Brief Apple Watch Thoughts

It’s very interesting watching the Apple developer community and press thinking through and speculating about how the Apple Watch launch will go. I personally think it will be a hit, simply because there’s enough demand for something like this, made by Apple. As a long time Android Wear user though, I think Apple are going to make a few key mistakes that no one will pick up until after it launches.

The first, and least obvious of these is that a watch should always be on. Pebble got this right, Android Wear watches like the LG G Watch R I reviewed get this right as well. I’ve worn watches that turn off and wake up when you look at them, it’s an awkward experience at best. At its worst, it’s just plain annoying. As far as I know, Apple haven’t explicitly said what there’s will do, but with an LCD display and concerns around battery life I’d bet my left leg it turns off the display to save power. Don’t kid yourself, no amount of software polish will make a watch that needs to wake itself up based on your wrist movements an amazing experience.

The second is a bit more nuanced, but the SDK that Apple gave developers revealed something unexpected for me. Almost all the processing for watch apps will be done on your phone. Open a watch app, it launches a companion extension on your phone that runs all the code required. Glance at your watch? Ditto. I suspect that means my iPhone is going to take a decent battery life hit just for being connected to my watch. As a former Pebble owner I know that an always on bluetooth connection tends to take about 5-10% of your battery all by itself. Add to that processing and networking requests being made by your watch to your phone, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that go up even more. iPhone 6 Plus users probably won’t mind, but if you have a 5S or 6, then you can kiss even more of your precious battery life goodbye.

I don’t think either of these things will stop people from buying the first Apple Watch, and as I said, it will still be a hit. It will annoy me personally though, since I’ve seen watches ship with both those flaws already solved.