Apple watch – review after a year

I got the Apple Watch last year and I have been using it for every day ever since and I love it. Below is a brief review after using the watch for over an year.

tl:dr I love it and it is totally the best smart watch you can get.  (You may want to wait a few months as apple watch 2 might launch in Oct 2016)

Pros:

  • Works great as fitness tracker. It has tracking for most common workout needs you may have.
  • Notifications on the watch have been a huge time saver. Huge time saver while driving or in meetings. Some times you can take a step forward and acknowledge messsages (A quick reply is just a tap away).
  • A plethora of apps have evolved. They help  with tracking productivity and reminders etc
  • Siri works well.
  • Bling aspect is still true as was when it launched.
  • Watch faces and the interchangeable bands help suit the mood/trend/fashion.

Cons:

  • Was too slow. (Not any more, watchOS 3 fixes it and the speed increase is phenomenal).
  • Battery life wasn’t  great. I8 hours wasn’t great in comparison to the fitbits and Garmins that last for a week. Not much of a deal breaker for me.
  • Sleep tracking isn’t part of the watch at all. The pillow app fixes this. I wish the watch had native tracking like the Fitbits do.

Watch OS 3:  It is a phenomal update that would be coming to the watch soon. I am testing it on my watch, it isn’t stable yet, but it opens up the watch in a multitude of ways and adressess most of the complaints and restrictiveness it had.

You may think, I am just an apple fan boy and hence my fanatcism with it. Actually I have tested the Fitbit Surge (still own one),  Fitbit  Flex  and  a Garmin Vivofit as my daily activity trackers/ smart watches. So far, the most satisfying experience has been from the Apple watch and hence my recommendation above.

Apple and Privacy

Tim cook wrote about the essence of Privacy at Apple. Here is what he says on the site.

Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.

He nailed it. Loud and clear. There is a whole site about how and where our data is used from our devices by Apple or by app developers, do check it out. If you haven’t enabled two factor authentication for your iCloud account, please do it right away.

Apple Watch

Apple has paid excruciating attention to detail in the design and wearability of the Apple Watch. In many cases, its offerings make what is coming out of Switzerland (or Asia) look amateurish. But, let me remind you that I am looking at this object as just that, the physical form, not in the interface. If this was simply a digital watch, I could say it’s a well designed, well-executed one. But ……

Best written review of the Apple Watch so far. After viewing the live event, I was wondering if Apple did a mistake by positioning it as a watch. It has all the requisites to call it as a watch but that said it needs an iPhone for most of it’s features to work. If it can’t work independently with out an iPhone why call it a watch. Call it an Apple wear and position it into its own category like the iPods. Except for the name I am in love for the product. Apple’s attention to detail is its sole differentiation from all others and the watch is yet another example to its attention to detail. If you don’t believe me, do have a look at Apple’s watch page. Also don’t forget to read the review by Benjamin Clymer.

Apple's OS X beta program.

Gone are those days when Apple launched beta’s to developers for testing. Apple has launched a beta program for the public this time and you can signup to beta test the next release of OS X from here. Apple’s OS X beta program is really cool, given we get to try it before the vast majority of the public. I try beta’s for most products, the Chrome and Firefox that I use are running developer/beta builds right now. That is how I try to stay on the edge of technology. Anyways, if you are like me, you should try the OS X beta’s.

Case for an iBand

Craig Hockenberry on his piece makes a very solid case that Apple is into the wearable technologies but not necessarily into smart watches. It could be a ring or a cool looking bracelet or a funky band that has all sorts of crazy sensors and may be a tiny display built in that will complement the iPhone. I am more convinced that it is a band than anything.

On an different note, Apple is developing healthbook app. Some leaked screenshots like this one here reveals that the app is very comprehensive.
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The app does collect and track multitude of details about the user. What is is interesting here is heart rate aspect, Which the iDevices don’t capture yet. Moreover heart rate information is of value when it is monitored on a constant basis during a workout, etc rather at particular intervals like twice each day. There is very good chance that there will be an external device that will supply this data to the app, since heart rate monitors need to be connected to the bare body unlike phones which usually stays in our pockets or covered in a pouch. Hence the case for an iBand.

When we look at Apple’s interest in the wearables market and healthcare domain together, the picture becomes a bit more clearer. A wearable device that would also aid the healthbook app makes sense. Let’s imagine an iDevice accessory, (lets call it the iBand for this post) that has motion tracking sensor similar to the battery efficient M7 chip on the iPhone 5s, coupled with a heart rate/pulse rate sensor.This makes a huge difference from all the existing bands out there. All the existing bands just track your activity, but they aren’t that accurate given they don’t have your heart rate information. The heart rate information changes the whole dimension of this problem. Adding heart rate makes the calories burnt in a day a lot more accurate. That means it can monitor the user’s health than just monitoring his activity. That way the healthbook app can track and predict weight loss/gain a lot more accurately. The Samsung gear 2 does have the heart rate sensor,but it also has all sorts of unwanted features like reading emails, taking pics etc. I believe apple is perfecting something similar rather than rushing to the market and being an early entrant.

The motion sensor will also supplement the health book app by collecting data about sleep patterns(so that you don’t have to have your phone turned on below the pillow) at night. A tiny display (e-ink) with a vibrator and bluetooth LE chip would take care of reminders and the data syncing with the iPhone/iPad/Mac. A sexy waterproof finish with attention to detail would add to the prowess of Apple.
The tiny display would mostly be a e-ink considering battery life and will serve as an minimal timepiece with custom reminders which possibly could remind people to take medications, diabetic patients to check blood sugar etc. Showing time would just be an added feature. I don’t think it is going to display any other notifications apart from may be counts of unread messages/mail/missed calls. I see no value addition in reading mails on my iBand and reading it again on my iPhone to reply or take further actions. Answering calls on the iBand or taking pics will just look hideous.

The sole existence of an healthbook app on iOS shows the interest Apple has into health care. Positioning this band as an accessory that complements this interest is going to aid Apple strongly than positioning this as a smart watch. That way they won’t be selling it to the general market and annoy them that it doesn’t do x,y,z but it still gets called a smart watch. It will cater to selective market of health conscious people. A band that one can wear anywhere, that is always ON helping you stay healthy is always a win for both the user and Apple. I also believe that Apple is already talking with to top medical device manufacturers to create medical devices(Weighing machines,Blood pressure monitors, Blood Sugar monitors, etc) that can work with Bluetooth LE on the iPhone/iPad.

I am all in for an iBand from Apple than anything, but only time and Apple will tell.

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