Apple Watch review: One year later

iMore's editors on the relevancy and results of wearing Apple Watch — one year later.

Twelve months ago Apple released the Watch, the company's first new product category since the iPad and the first ever with Tim Cook at the helm. It was also one of the earliest entries for Apple into any product category, absent a decade or more of "smartwatches" to learn from. That cast Apple in an unusual role — instead of solving problems and driving the wave of mainstream adoption, they've been part of the grand experiment to get computing onto the wrist.

And we've been experimenting right along with them. So, 365 days post-launch, what have we figured out?

Which Apple Watch do you have and how long have you had it?


Serenity

I have the 38mm silver Apple Watch Sport and a review unit of the 38mm gold Apple Watch Sport. (Confession: I wear the gold a lot more than the silver.) I got the silver on launch day; I go back and forth on whether or not I'll pick up the steel casing when the next version of the Watch comes out. After testing the Hermes Apple Watch Double Tour a few months back, I fell in love with the sapphire screen; the Sport's Ion-X screen is good, but scratches too easily. I do love the Sport's gold color, though. And I'm not a girl who usually likes jewelry or gold!


Bader

I transitioned from a 42mm Silver Apple Watch Sport to an identically-sized stainless steel model around six months in. The two materials, aluminum and stainless steel, could not feel more different, and the price difference, though substantial, feels justified to me. Paired with a simple leather buckle, the Apple Watch is both elegant and technology-forward.

I recently picked up a Space Black Apple Watch with matching Milanese Loop, and find it to be a little easier to pair with my casual style.


Lory

I own a Space Grey Sport Apple Watch with a black band, but I also have the black Milanese loop, which I wear all of the time now. I may invest in a stainless steel one next time because it seems like there are more band options for that model.

I ordered my Apple Watch the very moment it went on sale, but it didn't arrive for two weeks after the first shipping date. It was the longest two weeks of my life.


Mikah

As soon as I saw the space gray sport, I knew I had to have it. Miraculously, I was able to get my space gray sport on day one — I've been wearing mine since April 24, 2015. There are days I wish I'd snagged the stainless steel model instead.


Gartenberg

I'm a stainless steel guy, been wearing mine since January '15 :) If I were buying today I'd probably go aluminium in one of the new colors.


Georgia

I got my Watch right when it came out. The first Apple Watch I got was the sport in silver. I really loved the sport band as I found it very comfortable to wear and easy to keep clean. I soon grew tired of silver though, as I found that I wouldn't use my silver apple watch when I had gold jewelry on. So, five months in I decided to get get the space grey which I now wear with the black milanese band and I really love it. I find that I can wear it with most of my suits and dresses as well. It is very comfortable and easy to put on and off.


Rene

Apple Watch Steel. Originally a stainless steel review unit with Milanese band, then the Space Black with link bracelet I ordered the day they went on sale. For the last six months, though, I've been wearing the Hermes cuff.

How often do you wear your Apple Watch? How often do the people you know with Apple Watch wear it?


Serenity

Since picking up the Watch on launch day, I'd wager it's been on my wrist 350/365 days (save for an awful week-long period where I was trying not to wear the watch for an experiment). It's such a small, strange little gadget, but one I hate to leave behind. My health, my reliance on my smartphone, and my timeliness have all improved since picking up the Apple Watch, and I love discovering new things about it.

On the "other people" side... Most of the folks I know in tech love theirs, though a couple had brief dalliances with mechanical watches which turned into permanent affairs. As for my non-tech friends, both my mother and fiancé have watches: My mom uses hers a ton, but my fiancé is still in the "It's useful when I have it on, but I keep forgetting to grab it off the nightstand" phase. To me, it makes sense: The watch is a highly personal device, and it's really what you make of it. If you don't have a must-use reason to put it on in the morning, you're not going to wear it.


Bader

I'm certainly not alone in saying that the Apple Watch has become an indispensable part of my life. I've probably forgotten to wear it a handful of days in the past year, which is significantly better than I can say for any wearable -- fitness-related or otherwise -- of the past two years. Prior to the Apple Watch, I'd worn a number of Android Wear and Pebble varieties, but found all of them lacking the right combination of style, battery life and functionality to justify ongoing use.


Lory

My Apple Watch is on my wrist from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep (except for showers). Just like when I wore a Swatch Watch in high school, I quickly got used to the idea of putting on the Apple Watch the same way I'd put on a pair of socks. It is part of my everyday routine.

Other than my cohorts at iMore, my mom is the only person I know with an Apple Watch. She lives in a different state, so I don't know if she wears hers everyday, but she and I send each other sketches and heartbeats fairly regularly. It's pretty cute.


Mikah

I wear mine nearly every day. There have been a few weekends where I've slept in and then left the house without remembering to put it on. I feel naked without my watch on my wrist!

Of the people I personally know who own an Apple Watch, I'm certainly the most consistent wearer — gotta fill those doggone fitness rings!


Gartenberg

Pretty much every day, although sometimes I just like the feel of a good mechanical watch. I've also taken to wearing mine to sleep using Sleep++. Anecdotally, I see a lot of folks I know who bought still wearing it (new easily, swapped bands help) but very few tell me they use any apps. Most common complaint is that they're just too slow or unreliable. A surprising number say they make, and receive calls on their watch all the time.


Georgia

Well, almost everyone I know is an Apple writer or videographer so this is probably biased. I wear my Apple watch almost every day and if I don't wear it I feel the horrible necessity to check my phone in my purse which I can't stand. If I am wearing a very fancy dress that might be when I would not wear my watch as it still isn't sleek and fashionable enough to match all my outfits, but it is something that I hope will change as new bands come out. My husband uses his watch all the time as well. He loves that he never has to worry to miss messages from his children's school or from his most fabulous (hehe) wife. Then there is Rene, he has almost every band and watch you can imagine, pretty hard shoes to fill.


