Why I stopped wearing my Apple Watch

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Date: Friday, February 12th, 2016, 05:16
Category: Android, Android Wear, Apple Watch, iOS, Opinion

I’ve been a Mac user since 1984 and iOS user since 2007. In 2016 I’m switching from iPhone and Apple Watch to Android and Android Wear as an experiment. This blog post is one in a series from a lifelong Apple/iOS user  switching to Android.

The Huawei Watch is a sharp-looking timepiece.

Like many of you I ordered an Apple Watch at midnight on April 10, 2015 and received it on April 24, 2015. To say that anticipation was high might be the understatement of the year.

Before the arrival of the smart watch, I wore a Breitling watch daily (and a Tag Heuer before that). I don’t consider myself a horologist or even a watch snob, I just have thing for nice watches. A watch is one of the few accessories that men can wear and I have a fondness for fine Swiss movements.

I dutifully wore my Apple Watch from April 24 until December 25, 2015 when I received an Android Wear watch as a gift – more on that later. As a daily Apple Watch wearer for eight months, switching to Android was disruptive and sometimes unsettling but, pardon the pun, the time had come.

I’m quite happy with Android Wear in my first six weeks of wearing it full time. There are four killer features in Wear that trump watchOS…

  1.  Low-power ambient mode which always shows the time.
  2. A round display, not immediately recognizable as a smart watch.
  3. Third-party watch faces.
  4. Apps that are usable.

Rather than focus about what I like better about Wear, I want to explore some of Apple Watch’s shortcomings.

watchOS

watchOS 1 was a mess. It supported “half-apps” that looked like first-class apps but instead simply scraped screens from the host iPhone and displayed them on the small screen using Bluetooth. Slowly.

This effectively crippled apps because they often took 10-30 seconds to load. Hold your arm up to your face for 30, or even 10 seconds. How does it feel? Not great.

The dreaded spinning wheel on the Apple Watch.

[photo: Sarah Tew/CNET]

watchOS 2 promised to support “native” apps that run locally on the watch, instead of being a surrogate screen for data coming from the host iPhone. In reality, developer support for native watchOS seems to be limited or not working. I’ve yet to find a watchOS app that loads in less than three seconds, which is my arm’s attention span. (Note: some of my Twitter followers swear by Runkeeper on watchOS 2, but I haven’t used it).

Apps

After a while I found myself only looking at my Apple Watch for the time and at an occasional notification. I rarely used any of its “apps” and never used the novel drawing of heartbeat features. I knew that it was time to switch off the Apple Watch when it switched into low power mode (showing only the time) and I didn’t even notice. Apple Watch became just another digital watch for me.

The promise of watchOS 2’s native apps never materialized, I can’t name a single third-party app that I used regularly, and most Apple Watch wearers I know can’t either. Apps are so slow on Apple Watch that my arm gets tired while staring at the spinning flower and waiting for an app to load. It’s much faster to whip out my phone and find what I was looking for. In fact, I can usually check my iPhone for a score, tweet or news and put it away before an Apple Watch app will load.

Hardware

While the industrial design of the Apple Watch was certainly better than early Android Wear devices, Wear hardware has lapped the Apple Watch, with new devices from Tag Heuer, Fossil, Huawei, Motorola, ASUS, LG and Sony breaking new ground.

I like a smart watch that doesn’t look like a smart watch from a distance, and a square watch just screams “geek” from miles away. A round watch display looks more like a traditional watch and seamlessly blends into your outfit, rather than sticking out, or worse, becoming a “conversation starter.”

Software

It might seem trivial but Apple Watch ships with a set number of faces, and while you can customize them, you can’t download third-party watch faces. After wearing an analog watch for more than thirty years, I find that inexcusable. A huge advantage of wearing an LCD on your wrist is the ability to customize it on a whim (or daily or hourly.)

Android Wear has thousands of watch faces, not just the handful that Apple offers (none with digital seconds!). I love the ability to download (and even create my own) watch faces on Android Wear. WatchOS seems backwards in this respect, although Apple is hiring a software engineer on its “Clock Face Team.”

I’m not saying that Android Wear is a panacea, far from it. But Wear has lapped watchOS in almost every respect and offers more choices (in both hardware and software) than the Apple offering. While Google has released an Android Wear app for iOS I’m using Wear with a Nexus 5x and it’s pretty fantastic.

Maybe Apple Watch 2 (rumored to be coming in March) will change things, but until then, you’ll find an Android Wear device on my wrist.

What’s your opinion of Apple Watch? Still wearing yours? What third-party apps do you use most? 

 

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8 Responses to “Why I stopped wearing my Apple Watch”

  1. @PowerPage @JasonOGrady , we pray for you 😉

  2. “Why I stopped wearing my Apple Watch” #rumors #feedly https://t.co/xflETgoBpz

  3. Why I stopped wearing my Apple Watch https://t.co/IaKHuFY1Qh via @powerpage

  4. @jimcramer After 8 months, I ditched my Apple Watch: https://t.co/IaKHuFY1Qh

  5. Why I stopped wearing my Apple Watch https://t.co/pMNQkkEylz

  6. Looks great. I have a Michael Bastian Chronowing which looks great but short on features. Apple needs to get their act together. Everything they make now is blah.

  7. I wear my Apple Watch every day and have since I got it in the first wave of deliveries back in April. I no longer wear any other watch and can’t see myself ever wearing another ever again.

    The biggest discovery for me has been that apps don’t matter on the watch. It’s not an app platform like the iPhone, iPad, etc. I don’t think Apple realised this when they designed it, but it turns out they could have not bothered with a full 3rd party SDK. Just support 3rd party glances, notifications and complications. The Apple Watch is all about complications, glances, notifications and Siri. And navigation in the car and on foot too of course – the left/right turn taps are genius for finding your way around.

    There are a couple of useful apps like calculators, the remote app for Apple TV, etc. but most of them I don’t use because the Watch isn’t really a suitable platform for iPhone/iPad type apps, they’re not necessary or useful most of the time. Activity tracking is good for those who need it too, but I’m not really one of those. Judging the Watch by the conventional apps is looking at it through the wrong end of the telescope.

    The ability to get all my notifications (silently with a tap) on my wrist and without the intrusive beeps and other sounds my iPhone used to make is a joy that almost makes the Apple Watch worthwhile on it’s own. Siri on your wrist is fantastic, no more running around the house looking for my iPhone to send a text, set a timer or reminder, answer a phone call, etc. I use Siri much more now it’s always on my wrist (and doesn’t talk back to me in public). A simple glance to see the current temperature in a complication, what upcoming appts I have and so forth, is great too.

  8. O’Grady’s PowerPage » Why I stopped wearing my Apple Watch https://t.co/H8sen5rajY via @powerpage