Should I get an Apple Watch? Um, well…

ByDuncan Heaney
Apple Watches

Now that the Apple Watch has been out for a few months, it seems like a good time to evaluate its place in the world. It arrived with more pomp and fanfare than the last night of the Proms, but has it lived up to that early hype? Is it worthy of your valuable wrist space?

It's undeniably an impressive bit of kit - phenomenally well-constructed, stunningly attractive and, like a pint of cider in an igloo, dripping pure Apple cool.

But you'd be crazy to get one.

History lessons

I've been on the fence about the Apple Watch for months. It's a device that immediately excites, but it's also one with some rather obvious flaws. Having mulled it over for months, I've recently come to the decision that it would be a little daft to buy one. Let me take you through my reasoning.

If history has taught us anything, it's that early adoption comes with risks. The tech landscape is littered with the corpses of devices that didn't quite make it. From HD DVDs, to Betamax, to the Sega Dreamcast (that one still hurts), early adopters get burned more often than an incompetent chef.

Apple Watch

But if you're a tech-head, that's a risk you're willing to take. You know the risks going in, and accept them as an inevitability. But with Apple there's another concern - iteration. There's often a big jump between the first generation of a device and subsequent ones. The first iPhone was quickly improved into irrelevance by its successors, as was the iPad, and the iPod.

It's hard to emotionally invest in a piece of technology when you know that there is a strong likelihood that a noticeably better version is just around the corner.

App to the future

The formative state of the Apple Watch is evidenced by its apps and features. There are plenty of things it can do, but I'm still waiting for that one thing that makes it essential. Yes, it's convenient to get messages on your wrist, and being able to talk into it like David Hasselhoff on Knight Rider remains the coolest thing ever™.

But some of the most exciting stuff remains on the horizon. The new version of the operating system, WatchOS 2, was announced last month. It has loads of interesting improvements, like 'Time Travel', which can show you events from 72 hours in the past and future, the ability to connect to Wi-Fi without connecting to your iPhone, and more apps that take advantage of features like the accelerometer.

As it stands now though, a lot of its strengths can be found in fitness. Yeah, about that…

Fitness first

On weekends, it's not uncommon for me to run to the park. And when I say 'run', I mean walk, and by 'park' I mean KFC.

I'm not really into health and fitness, and that's a problem, because the Apple Watch is really  into health and fitness. It's a primary focus, synching up to various apps to provide useful biometric data, so you can see how you're doing and build on your routines to achieve maximum effect. And that's cool - if you run, or make regular trips to the gym, you'll find it can enhance your daily work-outs in some interesting ways.

Apple Watch

Of course, if you're only a casual gym-goers there's very little that can't be achieved with a simple iPhone app like RunKeeper, or other smart watches. In fact, some have complained that the Apple Watch is missing some features that the hardest of hardcore health nuts will likely want, like compatibility with certain apps or sleep tracking.

So one of the Apple Watch's key pillars seems to me like a fairly niche one - and I have to wonder whether true fitness fanatics will want to splash out on something so expensive, when there are cheaper devices with as much functionality.

The price is right?

Oh yes, did I mention it was expensive? Of course it is - premium prices and Apple go together like pork and… erm, apple. But in the case of the Apple Watch it's a particular problem because unlike the iPhone, very much its own thing, the Watch is more of a supplementary device. To get the most out of it, you need an iPhone or an iPad - pricey in their own right.

Of course, the price may drop in the next few years, or mobile deals will be available that let you get an Apple Watch and iPhone together for less upfront, but as it stands now, that's a big investment when you consider all the aforementioned caveats.

Coulda woulda shoulda

And all said, that's my big problem with the Apple Watch - so many of its positives exist in a fuzzy state of undefined potential. It could  revolutionise the smartwatch market. It will have more apps. It might  go down in price.

Could, will, might… not words that really speak to its qualities right now.

Ultimately the Apple Watch is a good device, and it's hard to feel anyone who's already splashed out for one would feel cheated. But true greatness - that special something that would make it essential - remains tantalisingly close, but just out of reach.

Me - I'm waiting for an Apple Watch 2.

The opinions expressed in this piece are the personal opinion of the author and don't reflect the opinion of broadbandchoices yada yada et cetera et cetera. Look - if you're an Apple fan and you disagree, argue with me, not my employer. (Is my behind sufficiently covered?)

 

Topics: Hardware Reviews

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