"It took three days--three long, often confusing and frustrating days--for me to fall for the Apple Watch. But once I fell, I fell hard.”
This is from Farhad Manjoo, a tech writer for The New York Times, in his review of the Apple Watch. At 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, a barrage of Apple Watch reviews hit the Internet from reviewers who’ve spent the past week living with and learning about Apple’s first new product offering in five years. The watch is officially available for preorder Friday, April 10 and could be yours for as little as $349 (or as much as $17,000). To help you finally put your "Should I or shouldn’t I?” spending urges to rest, Inc. curated some of the web’s best Apple Watch reviews.
1. Not everything works like a charm just yet
"As you learn the taps over time,” Manjoo continues, "you will begin to register some of [the notifications] almost subconsciously: incoming phone calls and alarms feel throbbing and insistent, a text feels like a gentle massage from a friendly bumblebee, and a coming calendar appointment is like the persistent pluck of a harp. After a few days, I began to get snippets of information from the digital world without having to look at the screen--or, if I had to look, I glanced for a few seconds rather than minutes.”
Manjoo claims third-party apps are "mostly useless” at the moment and Siri fumbled with requests about as often as she got them right. But when using the watch to pay for groceries or present a boarding pass, he says the watch works like magic.
"If such on-body messaging systems become more pervasive, wearable devices can become more than a mere flashy accessory to the phone. The Apple Watch could usher in a transformation of social norms just as profound as those we saw with its brother, the smartphone--except, amazingly, in reverse.”
2. It’s still not for everybody, but someday it could be
"Not everyone has an iPhone 5 or later, which is required for the watch to work,” writes Lauren Goode in her review for Re/code. "Not everyone wants her wrist pulsing with notifications, finds animated emojis thrilling or needs to control an Apple TV with her wrist. Smartwatches can sometimes feel like a solution in search of a problem.”
After wearing the stainless-steel version of the Watch for a week, Goode says Apple has made a pretty strong case for smartwatch entering the mainstream.
"From a technology standpoint, it is an extension of the iPhone. And just like the smartphone, it starts to change your habits over time. 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.”
3. Notifications can be absolutely maddening
The Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel spent "A Day in the Life”" in a wonderful interactive review. The Verge gave the watch an overall score of 7 out of 10, noting the cool-factor of the watch’s taptic engine and the endless possibilities available to developers. But the watch’s steep price point--combined with a handful of hiccups experienced with loading times and location services--brought down the overall experience.
"Let’s just get this out of the way,” Patel writes. "The Apple Watch, as I reviewed it for the past week and a half, 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... Apple tells me that upcoming software updates will address these performance issues, but for right now, they’re there, and they’re what I’ve been thinking about every morning as I get ready for work.”
Notifications were perhaps Patel’s biggest qualms with the watch--they’re preset to come in at "full blast,” so it’s common for relatively minor notifications like Instagram likes or Twitter follower suggestions to interrupt you mid-conversation. He also calls Apple’s new animated emojis "nightmare fuel,” so there’s that.
4. It might make you look like an idiot, but at least you’ll be a healthy idiot
"I’ve found the experience somewhat inferior to that with a conventional wristwatch, due to one small issue,” writes Bloomberg’s Joshua Topolsky. "The Apple Watch activates its screen only when it thinks you’re looking at it. Sometimes a subtle twist of your wrist will do, but sometimes it takes… more. Many times while using the watch, I had to swing my wrist in an exaggerated upward motion to bring the display to life. Think about the way people normally look at their watches, then make it twice as aggressive. As a normal watch-wearer, the idea that I might look down at my wrist and not see the time was annoying.”
Topolsky says one of the watch’s best features is the new Activity app, which monitors the user’s daily exercise and calories burned. It also sends the user a notification at least once every hour to stand up and move around, which made Topolsky feel noticeably better throughout the day.
"The watch is not life-changing," he continues. "It is, however, excellent. Apple will sell millions of these devices, and many people will love and obsess over them. It is a wonderful component of a big ecosystem that the company has carefully built over many years. It is more seamless and simple than any of its counterparts in the marketplace. It is, without question, the best smartwatch in the world.”