Apple Watch as an Heirloom?

When the Apple Watch was announced I saw some pictures on apple.com that gave me hope Apple would make the guts replaceable. (If someone knows of a picture showing an exploded view of the Apple Watch I’d love to hear about it.)

For some crazy reason I thought it could become an heirloom, like the watches my grandfather passed to me. Those watches are very special to me. They’re physical objects that still work and remind me of my grandpa.

When Tim Cook said the Apple Watch was “The most personal device we’ve ever created” I took him at his word. It is a very personal device to me. I have great affection for all of my Apple devices, but they all feel like tools compared to the Apple Watch.

I still really want a device I can wear for the remainder of my life and pass it down to someone else and have it continue to function. This is something Apple could do, if they wanted. I know I’m asking for a lot. But, if I can’t do this it means the Apple Watch is really an expensive throwaway item. Because it does feel so personal, I hate that idea.

I think the first test of this devices longevity is approaching. The battery is not

Muddy Watch

so great. It managed to last for over two years but now dies mid-afternoon. At some point I’ll take it in and hope I can get a replacement battery. I don’t want a new watch, I just want a new battery. When my iPhone 5c’s battery went bad they just replaced the entire device, which was fine with me, but I feel a need to keep my watch. The face and body are scratched and that makes it really unique to me.

If there is no way to replace just the battery from now until I croak I’ll just switch back to one of my many analog watches and keep my Apple Watch Series 0 as an artifact of an interesting time for Apple.

My Watch

I’ve worn my Apple Watch Sport (Darth Vader Style) every day since Father’s Day 2015 and I absolutely love the thing. I didn’t expect to own one quite so quickly, but my daughters and wife decided they’d gift me with one. It was a wonderful, unexpected, gift.

After a few weeks with the watch I decided it wasn’t worth owning if I didn’t wear it like any other watch I’ve ever owned. That means keeping it on when I’m working in rough environments, getting it wet, whatever. I have a few watches in my collection. Six in total. None of them are expensive watches. I’ve always bought watches with link bracelets and every one I’ve every one of them is broken where the band attaches. I broken them all while doing something a bit rough. Mechanically they’re all fine. They just need replacement pins for the bracelet.

As I was saying. When I got the new Apple Watch I eventually decided I shouldn’t baby the darned thing even though it’s terribly expensive, I should wear it like any other watch I’ve ever worn or why have darned thing?

To that end it’s been submerged in water a lot and banged around while working on bikes, cars, and my yard. I know, nothing terribly brutal, but it’s held up quite well.

A while back I wore it while cutting down a dead tree in our yard. I wish I had taken a picture of it before wiping off the face. It was covered in sawdust and dirt. Before I thought to grab the picture I wiped it off to check the time. This is how it looked.

Sawdust Watch
Sawdust Watch
A couple weeks back I was working in the yard. It’s time to turn the sprinklers back on and I was doing repairs in our front and back yard. When I got to the back yard I had a sprinkler that was busted off under ground, so I had to dig it up to repair it. As I was working on it I happened to completely submerge my watch in an icky, muddy, mess. This is what it looked like afterward.
Muddy Watch
Muddy Watch
When I showed this picture to my brother he was surprised it survived. I wasn’t, but I’ve been beating it up for quite some time and it’s bee terrific.

When I was finished with the sprinkler repair all I did was pull off my watch and rinse it off under the garden hose. When all was said and done it worked perfectly and looked as it did before caking it with mud.

Clean Watch
Clean Watch
Oh, and yes, I’m still using a green iPhone 5c as you can tell by the reflection in the watch face.

Overall I’m really pleased with the durability of my Apple Watch. Hey, is there a web site, or web sites, that feature Apple Watch action shots? If you know of any, drop me a line at rob.fahrni@gmail.com or leave a comment. Thanks!

What I want in watchOS 3.0

So, what would I like to see in watchOS 3.0? Simplification and performance improvements. I’ve written before that I use very few Watch Apps — two in fact; Dark Sky and Beer Timer. I’m not counting Apple’s apps in that. I really like glances and complications. I’d love to see apps embrace those two things in particular. I use the Dark Sky complication on my watch face, you can see it in lower left of the pictures above.

