A convert’s Apple Watch diary: Three months in, and I have to lose the ‘skeptic’ label

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After my first impressions, lengthy update, decision point and one month update, this week is when I have to officially lose the ‘skeptic’ prefix to my Apple Watch diary series and relabel myself as a fully-fledged convert.

The trigger for this realization was a fairly small one, but one which clearly demonstrated to me that – little by little – the Apple Watch is transforming itself into a gadget I eventually won’t want to be without … 

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The trigger was the arrival of Apple Pay in the UK – something I’d been impatiently waiting for ever since the U.S. launch. Annoyingly, my own bank – First Direct – for some reason delayed its adoption until Tuesday, so this week represented my first chance to try it.

So, card added to both phone and watch, I set off to my local Starbucks to give it a try. The UK may have been kept waiting for Apple Pay, but we do at least have one advantage: we’ve had contactless cards and terminals for years, so they are – in London at least – everywhere.

I immediately appreciated what a beautifully convenient way to pay this is. No reaching into my pocket for wallet or phone, just a quick double-press of the side button and hold out my wrist to the terminal. As soon as I’d used it once, I knew that this was going to be my standard way to make all contactless payments.

It’s not, in itself, a killer app. But that’s not the point. As I said when I was one month in:

[I’m still wearing the Watch every day] not because it’s exciting; it isn’t. Not because it makes a significant difference to my life; it doesn’t. But it does make my life very slightly more convenient, and it does this a dozen or more times a day.

My colleague Jeremy Horwitz said that when beta 3 broke Apple Pay on the Watch, he missed it a lot until beta 4 brought it back.

It’s like the first time I used the Watch as a boarding pass. It wasn’t a big deal, but it was definitely more convenient than reaching into my pocket for my phone. Apple Pay is the same.

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And this, I believe, is how the watch will ultimately prove indispensable. Not by any killer app – the one thing that makes me think ‘Aha, this is why the Watch was created!’ But rather by the drip, drip, drip of new features and applications, each of which makes my life just that little bit easier.

Eventually, this will reach the point where failing to strap on the Watch in the morning would mean giving up so many of those little conveniences, that I simply won’t be willing to do it. It will have transformed itself from a ‘nice to have’ gadget into what we might term, ‘first world problems’ style, a first world essential.

It hasn’t quite reached that point for me yet. If I accidentally forget to put it on in the morning, I’m not going to be cursing the fact the way I would if I left my iPad behind. But I can see that it’s only a matter of time before it does. So say goodbye to Ben the Apple Watch skeptic, and meet Ben the Apple Watch convert.

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Comments

  1. Daniel Bussanich - 8 years ago

    That is pretty reasonable.

  2. Joe Mecca - 8 years ago

    “Convenient”

  3. cameroncovington - 8 years ago

    Like I said at the beginning of this series, I knew you would turn out loving the Watch. I love the thing.

  4. uniquified - 8 years ago

    Please rethink your new design. I do not need to see high-res close up graphics of a man’s hairy arm. Blech.

  5. 89p13 - 8 years ago

    As someone who pre-ordered after seeing it – then having buyer’s remorse and cancelling it when it was a 3+ month delay – I’m happy that the promises are being fulfilled. The Apple watch is something that holds great promise but I’m still glad I waited.

    Ben – Thanks for a great series and the follow ups you’ve continued to post. At some point I know I will be joining the Apple Watch bandwagon . . . . I’m (and, it’s) not there quite yet.

    • Michael D (@stativarius) - 8 years ago

      Cancelling an Apple pre-order is a horrible idea! If remorse arrives before delivery, new Apple releases are almost always worth selling on eBay. I sold my first two  Watch Sport deliveries and netted a $270 profit after CGS and selling fees. In the end, the watch I kept only cost me $160, down from $424 (both totals include tax).

      For $160, my  Watch purchase was a no-brainier; I expect to profit again when I sell it to buy an  Watch 2.

  6. babywrinkels - 8 years ago

    Well put, Ben. Every time I encounter a contactless terminal, I try to use my watch for payment because of how convenient it is. Unfortunately, we in the colonies have been slower to adapt. It’s especially infuriating when stores have a terminal that I know for a fact supports it, but haven’t enabled the feature (This includes the Fortune 500 retailer I work at the corporate offices of, at times on the POS system. I get a variety of BS excuses for why they’re not doing it yet. GRR.)