Rene

Every day. I pick it up off the flying saucer disk in the morning, strap it on, and wear it until I take it off to go to sleep at night. It's the only thing with me more often than my iPhone or, you know, pants.

My mother and my sister both have Apple Watches and both wear them every day as well. So does my best friend. I'm most likely infectious to some degree, but all of them say — while far from perfect — it's been invaluable.

Which Watch bands do you have and which do you wear most?


Serenity

We'll be here all day if I list all of them, so I'll go with the general categories: I have a ton of Sport bands, none of which get much use now; several Modern Buckles, which were until very recently my daily-wear items; a Pad and Quill blue Classic Leather Band, which I love for special occasions; a few Fauxmes Double Tours and Cuffs from Amazon; and a huge array of Woven Nylon bands.

The Nylon bands have very quickly become daily-wear items for me -- which shocked me, given how much I love my Modern Buckle collection. But the Nylon bands are everything I wanted from the Sport: They're sweat-wicking and stylish, but also effortlessly comfortable. I don't even notice I'm wearing them most days. I know a lot of folks don't like the look of them, but I guarantee that photos don't do the bands justice: They're so much nicer in person, and those colored lugs make them even nicer paired with Sport models. (I do wish you could buy Nylon bands with buckles the color of your Sport model, but sadly, that's not an option.)


Bader

Since pairing the stainless Apple Watch with a Saddle Brown Classic Buckle in September, I've been loathe to wear anything else -- until the aforementioned all-black combination was unveiled this past March. I have some Sport bands, a Leather Loop, and even one of the new Woven Nylon straps, but I can't get over the truly timeless pairing of brown leather and stainless steel. There's a reason people have been combining the two for hundreds of years. Having inherited a number of analog watches with high-quality leather bands, I can safely say Apple's sourcing lives up to its claims. Through sweat, oil, water and anything else the average day produces, the Classic Buckle has aged beautifully, picking up only the slightest hint of wear without dulling or cracking.


Lory

I have the sport band in black and the space black Milanese loop. I also own a third-party leather band, which is surprisingly well made, but it is stainless steel and looks a bit odd with my space gray case. I'm going to buy at least one woven nylon band as soon as I get the time to go to my local Apple retail store.


Mikah

I have the sport band in three colors: black, fog, and orange. I also have the black leather loop and the black nylon band. I've technically worn the leather loop most, but I foresee the nylon band being my go-to band.

That said, if you start to see me sharing more band purchases on Instagram or Twitter, please have Georgia check on me — I'm trying to avoid a Rene-level band obsession.


Gartenberg

Milanese loop, Leather loop in blue, black sport, and black link. I go back and forth between the black link, and leather loop. I love the new bands but c'mon, prices are just too high for nylon.


Georgia

I have the sport band in black and white and the silver and black milanese bands, which are some of the most comfortable and easy to wear bands I feel Apple has made. I love that I can always adjust it in a moment and it's still lightweight and form-fitted. I have the nylon band in black, which is quite comfortable and light but I don't love the look so I didn't wear it for long. The Hermes double tour is my latest acquisition, it is pretty comfortable and very soft.


Rene

Hi, my name is Rene and I have an Apple Watch band problem. I must own over a dozen now, not include any review samples Apple has been gracious enough to lend me. I have a couple of sport, the Milanese loop in stainless and space black, several woven nylons and leather loops, a couple of classic buckles, and the Hermes cuff and Feu single tour.

I change it up frequently, because that's the fun of Apple Watch, but most of the time I wear the Hermes cuff. I've always wanted one and the Apple Watch version is the most affordable Hermes has made.

Plus, it's totally badass.

How comfortable and durable has Apple Watch been?


Serenity

I have yet to dent, shatter, or otherwise grievously injure an Apple Watch, despite having it on my wrist while playing roller derby, so I count that a win! I've collected my fair share of tiny and deep scratches on the Ion-X glass, however. They don't directly interfere with using the watch, but I'm not thrilled with how it looks; it's one of the big reasons I'm considering going Steel for my next purchase.

Scratches aside, the watch is one of the most comfortable things I've ever had on my wrist. In part, that's due to Apple's smartly-designed bands, all of which breathe properly and sit lightly on your arm, but it's also just the general aerodynamics of the watch. I barely notice I have it on unless I accidentally rap it against a wall.


Bader

In six months, the Apple Watch Sport picked up a number of noticeable scratches, both on its aluminum chassis and X-Ion glass face. While none detracted from my enjoyment of the Watch, it wasn't without some relief I got to start from, uh, scratch with the stainless steel Watch in September. Hairline scratches are visible on the exterior, certainly, but the reflective nature of the steel helps them blend in. The sapphire crystal covering the OLED panel, though: what a miracle substance. I've accidentally shaved metal, concrete and wood across its surface, and looking at it you'd never be able to tell. It looks brand new.

Most straps are extremely comfortable, though I find the Milanese Loop and Leather Loop -- anything without a discrete buckle -- to slowly loosen over the course of the day, forcing me to readjust it every couple of hours. That's why I prefer the Classic Buckle or Woven Nylon, especially when doing vigorous activity. Yes, you can exercise while wearing the leather bands. Don't even worry about it.

Like my colleagues, I barely notice it's on, even when typing. I attribute that to Apple's conservative sizing -- 38mm and 42mm is small compared to most Android Wear watches.


Lory

It is definitely the most comfortable smartwatch I've ever worn, but as just a watch, it isn't quite as nice as some of the more popular brands. I got used to having it on my wrist fairly quickly, but it sticks to my skin when I'm hot, which is really annoying. The Milanese loop tends to cut into my wrist a little. I've noticed that it tends to tighten up, like those lap seat belts in the back seat of a car. I have to adjust it about a dozen times per day.

