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Deep-dive review: The Apple Watch after a month of use

Michael deAgonia | June 9, 2015
Every once in a while, there comes a bit of tech that lets you do what you're already doing, but in simpler and more effective ways. After using the Apple Watch for a month, I've decided that the watch is that kind of product. If you're already in the Apple ecosystem, chances are that you'll want one.

Another app I use all the time: MacID, an app for the iPhone and Watch with a companion app on the Mac. Using Bluetooth, the Mac app will activate a screen lock when the paired phone is out of range. When you return, instead of entering your password on the Mac to log back in, you launch the MacID app on the Watch and touch the Watch screen, and the Mac unlocks for you.

I love using the Watch in the kitchen. There are numerous kitchen/recipe apps that walk you through cooking recipes while also giving you countdowns to the next time you have to flip that steak on the grill. And using Siri, you can do things such as set timers when your hands are full.

Also, Apple Pay makes it so easy to trigger a payment (by pressing the Favorites button on the side of the Watch twice) that I've been applauded by excited store employees after completing my transaction.

One of the last features I'll mention: Maps and the Watch's ability to give directions. When you ask for directions using the Watch, the iPhone stays silent. Instead of audible alerts from the phone, the Watch taps your wrist when it's time to make a turn. If you have to turn left, the Watch taps six times (feeling like a heart beat on your wrist), it taps 12 times for a right turn. (If sounds are enabled, the Watch also plays two distinct tones, one for turning left and one for right.) It's actually very cool; you can be guided to a destination without audible feedback, giving the impression that you always know exactly where you are, even when you don't.

Nothing's perfect

Over the past month, I accumulated a pretty extensive list of complaints, including interface oddities and weird behaviors. Then on May 19th, Apple released the 1.0.1 update and most — but not all — of the major problems went away. For example, apps and Glances load faster than before, but still, sometimes the display will turn itself off before they're finished loading. That is annoying.

There's also no native way to track sleep. The Watch should be able to detect that level of inactivity automatically.

The iPhone tracks elevation and coordinates automatically, and it would be nice if we could see the results of that data factored into workout results, the same way third-party apps like Run Keeper do. After all, the iPhone is collecting that data anyway.

One major area that needs to be fixed involves heart rate monitoring. As of version 1.01, heart rate checks are accurate when performing workouts that involve running, jumping or exercises in which your arms are waving about. I tested Watch's readings to other fitness monitors like the Microsoft Band as well as comparing results with professional workout equipment. In all of those cases, heart rate monitoring was spot on.

 

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