    Overall; the drip drip drip (as you put it) of new features and integration into my life means my much nicer watches are left in their cases, whilst the aluminum and ion-x of the Apple Watch accompanies me in my day to day life. It’s challenging to explain to people why I find so much value in it, but I do and look forwards very much to watchOS2 and the future of the platform.

    • Michael D (@stativarius) - 8 years ago

      It is ridiculous how many places still don’t accept contactless payments in the States… Including 95% of the merchants I visit. Hopefully this will change drastically by October (2015).

      Publix, Costco, Target, Wawa, Best Buy (and even Walmart)… You’re all on notice!

  7. Patrick Rottman - 8 years ago

    A beautiful summary of Apple’s idea of the Apple Watch. Enjoyed reading it.

  8. rogifan - 8 years ago

    Thanks for your update Ben. I think the bar that has been set for Watch is quite unfortunate. There are lots of things I own that I don’t absolutely need. I think where some struggle with the Watch is thinking it needs to be something you’re constantly using, playing with and if you’re not its kind of boring and a dud. But the point of Watch is not to be something you’re constantly fussing with. It’s to put it on and kind of forget about it until it needs your attention. And I think once Apple is able to provide always on Watch faces more watch wearers will buy it. I would love it that was a surprise update we saw this fall.

  9. PhilBoogie - 8 years ago

    I don’t see the like button, so +1 Ben!

  10. bellevueboy - 8 years ago

    Agree 100%. It’s the little conveniences which excite me and I m hoping many more will come with the new os. I want my door bell app there, also my garage door opener and thermostat. And of course please make apps faster. I also want a door on my house that I can open with it. Not controlling my light with it …not in to it yet. What will be interesting to see is what the developer community does with it. I m sure more than a few will have something that we didn’t even imagine.

    • bellevueboy - 8 years ago

      Needless to say I have requests out to all the device makers requesting watch apps. Some have replied with great idea we will forward this to sales and marketing others sent canned responses if at all.

  11. lkrupp215 - 8 years ago

    I have had my Watch for a week now and I can report that it has already changed the way I use my iPhone and how I respond to email and texts. I used to keep my iPhone 6 in my shirt pocket so I could pull it out quickly. Now it’s in a belt pouch on my waist. I actually pull the iPhone out only a couple of times a day now. When a text comes in I can quickly read it from my wrist and decide if I need to ignore or respond. Same goes for email. I have answered phone calls from my wrist. If it needs to be an extended conversation I tell the caller I will call back in a minute (on the iPhone).

    I absolutely love the thing. When I bought it I was anxious about spending that kind of money on something I might find to be an interesting gadget but not really helpful in my day-to-day life. I was wrong.

    • babywrinkels - 8 years ago

      Just to make sure you know: If you take a call on your watch and decide to take it on the phone instead, you can just unlock your phone and tap the green banner at the top of the screen. This makes the call seamlessly transition from Watch to Phone. It’s quite brilliant, and eliminates the need for a callback.

      • bellevueboy - 8 years ago

        Thank you, was looking for this.

      • Jassi Sikand - 8 years ago

        Thanks for this. I’m surprised that there’s not an option on your Watch, but this works too :)

      • minieggseater - 8 years ago

        I don’t have one but I believe if you use force touch or swipe up from the bottom whilst it is ringing you get the option on the watch

      • babywrinkels - 8 years ago

        I’m really curious as to why you’d want an option to take it on your phone right on your watch… You have to have your phone in-hand to answer it there anyways, why not just answer it from your phone directly? The only realistic (i.e. non “omg guys look I can answer my phone from my wrist”) use case I see for this is if you’re wearing headphones with an in-line mic, but no answer controls.

        Not hating, genuinely curious what I’m missing.

      • Frank Grove - 8 years ago

        Babywrinkles- Here is the situation. Driving down the street with phone in pocket, telephone rings, turn down the radio and answer phone on watch. Hold conversation without fumbling for phone, hang up and go about business. It doesn’t get any better than that.

      • babywrinkels - 8 years ago

        But I can already answer from my wrist directly and have the conversation on the watch, and every car I’ve been in that pairs with bluetooth (what I think you’re suggesting here?) has a “Call Answer” button on the steering wheel. What am I missing?

