Cezary Wojcik
Keyboard Wizard
Two Weeks Later With the Apple Watch

May 12, 2015

After 2 weeks with my Apple Watch, I've been making some notes about what life with it is like. Overall, I definitely like it, but there is, as there tends to be, room for improvement. Below are some of my thoughts on the matter.

I have a 42 mm Black Sport, for what it's worth.

Buzzes and Taps

Before the Watch came out, people obsessed over what it would do, but no one seemed to think about what your phone wouldn't do. Probably the biggest (and most surprising) change that the Apple Watch has brought is the cessation of my pocket's incessant buzzing. We have all become strangely attuned to the sound of a phone's vibration. Even through the noise of an active classroom, I can usually hear a phone vibrating a good distance away.

With an Apple Watch, the only time that your phone buzzes is if the screen is on (you're using it). Otherwise, all I feel is a silent tap on my wrist, and I can quickly check whether or not whatever email or other notification I received is something worth getting my phone out for (usually not). Not having my phone buzz anymore is so nice that I become slightly annoyed when my phone buzzes while I'm using it. I'm considering just turning the buzzing off altogether.

The Taptic Engine has been criticized by some as being too subtle. I didn't have that problem, but I did have another issue with the tapping - at first, the "taps" just felt like a single vibration to me. I felt somewhat cheated. However, over the past few weeks, as I've become used to the Watch, the "taps" started to feel like actual taps, which is awesome. I think that the main difference is whether or not you're expecting the tap. I've found that if I'm paying attention to the Watch as the "tap" happens, I tend to notice it more as a single vibration, but if I'm not paying attention, it genuinely feels like a tap.

Phone and Audio

One of the other features of the watch that I didn't expect that I would like so much is using the watch as a phone. When in a private area such that speaker-phone is suitable, using the Watch is an awesome alternative to the ever-tacky Bluetooth headsets. Suddenly, both of your hands are free without having to resort to the uncomfortable shoulder-to-cheek method. It's also very useful if you happen to drive a car that doesn't have a Bluetooth connection to your phone (as I do). I no longer have to put my phone on speaker and try to place it somewhere convenient. The sound quality and range for the microphone is surprisingly good. I never had trouble hearing people on the other line, and they never had trouble hearing me.

Using the watch in the car is one of my first slight issues with the Watch. I usually have my phone connected to my car via an aux cable and Spotify turned on. When I used Siri to call people on my phone, it always paused my music so that I could say the command without background noise. When I turn on Siri on my Watch, my music keeps playing, which makes using Siri difficult. Moreover, once I actually initiate the call, the music still keeps playing. I wish there were at least an option to pause music during Siri and phone calls on the Watch (I understand that the default behavior maybe makes more sense when the audio cable is connected to headphones instead of car speakers).

When I used to have a Pebble before the Apple Watch, one of my favorite features while driving was that I could without looking skip or pause the currently playing song or podcast. One long hold on the bottom right button to launch the music controls, and then either the center right button to pause or the bottom right button to skip. On the Apple Watch, just using the controls on my phone is more practical than trying to use the music "glance." First of all, you have to find the glance if it wasn't the last glance that you used, then after that, I found that I couldn't quite hit the correct button without looking. Maybe that would get better with practice, but I'm not willing to practice a good deal when driving.


One of the main features of the Apple Watch are the apps. I've found that in general, the apps are not terribly useful. Unless your phone isn't near or you're sitting in such a way that getting your phone out is hard, it will always be faster to get your phone out than to try to use an Apple Watch app.

First of all, I'm not a fan of the "honeycomb" menu. It looks beautiful in motion (and in general), but tapping apps on the thing is overly difficult for my large fingers. I tried to center apps and then zoom into them, but even that is difficult. I still very often misclick which app I want to use. At first I assumed that it might be something that I get used to, but I haven't. I could navigate the apps so much faster with just a list of apps, or maybe a grid such that 2 columns equal the width of the screen. Sure, it wouldn't be as pretty, but it would sure be a good bit more usable.


Once you've actually managed to select and open the correct app, you have to wait for it to load. The loading times are not very consistent. About half the time, the app will load instantly, but half the time you'll have to wait a seemingly random amount of time. This all adds up to more than enough time to have pulled your phone out to see a bigger and better interface that shows you the information you want with more details.

The only apps that seem to be useful are apps that are specifically made for not using your phone. The camera app is a good example. That's a very useful app (though it can't initiate capturing video for some reason). The only other app that I actually use on my Watch is one I made for myself that shows me bus stop times, though even that is probably usually slower than getting out my phone and checking the Today widget I made instead. I mainly use it because Hell yeah, I made an Apple Watch app!. The novelty will probably wear off fairly soon.

My Bus App

Even glances tend to take a bit to load - enough so that I could have gotten out my phone and checked a Today widget instead most of the time.

I suppose I also use the Stopwatch app, though that almost doesn't count, because I only ever launch it through the stopwatch complication. Speaking of complications, I find that they're the most frustratingly almost awesome part of the Watch. Complications are customizable parts of the watch faces. I find myself using the Modular watch face because it can show me the most information (see image below). For some reason, all of the other versions of the weather complication, for instance, only show the temperature. There is easily room for a weather conditions icon. The large weather complication chooses to use H and L instead of High and Low even though there is easily room for the entire word. I don't need to see my location, but no other version of the weather complication will tell me all four of the things I want to know: current temperature, current conditions, high, and low. Check out the rightmost image - there is very clearly room to also display the high and the low in the weather complication, especially if the word "CLOUDY" were replaced with a cloudy icon.

