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Hackin’ The Net

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And the “time” is now here to write about it, as the Apple Watch is out and available at your local Apple Store for purchase. And our household finally owns one of the illustrious new offerings from our favourite and often-talked-about tech giant.

But before you get out your wallet let me be clear after using our watch for a week or three: The Apple Watch is not for everyone. Ours came at a sizable discount, as husband Ivan is a full “time” Apple employee. And I’m sure even if a discount had not been offered we eventually would have found the cash to buy one. I’m told, too, as I write this that there is now a friends and family discount on them so if I decide I want one for myself it won’t hurt my semi-retiree wallet too much.

But on to the meat of my review…. and what is it, or could it be, that makes the Apple Watch so great that I should at least go by my Apple store for a try on?

Nothing and everything.

The Apple Watch — while it is what Apple refers to as a “Hero product” much like the iPhone and the Apple TV — is not a gadget that offers instant gratification.

When ours arrived via FedEx literally overnight from China (We were in awe at watching it track from China to Alaska, to the UPS Air Hub in Louisville and finally to our door all in 24 hours…) the weight of the long brown shipping box and the yet lighter but still substantial glamour box or retail packaging enclosed were both impressive.

From there we continued to open and unwrap each item. The box contains one extra long charging cable (USB on one end and inductive magnetic charging disk on the other), a new power block, and of course, the watch itself. After turning the watch on and waiting several minutes for its first boot up, we were presented with a spiral graphic with a small Apple logo in the centre and a description of the device spelled out around the outside. At this point we were ready to pair it with our phone.

The process is started by holding the watch screen below our iPhone 6’s camera and allowing it to be connected. Once it was paired, the watch display graphic dissolved into dancing pixels of dust flowing around the screen before ending with an Apple logo in the middle and a circular progress line that started at the top and went clockwise around the entire face until it was fully synced with the phone.

Next, it was on to choosing a watch face. Husband Ivan chose Mickey Mouse and still uses it primarily. He says he likes to see Mickey dance as he happily displays the hour and minutes with his hands. But Ivan sometimes changes from the mouse to the watch’s choice for an extra large face because while Mickey is fun and funny — when Ivan is helping me set clocks around the condo, the big face is more accurate and easier see so he can get exact minutes. It’s a pain to have a partner who collects clocks and has over 50 which all need to get set and wound weekly, so they ring, chime and cuckoo together, but that’s a story for another “time”.

Back to the Apple Watch… after picking a face, it was time to choose what apps to actually have on said watch. Needless to say there is a big choice and more appearing daily, but sometimes more is not better. After trying some of the watch interfaces which each of the apps on offer have, it was decided to stick with the stock apps — for the “time being” at least.

One big reason for that at our house is practicality combined with eyesight. In other words, a lot of the apps do things on the watch just fine, but the screen size does not lend itself to some uses — at least not for two guys who are both out of their teens and 20s and finding a bit bigger picture to be a good thing.

Besides, we found some apps are superfluous because you can find out in some form or another the same or similar info an app will present you with on your phone’s larger screen. This is entirely a personal choice (and eyesight) issue, but this is also a review, which means an opinion and to us, the small screen just does not lend itself to a pleasurable experience for some things.

So what about the gratification that we love to experience when we get a new Apple product? To many (including the older of us) it’s just not there. At least not instantly. Except, that is, if you have friends who have Apple Watches and you want to send them your heartbeat, an animated emoji or draw them a fun bit of art. This means that at the beginning it’s mostly just a watch. We feel that it does a very good job at being one, but you will have to wait if, like us, you want to experience those little aha moments.

Our advice after a few weeks: Be patient! Those revelations will start creeping in the more you use your watch. The biggest and most unexpected one so far was when we asked for directions from the phone, put the phone on its mount in the car and proceeded on our way only to start getting a gentle vibration and the sound of a turn signal from our watch! At a quick glance it was revealed that the watch displayed an arrow pointing the direction we were to turn next and in big numerals, it was counting down approximately how many feet till our turn. This continued until we reached our destination, which Ivan found cool as hell and the older half here found to be another distraction and yet another reason so many states and localities have restrictions on the use of phones and other devices while driving. Maybe it’s an “age thing” or a true need to know but our jury’s out.

But here’s good news: after a few days of wearing the Apple Watch and it recording our movements and our heart rate it started displaying accurate measurements on the physical fitness front. Neither the old apps like Breeze for the iPhone or such extra things as a Fit Bit seem, to this reviewer, do this very well and with as much accuracy as our Apple Watch. We’re talkin’ things such as steps walked, minutes of exercise, how many times we got off our butts and moved around (That’s once per hour for good health.) etc. Whatever shortcomings we found with regard to screen size and some other apps, we quickly decided that it was the ultimate exercise companion.

And there is more. Husband Ivan found a very useful (for him) app the first night called Timetable. Ivan’s days at work are divided on the schedule into two-hour increments with breaks between — including lunch halfway through his workday. Before this app, he was always wanting to know what he was doing next and when his break was coming up. This app makes it easy for him to enter his zoning first thing when he gets to work and then be able to — with just a glance at the watch — know what is up next and exactly when.

As was the case with Timetable, every so many days he or I discover something new on the watch, which can prove beneficial in everyday life. But once again, that full on instant gratification “wow moment” has just not surfaced. The Apple Watch is made to be worn and as you continue to wear it, you figure out how best it fits you and how it can help make your life easier and more fun. Husband Ivan categorically states that you will not find him playing games on it as that is what his iPhone or iPad are for.

As for me, I plan (even at a family discount) not to buy an Apple Watch anytime too soon because I already have a ton of gadgets (many with way bigger screens) and due to its small size, my poor eyesight and the fact I have enough distractions already, I just can’t justify the cost or see the use — especially as I own a drawer full of conventional watches and have a working iPhone.

Is there a future for the Apple Watch in our home? Only “time” will tell. Pun intended.

Article republished with permission from The Gay Word.

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