Tasting the Apple: WatchTime Tests the Apple Watch

In this feature from the upcoming November-December issue of WatchTime, on sale November 17, timepiece tester Jens Koch, from WatchTime’s German sister publication Chronos, reveals what he likes, and doesn’t, about the world’s most famous watch.

An unobtrusive sound and a gentle throbbing against my wrist attract my gaze to my Apple Watch. It’s telling me I’ve been sitting long enough and it’s time to stand up from my desk. The command “Get up and exercise for one minute” appears on the little screen. So I rise from my chair, walk to the kitchen and grab a cup of coffee. While I’m looking out the window, the watch throbs again to remind me that I can spend the next hour sitting. One of three concentric rings on the watch’s screen fills partially with color to show that I’ve complied with the watch’s orders.

Another of the rings tracks my performance on another fitness front: whether I’m getting the recommended half-hour a day of moderate-to-strenuous exercise (brisk walking qualifies). The third and final ring fills with color after I’ve burned my quota of calories that day (I decide how many that is).

Each time I achieve one or more of my fitness goals, I earn awards and receive motivating messages. These could prompt some people to get more exercise and thus adopt a healthier lifestyle, so these functions could be genuinely useful and helpful, even if your motivation begins to wane after a few weeks of digitally enhanced self-discipline.

Apple Watch on wrist

The time display isn’t quite as convenient as on a conventional wristwatch because the screen stays black most of the time. The display activates automatically when you rotate your wrist inward. I thought this would be an entirely natural motion whenever I wanted to check the time, but I now realize how often I glance at my watch without first turning my wrist because the dial is already in full view. You can’t do this with an Apple Watch, so you can’t peek at your watch discreetly while sharing a meal or attending a business meeting.

The good news is that you can configure the dial to display other useful information. These include things commonly shown on conventional wristwatches, such as the date, the moon’s phase, the time in a second time zone, a preset alarm, or the remaining power reserve. But the Apple Watch can also perform smart functions: e.g., it can show you the latest weather forecast, your next calendar entry, the price of a share of a particular company’s stock, or how far you’ve come toward completing your daily fitness regimen.

In addition to all this, it can also do cute tricks like displaying moving images of flowers, butterflies, or jellyfish as the background for the time display. You can even program the watch to show you Mickey Mouse, who’ll tap his foot to the seconds as he slowly moves his arms to indicate the hours and minutes. If you swipe your fingertip upwards across the screen, you can access functions in greater detail, e.g., weather, calendar entries and music control. I found it especially helpful to be able to choose the music I want to hear, to switch between playlists and albums, and to skip over a track that I didn’t feel like hearing.

Apple Watch variations
Variations: the Apple Watch in gold ($12,000) and steel with steel bracelet ($999). Both prices are for the 42-mm size.

Incoming calls, text messages and e-mails also appear on the display. Text messages, at least, can be answered directly from the Apple Watch with terse but practical templates. You can also take incoming phone calls with this watch: you’ll be surprised by the remarkably good voice quality.

Apple also integrated Siri, the voice assistant you may already have met on your iPhone. If Siri’s display is activated on your Apple Watch, all you need to do is to say “Hey, Siri!” and then ask your question. For example, Siri can tell you the weather in Boston or the time in Shanghai. Siri and your Apple Watch also know where the nearest drugstore is and they can tell you how to get there.

To read the complete test of the Apple watch, you can download it from the WatchTime online shop for for just $2.99, or pick up the November-December 2015 issue, available on newsstands, and for iPad, Nook, and Kindle, on November 17.

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  1. Jim Verdolini

    I am sorry but $12,000 for $250 in gold wrapping a $500 electronic toy that is doomed to obsolescence in a year or so is simply indulgence on the part of the un-discerning rich and in-your-face greed by Apple. For that sort of money, I expect craftsmanship, not toys.

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