Date Published: 24 April 2015

Setting-up and getting going with Apple Watch

Apple Watch has received much interest from the worldwide community of Apple product enthusiasts, but what is it really like to use

Until very recently one could only speculate based on information released in Apple's slick videos, demonstrations and promotional material. Then, finally, in the last week Apple stores around the world seem to have temporarily, well - presumably temporarily, been transformed into jeweller-watchmakers offering one premium product in a wide range of styles and materials and a huge range of prices. The prices we saw in Apple's London stores last weekend ranged from £299 to £13,500. Today the first online orders for Apple Watches reached ordinary consumers - not just specially selected testers or reviewers, but those customers who were ready to place an order for an Apple Watch at 8.00am BST on 10th April 2015 and did so while stock for delivery today (24th April) lasted for only a few minutes.

Here are some of our first impressions of the ease of use of Apple's latest hi-tech device.

How to set-up Apple Watch:

After the initial excitement of opening the box and packaging, the process to begin using Apple Watch consisted of the following steps:

  1. Put the watch on your wrist - or change over to the alternative (smaller or larger) strap supplied if you have a relatively small / large wrist, then put it on.
  2. Check that the iPhone to be used with the new Apple Watch has the latest version of iOS installed.
  3. Check that bluetooth is enabled via the 'Settings' app on the iPhone.
  4. Open the 'Apple Watch' app on the iPhone and tap on the 'Start Pairing' button. At least, that's what the instructions said. However, it seems that you do need the switch the watch on first. To do that we pressed the side button once. After seeing the familiar Apple symbol for a while, the next screen displayed was an invitation to select a language, then one had to confirm the selection. Only after that did the watch face show an instruction to pair the watch with the phone - see photo.
  1. Next it was a case of going back to the 'Apple Watch' app on the iPhone to 'Start Pairing'. This involved tapping on the 'Start Pairing' button on the iPhone and then also the 'Start Pairing' button on the Apple Watch. Then, following the instructions on the iPhone screen, it was necessary to hold the iPhone camera over Apple Watch, matching-up the Apple Watch screen with a viewfinder on the 'Apple Watch' iPhone app. Activity on the iPhone screen confirmed that something was happening. Then, afteronly a short time, the iPhone displayed the message 'Your Apple Watch Is Paired'. Excellent!
  2. The next button shown on the iPhone screen was 'Set Up Apple Watch'. This process involved responding to a series of questions and requests, including:
  • Which wrist do you wear the watch on (left or right)
  • Agree to Apple's Terms and Conditions, which you can have sent to your email address - seemed like a good idea, but of course that does also require entering your email address
  • Sign-in to your iMessage account in order to be able to send and receive SMS, MMS and iMessages via Apple Watch
  • Accept information about Apple's 'Location Services', which can be enabled or disabled via the iPhone Settings (under 'Privacy')
  • Indicate if you'd like to use Siri or not (right away, that is). You can also access more information about this by pressing the "Learn more about Siri" link.
  • Indicate if you agree to Apple Watch automatically sending diagnostics and usage data to Apple. It's fine to choose 'Don't Send' if you'd rather not.
  • Set an Apple Watch Passcode in order to help protect your personal data, which seems like a good idea. If required the code can be set on the Apple Watch itself.
  • Decide and indicate if unlocking the iPhone should also unlock the associated Apple Watch. Again, the decision is entered on the watch rather than on the iPhone.
  • Decide and indicate if you want to install all available apps on Apple Watch. The alternative is to choose to do this later, in which case it is possible to just select the apps that are really wanted, which can be done via the 'Apple Watch' app on the iPhone.
  1. After making the selections necessary to set up Apple Watch, it immediately began synching. The iPhone app also displayed a link to more information. However, there wasn't much time to look at that because very shortly after starting the synchronisation process the iPhone displayed the message 'Apple Watch is Ready' and the Apple Watch beeped at the same time as generating an unfamiliar ripple-type sensation; a first experience of the 'taptic experience'.
  2. The last remaining task seemed to be to tap 'OK' on the iPhone app screen - see the middle photo below.
    However, that was merely the 'end of the beginning' ...
  3. The next screen, still inside the 'Apple Watch' iPhone app is another exciting array of options. The contents of this screen depends on which apps are installed on the iPhone. In general, it's a case of looking through all of the options and deciding which features to enable on Apple Watch.

