The Apple Watch Sucks. (Or, #iMissSteveJobs)

The iWatch – or whatever – is Apple’s Zune. I’m sure it won’t break the stock, but boy, that is as flawed a product as Apple’s ever put out. Honestly, even the Newton is looking pretty good in the annals of Apple history compared to the Watch. The laptop that caught fire – that’s the only one I can think of that might be worse. (I had one in the 90s. I can’t remember the model number. Do you know it? If so, please comment below!)

I’m stunned no one in the techie press has picked this story up yet. Where’s Walt Mossberg when you need him? They’re giving Apple a pass. Thus my report:

Today, I gave up on my watch.

Brian Ring of Ring Digital llc attempts to have a conversation via the Apple Watch.

Brian Ring of Ring Digital llc attempts to have a conversation via the Apple Watch. “It was fine for awhile. But then my arm got tired.

(Image Description: Video & TV tech guru Brian Ring attempts to have a conversation via his Apple Watch.)

I’m going to buy a Fitbit instead.

After all – activity / health monitoring was the #1 reason I wanted the product. On that account, it’s a miserable failure. I’m not sure what it was tracking or how – but calibrating accurate caloric burn should be much easier with those advanced sensors & monitors than manually. I should know, since I did it manually – and to great success – over 2 years ago when I lost 40 lbs in 2 months using some free app called FitnessPal (or something.)

Apple Watch taught me the value of this feature within 15 minutes. But everything after that felt like a lesson on how *not* to do it. There’s no question that wearables and sport tech is going to take off. But the Apple Watch doesn’t cut it – even being so bulky.

Yup. It’s big and bulky and – gulp – sort of ugly, actually. I know, I know, that’s brutal. But what can I say. I’m a big guy – and I’m telling you it’s too bulky. There are great articles on the value of watches as fashion accessories so I won’t go into it here. I’m not saying this will suffer from Google Glass syndrome, but – well, it’s worth asking the question – what will people think about me with this on?

Next – you have to charge it every night. And if you forget – well, you’re SOL. Sure, it’s got an elegant ‘power reserve’ feature, but it’s one of those things that makes you think – did they seriously think they could design out of this fact? Again, can you imagine Steve Jobs on stage with that? “This is so amazing. When the watch starts to die, around 3 or 4pm, when you’ve got your reminder to pick up your kid, it knows to elegantly power down some of the features. So while you won’t get that notification, you will be able to see the accurate time. Unless the reserve runs out.”

Or, “Hey, you know how we all struggle with these f’ing wires & chargers that break and get lost – well, let’s invent one of those to tether to our most important, most intimate device.”

As a watch, charging every night is just a complete non-starter. Apologies to every design firm locally that had to justify that. The folks at Pebble have it right on this account. If you have to charge it every night – it’s really not a watch – it’s more like a piece of sporting equipment. (Like a Fitbit.)

Next up? You can’t do the simplest of customization on the watch face. Again, this is widely reported, but no one seems to be trying to imagine Steve Jobs on stage. “You can customize it like magic. Except you cannot have the time itself be the big font in the middle of the face. That can be the date, but not the time. This section up here, this can be whatever you want, within the weather category. And the timer. But not this section here in the middle – where the numbers are largest. Sorry. Hey, guys? Where are you going?”

Next. It’s not waterproof. Or, more accurately, I don’t know how waterproof or resistant it is. I’ve tried to Google it up and look at the instructions – but to no avail. According to my 9 year old, “Tim Cook showers with his.” She learned this using her georgeous and brilliant and witty and wise iPad Mini. Thing is, I like to swim for exercise. Maybe that’s too much to ask – but I don’t think so. I think the Fitbit might be waterproof. (Do you know? Again, comment.)

Oh yeah, Driving. Driving is dangerous with the watch. Have you heard of that ‘wake-up’ function? Again, brilliant engineering, if your concern is lack of battery power. But sometimes, when I just want to, say, check the time? The ‘wake-up’ function is so buggy in execution and flawed in design that sometimes I literally have to shake my hand up and down vigorously to wake up my phone. It’s soooooo dangerous if it happens to you while driving. Also, you never really know when lots of text messages might show up. For me, it was navigating the 101 while getting group texted about logistics for the upcoming Grateful Dead show.

It was really fun to see my son’s video pop up on the device – but again, I was driving.

I guess you can give Walt and all the other techie reviewers a pass, and say that they were just anticipating that all of these little flaws – did I mention the clunky bugginess of Glances? – are just the ‘natural part of the technology process, where big companies release crappy products and then scramble to fix them in subsequent versions.

But that’s exactly why we love Steve Jobs. He was never out of touch with how real, regular people live their lives. One time, when he really had to release a product before perfecting it, he called it a ‘hobby’ (Apple TV.) That gave him some headroom, at least. Now it’s poised to be a massive disruptor to the TV biz. This is the powerful legacy he leaves behind: Get it right.

I suppose the Apple Watch could have been released as a ‘hobby’. Or who knows, maybe they think they did. But then again, there seems to be a real market for health wearables. And that’s something Jobs never missed. Gotta go – gotta pickup my Fitbit!


Expert in video tech, TV biz, prototyping, product strategy, marketing & sales.

One Response to “The Apple Watch Sucks. (Or, #iMissSteveJobs)”

  1. For the record, the Fitbit was’t great either – although eerily enough, the biggest problem I faced was syncing the Fitbit with my iOS device. Argh.

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