  12. sar2607 - 8 years ago

    Well said at the end; if anything, it really is a ”first world problems’ style, a first world essential.’
    I still can’t seem to justify the $400 price tag for such conveniences. I still feel Apple has grossly over priced the watch, simply because they can – they know there are enough people who will dish out plenty for an Apple product. It’s unfortunate from Apple, but I guess it’s how it is.

    • babywrinkels - 8 years ago

      For what it’s worth… I took a withdrawal from my HSA to pay for it. I believe I have sufficient health justification for doing so, as it’s gotten me up and moving a lot more, and gamified my exercises to the point that I’m doing them more frequently. Given a doctor’s diagnosis of early-stages of hypercholesterolemia, I made a solid argument that it covered medical hardware to get me healthier, which it’s so far been successful in doing.

      I honestly think this is Apple’s endgame – get the watch covered by health insurance companies. They’re making nice with the medical community via open-source ResearchKit, building more and more health-related sensors and functionality into their devices, and I’d wager will move towards a program of some sort that can get coverage of their products without doing the HSA route, but just submitting a receipt for reimbursement. Other retailers work with insurance companies already (e.g. Nordstrom will use your insurance to help cover a prosthesis bra if you’ve had a mastectomy) so it’s not unprecedented for this sort of thing.

      • bellevueboy - 8 years ago

        In my work place people got Fitness credit to pay for it. And I work in Redmond WA.

  13. anall44 - 8 years ago

    Please please please fix the top header bar that takes up half of my screen on the computer window. I can only give maybe one more day before not coming back.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 8 years ago

      We know there are some issues with the redesign and have the devs working on these – sorry for the inconvenience in the meantime.

  14. minieggseater - 8 years ago

    When Lloyds join the Apple Pay gang and there is a native podcast companion app for it I will get a 42mm sport one. Just curious how does the boarding pass thing work ? do you have to have an app from each airline that integrates with pass book or can you add a PDF boarding pass to it and it will find the QR code etc

    • Ben Lovejoy - 8 years ago

      Most airlines offer the option of adding the boarding pass to Passbook. It then automatically pops up when close to the flight time.

  15. pharrisart - 8 years ago

    My take on the watch (and Ive had it about a month and a half now, and LOVE it) is this – it is an accessory to your iPhone – and an incredible one at that. For those who say “well, I have an iPhone, that does all the things the watch does, it works fine without it” I say this – Throw out the remote control to your television. Sure, it does everything without the remote, you can go up, turn it on and off, change the channel, increase the volume, all of that right on the set itself, so the remote doesn’t really NEED to be there. Of course, they look at me as if I’m mad. You HAVE to have the remote. Thats what makes the TV really enjoyable, it adds a level of convenience and ease of use that would make living without the remote archaic. And thats exactly the point of the watch. It makes your daily use of the phone better, easier and more enjoyable.

    • I don’t think it’s an accessory for your iPhone, so much as it’s an accessory to certain things your iPhone delivers — particularly notifications and associated selected actions. These could just as easily be derived from an iPad or MacBook but the logical mate is the one with the most mobile ubiquitous connectivity that’s around most, because the WATCH is co-dependent still.

      Once this changes, it’s hoped we’ll all start looking holistically at how we use each of these devices and how much interaction is enough / what interaction is right for our use cases.

    • Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 8 years ago

      Nonsensical analogy. Changing the channel on a TV manually requires getting up, walking to the TV, pressing the correct button, walking back to the seat, and sitting down again. By contrast looking at my phone either requires me to glance down at my desk, or remove the phone from my pocket. The former takes a fraction of a second and the latter takes around 1 second.

      If you like the watch then bully for you, but I simply cannot see the point of it and never will. A phone is useful, a computer is vital, a tablet is a novelty toy with limited use, but a smart watch…. the very definition of pointless. No wonder Apple didn’t release any sales figures.

      • pharrisart - 8 years ago

        It isn’t a nonsensical analogy. Your phone is not always on your desk or in your pocket, just seconds away from you. For example, if my phone is charging, and I’m elsewhere in the house, I won’t miss a call or text. If Im in the car, and my phone is in my pocket, I can answer it on the watch without having to dig for it, removing my hands from the wheel and distracting me from my driving duties. If I go out to the hot tub in the back yard, I don’t have to worry about the pone falling in or getting ruined from otherwise getting wet. Plus, I can remotely control whatever music Im listening to out there. While driving, I can get turn by turn directions by glancing at my wrist when then next turn prompt is coming up, also without removing my hands from the wheel. One can make payments at stores without worrying about taking their phone out of their purse. You can exercise and track your activity goals without bringing the phone with you and potentially losing or dropping it. I can take photos on my phone without having to hold the phone, and stop the ‘three for box’ limitation that selfies have imposed on everyone. Speaking of that, I can now use the watch to remotely see whats on my phone’s screen while in the camera app while moving the phone into tight spaces like my engine or behind something that I might not otherwise be able to see (if doing electrical work inside a wall, looking for a leak in a pipe under a sink, etc.)