It's useful to know that the settings chosen during the set-up process can generally be changed later via the 'Apple Watch' app on the iPhone. That said, it seems that at the moment some settings cannot be changed or switched-off. For example, although it's possible to choose which of the user installed apps (for which there are Apple Watch features) are enabled on Apple Watch, there doesn't seem to be any way to remove unwanted 'standard' apps from the Apple Watch screen. It's possible that not every Apple Watch user will be interested in say, 'Stocks' (stockmarket information) or 'Passbook' (for coupons, tickets, credit and debit cards etc.) and as the space on the Apple Watch Menu Screen is limited it would be good to be able to remove unwanted items from it.

Observations so far:

This article has been written on Day One of use of Apple Watch. There is no doubt that this product is a slick, elegant and ground-breaking innovation that will take some getting used to.

Great things about Apple Watch

The Mail app works really well on Apple Watch. It is possible to set how many lines of emails (up to 2 lines) will be previewed on Apple Watch so do bear that in mind when writing emails to people who use Apple Watch - be sure to include key information at the beginning of the message whenever possible. The Photos and Music apps require a selected folder and playlist(s) respectively to be synched from iPhone to Apple Watch so that the files can be seen / played on the watch independently of the phone, which seems to work well. Another excellent feature is the Apple Watch Camera app, which enables the iPhone camera to be operated remotely. To make the best use of that it is useful to have a tripod or other suitable stand to keep the iPhone steady while operating its camera from Apple Watch.

Not so brilliant aspects of Apple Watch

The first and most obvious drawback with Apple Watch is that it only displays the standard 'watch' (time-telling) screen after a definite wrist movement stimulates the device to show the time or the Apple Watch screen is tapped. Apple have explained that this feature is a clever way to extend battery life. However, one downside is that due to the need to significantly rotate the wrist to switch the display on - or to use the other hand to tap the screen, it isn't possible to discretely check the time on an Apple Watch. Having long worn conventional watches and got used to occasionally casting an eye wristwards, the view of only a plain dark screen is not at all satisfying.

The inability to remove unwanted apps from the Apple Watch Menu Screen is also a disadvantage, not least because their presence reduces the prominence of apps that are of interest.

Our first impression is that use of the 'Friends' (contacts) wheel is not as intuitive as expected. To use this feature it is necessary to select up to 12 'friends' from the contacts app on iPhone. It then takes some practice to access the Friends app on Apple Watch, select a specific friend by turning the crown wheel, then either navigate away or contact that person - so far we have managed both in error / exploration, and may well do so a few more times yet.

Verdict:

It is too soon to tell how useful Apple Watch will prove to be, above and beyond the function of a standard watch (accepting the need to make a definite wrist movement or tap on the screen in order to see the time together with whatever other information it has been set to show). Based only on experience of the set-up process outlined above together with initial use of some apps over a few hours, this product is very interesting, if not quite as intuitive as implied by Apple's promotional videos. Being enthusiasts, we watched them several times over but even that can still only be a limited introduction because user experience with this type of product will depend heavily on the usability of the specific apps installed.

Apple Watch Sport is comfortable to wear and the automatic collection of heart rate data while the device is worn will doubtless be interesting, at least for a while. It would be good to be able to interact with more favourite iPhone apps on Apple Watch - Tweetbot and Daily Lift, for example. It seems likely that an increasing number of apps will be useable on Apple Watch as time passes and apps are upgraded. The final comment of this initial Apple Watch review is therefore that, in common with iPhone itself, user experience of Apple Watch is likely to be highly dependent on the availability of a wide range of great apps designed for use on the device.

Source: IvyRose Technical Ed.

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