As for durability, I'm very happy. I don't have a single scratch, scuff, or dent on my case, screen, or bands. I was a little concerned at first because I purchased the least durable model, the Sport model, but it looks as good as the day I bought it.


Mikah

It's an incredibly comfortable watch. I've worn watches for a lot of my life. In fact, if you've ever questioned my commitment to nerdery, get this: My first watch was a Casio Calculator Watch and I was damn proud of it, but I digress. Apple Watch is super comfy, good-looking, and the aluminum has held up over the last year. I wish there were a few less scratches on the glass (or crystal as watch-lovers are wont to say), but I didn't get the sapphire model so ¯_(ツ)_/¯.


Gartenberg

Compared to my "other" watches, it's pretty comfortable, I don't even notice it. What's more, because it's Apple, people know what it is, and it's socially acceptable to wear one without looking like a total geek. Mine's been pretty solid, no scratches or dings but the crowns degrade over time, and lose friction (pro tip, rinse crown carefully under warm water, use some dental floss gently, and it's good as new). Battery life is also still holding up, but I wonder how long that's going to be the case. (Probably until Watch Air comes out)


Georgia

I am very tough on my technology. I am clumsy and often leap before I look. So, I need to purchase items which will be able to survive my activities. My Apple Watch is almost in perfect condition. I have dropped it multiple times and knocked it against most of the walls and doorways in my house. It has made it through roughhousing with my children and attacks from my puppy. I do notice that that the glass surface has slightly more wear in the areas that I swipe over a lot. The battery life still lasts over a day and all the buttons still work... though I almost never use them.


Rene

I remain convinced the space black Apple Watch is made of material from Krypton. Or Wayne Industries. Either way, the diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating is dragon-scale tough. I can't count the number of times I've looked down in horror, thinking I'd scratched it, only to discover the DLC took some concrete or metal off something else. Likewise the sapphire crystal.

I haven't worn the aluminum sport version long enough to really judge, though I find it lighter and even more comfortable than the already comfortable stainless steel.

It's comfortable enough that I never take it off, even while typing, which for me is high, high praise.

The bands, especially the Hermes cuff, have also worn well. Aged might be a better term. It's gone from its original Fauvre to a deep Indiana Jones brown. And I love it.

Which watch faces do you use most often and how well do they work?


Serenity

Modular or bust. I love Utility, but complications are a big part of why I enjoy using my watch -- and while Modular may not be as well-organized or good-looking as the other faces, it lets me see the most information at a glance. I wish you could add more complications to the photo faces: I love the idea of having a photo on my watch, but again -- complications make my watch-wearing experience, and without them, the watch takes a major usability hit. I do have several iterations of the Modular face, all for slightly different tasks. (I have a bright yellow Modular face with all my roller derby coaching-related complications, for instance.)


Bader

I spend the majority of my life on Utility. It's the analog facsimile I prefer, though I really don't love any of Apple's watch faces, and wish there were more options, perhaps even from third party designers. Pared to just numbers and a few simple complications, Utility does the trick most of the time. When I need all the density, I switch to Modular and load up on complications.


Lory

I switch the watch faces pretty regularly. If I'm going somewhere fancy, I'll use the Motion face with the flower customization. If I'm going to a party, I'll use the Photos face so I can show off pictures of friends to friends. If I'm going to a work-related event, I'll switch over to the Modular face and use the complications that I need for the day. A trip to Disneyland requires the Mickey Mouse face. I also like using the Simple face, because minimalism, and my nephew gets a kick out of the Astronomy face, so I switch to that when I visit him.


Mikah

I almost exclusively use the Modular face, adjusting the color to suit my outfit. It features the time, the date, my fitness rings, and a Carrot Weather complication.

When I'm feeling fancy, I'll switch to the Utility face — same complications.


Gartenberg

I've gone totally minimal. Modular with just time in the right, date in lower left. At night, it's red with Sleep++ in lower left. For formal, it's simple with just the hands. Earth, and Solar are cool to demo but never use. Photos are just fun, just wish there were more options to crop or place.


Georgia

I only use Modular. Is there really any other watch face that anyone uses? It has the most complicationd and I love being able to see my schedule as well as date and time at a flick of the wrist. Please tell me no one has said that they use the Mickey Mouse watch face...


Rene

If I'm wearing Hermes I'm using the Hermes face because its design is just so great. Otherwise I switch to Modular for work, because all the complications, or Photos for fun. I used the Photo face to make Superman, Batman, and other fun watch faces. If they had proper complication support, I'd keep them on.

How has the Watch been as a timepiece?


Serenity

It makes me wonder why I stopped wearing a watch in the first place. SO USEFUL. I do wish the watch had an always-on display, but it's easy enough to tap the screen and view it quickly. (I turned off raise-to-wake in the first month, because I kept accidentally triggering it while driving.)


Bader

Perfect.

But as a seat belt gets jammed when you need it most, Apple Watch forces you to lift your arm like a mad person when you're in a room with a bunch of people just to get the screen to turn on. Yes, accelerometers are not the most sensitive of sensors, but there must be a better way. (Hint: it involves an always-on display and a forgiving refresh rate.)


Lory

It's the feature I use the most on my Apple Watch. I've never been worried about accuracy with time. As long as I'm within a few minutes, I'm good. A small part of me wishes for an analog timepiece instead of a digital one, but I'm not afraid of the future, so I don't mind having a virtual watch face.


Mikah

It is hands-down (GET IT?!) the most accurate timepiece I've owned. That said, sometimes I find myself having to wave my hand around violently to view said accurate time — that's no good. I find myself wishing I could glance down at my watch instead of having to move it up toward my face.

It can also be tough to see in bright sunlight no matter how many times I polish the screen and turn up the brightness.


Gartenberg

It's the best watch ever. Period. Nothing else even comes close.


