution in search of a problem,” she summed up nicely.

Yahoo Tech

From the mouth of David Pogue:
Apple’s notification management is excellent. You have total control over which kinds of messages tap you on the wrist. You can choose “The same ones I’ve set up on my phone,” or override those settings for the Watch.
And if some call or alert starts ringing at an inopportune moment, you can shut the watch by pressing your palm against its screen, as though to say, “QUIET!” That’s handy in libraries, churches, or chess matches.
He says this much is unassailable:
The Apple Watch is light-years better than any of the feeble, clunky efforts that have come before it. The screen is nicer, the software is refined and bug-free, the body is real jewelry. First-time technologies await at every turn: Magnetic bands, push-to-release straps, wrist-to-wrist drawings or Morse codes, force pressing, credit-card payments from the wrist. And the symbiosis with the iPhone is graceful, out of your way, and intelligent.

Ben Bajarin

The analyst, on his Techpinions blog:
It is rare in this industry to get to experience the beginning of something new, something for which you have no frame of reference. While not a stand-alone computer (yet), I’m convinced the Apple Watch represents something completely new.
It is a unique way to interact in a digital world. I say this having used nearly every smartwatch to hit the market over the last few years. None of them felt like a mass market product but more for a tech enthusiast or early adopter. The Apple Watch is easily the first smartwatch I’ve used that was designed for the average consumer.

John Gruber

The famous Apple pundit published his write-up (the only Watch review that matters) on his Daring Fireball blog:
Apple Watch is, in many ways, the Bizarro iPhone — in some ways parallel and similar, but in others, the inverse, the opposite.
I’ve worn a watch every day since I was in 7th grade, almost 30 years ago. I’m used to being able to see the time with just a glance whenever there is sufficient light. Apple Watch is somewhat frustrating in this regard. Even when Wrist Raise detection works perfectly, it takes a moment for the watch face to appear. There’s an inherent tiny amount of lag that isn’t there with a regular watch.
On design and build quality:
The quality of Apple Watch simply as an object is meaningful. When you wear something, it matters how it feels, and it matters how you think it looks. And much like with time-telling as a feature, Apple Watch may well appeal more to those who aren’t currently watch wearers than to those who are.
On battery life:
After more than a week of daily use, Apple Watch has more than alleviated any concerns I had about getting through a day on a single charge. I noted the remaining charge when I went to bed each night. It was usually still in the 30s or 40s. Once it was still over 50 percent charged. Once, it was down to 27.
And one day — last Thursday — it was all the way down to 5 percent. But that day was an exception — I used the watch for an extraordinary amount of testing, nothing at all resembling typical usage. I’m surprised the watch had any remaining charge at all that day. I never once charged the watch other than while I slept.
On Digital Touch:
You’re 16. You’re in school. You’re sitting in class. You have a crush on another student — you’ve fallen hard. You can’t stop thinking about them. You suspect the feelings are mutual — but you don’t know. You’re afraid to just come right out and ask, verbally — afraid of the crushing weight of potential rejection.
But you both wear an Apple Watch. So you take a flyer and send a few taps. And you wait. Nothing in response. Dammit. Why are you so stupid? Whoa — a few taps are sent in return, along with a hand-drawn smiley face. You send more taps. You receive more taps back. This is it. You send your heartbeat. It is racing, thumping. Your crush sends their heartbeat back.
You’re flirting. Not through words. Not through speech. Physically flirting, by touch. And you’re not even in the same classroom. Maybe you don’t even go to the same school.


Lance Ulanoff typing away:
Apple Watch does as much, maybe more, than competing smartwatches, but it doesn’t demand that you pay attention to it. It also succeeded in its most important task: Getting me to keep my iPhone in my pocket. That’s a pretty impressive feat. Is my life better because of it? It’s too soon to tell. But what I do know is that I thoroughly enjoy wearing it.

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