Is it time to invest in wearable tech?
11/15/2015 | Fernando Lyons
Early in my childhood, I imagined a day where we would have high-tech computer watches on our arm, in which we could request and receive information via verbal command and communicate with our friends, just like in my favorite movies, TV shows and cartoons. Well, we are all closer to that future I imagined, as the era of wearable technologies and smartwatches is upon us.
Since I am already well vested in the Apple eco-system, I decided to pick up an Apple Watch. There are a couple of sizes 38mm and 42mm, and models to choose from, including the Watch Sport ($349-$399), the Watch ($549-$1099), and the Watch Watch Edition ($10,000-$15,000). Visually speaking, each model is well-designed and beautiful, and most people will probably have a hard time discerning a difference between the models. Of course, the more expensive models are made of higher quality materials, such as sapphire screens, and stainless steel or 18K gold casings. I opted for the 42mm Sport model, since I plan on putting the watch to heavy use as a workout companion and fitness tracker.
The Apple Watch is easy to setup and pair with an iPhone, so users can be wearing and fully utilizing the device within a couple of minutes of unboxing it. No computer is required for setup. Charging is made simple with the inclusion of a magnetic charger that connects to the back of the watch. There have been some reviews stating that the watch needs to be charged daily, however, at the end of most days, I have between 60%-50% battery life, so I can go two days between charging my Apple Watch. As I am typing this at 11:11 PM, I have 49% remaining, after a day of heavy watch usage. Navigating the Apple Watch is pretty simple, and most users with smartphones will have no problems using the Apple Watch, as most commands and swiping gestures will be familiar.
The Apple watch is highly customizable. There are a variety of watch faces available, and the latest OS2 update even allows users to use photographs synced from their iPhone as their watch
face. Users can move and drag items to arrange the information that is displayed on their watch face. For the fashion conscious group, the watch bands are easily swappable, and there
are a variety of watch band styles and colors available for purchase.
Most of the notifications that users receive on their iPhone, such as text messages, reminders, calendar events, news updates, scores, etc., will also be displayed on the Apple Watch, which will allow users to keep their phone in their pockets. Users can respond to text messages directly from the device using either a canned response, or voice to text translation, however, there is no native keypad for users to type a response. Phone calls can even be taken and made from the Apple Watch, and the audio quality is really exceptional, especially considering the small size of the built-in speakers. Calls are placed by selecting a contact person from the contacts wheel. As mentioned previously, there is no native keypad for dialing or texting, however, there are some good third party apps out there, like Watch Keypad ($.99 on the Apple App Store), which will allow users to dial numbers and type text messages.
The fitness tracking features work great on the Apple Watch. Upon initial setup, users can set their fitness profiles, and goals, and the Apple Watch will send regular reminders (through a pat on the wrist) throughout the day to help users stay on target with their established exercise, caloric burn, and stand goals. The Apple Watch will prompt users to stand for at least one minute out of every hour, which is a useful feature for someone like me, who will sit at my desk for a couple of hours straight working on the computer. There are few integrated fitness apps including Activity and Workout, which are a couple of the best workout apps you will find on any other "smart-fitness' device. All user fitness results are maintained and easily accessible on either the Apple Watch or iPhone. The heart rate monitor app, which can be accessed by swiping up on the watch face, is fairly accurate, and a welcome addition to an overall great fitness device.
Users can control the music on their iPhone using the built-in watch remote. Also, up to two gigabytes of music can be stored on the Apple Watch, so users with a pair of bluetooth headphones can listen to their music, even without an iPhone. The Apple Pay feature is available on the Apple Watch, which allows users to make in-store purchases by simply holding their watch (as long as the user has a credit card information stored to his or her Apple Pay accounts) near a compatible terminal. This feature can also be used without an iPhone.
I rarely use the Siri mobile assistant on my other Apple devices, however, I was able to play around with Siri on the Apple Watch, and have to say that I was pretty impressed. I asked a series of questions from the current temperature, to directions to the local pizza shop, to the score of the in progress Monday Night Football game, and not only did Siri have no problem understanding my requests, but the accurate results were returned quickly. There are some results that will require you to access your phone to obtain, such as contact numbers, but for the most part, I was impressed with Siri's performance, and may use the feature a little more going forward.
As much as I like the Apple Watch, it is a pricey investment. If you are a self-professed technology geek, who is well-invested in the Apple eco-system like me, then the investment is worth it. The Apple Watch is full of features and is currently the best smart watch on the market, but if you are simply looking for a fitness tracking device, there are plenty of less expensive alternatives out there.
+Premium Design, Customization, Fitness Tracker with Heart Rate Monitor, Notifications, Performance, Surprising Call Quality, Voice Dictation, Easy to Navigate, Wireless Music Control, Magnetic Charger, Apple Pay, & Siri
-Pricey, Limited Amount of Compatible Apps, No Native Keypad, & Requires Cell Phone for Network