Georgia

Well here is where I would give the Apple Watch a failing grade. Though completely accurate and helpful, I find it endlessly tiring to have to flick my wrist or tap the screen in order to see the time. This is where a regular analogue watch will beat out the Apple Watch. In my therapy sessions or during a meeting I find it very difficult to discreetly ensure that I am running on time and that bothers me.

You would think that if a feature is in the name of the product that Apple would ensure that it is effortless and better than what is already on the market. Hoping that this will be fixed in future versions.


Rene

It's both great and terrible. It's totally accurate, all the time, everywhere. Which is fantastic. There's no ambient time display, though, which means no matter how accurate it is, I can't always see it when I want it.

Everything else is aces, though, from timers to world clocks to Mickey stamping out the seconds in unison across the globe.

How has health and fitness tracking worked for you?


Serenity

This was one of the primary reasons I purchased an Apple Watch, and it's (mostly) done me very well. Stand reminders and water notifications from third-party apps keep me from crouching over my laptop all day without moving, but Apple still has some work to do when it comes to Activity data. Skating sports, yoga, and weight-lifting (my three primary forms of exercise) aren't Workout options on the Watch, which means I'm often logging wildly-inaccurate "Other" workouts.


Bader

I use the health tracking to keep tabs on the number of steps I take every day, but don't take the data too seriously. When I run, the frequency of which ebbs and flows throughout the year, I use the Watch to track my distance, speed, calorie burn and heart rate, and find the data to be arrayed both intelligently and, when synced to the iPhone, comprehensively.

I think Apple believed that the third-party app ecosystem would supplement many of the shortcomings of the native fitness tracking, but due to performance issues associated with those apps, that never really happened.


Lory

In short, not at all. For the first six months, I was standing up when Apple Watch told me to, taking walks, and even working out every morning. Having the notifications and achievements of the Activity app motivated me. But, as usual, the novelty wore off and I stopped exercising, stopped taking as many walks, and only stand up when I'm told to about half of the time.

If I were more self-motivated to get up and move, Apple Watch would be the best device for keeping track of my health and fitness data, but it is not much of a personal trainer. Maybe if it sent electricity to my pain receptors when I didn't achieve my goals, I'd actually exercise more.


Mikah

Health and fitness tracking is EVERYTHING. I love being able to keep track of my activity, being reminded to stand up every once in awhile, and looking at how my ridiculous caffeine intake affects my heart rate.

I love seeing those fitness rings fill up throughout the day and understanding how an intense workout affects my body.


Gartenberg

It's not perfect but puts a lot of data in one place. I found adding Pedometer++ increases step count accuracy quite a bit (no more undercounting), Activity++ far better than native rings, and sleep++ cool for what it does. Stand reminder more annoying than useful to me. It was fun to be in longer meetings where exactly at ten of the hour everyone stood up.


Georgia

These were the first things that I turned off on my Apple Watch. I found that the fitness tracking was inaccurate and I didn't like being constantly reminded to stand up. I wish I found it more motivating and inspiring but so far it misses the mark for me.


Rene

Like Gartenberg, David Smith has added a ton of value to the already impressive fitness features. Basically I've gone from not knowing anything about how much I stood, walked, and worked out to knowing how little I stand, walk, and work out.

I'm not intrinsically motivated when it comes to this stuff, though, so I really hope Apple adds a social aspect to Activities in the very near future. Being able to see Serenity killing me on steps would be a huge motivator to get me moving in an attempt not to lose by so much every time...

What about notifications? Have they proven important?


Serenity

Notifications are my life and love on the Apple Watch, especially with interactive third-party apps. A great example: Via notification, you can automatically approve two-factor requests via a push from authentication app Duo. Stuff like that makes the Apple Watch feel like the future. I do wish it were slightly easier to customize what notifications push to your phone, or have selective Do Not Disturb settings for each app (I like Twitter notifications, for example, but not all the time).


Bader

Notifications continue to be why I put on the Apple Watch every morning. There is something precise and correct about the beautifully-calibrated Taptic Engine gently reminding me about a notification, keeping the screen off until I lift the Watch towards my face. It's dance so elegant it's almost musical.


Lory

Absolutely. Apple Watch has been indispensable for my productivity. I'm always connected to things that are important to me, like messages from the writing team in Slack, or reminders that I have deadlines coming up in Trello. With apps like Dark Sky and Weather Live, I get alerts about upcoming rainstorms. When I get a text message, I don't have to stop a conversation in order to check it. I can simply glance down at my wrist and decide if it is something I need to address immediately, or can wait until later.

When people ask me why Apple Watch is such a big deal, I point out the notifications as one of the best features of the device. No matter what amount of technology you are into, smartwatch notifications are useful.


Mikah

Notifications are -- for me -- the single most important Apple Watch feature. I can keep my iPhone 6s Plus stashed away in my pocket or bag and use the watch to help me decide whether its larger, cumbersome counterpart should come out.

I also use notifications for a pretty specific, but oh-so-important use-case: Not looking like a dork. Let me explain … See, I have an August Smart Lock and it has this nifty feature where it combines GPS fences and accelerometer monitoring to unlock the door as you approach your home. Problem is, it doesn't always work. I used to walk up to the door all cool-like, only to find myself running into it as I tried to push open a still-locked door in one smooth move. Now my Apple Watch buzzes me on my wrist as I approach, letting me know the auto-unlock has been triggered. If it doesn't buzz I know I shouldn't try to smoothly glide through the door. Yes, I'm ridiculous.


Gartenberg

Messages are great, especially with animated emoji. Love seeming incoming calls I can quickly reject with a nice canned message. I'm also pretty fond of Quartz, CNN, and Dark Sky.


