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Apple Watch review: Beautiful form, frustrating function

Susie Ochs | May 5, 2015
The Apple Watch excels as a remote control and activity tracker, but it's slow and requires a Bluetooth connection to your iPhone, among other quirks. Still, it's hard not to admire a smartwatch like this.

I've ordered a Sport band to wear when running, but I've done lighter workouts on my stationary bike while wearing the Milanese Loop, and it was fine. Apple says the water resistance rating is IPX7 (not including leather bands). So you can wear it while exercising, in the rain, and when washing your hands, but submerging it isn't recommended. IPX7 is technically rated as submergible in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. So if you drop it in the toilet accidentally, or jump in the shower without taking it off, it should be fine. Tim Cook says he showers with his — I'm too nervous to try that myself, plus I wouldn't want soap gunking up my pretty Milanese Loop.

Battery life has been excellent. Using the Workout app hits the battery a little harder, so if you work out once (or more!) every day, you might just barely make it to bedtime with power left. But on days I don't use Workout (I'm typically up around 7 a.m. and go to sleep around midnight), it's rare for me to get below 20 percent charge remaining when it's time to plug it in.

This definitely feels like a high-end product, which shouldn't surprise Apple fans. But being pretty isn't enough to justify paying hundreds for the Apple Watch and keeping it charged up and strapped to your wrist every single day. It's got to be useful too.

What's the point?
The Apple Watch isn't designed to suck in your attention — you're supposed to use it in small bursts, so you aren't holding your arm up in the air interminably. For example, I used the Phone app to call for a pizza, tell someone I'd be late, and find out when the library opened, but I wouldn't use it for a sit-and-chat call with a friend. It's handy for checking the weather, periodically triaging incoming email (after you've skimmed a message, you can do a deep "force press" to flag it for followup or delete it), and looking over new notifications to decide if any of them are worth answering on your phone.

But most notifications do need to be dealt with on your phone. The Apple Watch has Handoff, so you can pick up on your iPhone and reply to the same email you just saw on your watch. (Just wake your phone and look for a Mail icon in the bottom-left corner. Swipe that up to open the same message you're viewing on your watch.) You can reply to text messages directly on the watch, which is convenient as well as fun, but dealing with notifications for Facebook, Twitter, email, and most other apps happens back on your iPhone.

 

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