Watch Faces

If I could make a complication that shows me the bus stop arrival time and bus, I could save a lot of time. Other complications also leave things to be desired. Because of the relative slowness of using glances and apps compared to just using your phone, complications are easily the most useful features on the Watch. I imagine that Apple is working on enabling developers to build their own complications but just didn't have time to release the APIs. It's been rumored that Apple will announce an SDK for native Watch apps at WWDS this June, but I would easily trade that for the ability to make custom complications. If I weren't pessimistic, I might even hope for full custom watch faces.

My Pebble also had a full notification history so that I could see things if I dismiss them by accident. I've found myself wishing that I had a notification history several times now. Even just on my phone, some kind of history would be nice.

Finally, I appreciate that the Watch knows the text-to-speech language for the person you're texting based on the keyboard you have selected on your phone. I often text my family in Polish whereas I (obviously) talk to other people in English, so multi-language support is super useful.


I initially struggled between getting the cheaper Sport Watch or getting a stainless steel Watch with the milanese loop. It turns out I made the right choice, at least as far as the watch band goes. The fluoroelastomer band is very intelligently designed. I had always worn a leather strap before, and without fail, the leather loops that held the band tail in place would always tend to come apart and tear up. They're parts of the band that stick out and tend to get caught in things. The tail of the fluoroelastomer band goes under the strap (see image below), and that makes the band not get caught on things. One of the more annoying things I used to worry about when wearing a watch was putting on my backpack with my right arm first. The backpack strap always rubbed against my arm and got caught on my watch. If I was in a hurry, I'd tug on my arm to get it through, which was usually bad for my leather strap. I haven't had a single problem with putting on my backpack with the fluoroelastomer band. It doesn't get caught and just slides on by. It is also very comfortable, even when snug. I was worried that a "plastic" band might look and feel tacky, but Apple did a good job with the fluoroelastomer. Here's that word one more time: fluoroelastomer. I've been practicing saying and spelling it. I can do one of those.

Black Apple Watch Sport

The digital crown takes some getting used to, but it is, for the most part, nice. My main qualm with the digital crown is that it can be slightly difficult to push (and even more so to double press to switch to the last app you used). The digital crown is in the top right of the Watch; to press it, you need to support the left side of the Watch with another finger. So that I don't cover up the screen (and because it is more comfortable), I tend to put my other finger on the bottom left of the Watch. I always end up turning the Watch a little bit before I get the crown to press. The side button below the crown is far easier to press because it is lower.

Battery life is fantastic. You can see in the image above that the battery is at 75% - this is after over 12 hours of use. I rarely get below 50%.

It also needs to be said that the Watch is pretty damn beautiful. I won't dwell on that, but there it is.

Health Stuff

First of all, the Activity app on the Watch is consistently extremely laggy. Most other parts of the Watch run at a very pleasing 60 fps, but the circular animations in the Activity app slug along at something easily below 30 fps. The Activity app on the iPhone shows the same information as the Watch, except with a history of previous days. It's somewhat OK, but it leaves a lot to be desired. I fully expected, for instance, to be able to see a graph of my heart rate over the course of the day. The activity app provides no such feature. I had to go digging in the Health app, but the visualization that the Health app provides is pretty awful. For each hour or so, it makes a vertical line from the minimum heart rate in that hour to the maximum heart rate in that hour (see image below). It also doesn't tell you what the average heart rate is. Since the watch presumably knows when you're not moving and when you're fully active, it would be nice to see heart rate averages for moving, not moving, and being active. The heart rate alone is available to other apps via HealthKit, but the other movement information might not be.

Heart Rate on Health App

Speaking of the Watch's knowing when you are active, I find that it far overestimates that amount of time for me. For instance, today, I wouldn't say I had time to be active at all, and yet I have 32 minutes logged because I have a brisk walking pace. I had hoped that inputting my height into the app would make it consider the possibility that I walk quickly (I'm 6'3"), but it has not. That portion of the data seems somewhat meaningless to me. I wish there were manually adjustable settings for what can be considered "exercise."

The other portion of the activity tracking that's somewhat unique to the Apple Watch is the idea of standing for 1 minute in at least 12 hours. I currently have the notifications to remind me to stand turned on, and half the time I do actually find them useful, but (obviously) the other half I do not. For instance, when I'm driving in my car for over an hour, it doesn't make sense to tell me to stand up while driving. I'm not going to pull over just to stand up for a minute when on the interstate. Similarly, when I'm watching a movie in a theatre, standing up doesn't make sense. It's not an easy problem, but it'd be nice if there were some kind of setting or heuristic to not bug you if it knows that you're in no position to stand up.

Being Pretentious

As with most people who've been wearing an Apple Watch, I've adopted an overexaggerated look-at-my-watch arm movement to trigger the screen. In general, the Watch is better than expected at realizing when I want to see the time, but obviously far from perfect. The biggest problem with the look-at-my-watch arm movement is it looks like I'm overexaggerating the motion in a "LOOK I'VE GOT AN APPLE WATCH!!!" kind of way. I assume that connotation will go away over time, but the assholeish specter of Google Glass looms overhead nonetheless.


The above is just a random series of thoughts that I've had about the watch written in no particular order and loosely organized. I have no more thoughts (that I can think of) to share currently, so this is it.