Georgia

Notifications have been life-changing for me. It allows me to quickly know if one of my clients is in distress or if I am needed back home. Even out shopping it will allow me to know if I should get something extra or answer the phone quickly without having to search through my purse for my phone. I find that always being able to be reached is a bit of a nuisance but it is worth the trade off.


Rene

Notifications on Apple Watch are the "killer app". I can quickly see messages, mail, tweets, and other alerts come in, triage them, and either go on about my business or stop and make sure something important isn't missed.

The amount of stress Apple Watch notifications have taken out of my life is remarkable, and the best thing about it for me.

Do you still send sketches, heartbeats, and taps? How useful has the Friends button and hub been?


Serenity

I wish I did. I loved the concept of sketches when Apple announced it… and so far I have not used it much at all. Sigh. In part, I worry that the send-and-notification process is a little buggy -- I can't send time-sensitive sketches without worrying my recipient may not get it for hours.

Also, I wear my watch on my left wrist (my dominant hand), so I suck at drawing with my right index finger.


Bader

Nope.


Lory

I use Digital Touch somewhat regularly with my mom. She and I send each other silly little sketches just as a way to say "Hi" and "I love you." It's pretty great because I can let my mom know I'm thinking about her without having to stop everything and make a phone call. If I knew more people with an Apple Watch, I'd probably use it more. I tried sending Serenity and Rene sketches on Apple Watch once, but they didn't respond. It kinda made me sad. FYI: If someone sends you a Digital Touch, send one back.

I don't really use the Friends hub at all, mostly because I usually use Apple Watch to react to communications, not start them. I'm not a fan of phone calls or voice dictation on Apple Watch. It still feels a little too Dick Tracy to me. So, I'm more likely to start a call or text message from my iPhone, which is when looking up a contact would be most relevant.


Mikah

Short answer: No. Long answer: No way. I think I've sent a few sketches, heartbeats, and taps, but those were mostly during the first few weeks of owning the device.

I find the sketches don't quite respond to exactly what my finger is doing; I just end up frustrated with a pile of digital spaghetti on my screen that was supposed to be a drawing of my dog. The heartbeat thing was always a little creepy to me, especially given that my significant other doesn't own an Apple Watch (he's lucky I haven't fired him).

I know these communication features were supposed to really drive home the point that the watch is the most personal device Apple makes, but the features ended up being a little more gimmicky in practice than I think was intended.


Gartenberg

I don't think I've ever sent a sketch, heartbeat or tap to anyone except when at Apple to other Apple folks. Even then, only once. Friends button, and hub is one of those things that probably were thought to be really important in development, and far less useful in practice. In general, leading the behavior of the crown, and button has a learning curve. I also find a lot of unwanted screenshots that come from trying to use Apple Pay with a very unintuitable double click.


Georgia

No, I have completely given up on all sketches and heartbeats. They were cute ideas but in the end not really useful or helpful. The screen is too small to properly sketch on (plus Rene's sketches always put me to shame) and the tapping seemed more pushy than informative. I pretty much forgot that any of these features were even on my watch.


Rene

I used Digital Touch but, over time, fewer and fewer people returned them. Now, desert. Sad, lonely desert.

How about for triaging messages and mail?


Serenity

Messages, sure: I love the dictation feature. (When it works.) But email almost never. I have most email notifications turned off, honestly.


Bader

I use Outlook, which allows me to Archive or Delete incoming emails from my Focused Inbox, deluding me into thinking I can approach Inbox Zero. I love being able to whitelist only the important apps, so that if my iPhone vibrates in my pocket I can take for granted it's nothing important and I can ignore it -- until my will breaks and I'm back, phone out, scrolling once again through Instagram.

And while I occasionally use Siri to respond to Messages, I prefer to read them and use my iPhone to type, which is (unfortunately) usually faster and a lot more accurate. Maybe it's my thick Canadian accent that keeps tripping up poor Siri. Gosh knows she tries.


Lory

I definitely use my Apple Watch to triage messages. If I'm in the middle of a conversation, it is much less intrusive to glance at my wrist than pull out my iPhone. I prefer checking texts on Apple Watch because I can easily see if it is something I want to drop everything and respond to, or if it is something that can wait until a more convenient time.

As for triaging mail, not really. I use the Outlook app on Apple Watch, which is great because it only notifies me of emails sent to my Focused inbox. But, I'm not likely to check or respond to emails from my wrist. It might be due to the fact that I don't like using voice dictation and the pre-made responses seem so impersonal, even though I've customized them with my own words. I'm more likely to just pull out my iPhone and swipe-to-delete a bunch of emails at once instead of reacting to them individually on my Apple Watch.


Mikah

I don't have email notifications turned on anywhere; it's the one bit of stress-reduction I've allowed myself. As for messages, however, the Apple Watch is an invaluable tool for deciding what does and doesn't need my attention immediately.

Heck, I often use the dictation features to reply directly from my watch.


Gartenberg

I love both. Often respond to messages, and mail triage is faster than taking out the phone.


Georgia

I have turned off receiving notifications from my email messages, such stress relief as they were mostly spam. I will use my Apple Watch to triage messages and respond using dictation or a quick reply.


Rene

I need to learn to read ahead. Yes. This. Just like my iPhone makes it so I don't have to run back to my Mac nearly as often, Apple Watch makes it so I don't have to reach for my iPhone nearly as often. It's the natural progression of personal computing.

Apple Watch as a remote control, how's that worked out?


Serenity

I love it for controlling music in the car via Siri, or glance. (It's the only glance I use apart from Find My iPhone.) Not so much for Apple TV.


Bader

Never used it that way, to be honest. Remote is an app, and I just don't use apps on the Watch.


Lory

I tend to use the Apple Watch Remote app more as a novelty than anything else. I like that I can control playback on Apple TV and iTunes on my computer from my wrist, but it's not totally comfortable to keep my wrist turned sideways while I tap, tap, tap to the next song or show. The Siri Remote just works better for me on Apple TV, which is where I stream most of my audio and video content.

