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Hands-on: 48 hours with the Apple Watch

Michael deAgonia | May 4, 2015
It's seemed like a long wait from when rumors of the Apple Watch first emerged two years ago to April 10, 2015, when Apple began accepting pre-orders. I was one of the lucky early purchasers and my Watch has finally arrived. So was all that anticipation worth it?

Using the Watch is fascinating. Compared to the iPhone and iPad, it is not as intuitive a device, mostly because the interactions happen on such a small display. I spent the first couple of days poking, pressing and guessing what could be done, or even what should be done on the Watch instead of the phone.

I also had to learn the difference between a Glance (a quick way to get at an app's data, which can be accessed from the Watch face by swiping up and then side-to-side to switch between various bits of information), a Notification (which is an alert from an app that's can be accessed from the Watch face by swiping down) and an App (which can be launched by tapping on the associated Glance or Notification, or by pressing the Digital Crown to access the App screen).

Some first impressions

Two days isn't a lot of time to offer a comprehensive look at all the Apple Watch can do, but some things stick out immediately. Here are a few things that struck me in my initial tryout:

" The Watch is better with less. I recommend only keeping the Apps and Glances you actually use, and that you customize the settings to only allow important notifications to get through. Otherwise, all you're doing is shifting interruptions from your pocket to your wrist.

" From what I'd read, I expected the Watch to be slow — and sometimes it is. Some apps take longer to load than others, and sometimes the Watch face will turn itself off before the App or Glance is actually loaded. Hopefully, future software updates by Apple and third-party developers will offer optimizations that speed things up a little.

" There are tons of nice little touches spread throughout the Watch. For instance, you can long-press to clear all notifications; you can use the Settings Glance to ping your iPhone when you misplace it; you can cover the Watch display with your hand to mute and turn off the display. And I really like that the Watch's haptic feedback taps your wrist using different patterns to direct you in Maps; it's now possible to get directions without Siri constantly interrupting currently-playing music.

" The Watch can be used for making payments at retail locations that accept Apple Pay, so I set up all of my credit cards using the Watch app on the iPhone. (Even if you've already set up Apple Pay on your iPhone, you have to do it again for the Watch.) Doing so requires a passcode, and since the passcode need only be entered when you put the Watch on — it detects when the owner takes it off as a security measure — I recommend a longer, more secure passcode (especially since making a payment doesn't require any passcode entry at all).

 

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