        The watch adds an amazing ability of remote control for the phone – hence the TV/remote analogy is incredibly valid. If YOU don’t see the value in it, well bully for YOU, but don’t assume that because its not the device you like it becomes pointless for the millions of people who do.

  16. Mike Drips - 8 years ago

    “Drip, drip, drip”?

  17. Rasmussen (@Twitboydk) - 8 years ago

    It´s like getting hooked on cigatettes really. You don´t like it at first, but you still end up addicted

  18. Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 8 years ago

    Sounds like the watch it for people too lazy to extract their phone from their pocket. I just don’t see the point. My phone tells me the time, and it does a hundred other things, so why on earth would I need another piece of clutter to carry around and to charge every evening? It defies logic. I guess it serves as a handy example of first world excess, and bone idleness.

    And Ben FFS learn to spell. There is no ‘K’ in sceptic. It’s not difficult. Yanks can’t spell, so please don’t encourage them by imitating their inability to use English correctly.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 8 years ago

      9to5Mac is an American site.

      • Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 8 years ago

        And your point is?

        Are you implying that Americans can’t understand English spellings? If you have evidence to support this, then please share.

      • Ben Lovejoy - 8 years ago

        It’s not unexpected to see American spelling on an American site.

  19. rtdunham - 8 years ago

    But if you use your watch for your boarding pass you still have to remove it and stow it at Security after first showing it there, correct?

    • Ben Lovejoy - 8 years ago

      Not on any flight I’ve ever made, but never can tell what security theatre they’ll invent next …

  20. griffinjar - 8 years ago

    I’m excited about the day when I can walk towards my door at home and it’s unlocked, walk towards my car and it’s unlocked and turn my wrist and it aye for things.

    I don’t have an Apple Watch yet. But the many simple annoyances of life will be cured when I own one… Soon (ish!)

    I totally agree with this article and think the search for a ‘killer app’ has always missed the point. It’s not about one great egg in a pretty basket but loads of delicious mini eggs holding our basket of life together.

  21. Aaron Lozano - 8 years ago

    The watch is not yet what I want but I would love to have one if:

    -GPS would be included in the package so I would not need an iphone for my long cycling spins (standalone device at last?)
    -7 days battery in “saving mode”, 3 days on normal usage and 12 hours in GPS mode
    -“50 meters” waterproof
    – A bit longer, slightly thinner and curvy to adapt to the wrist. This would possibly fit a bigger/wider curvy display
    -SIM-less phone capabilities
    -16/32GB of storage for music, movies, apps and files
    -Airplay with multiple devices

    And all the things already has :)

    I know we are a long way from that but it really would convert the Apple Watch into a complete must have.

    • Ty Martin (@tymrtn) - 8 years ago

      I don’t think we’re so far away from this. We already have third party bands adding massively greater battery life (eg. http://reservestrap.com), and adding a GPS to one of these wouldn’t be so far fetched either once all that extra battery is available. The 6 pin adapter makes the thing totally expandable.

      50 meters waterproof is useless with a touch screen anyway.

      Now, whether or not you want a built-in SIM (or SIM-less) with all that extra cellular radiation concentrated on one spot on your wrist is another matter…

    • pharrisart - 7 years ago

      50 meters? Are you high? Forty meters is the maximum depth allowed by RSTC. 18 is the maximum depth allowed with general PADI training. What are you gonna do, check your notifications on the Titanic?

  22. gazmac - 8 years ago

    Yep, it’s all the little things… In London I believe the Watch does have a killer app and it’s called Apple Pay (on the tube.). This is just so convenient. I don’t now have to fuss around for my Oyster card or ever again have to buy a weekly pass – London Underground automatically caps your fare expenditure at the cost of your past usage pattern, a weekly card in my case. Tube management now advertises Apple Pay acceptance in prominent positions such as at the top of escalators. Apple Watch on the tube has the wow factor. Losing count of the number of people who have remarked positively.

Author

Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!


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