I don't own any Apple Watch connected lights, but I have a feeling I'd be all up in that business if I did. I don't even like reaching over from the couch to turn on the lights. I'd be so happy if all of my fixtures were fitted with Philips Hue bulbs that I could turn on and off with just a tap on the wrist.


Mikah

Meh. I'm sorry, Siri, but with Alexa in my house I don't really need your help with the Philips Hue lights.

I've used the Apple Watch a couple times to change the channel on my Apple TV, but I much prefer the remote. Miraculously, I've somehow avoided losing my 3rd- and 4th-gen. Apple TV remotes for longer than a few minutes.

All in all, I just like to have my watch do what it's really good at -- for me, that doesn't include remote control functionality.


Gartenberg

It's a great substitute for Apple TV remote when it's lost somewhere in the couch cushions. I've also used it for HomeKit features but frankly find Alexa more adept than Siri for doing what I want done. "Hey Siri" works for me about half the time, I find Serenity's trick of using it "push to talk" to make it a lot more reliable.


Georgia

No


Rene

Being able to lift my wrist and say "Hey Siri, turn on the studio lights", or "make the lights purple" is everything I wanted from the future. Even manual remote control, like the Apple TV remote, is great for when you can't find the physical Siri remote.

I wish there was more I could control right now, but my car isn't compatible and home automation is still in its nascency.

What about Apple Pay and Wallet on your Apple Watch?


Serenity

I love the idea, but I wish it were easier to trigger the NFC without having to scratch your screen up against the terminal. In airports, this should be perfect, but most of the scanners are designed to fit phones underneath them -- not so much wrists + Apple Watches.


Bader

In theory, sure. In practice, my phone is just a superior conduit. Maybe it's my short T-Rex arms, but I never find it comfortable to contort my wrist towards the merchant terminal. Same with boarding passes. I always end up with my iPhone in hand.


Lory

I've actually only used Apple Pay once and it was at an Apple Store. None of the retail shops that I patronize support Apple Pay, so I've never really had the opportunity to see how easy or difficult it is to use.


Mikah

There aren't enough places in my town that offer Apple Pay support, sadly, so I've never used it on my wrist. That said, goodness gracious do I wish I could. It seems super simple, super intuitive, and also friggin' cool. I, for one, welcome our wrist-based payment overlords.


Gartenberg

I use both all the time. Nothing more 21st century than paying for stuff with your watch. Downside? Still having to click, input loyalty numbers, and sign for stuff makes it less useful. Oddly, airplane boarding would be great except Watch doesn't fit under a lot of scanners, taking it off locks it, which then needs to be unlocked. Not a time saver. Fun using it the first time before people knew what it was, and just saying "magic" to bewildered gate agents.


Georgia

I hope it comes to Canada soon with a card that I use, but until then I will just be jealous of all my friends who get to show off using it.


Rene

A couple flights ago I scanned into the airport using the boarding pass on my watch then went to Starbucks, ordered, paid, and left while the person beside me was still digging for change.

It's still rare enough that when I use Apple Pay at a drive through or pick up tickets at the cinema, the person behind the counter inevitably frowns, then freaks at how cool it is. And I smile along with them, every time.

Did I say notifications were the killer app? I meant convenience, and this is part and parcel with that.

Do you use Apple Watch apps, and which ones?


Serenity

I use Apple Watch glances and notifications, which occasionally launch apps. I almost never open an app directly unless I'm bored and fiddling. My complications include Pedometer++ and Activity++, Carrot Weather, Just Press Record, and ETA. I do enjoy using the Camera Remote app for framing photos (though I wish it supported video), and Yelp is one of the few apps I think is doing it right with the kind of data presented on the watch face. But overall, apps are just too complicated for this screen. And SLOW. So slow.


Bader

I mean, in theory. I like Todoist, Authy, The Weather Network, and I occasionally tap on Transit App before getting frustrated with its interminably long loading times and pulling out my phone, but apps just aren't fast enough on the Watch to make them useful. I try the tap-action-look workflow, where, if I'm checking for the next bus I'll open Transit App, put on my shoes, and come back to the app, but more often that 10 second interval isn't long enough to load the app data.

Worse, app loading isn't consistent. If I knew it would take 10 seconds -- 15 even -- to load Transit, but load it would every time, that would be one thing. But more often than not I'm forced to quit the app and reload it, which not only defeats the purpose but undermines it.

The best app experiences on the Watch are the ones that live in notifications. These headless apps are, I think, going to increasingly represent the Apple Watch ecosystem most successfully.


Lory

In addition to the included Apple Apps, I have Just Press Record, Wunderlist, Kitchen Stories, Dark Sky, Calcbot, Mooncast, 1Password, Outlook, HOOKED, Slack Workflow, MacID, Slow Shutter Cam, Apple Store, Poison Maps, Google Maps, Skype, and Trello.

I love apps and love trying ones that have Apple Watch support. So, I always start a new app on my Apple Watch. If it isn't Watch-friendly, or I don't think I'll use it very often, I'll remove it. I have my app icons organized in a triangle, listed by color. I try to keep the triangle shape, but I've grown beyond it by two stragglers at this point. I wish I could hide some of the native Apple apps, like Stocks, Calendar, and Mail, which I don't use on Apple Watch at all.


Mikah

Do notifications count? I get several notifications sent to my Watch, but I don't use many of those apps directly on the device. In fact, now that I think about it, I don't really use any third-party Apple Watch apps. I'd almost always prefer to use them on my phone.

If glances and complications count, then Carrot Weather is the one app that gets a pass -- I love its weather complication.


