With Apple now primed to start taking preorders for the Apple Watch, it's time for me to answer a question that I've been asked a bazillion times since the product was announced.
"Are you (as in, me) getting an Apple Watch?"
Before I go on to give you some of the thought processes I went through to come to this conclusion, I want to make a couple things clear. First, the purpose of this piece is not to try to change the mind of anyone who wants one. If the Apple Watch floats your twig, then that's cool with me.
Then there's the ultra-expensive Apple Watch Edition. That's aimed at people who have so much money - or access to borrowing so much money - that ten or twenty grand is meaningless. That's not me, so I'm ignoring it.
Finally, me not rushing out to preorder one is not the same thing as me betting against Apple and predicting that the Apple Watch will be a failure. Far from it. I think Apple will sell millions of them. But then Apple is so good at selling stuff that I'm certain it could sell an aluminum cube with an LED or two fitted in the front that did nothing. Apple is a sales and marketing juggernaut, and it never fails to amaze me just how good it is at shifting products.
But Apple won't be selling one to me, not yet at any rate. After carefully going through all the specs and sales material (including those awesome ads), and reading many of the early reviews, I've come to the conclusion that it's not for me.
Let's start with the obvious. I don't wear a wristwatch that often. I have several to choose from - from beater Casios to an Omega - and yet most of the time I'm watchless and tell the time by looking at my iPhone, or my Macs, or the clock in my car, or just eyeballing the sun and going for a guesstimate. In fact, I've noticed that even when I'm wearing a watch, I still use other means to tell the time.
The problem is that watches just don't fit in with my lifestyle. They scratch my keyboards, get all sweaty at the gym, fill up with crud when I'm doing DIY or automotive repair, and are a shock hazard when fixing broken electrical stuff. This means that when I'm wearing one I'm endlessly taking it off, putting it down somewhere, and forgetting it.
And I know that I'd do the same thing with the Apple Watch. OK, maybe not straight away, but once that period of limerence had worn off, I'd be back to taking it off. And given that it's not waterproof, and I'm uncertain as to how robust it is, I'd end up taking it off far more often than I'd take off a Casio or Omega.
In fact, the lack of serious waterproofing on the Apple Watch is, for me, probably one of the biggest dealbreakers. If you go from day to day without getting your wristwatch wet, then this won't be a problem for you, but for me, splashproofing just isn't going to be enough.
Then there's the nightly recharging. Having finally broken free of that with the iPhone by upgrading to the 6 Plus, I'm reluctant to put myself back in the position where I have to babysit a device nightly. My Casios are all solar powered and can go for months needing no attention, while the Omega just needs a quick shake every few days (and if I forget, it's no big deal). If the Apple Watch offered a few days between recharges, then I could live with that, but the nightly thing is a huge turn off.
Next there's the issue of what I'm supposed to do with the Apple Watch.
Sure, If I had a Tesla or BMW i3 I could control with one, or I frequented hotels that allowed me to unlock the doors with a flick of the wrist, I might consider throwing $350 on one (since I'd be feeling flush if I had a Tesla or BMW i3). At $350 it's a cheap car accessory. But I've got very little interest in buying a device to sit on my wrist and buzz when someone faves a photo of mine on Flickr, likes something on Facebook, pings me on Twitter, or sends me an email. But I'll be honest with you, I hate notifications. They remind me of the notifications that Outlook threw at me a decade ago when I had far fewer notifications. I've turned them off on my iPhone and iPad because there's no effective way to throttle the flurry of annoyances, and I've no interest in spending money to make my wrist buzz every few seconds.
Now I admit that when it comes to social media that I'm not the sharpest interocitor in the toolbox, but I've not found any effective way to control notifications beyond either sticking my face directly in the firehose or switching them off. Since most are nothing more than pointless annoyances designed to remind you to make use of your favorite social media site, I've just pulled the plug on them.
Bottom line, for my use case, I can't yet see a killer app for the Apple Watch.
Another reason I don't want an Apple Watch is the iPhone. The iPhone is a convergence device that does away with the need for other gadgets. It's replaced my carry-around camera, my PDA, my in-car satnav and my fitness band. Why all of a sudden do I need a second device? Other than because smartwatches are a thing and people are willing to throw money at them, I can't see a real reason. The idea of the smartwatch goes back decades to when people wore wristwatches and thought that miniaturization was the way forward, and since then they have pervaded popular culture, but they seem to me to be more a cool concept than a solid product. Apple might change that, but until smartwatches actually do things that you can't do with another device, they're just an accessory.
Finally, I'm in no rush to get one. Sure, the little kid inside me wants one, and I could totally justify getting one with that phrase "it's for review," but as to wanting to be the first to own one, well, let's just say I've transcended my ego enough for that not to be an issue. If you love being the first to own something, there's nothing wrong with that, but that doesn't work for me. I know that in a year's time there'll be a better Apple Watch, and a better one a year after that. Since I have no real use for one, I'm winning out by sitting on my wallet. And if something cool comes up, then the price of entry into the Apple Watch cool club starts at $350.
It is, after all, nothing that money can't buy.
Bottom line, I'm both impressed and disappointed in with the Apple Watch. Apple should be commended for aspects of the design such as the digital crown and the UI, but it's such a shame that it is let down not only by not being waterproof, but also by the fact that in reality it's little more than a glorified notifications screen.