Friday, June 26, 2015

Cool Technology of the Week Special Edition

BIDMC has 4 Apple Watches (the inexpensive Sport model) for development and evaluation.    Our programmers have 3 of them and I’m passing the 4th around to various folks including a 65 year old techie and a 22 year old digital native (my daughter Lara).    Here’s Lara’s review:

“As the Apple Watch arrives at retail stores, a lot of people will be asking 'How is it? Is it worth buying?' I think a question that needs to be asked first, however, is ‘What is it?’ The Apple Watch is not a new, independent Apple product. It is a watch that pairs with your iPhone and acts as a mirror of sorts, enabling you to access select apps and features from your phone.  It is not an independent product. I was certainly surprised by that!

Just as the iPhone functions very well as a phone, the watch also functions very well as a watch. The Sport Band is incredibly comfortable, and easily adjustable. It has a very clear, readable face with both digital and analog options, as well as a small selection of customizable watch faces. (Honestly, I hope they add more selection over time- its currently quite limited.) You can display a few other bits of information on the screen, such as the date, weather, and other time zones. The customizability here is definitely a highlight, and a feature that goes beyond a standard wristwatch.

But let’s be honest here- nobody cares much about the iPhone’s phone capabilities. They care about the apps. I imagine the Apple Watch will be viewed in the same way. ‘What nifty non-watch things can I do on my Apple Watch?’  Well, this is where the product falls slightly short at the moment. The Apple Watch is an interface for some select apps, but with less features than that of the iPhone. You can read your texts and emails, but you cannot write them (Unless you do so through dictation, but talking to your wrist in public does not look as cool as it does in the movies, trust me.) You can activate the camera on your phone with it, but it doesn’t have a camera of its own. (Funny story- I thought the camera was on the watch itself, and took plenty of lovely pictures of the wall while trying to figure out what was going on.)

On the flip side, some apps are designed very well for the watch. The health app in particular does a great job of utilizing what the watch has to offer. I was especially fond of the little notification it gives you when you’ve been sitting down for over 50 minutes. It’s a perfect reminder for when I lose track of time on my computer. I’ve also found some nifty vocabulary and kanji flashcards that have helped me with my Japanese studies. I’m sure that over time, more apps will be released that are compatible with and suited to the Apple Watch, and I’m looking forward to trying them out.

On a final note, for anyone worried about the battery life- the first time you use it, while setting up the watch itself, the battery drains quickly. Every time after that, it will last you the entire day. Have the charger set up on your bedside and you’re good to go.

So, is the Apple Watch worth the price tag? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking to replace your iPhone, then no. But if you’re looking for a very high quality watch with limited iPhone features and app use, then yes. I love my watch for what it is- a watch with some perks. "

1 comment:

mlougee said...

FYI (and for fun, perhaps), your fellow Bostonian, Dan Bricklin, has created a development tool for the aWatch, even before the next iteration of the Watch's OS makes it qualitatively easier for developers to create apps for the Watch. See, and then the link for Bricklin's software, It's interesting that the Mayo Clinic has created small Watch apps for both their providers and their patients... other creative healthcare apps can't be far behind, I hope.