Gartenberg

Quartz, CNN, Dark Sky, Pedometer, Sleep,and Activity ++, cloud magic and, the rather awesome Z'manim app from Berman studios that handles the complicated calculations of the daily Hebrew calendar. They're all great examples of the power of glanceable information.


Georgia

Honestly I have slowly stopped using all my Apple Watch apps. Hoping that changes with the next watchOS.


Rene

Not many. Authy and the Underscore David Smith apps — Pedometer++, Sleep++, most of all, and it's brilliant on Apple Watch. Right now apps on Watch are treated like apps on iPhone or iPad, and I think that'll have to change. Just like iPhone apps aren't the same as Mac apps, Watch apps will have to become their own thing.

And maybe that won't even be apps. Once upon a time there were web sites, then APIs became a thing and web services took over. Today I can access all sorts of internet content without opening a browser.

Likewise, Extensibility has broken up apps. They're no longer confined to an app bundle. You can now share and perform actions from other apps, access widgets in a shade, and even project interfaces onto other screens. Features have been set free.

Watch, I think, is better suited for that world, where features are pushed to you when and where you need them, rather than living on a home screen or in a binary where you have to go find them.

Any Apple Watch accessories you've fallen in love with?


Serenity

Twelve South's Forté charging stand is excellent, and gets daily use. Still looking for the perfect "Watch + Accessories" traveling case.


Bader

I really like the Nomad Pod, well-built and attractive Apple Watch charger that doubles as a travel battery. With an 1,800mAh cell, it can charge the Apple Watch three or so times without no external power source, and is easily charged via microUSB. I never travel without it.


Lory

I love the space black Milanese Loop, but I haven't invested in any accessories other than bands right now. I'd love a nice night stand charger mount.


Mikah

YES! The EnBlue Technology Premium One W2 is a combination iPhone / Apple Watch dock, and boy is it good looking. I purchased the silver and mahogany version and it looks beautiful on my nightstand. I love how the Apple Watch docking portion lets you place the watch vertically or horizontally (so you can access nightstand mode). It also has micro-suction pads on the bottom -- it won't move around as you take and remove your devices but it won't damage your nightstand with adhesives.

It comes with a built-in lightning cable for your phone and a clever design with a hidden magnetic plate to thread through your Apple Watch charger. I seriously love this dock.


Gartenberg

I haven't seen any that could justify their cost with function. I'm happy to keep and open mind but so far the accessory market has been a non-starter for me. It's tough to create useful accessories for something that is and of itself an accessory.


Georgia

I like my Griffin Apple Watch stand.


Rene

I have a few that I've tried out but nothing I use regularly. Except for more bands. Do those count? (And can anyone recommend a good band organizer?)

What do you love most about Apple Watch?


Serenity

It keeps surprising me. Every time I think I've figured out the "big thing" I use it for, someone builds a smart complication, or I download a new app with great notification interactions. Apple Watch has its downsides and room for improvement, but it makes me so excited for the future of wearable tech.

Also, the bands are pretty fantastic. And Ping My iPhone: I would pay $249 just for that digital button.


Bader

It just works. I know that's trite, but my favorite pieces of technology are the ones I don't have to think about. I don't have to analyze the Watch's utility, since at its core it's a timepiece that happens to convey my notifications. And yes, there are cheaper options out there -- Pebble's nice Time Round comes to mind -- but none have the hooks into iOS that the Watch has. From actionable notifications to Siri to the growing variety of straps, the experience more than justifies the (admittedly steep) investment.


Lory

It's the future I've always dreamed of since the first time I read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I can do more with the four-inch device on my wrist than I could do on a full computer when I was a kid. I never thought I'd see the day when science fiction turned into reality. Now we just need that time machine.


Mikah

It all goes back to notifications for me. The Apple Watch is most valuable to me as a subtle messenger for its larger brethren. It's also a nice piece of jewelry that I can easily customize to match my outfit.


Gartenberg

freedom, and freedom from having to constantly take out my rather large 6s+


Georgia

It saves me time, allows me to travel without my iPhone, and keeps me connected. Plus it is so easy to change the watch bands. Apple did an amazing job on the Apple Watch. I can change bands in less than 30 seconds and that is a great feeling.


Rene

Convenience. Like I said up top, the PC freed us from the mainframe, the laptop from the desktop, the phone from the laptop, and now the watch from the phone. I can walk around with a computer strapped to my wrist and, while I can't do as much as I could on a phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop, I can do enough that I don't have to go running back every few minutes.

Yes, Gartenberg, Canada, like Belgium, has freedom.

Oh, and it's also a pretty fantastic looking device, with a band swap mechanism that school traditional manufacturers. (That's often the best part of a company like Apple entering a new product category — the wake up call.)

What do you really not like about Apple Watch?


Serenity

Non-native apps are slow. Native apps are still slow. Battery life isn't as good as it should be on the 38mm. Non-always-on display can be a pain. Not enough faces or complication customization. Let me remap the Friends side button to Workout. Let me actually record my non-running workouts accurately. Per-app notification muting needs to be a thing. Apps and the carousel home screen should be rethought and redesigned.


Bader

It. Needs. To. Be. Faster. I understand why Apple released the product when it did, and with the processing constraints it has, but like the enormous transition from the original iPad to the iPad 2, I think we'll see a similar leap with the second-generation Watch. And with a more powerful, modern-efficient SoC, find a way to incorporate an always-on display. I don't need higher density; I need higher availability.


Lory

I'd really love to be untethered from my iPhone. If Apple Watch could work autonomously, it would make a lot more sense as a useful device. One could choose to leave the house with or without their phones and know that Apple Watch has them covered for everything they might possibly need.

I know it seems silly, but I also don't like that there is no keyboard support whatsoever on Apple Watch. I realize that the screen size is so small that it would make typing a total drag, but I'd like the option if I want to.

