The Oatmeal

The Oatmeal

8 things I learned from wearing an Apple Watch for a couple of weeks

8 things I learned from wearing an Apple Watch for a couple of weeks

Thing #1:

The Apple Watch will never replace your iPhone.

This is not a MacBook for your arm.

The screen is tiny.

It has no keyboard.

You can read the news on it. You can read Twitter. These are things you can do, they’re just not things you’d ever want to do.

The Apple Watch is not a device intended to replace your phone; it’s intended to augment it. It takes all the incoming notifications, alerts, and messages, and funnels them down into a screen about the size of a potato chip. It gives you the Cliffs Notes version of your mobile experience.

“The Apple Watch is our most personal device ever.”
-Tim Cook

It’s not personal;
it’s passive.

I’ve never spent more than a few seconds at a time interacting with my Apple Watch. If I need to perform a task of actual consequence, I use my phone or computer.

And that’s the idea.

It lets you separate the wheat from the chaff, and respond accordingly. You’re never going to spend hours or even minutes laboring over your Apple Watch, because it’s not a personal computer -- it’s a passive one.

But you can send your heartbeat to your loved ones! And they can feel it!

Sending your heartbeat to a loved one is about as personal as faxing them your cholesterol levels. There are infinite ways to get personal using a mobile device. This isn't one of them.

Thing #2:

Battery life isn't a problem.

When the Apple Watch was announced last fall, there was little mention of battery life. I assumed this meant the battery life was terrible, otherwise Apple would have been singing its praises from day one. I was wrong. The battery works great.

As I said before, the Apple Watch is a passive device. If you’re trying to catch up on the latest episodes of Silicon Valley using your Apple Watch, you’re doing it wrong. The Watch lurks quietly in the background, meaning it’s not doing a lot of processing most of the time. Unless you intentionally spend several hours bonking the screen with your angry little sausage fingers, you’re never going to drain the battery.

So, don’t worry about range anxiety -- running out of battery is still your phone’s job.

Thing #3:

The Taptic Engine could mean the death of the ring tone.

“Taptic Engine” is Apple’s fancy word for the thing that vibrates. It produces highly tuned vibrations which mimic the sense of being tapped on the wrist.

I’ve got “prominent haptic” enabled on my Watch, which taps my wrist a few seconds before I get an alert. This means that a few seconds prior to receiving a text message, I get a little nudge on my wrist letting me know that it’s about to arrive. The arrival of the message coincides with my eyes hitting the screen, and it works really well. It also gives me different types of taps when following driving directions. The tap to turn left feels different from the tap telling me to turn right.

Smartwatches aside, I really want haptic technology to succeed, because it eliminates the need for ringtones. I don’t need to hear a specific sound to differentiate my phone from the person sitting next to me, because it’s vibrating my wrist, not theirs. If we can all feel our devices, there’s no longer a need for an entire room to experience an alert, only the person receiving it.

Before the invention of the cell phone, the most obnoxious noise the human body could produce usually trumpeted the arrival of a cloud of methane. In today’s age of awful-ways-we-overtly-express-ourselves, bodily expulsions have become secondary to shrieking cell phones. There’s a notion in pop culture that AI might one day rise up against us, and that our own technology could hurt us more than we could ever hurt ourselves. Because of ringtones, that idea has already come to fruition. Because your ringtone is worse than my farts. Because your Taylor Swift is worse than my bum tornadoes.

We’ve reached a new apogee of awfulness, but it’s time to turn this ship around. Haptic: release us from our ringtones. Let the farts run free.

My mind is ready.

My body is ready.

Thing #4

The Crown is useless.

The crown serves its purpose well as a button. You press it to select things. Hooray for buttons.

But as a scroll wheel, the crown is useless. It works fine, I just always end up scrolling up and down using my finger. It certainly feels good to use the crown. It makes me feel like a mountaineer triangulating the last-known location of a rare, evasive mountain goat, which is pretty cool. Mountain goats are pretty cool.

But the novelty wears off, and I always revert back to using those limber, plentiful, pointy little hot dogs dipped in protein also known as fingers.

I say ignore the crown. Work those hot dogs.

Thing #5

I am amazing for not lying in bed all day.

Every day, the Apple Watch and I go to war over my “standing goal.” I get achievements for not lying down. Or not sitting down. I get rewarded for standing up, I think. I can’t really tell. It says my standing goal is 12 hours a day, which doesn’t make sense because that seems like an awful lot of standing, so I think it’s just rewarding me for not being dead. I get rewarded for walking to the fridge. I get rewarded for having a pulse. My dog likes to defecate in my tomato garden, which I deal with by shoveling his dried turds over the fence and into my neighbor’s hot tub. I even get rewarded for that. I get rewarded for my airborne caca missiles. Achievement unlocked. Thanks, Apple. You’re the best. Caca missiles are the best. I am never taking this fucking watch off.

Thing #6

Phone calls suck. Texting does not.

I am filing “receiving a phone call on my Apple Watch” in the same category as “stuffing pickles up my butt.” I have pickles. I have a butt. It’s something I can do, the opportunity is there, but it’s not something I’d ever want to do. The speaker is terrible and it forces you to broadcast your conversation publicly. And, much like the pickle party, it’s impractical to do in a restaurant or library.

Texting is terrific, however. You speak into the watch and Siri translates your speech into text. It works really well for quick replies, like if your neighbor is texting you about his hot tub you can just shoot back with a quick “lol fuck u” and you don’t even have to type. Easy peasy!

Thing #7

It's great for normal runners.

In the two weeks since I put on my Apple Watch, I’ve ran close to 100 miles, all outdoors and in varying weather conditions. I ran with it while wearing two other sport watches: an older Garmin and a newer Nike Sportwatch. The Apple Watch fared really well in terms of recording pace and distance, even when running without my iPhone and just using the accelerometer.

As a watch for the average runner (who is not currently running ultra-marathon distances), the Apple Watch is terrific. The interface is dead simple, even when you’re drunk-tired. Battery is plentiful, and the screen is viewable in direct sunlight.

The only major issue I had was with moisture on the screen. If my fingers were sweaty, which was most of the time, swiping became impossible, which required me to use the crown, which isn’t such a bad thing because once again it bolstered my appearance as a mountaineer and not some fat-kid-turned-marathoner-who-eats-too-much-fucking-food.

Bottom line: it’s a great running watch, unless you’re running extremely long distances, in which case you should focus on bigger problems like what type of plant you’re going to use for toilet paper or why you don’t have any friends.

I left the house like this, which is why I will die alone.

Thing #8

This is the future.

Every now and then, I use a new gadget which gives me that eerie this is the future feeling, like the first time I drove a Tesla Model S, or the first time I watched leprechaun porn on an Oculus Rift. Those moments do happen with an Apple Watch, but they’re sparse. Once more apps roll out, that’ll probably change. Uber is already there: calling a car involved raising my wrist, tapping the “Get me a car” button, and five minutes later an Uber showed up at my doorstep. This is the future, I thought. Finally, microchips on my mammalian carapace. I can talk into my arm. I can tweet from my meat. It’s a thrill-ride trying wearables for the first time. I’m wearing robots. Let’s Instagram some of my nipples. Apple was right. It is personal. It’s Robocop’s Robo-Cock, and this is Detroit, motherfuckers.

Send me your heartbeat, and I’ll send you my genitals covered in Christmas lights.

It’s my most personal device ever, and I’ll send it your way.

I’ll send you the future.

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