Performance, performance, performance. The one downside to launching an app is how long it takes to startup. When I tap on the Dark Sky complication it takes so long to load my watch face will often turn off. That’s clearly no good. I’d like to see that improved. At the very least keep the watch face on until it’s loaded up and give me time to view it.

Another annoying thing. When I bring the watch up to look at the time it’s off most of the time. That’s pretty frustrating. It means I have to tap the face with my other hand. If that could be sorted out it would make the watch that much better for daily use. I typically have 50% batter life when I go to charge it at night, so batter life is not an issue. Figure out a way to light the display more often.

What’s the one thing I want more than any other thing? Custom Watch Faces. I would be fine with Apple requiring a stringent review process for custom faces. I don’t want one that misbehaves and sucks batter. Come to think of it I’d be fine with that if it looked extremely cool! Let me decide which faces to use. I bet they would be the most popular item in the Watch App Store if you did it.

I’d love for someone to make a Dumbledore Watch Face! I’d have that thing day one! Yes, I have a pocket watch with this watch face. It’s a work of art.

Here’s hoping we get simplification, performance, and custom watch faces in watchOS 3.0.

My Apple Watch

I’m still wearing it every day and I love it. Yes, I said I love it. Sure, it’s Just a Watch™, but it does everything I expect from a watch and a little more.

I have to admit I was a bit skeptical about the usefulness of the watch, but I still wanted one. I had decided I’d wait to buy one when the old version went on sale after the announcement of Watch 2.0, which hasn’t happened. In the meantime I was given a watch on Father’s Day by my daughters and wife. I was pretty darned excited to get it and haven’t gone a day without since.

How I use my watch hasn’t changed since I wrote about it in August 2015. It’s still a great watch, I love the taps for messages and phone calls, and the fitness features are a lot of fun. I’m surprised I like the fitness features as much as I do, but they’re actually quite good.

I’m not a big app user. I use a couple; Dark Sky and Beer Timer. Dark Sky is a beautifully designed app. I always use it by tapping on the complication to launch the app. As for Beer Timer I don’t use it that often, but when I do it’s quite handy, you can’t explode a beer in the freezer, right?

I think I’m also in the minority when it comes to watch faces and complication use. I have always enjoyed analog watch faces, so much so I’ve never owned a watch with a digital watch face (until now.) Since getting the watch I’ve only used two watch faces; Utility and Color. I like Utility because I can set a complication at the bottom center of the watch face and I like Color because I can set the color of the face to orange, my favorite color. I’m currently sporting the Color watch face.

What about complications? I like the Date and Dark Sky complications. That’s it. I love the way my watch face looks. I have the weather in the lower left corner and the date in the lower right of the Color watch face. As for the Utility watch face I have Dark Sky centered at the bottom of the display and the Date is next to three o’clock.

If you’re hesitant about purchasing an Apple Watch because you’re afraid it’s fragile, don’t be. I wear my watch all the time. It’s been submerged in water, muddy, and filthy when I work outside in the yard and continues to work as expected. Heck, it’s even fine in the ocean.

Rob's Apple Watch - Color Watch Face
There are not many things I’d change about the watch. I’d love to have an orange anodized aluminum Sport model and the ability for third-party developers to create custom watch faces. That’s all I need. I hope someone will create an app, or apps, I can’t live without, until then I’m completely happy with what I have.

Do I think the Apple Watch is doomed? No, not at all. I think it’s a great 1.0 product and it should only get better (you know it made $6 billion, right?)

The Apple Watch is just a watch

A wonderful bouquet of flowers.John Lilly [via Medium]: It is, fundamentally and essentially, just this: a wristwatch. If you’re someone who wants to wear a watch, this is a great one in many ways. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to wear a watch, this will not make your life better. In 2015, wearing a watch is a bit of an affectation — you have to want to have a watch on, you certainly don’t need one — and that’s true for this, too.

I don’t own an Apple Watch at the moment, but I probably will at some point because I will eventually have to write an app for the platform. Since its release I’ve thought long and hard about how I think I’d use it. I’m not a notifications guy. I only have a few on my phone, and I’d have fewer on my wrist; phone calls and text messages, but only from a select few. The one real benefit for me, and no I’m not joking, is the hope I miss fewer phone calls or text messages from my wife. Everything else the watch has to offer is fluff. 

