The Apple Watch is now in our midst. What’s it like?
Physically, it’s more appealing than many of its rivals, though the slightly chunkier 42mm case version has a more powerful battery than the 38mm case version. The OLED screen, while not up to the iPhone for crispness, still manages to be pleasingly sharp (though you’ll struggle to read any content in direct sunlight).
There are two ways of interacting with the watch: via “Force Touch” technology, in which a hard press functions as a right click or options menu button, and via the “Digital Crown”, the physical jog-dial at the side. The latter scrolls through listed content or zooms in or out of a map. There’s also a new form of haptic feedback that doesn’t simply vibrate but taps your wrist, making it much less easy to ignore or overlook.
As with all smartwatches, its chief purpose is to place the notifications from your smartphone onto your wrist – great for obsessive phone checkers, but maybe not so much of an attraction for anyone else. The built-in Apple apps include photos, mail, messages, Passbook, music, calendar and weather, and the Apple Maps app is superb, giving you turn-by-turn directions as you walk.
There’s also a solid selection of third party apps. Developers seem to care about it (rival smartwatches have struggled to attract top-drawer apps and developers). Twitter has come on board with an app that lets you browse your full news feed and favourite, retweet or reply (tellingly, it hasn’t built an app for the Android Wear).
As a watch, it’s a little underwhelming. The screen only turns on when you lift your wrist or press a button, so you can’t simply glance at it and get the time in an instant.
It’s ahead of its competitors, but it takes a while to get used to working out when to force tap, when to swipe, when to use the jog-dial, etc. It’s also not waterproof, and the battery needs to be charged every single night.
If it set you back £100, that wouldn’t be so irksome, but with a price tag that starts at £300, many may decide to wait for the glitches to be ironed out in version two.