My problem with the Apple Watch has to do with battery life, the small screen, and the fact that it duplicates many of the functions of my phone in a way that seems superfluous and even annoying.
At least one of those negatives is now not as much of an issue.
Today, Apple announced a new version of the Apple Watch that has a bigger screen (32 percent bigger for the 40mm size and 35 percent bigger for the 44mm size over the previous generation), one that extends out to the edges and has a more curved look on the four corners.
"The display is seamlessly integrated into the interface," claimed Jony Ive, the chief design officer, in a promo video. Bigger is better with gadgets, at least so we're told.
The new version lets you take an electrocardiogram to find out if you have heart problems, the first gadget to do that. The device can now detect if you take a fall and can call 911. (Apple said it tested more than 1,000 people and adjusted algorithms to detect these accidents.) The watch uses a faster S4 processor and the display looks brighter than ever.
The speaker, now located on the opposite side of the microphone, is also much louder, making it easier to access Siri, make phone calls, and listen to music streams.
But then the news came that made me do an eye roll all over again.
The Apple Watch Series 4 still only lasts a day (18 hours to be exact), which means you will still be charging up your phone and the Watch Series 4 every single day. I'm not done testing it, but another smartwatch called the TicWatch Pro has several similar features for health tracking and runs on Android Wear, but lasts at least five days on a charge. I still prefer most Fossil smartwatches; some of them last all year and never need a charge.
Apple Watch Series 4 still doesn't even last a day.
That's not long enough to recapture the dying watch market. While Apple says it is the most popular watch in the world, it's still "just a watch" and has not gained much ground with anyone in younger age groups. They still look at their phone for the time, and use apps for everything from health-related activities to making calls. Of the 20 to 30 students I know from working in a mentoring role, only one or two bother wearing a watch.
IDC recently reported that the Apple Watch sold 4.7 million units in the second quarter of 2018, and is at the top of the list of wearables. It's still just ... not exciting.
So why can't I warm up to the device? It's the same reason as always--it just doesn't last long enough, which makes it annoying. Give me at least an extra day, and do something with the interface that makes it easier to use every app, not just the ones that fit nicely on the watch face. It's still a tiny screen, and you're still going to squint.
The Series 4 will be available on September 21 (you can preorder later this week). It comes in silver, gold, and space gray and in stainless steel (there's also a new color called gold stainless). The new model costs $399 for the version without cellular and $499 with cellular. Prices go up from there as you pick high-end bands and materials.