There were some rumblings on Twitter early this morning that Australian Apple stores were quietly opening up for Apple Watch try-ons this morning. I decided to head over to the Broadway Apple Store and see one for myself. To see if this week’s brutal array of reviews were really all that they said they were and to know exactly which style of watch I will be pre-ordering when the flood gates open.
Having owned a Pebble Watch, and several classic watches I really like the idea of a watch. It’s an object that has strong cultural roots threaded throughout history. Both its form and underlying technologies constantly being forced to evolve as the world around it does the same.
Initially my expectations were full of confusion. The embargo lifted earlier this week and reading through early reviews from tech journos it has been nothing less than a brutal blood bath. I was expecting to walk into the store and see a product that was un-finished and un-focused.
It’s beautiful pic.twitter.com/JjlwplfS9G
— Phill Farrugia (@phillfarrugia) April 10, 2015
A draw opened to reveal a stunning display of watches of all colours, sizes and styles. I asked to try on the Stainless Steel Watch with a Milanese Loop band. I asked “is this the 38mm?”, “No that’s the 42mm”. It was immediately obvious that this watch was not a half-finished product. It was hard to discern this as something like a ‘geeky tech watch’. Infact it was the exact opposite. It was beautiful.
I was concerned that the 42mm would be too bulky and that the Milanese Loop band would feel uncomfortable. Instead it felt smooth and forgiving on the wrist, something that would be comfortable worn for an entire day without noticing discomfort. The 38mm watch seemed small on my wrists so it was settled already which watch I would be ordering.
In terms of software everything was exactly as I expected it to be. Having spent a few months working with WatchKit I already had a sense of where everything was and what was expected.
The potential for Glances is immediately obvious. This is where the watch is headed. Instead of taking the time to glance at your phone, being able to incredibly quickly see everything you need at a glance is really valuable.
Any doubts that the Watch was slow and underpowered were quickly dispelled. Swiping around is fast, apps load quick and transitions are smooth. I did see a loading indicator on the Weather Glance but other than this there were no issues.
One thing that became clear is that Apple’s built-in apps like Music, Messages, Calendar, Passbook, Siri and Maps are fantastic representations of the experiences we will be capable of building in the future.
They are clear and simple, using the same paradigms I’ve seen before in WatchKit and yet the way they use them is distinct. Every app uses the same small set of UI elements and yet they all in there own way feel different. They provide a subtle level of contextual relevance as you move around.
These system apps distill some of the most common digital interactions we already know from our phones and computers, down to their essence. As a user you see only the most dire information needed, nothing more. All of the crust, the unnecessary extras are gone. Out of the way. It’s incredibly focused.
Bringing value to technology is at its core about using tools to enhance the human experience. From my initial experience with Apple Watch I can already see it as a profound materialisation of technology at its most mature and refined. It no longer demands our immediate attention, instead it is ready when we are ready.