Apps also run really slow on Apple Watch. If I'm looking up directions in the Maps app or need to get a password in 1Password, it takes forever to load. The next generation of Apple Watch needs a faster processor.


Mikah

Two things:

I wish it was (dare I say) thinner so it felt just a bit less noticeable. I'm goin' with Gartenberg -- in a perfect world, the watch would stay charged for at least a week. I want to use it to track my sleep, but I don't trust myself to use something like David Smith's Sleep++. I'd almost certainly forget to put it on the charger at the correct times.


Gartenberg

I don't love charging every day, and would prefer an always on display.


Georgia

That the watch face does not always display the time.


Rene

The lack of ambient time. I realize it would be a battery hit, but I want to be able to see the time all the time.

A lot of my basic issues will be solved by the advancement of technology. The S1 computer on a chip will be updated to an S2 and S3 and so on, and it'll add GPS and LTE while maintaining battery life and not burning my wrist off.

That's the worst part though — being so close. Siri is so close to being responsive, features are so close to being useful, that it's frustrating to wait.

There's some interface and interactivity that can and should be cleaned up and made more coherent, of course,

Where would you like to see Apple Watch go next?


Serenity

Fix Siri. Audio communication is the right way to go with this thing, but Siri is only half-responsive, and makes errors when it does respond in the first place. If Apple improves Siri and reevaluates the place apps have on the watch while making the internals a bit faster, I will be a happy cupcake.


Bader

Hardware-wise, we're on the right path. Thinner, faster, longer-lasting. That's going to happen. Apple is really good at that stuff.

The software experience needs a bit of a retooling. The app constellation is great in theory, but it's mostly hidden. Glances, too, have been largely wasted, and could be one of the Watch's defining features if properly implemented. I love the ideas; the execution needs work.


Lory

As I mentioned above, I'd like to see the Apple Watch become autonomous from the iPhone. I think it would win over a lot of fence walkers that haven't made a smartwatch purchase yet.


Mikah

To space! Oh, I misunderstood the question. I'd like to see the Apple Watch get thinner so it looks that much better as a fashion object. I also want it to be about 100 times more responsive than it currently is -- even native apps don't quite live up to my expectations in terms of responsiveness. Selfishly, I'd also like to see more bands made specifically for the space gray sport. I JUST WANT A COLOR-MATCHED MILANESE LOOP.


Gartenberg

Thinner, and lighter are always desirable. Water resistance for at least swimming, and showering should be table stakes. Other than Tim Cook, I don't know anyone who says they shower with theirs.


Georgia

Thinner and always displaying time.


Rene

Thinner would be great. It doesn't quite fit under all my cuffs right now. But I wouldn't want to give up any battery life at this point either.

I'd love the display to fill more of the screen as well. Simplifying the navigation — or allowing more customization is also high on my list. I'd like to reassign the side button, for example.

I know some people want a round version, which makes as much sense as an old Bell-style banana shaped phone or horse shaped car or round iMac, but I get the sentiment. If Apple did ever do that, they'd need to do what no one else has managed to do, though, and that's make a truly circular-optimized interface.

Other than that, faster, more reliable Siri, a better "app" model, and the type of surprises Apple's historically great at delivering. That's all I want. Heh.

Apple Watch one year later, what's your bottom line?


Serenity

It's a heck of a first-generation product from the company. They shot for the moon, and even though the Apple Watch isn't perfect, it's good ground work for the future. Eagerly awaiting watchOS 3 and the new Apple Watch (though I worry about how much it will cost me).


Bader

Apple Watch is a great 1.0, likely the best the company has ever released.


Lory

I personally can't live without my Apple Watch. It has improved my productivity and made my life more convenient. If I ever do get off of my butt and start to exercise more, I know that it will provide me with useful fitness data. I love the way it looks and am happy with the convenience of being able to take care of some important things from my wrist.

That being said, when someone asks me, "Why would I need an Apple Watch?", I don't have a good answer for them. Everything about Apple Watch screams convenience, but it isn't a necessary device for the average person. It is a compliment to a preexisting mobile lifestyle, but not a replacement. That's one reason why I think an untethered Apple Watch would do so well. It could become a replacement device for people that don't want to carry a phone around with them all of the time.


Mikah

Y'know how sometimes your pet misbehaves by perhaps, say, dragging bits of an entire toilet paper roll all throughout your house? And y'know how you still love said pet despite it disappointing you? Well, the Apple Watch is the sometimes-disappointing-toilet-paper-dog on my wrist. I love my Apple Watch and most of the time we have a great relationship -- it makes me happy by making my life a little easier. But there are days when I just look at it and go, "NO TREATS FOR YOU. You're better than this."

But (in this ongoing metaphor I've created) the Apple Watch is still just a version-one puppy; it'll grow up and get far more disciplined.


Gartenberg

Watch gets tagged with being a v1 product like the first iPhone. It's not the case, it's a breakthrough product with amazing features that were there from day one, and just keep getting better. One thing from the law of unintended consequences is people glancing at their wrists to check messages in the course of social settings. Unfortunately, in our culture, glancing at one's watch usually means boredom, and I can't wait for this thing to end. I've been chastised on more than one occasion. Also, talking on your wrist walking down the street will get you stares.


Georgia

For a first generation product I think that Apple did a great job on the Apple Watch, it is not perfect but it works really well and is a lot of fun to use.


Rene

The best way to categorize how I feel about Apple Watch is that, on the rare occasion I forget to put it on, I miss it immediately and immensely. The technology is tremendous but so is the fashion, and that's something I never expected.

Sure, there are features I don't use and plenty of frustrations in the one I do, but a year later and Apple Watch has become almost indispensable to me. It's made my life better and more manageable, less stressful and more convenient, in numerous way.

I'm glad I got in on it early and I've enjoyed the ride so far. I can't wait to see where Apple takes Watch next.