Straight out the box - Apple Watch

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We got our hands on the much vaunted Apple Watch. Here’s our preliminary thoughts

Thumbs up

We picked the Sport Watch (possibly the best value for money of the current selection) with the Sports strap and immediately felt comfortable and suitably stylish. We could even tell the time.

Look & feel

First things first, it looks great. So now, we look great. Surely that’s half the point?

The stock clock faces are highly customisable and the display is simply stunning, so clear and sharp. I guess that should be expected from Apple but is worth celebrating nonetheless.

The taptic feedback is cool and very discreet, it’s like a little tap on your arm


The fitness features are a nice touch and encouraged me to stand up more, though they are no replacement for a dedicated device. In particular, the heart rate monitor is useful for calculating calories burned when using the fitness features.

Glances & notifications

Glances are useful snippets of information that you can get to from the main watch face by swiping up. A glance might be the current weather, stocks, latest news headline etc.

Notifications are one of the best features. When a notification comes in you get a little tap on your wrist and all you have to do is raise your arm to view the notification which will then pop into view on the watch.

Replying to notifications is really impressive, the watch will offer some suggested replies based on the message content i.e. 'Thanks', 'Will do' etc. With one tap the reply is sent. Alternatively you can reply by voice dictation using Siri.

Other features

You can have a phone call by directly by talking into your watch, Joe 90 style!

The watch can hold about 100 songs and you can listen to them using bluetooth headphones, you can also airplay from the watch and control the iPhone remotely.

Still not sure

You really don’t need this watch. Of course, that’s entirely subjective. I guess the real question is will enough people want this watch? Only time will tell (sorry, couldn’t resist the gag).

The battery only lasts about 48 before needing recharge, this does not bother us but may be an issue for some.

Most of the 3rd party apps seem a little superfluous. At present many seem like merely an excuse to have a watch app in the AppStore and most offer very little value or convenience.

Thumbs down

The Apple Watch Edition is super expensive; as in Arabian Prince expensive. It’s probably not outrageous to say it doesn’t offer good value for money…

Developers can’t create native apps that run on the device or use the full potential of the hardware which limits the usefulness of the watch (we can't even customise the watch faces). Though, as developers that will obviously smart us more than others.

The Watch in action

Once we'd tinkered around with our new gadget in the office, we decided to take it out for a field test (though, not in a field. It's hay-fever season).

The Supermarket

On my second day with the watch I decided (after some prompting by the watch to do some exercise) to go for a short stroll to the supermarket. Whilst trotting quite fast down a steep hill, my sister sent me a message and with one slight movement of the arm I was reading the message without having to press any buttons.

For my response I was able test the dictation features. I asked Siri to reply and spoke out loud (whilst still walking). I was dumbfounded when Siri perfectly dictated (this has never happened before on my iPhone!) my message, and with one tap it was sent..

We agreed to meet in 40 minutes, enough time to complete the shopping and walk back to my flat. I lifted my wrist again and said “Hey Siri” which activates the voice control feature (no buttons needed pressing) and I asked Siri to start a 20 minute countdown. This would remind me to start walking back to meet my sister.

I then received a phone call which I took on my watch and continued to walk whilst talking into my arm (luckily I was walking down a quiet street so no one saw me).

Once my errands and wanderings were completed I felt suitably impressed with the convenience and usefulness of the Apple watch. Yes I could've completed the same tasks on my phone, but the hands free offer of the watch was a real added convenience.

In summary

The Apple Watch is a fine piece of engineering (in particular the screen), with added style and comfort. Though, the 2nd generation model will most likely be superior in terms of thickness and design.

Notifications are generally useful and remove frustration of taking your phone out of your pocket, unlocking the screen only to discover it’s a reminder from one of your games to come back and play! Glances are a real plus too.

The 3rd party apps seem a bit pointless (at least for the time being).

The hard press to customise the screen and access contextual menus on 3rd party apps takes a bit of getting use to and feels a little unnatural for an Apple device. Though I’m sure this will change over time as Apple introduce this new gesture to their MacBook line.

It’s surprising that developers can’t make 3rd party watch faces though we expect this to change in the future. Apple are generally cautious of opening up APIs for primary features to 3rd party developers so expect this to be available by 2020.

There was quite a lot of people complaining about the limited battery life of the watch pre-launch but we’ve found it to be more than adequate.

All in all the watch is probably the best smartwatch available right now but it does not feel revolutionary like the original iPhone was. Once the excitement dies down will it be successful in the long term?

This article was originally written for Brightec by Cameron Cooke

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