What about the fitness stuff? I’m not sure this will work for me. I wear my watch loose on my wrist. It binds up otherwise. I tend to buy watches with link bracelets and I’ve broken everyone I’ve ever had, I don’t know how, but it happens. Hopefully the flubber sport band will keep that from happening, but I guess we’ll find out some day.

I will, of course, buy the least expensive 42mm model. The guts of the low end and high end models are the same, and the low end model is still ridiculously expensive at $349.00. I had the tiniest of hopes these things would run around $149.00, but Apple doesn’t do that. They can charge a premium and get it, so they do. I’m hoping this generation will drop in price dramatically once gen two ships. Hopefully it will be able to run version two of the OS. Call me a tightwad if you’d like, it’s a fair assessment. I have a hard time spending that kind of money on myself. 

Customization is something I’m really interested in. The only thing I’m hoping for as a developer is a watch face SDK. Apps are fine, but I want to customize the watch face. I could imagine having my Dumbledore watch face and I like the idea of it (yes, I own one of these watches.) Beyond that I have an idea some really brilliant designers will have fun creating watch faces. I could also see a one off market for rich people. Hey, if you spent thousands of dollars on a watch, you might spend thousands on an original work of art for your device, right?

Something else I really want to do is anodize the aluminum case. I have a hankering for a bright orange case with a custom built leather strap. This is the customization I desire above all others. I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull this one off given the hostile to fixers build of the watch.

There is one thing about the watch that really disappoints. I had high hopes Apple would make a timeless classic, instead they opted for a throwaway commodity. When I read about the System on a Chip (scroll down to read about the S1) they had designed for the watch I had imagined the ability to open the case and swap out the system with a new generation. It would appear, based on the iFixit tear down that Apple sees this device as a throwaway gadget. That’s kind of sad. A timeless classic would have been so much nicer, especially for the versions that cost over a thousand bucks. Real watch makers build timeless pieces. Apple has added the commodity thinking we have in tech. Just throw it away and buy the new one. I’m as guilty of this line of thinking as the next person. 

Apple will learn a lot from generation one. Eventually the watch could replace the phone as a primary communication device for text and voice. For now, it’s a 1.0 with nowhere to go but up. It’s off to a good start.

Update: After posting I ran across this tweet. I see more and more like this each day. I dont think this is a signal of the watches failure. It’s just the reality of it. It’s a nice watch.

Another thing to note: I take reviews, like those at John Gruber’s excellent Daring Fireball, with a grain of salt. John makes his living from his support of Apple, and their products, and is never harsh. He finds the best in everything Apple does, and there is nothing wrong with that. I try to seek out neutral parties on the subject, which is hard to do. Most people either love or hate Apple. I felt like John Lilly’s comments were pretty neutral.

Used Apples

That Watch looks great on your wrist.9to5Mac: “Lee is a server at a restaurant. He considers himself a trendy guy and is looking for something that will look great while he’s working and when he’s out with friends. He’s interested in the Apple Watch collection and has narrowed his choices to these favorites:”

I love Apple. I feel I have to get that out of the way because I’m not happy seeing these personas, if they’re real (they may not be.) It’s obvious whoever created the Lee persona doesn’t have a clue how much a server at a restaurant makes. Lee may have great tastes, but his tastes outweigh his salary. Maybe Apple will have its own financing?

Here’s a guy that most likely makes less than $1000.00 a month and an Apple employee is going to encourage him to purchase the most expensive version of Apple Watch? This feels irresponsible.

I’m not sure how Apple Retail employees are trained. Maybe they’re taught to upsell every product in the store? “Hey, Bob, I think that 6 Plus looks swell in your gigantic man hands.” It could happen, right?

I’d love to hear from someone in Apple Retail. Does Apple train you to upsell the entire product line, or is this unique to the Watch?

A $349 Watch? You’re Rich.

Tech Crunch: “And that is the target market of the Apple Watch. Not “rich people” (though there’s a model specially for them), not “tech geeks” and not “Apple fanatics.” It’s people who want more time, and that is a very large target.”

Face it. If you can spend $349.00 on a watch, you are rich.