New York Times:
It took three days — three long, often confusing and frustrating days — for me to fall for the Apple Watch. But once I fell, I fell hard. First there was a day to learn the device’s initially complex user interface. Then another to determine how it could best fit it into my life. And still one more to figure out exactly what Apple’s first major new product in five years is trying to do — and, crucially, what it isn’t.
It was only on Day 4 that I began appreciating the ways in which the elegant $650 computer on my wrist was more than just another screen. 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 became 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. The effect was so powerful that people who’ve previously commented on my addiction to my smartphone started noticing a change in my behavior; my wife told me that I seemed to be getting lost in my phone less than in the past. She found that a blessing.
For now, the Apple Watch is for pioneers. I won’t pay the $1,000 it would cost for the model I tested, only to see a significant improvement roll in before too long. But I plan to pay $400 for the 42mm Sport version once it’s on sale. That’s worth paying for a front-row seat for what’s next in tech.
There’s no question that the Apple Watch is the most capable smartwatch available today. It is 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.
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.
We're still two weeks away from Day One of the Apple Watch. It's already got tremendous potential, lots of software, and beautiful design. I like wearing the Apple Watch, and it might be my favorite smartwatch...if its battery life lasted beyond one day. That makes me want to return to the Pebble again, or wait and see what Pebble Time, a more bare-bones but much more affordable watch, feels like. If you're curious where Apple is going next and have $350-$400 to spend, the entry-level Apple Watch might be fun to explore. Everyone else, I'd wait and see how the apps shape up, how the kinks get worked out, whether any software updates help with battery life. There's a lot more time to decide.
So Apple has succeeded in its first big task with its watch. It made something that lives up to the company’s reputation as an innovator and raised the bar for a whole new class of devices. Its second task—making me feel that I need this thing on my wrist every day—well, I’m not quite sure it’s there yet. It’s still another screen, another distraction, another way to disconnect, as much as it is the opposite. The Apple Watch is cool, it’s beautiful, it’s powerful, and it’s easy to use. But it’s not essential. Not yet.
From a technology standpoint, it is an extension of the iPhone. And just like the smartphone, it starts to change your habits over time. It’s swiping through pictures of family on your wrist, seeing your heart rate spike when you’re watching an exciting game, and getting a glimpse of a message when you’re rushing between classes or meetings. It’s trying really, really hard not to look at your wrist when you’re in the middle of a meeting. In our new world of too-many-devices, it somehow becomes the second thing you reach for when you roll out of bed. Smartwatches are still unproven, but Apple has made a pretty strong case for them.
If you’re the only person you know with an Apple Watch, your timekeeping will still be precise, your activity tracking will still be accurate — but digital touch as a form of communication will be pointless. Digital touch only works, only becomes a thing, if Apple Watch becomes a thing. Digital touch is not designed for an isolated product. It is designed as a tentpole feature for a hit product with widespread appeal and adoption. The single most innovative feature of Apple Watch — the most intimate feature of the company’s most personal device — will only matter if some of the people you care most about wear one too.
Pre-orders for the Apple Watch begin at 12:01 AM PDT on April 10th. Will be you ordering one? Let us know in the comments.