The usual suspects have been playing around with the Apple Watch for the past week and we’ve put together a sampling of what these reviewers have to say about the first all-new Apple product launch since the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
Nilay Patel has been skeptical of the Apple Watch ever since its initial announcement, and has often questioned Apple’s approach with the wearable device. So it’s probably quite fitting that someone that would take a look at the Apple Watch with a critical eye instead of through rose-colored glasses would take the lead on The Verge’s review.
[The Apple Watch] is kind of slow. There’s no getting around it, no way to talk about all of its interface ideas and obvious potential and hints of genius without noting that sometimes it stutters loading notifications… Sometimes apps take forever to load, and sometimes third-party apps never really load at all. Sometimes it’s just unresponsive for a few seconds while it thinks and then it comes back.
Patel adds, however, that Apple is planning to issue a software update that will solve these responsiveness issues. The update is supposed to land before the device ends up in customer hands, so we’re hoping that the performance woes are simply a prototype software issues.
Patel also indicated that the competing methods to interact with the interface (Digital Crown, Side Button, Touch Screen, Force Touch) a bit confusing for new users. In the end, Patel feels that perhaps Apple bit off a bit more than it could chew with the Apple Watch.
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… If you’re going to buy an Apple Watch, I’d recommend buying a Sport model; I wouldn’t spend money on how it looks until Apple completes the task of figuring out what it does.
Damning with faint praise…
Lauren Goode of Re/code was a bit more positive of the Apple Watch, although her review of the device wasn’t nearly as exhaustive as Patel’s. Goode found the design of the Apple Watch to be best of the current crop of smartwatches, stating:
I’ve worn my fair share of smartwatches and none are as good-looking as Apple Watch. My “next-best” design award goes to the round-faced Moto 360, but its display isn’t as rich-looking.
Android Wear folks may take issue with that comment given the overall praise that the Moto 360’s design has received (save for its “flat tire”). That being said, Goode’s extolled the benefits of the 8GB of internal storage for packing away photos, making (and receiving) phone calls on the watch when your iPhone is in range, and its capabilities as a “Fitbit-killer.” Goode even praised the Apple Watch’s battery life, stating that it lasted all day and into the night on a single charge.
In closing, Goode continued her positive review of the smartwatch, concluding:
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.
The New York Times
Farmed Manjoo of The New York Times echoed Patel’s sentiments that the learning curve for using the Apple Watch is rather steep and comments that his initial experience was “often confusing and frustrating” before he “fell hard” for the device. The interesting takeaway for Manjoo was that he learned to rely less on his smartphone and instead take advantage of the quick glances at notifications that are made possible with a smartwatch. This is a side effect that his wife greatly appreciated.
Apple is on to something with the device. The Watch is just useful enough to prove that the tech industry’s fixation on computers that people can wear may soon bear fruit. In that way, using the Apple Watch over the last week reminded me of using the first iPhone… Similarly, the most exciting thing about the Apple Watch isn’t the device itself, but the new tech vistas that may be opened by the first mainstream wearable computer.
Manjoo had no trouble using Apple Pay on the watch and made heavy use of Siri as his primary method of input. Unfortunately, Siri is still pretty much “hit-or-miss” compared to competing solutions like Google Now and Cortana. Third-party apps were also an issue and the buzzing notifications were quite an annoyance at times.
In summary, Manjoo opined, “The first Apple Watch may not be for you — but someday soon, it will change your world.”
This is just a small sampling of the numerous Apple Watch reviews that are springing up around the web today. To read a few more, be sure to check out Mashable, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, CNet, and Bloomberg Business. And of course, we'll have our own hands-on opinion of the Apple Watch very soon as well, here at HotHardware.