15 Impressions from My First Day with an Apple Watch

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 4 min read

I have spent my first full day with the Apple Watch, and I am definitely a fan. I have been championing the device for months, and I’m relieved that it lives up to my expectations. There are definitely some things that need to improve, but my overall experience has been great.

If you got your Watch in the mail yesterday, I’d love to hear your first impressions as well. Hit me up in the comments or on Twitter!

Here are 15 impressions from my first full day with the Apple Watch (in no particular order).

1. It’s way faster to reply to text messages from the watch (but only if you embrace and trust Siri)

I made a point of responding to all texts today with Siri, no matter how weird it made me feel. It’s a simple tap-speak-tap, and I’m done. I would still use the phone to reply to longer messages, but quick replays were super easy, and super fast.

2. “Tactic feedback” is pretty light.

You can select how intense you want vibrations to be, but even on the highest setting, I feel like I’m barely catching it. I should be clear and say that I never missed a notification because it was to faint, but it was more subtle than I was expecting.

3. Battery life has been great

I woke up at 7am today, worked for 9 hours, went for an hour-long run, and streamed 2 hours of podcasts which I controlled with the Watch. I also checked the time about a billion times. I’m in “new gadget mode” so I used it for everything I possibly could. I’m writing this at 8pm and I’m at 43%. At the current drain rate, my Watch will die just before 6am. Not bad at all.

4. It takes a very subtle wrist turn to activate the display when sitting at a desk

Gruber had me worried about desk use in his review, but I’ve been impressed. Tilting my wrist just a few degrees turned the screen on, and was totally comfortable. It was a far cry from the exaggerated wrist flick I’ve seen some people do with their smart watches.

5. Remote app acts differently from other apps.

While most apps recede to the background after a few moments of inactivity, Remote stays active until you manually close it. This is an example of an app breaking the rules, but it’s smart, and Apple was smart for doing this.

6. If the screen doesn’t turn on when you want it to, a light tap on the screen will turn it on.

You never have to use the button to turn the screen on. It’s silly, don’t do it.

7. People asked me about it.

Like, a lot. I probably gave a dozen quick demos of the watch today. Co-workers and strangers alike were curious enough to ask me some probing questions. Everyone thought it looked cool (nobody said “nerdy”, which is what people said about my old Pebble), and almost everyone lost their shit when I started a call without pressing a button. I raised it up and said “Hey Siri, call the office” and minds were blown.

8. Apps are incredibly slow

Yes, they really are, and it makes me not want to use them much. Apple Watch is at its best when it puts a piece of data in front of you and asks you want to do with it. It’s at its worst when you try to use it like your iPhone (find app, launch app, do something). Native apps will surely make this better.

9. Glances are not as delightful as I hoped

I love some of the glances, but others are more useless than I expected. Podcast apps, for example are largely useless. Overcast’s glance, for example, is just an image of the currently playing podcast with a progress bar. OmniFocus’s glance tells you how many tasks are due today, but you can’t mark them complete from the glance. To actually interact with these, you have to use the glance to open the proper app, which as mentioned above, is slow.

I would kill for interactive glances in Watch OS 2.0.

10. The friends button is super-useful

No matter where I am in the OS, I can easily initiate a message or call to any of my 12 closest friends and family. It’s a clever choice, and a good one.

11. The UI is not confusing

I’d say the learning curve is similar to that of the first iPhone. It’s new, and you have to learn the rules. Once you get those down, it makes sense.

My one real complaint with the UI is that I wish there was some way to see my recently used apps instead of going back to the app launcher each time.

12. The digital crown is nice

I don’t have a problem scrolling with swipes on the screen, but the crown is nice to use when reading a longer message.

13. The Sport strap is better than I expected

Many reviewers have described the strap as “supple” and I have to admit that’s a good descriptor. It feels and looks good on the wrist. I chose the white band, and I think it looks pretty hip. It’s definitely a more casual band, so I’m glad I have a fancier band coming my way soon.

14. Complications are very cool, but I wish there were more

I currently have the current temperature, my next calendar event, and my next alarm on my watch face. I would love the freedom to add my next OmniFocus task or my next driving direction here. I feel Apple is a few years from allowing this, though.

15. “Hey Siri” has been inconsistent

I feel like it doesn’t always hear me. When it does, it’s awesome, but I have taken to pressing the digital crown as a more reliable Siri trigger. You don’t want to be the guy yelling “Hey Siri…hey Siri!!!” at their wrist. Really, don’t be that guy.