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My year with the Apple Watch: Good-looking tech, still flawed

Michael deAgonia | April 29, 2016
It's got a lot going for it as a wearable, but remains a work in progress.

And now for the disappointments

Over the past year, there have been several updates to the Watch software that have improved speed and performance of first- and third-party applications and glances, as well as general reliability. The upgrade process itself is still cumbersome and slow, however. First the software must be downloaded to the iPhone. Then the iPhone transfers the software (slowly) to the Watch. Then the Watch installs said software (slowly) -- assuming it's within range, has over 50% battery life and is connected to power.

See my point?

While the overall process works, it could use some tweaking, including easing up on some of the conditions necessary to start an update.

On the Watch itself, there are a few things that haven't been implemented well, to the point I forget the features even exist.

I rarely access anything using the Favorites button next to the Digital Crown. You remember the Favorites button, right? It's used for quick access to the more social aspects of the Watch. These include quick access to a screen where you can finger-sketch a drawing and send it to a favorite contact, or send a tap to get a friend's attention. You can also send your heartbeat to someone, which you'll almost certainly do when you get the Watch (and find someone to send it to) and then forget to do ever again.

These are all fun things to do, and are actually pretty cool when you see them in action. But the reliance on the Favorites button -- a button you won't use for much else -- means they're effectively out of sight. I have many, many friends that have an Apple Watch and to whom I could be connecting with. But I don't, because I just forget the features are there.

My biggest annoyance

When I said earlier that there are times I'm hating on the Watch, it's not really the timepiece itself; it's the ability (or lack thereof) to use it as a fitness accessory. From day one, I have had problems getting the Workout app to properly monitor my heart rate while lifting weights, and from day one, I've gotten unreliable results. Using the Apple Watch to track my workouts left me with a full year of throwaway fitness results. I've tried everything to get an accurate heart rate; I finally figured out that the best way to get decent -- not accurate, just decent -- results is by turning the Watch so that it faces the underside of my wrist.

AW heart rate 
The best way I've found to get decent heart rate results while weightlifting is by turning the Watch so that it faces the underside of my wrist. Credit: Michael deAgonia

 

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