I have been so entertained lately reading how much people who don’t have the new Apple Watch hate it.
The best one was watching Harris Faulkner’s show on the Fox New Network this weekend. (First, a disclaimer that I don’t watch Fox “News” because I like it. I hate-watch it because I’m a masochist.) You would think a news organization could at least get the price right. But after their review of several smart watches, they deemed Apple’s watch not worth its $650 starting-price tag. I wonder if they would have thought it was worth it if they got the price right at $349.
I am not really a gadget geek. I owned the original iPhone until five upgrades passed me by. And even then, at the sixth generation, I only upgraded by inheriting Doug’s iPhone 5 when he upgraded to the 5S--and only because the calendar wasn’t supported on my original phone anymore.
I use my phone to initiate calls, texts, and emails. But most people know that if they actually try to call or text me on it, they probably won’t reach me. Usually I forget to turn the ringer back on after going out to dinner or the to the symphony.
And even if the ringer is on, the phone is usually buried in my purse in a completely different room of the house than I am in. This may be a situation more common among women—men tend to carry their phones around in their pockets. In any case, if you text or call me on my cell phone, I might not discover it for several days.
One gadget I have really enjoyed, though, is the Fitbit. It counts your steps, your calories burned, even your sleep efficiency. And it’s interactive--you can compete remotely with your friends, and that competition gets you moving more. At least it did for me. But I did always think it was strange to be wearing a device on my arm that didn’t even tell me what time it is. For that, I still had to dig the iPhone out of the bottom of my purse.
Just as Fitbit was coming out with a new band that actually does tell time, news of Apple’s release of their smart watch was getting out. So I decided to wait and check that out. And now I’m wearing one.
The big drawback to me is with the fitness apps. It does not integrate at all with Fitbit, so I can no longer play with my friends unless I’m willing to wear two devices on my arm. (I’m not). And Fitbit was able integrate with calorie counting apps, so you could see how you were doing each day on calories in vs. calories out. Apple can’t do that yet.
Apple’s watch has an activity tracker, but the data won’t post to Fitbit or to meal-tracking apps unless you manually enter a workout on another app, the Workout app. If you happened to walk eight miles around New York City sightseeing, that activity wouldn’t transfer those extra calories to your other apps. There’s also a Health app that shows your activity but it doesn’t track the calories you eat either. In fact I’m not even sure what the Health app does that isn’t already being done in the other two apps. Why you need three apps to not even be able to do what one Fitbit app can do, I don't know.
So Fitbit is far superior in this area. (Note to Fitbit: If you were to offer an app for the Apple Watch, I would pay you the cost of one of your lower end trackers for it. I just don’t want to wear two bands on my wrist! Just an idea . . .)
Many reviewers complain about the steep learning curve. Believe me, if I’m telling you this is ridiculous, it really is. I am not one to take to new technologies well. But this one is a breeze.
And most reviews complain incessantly about the short battery life. It only lasts about a day. This is another one that I think is a non-issue. I always take my watch off before I got to bed; I think most people do. So when you take it off, you just connect it to your charger right next to your bed. Who cares if it doesn’t last longer—I don’t think most people sleep in their watches. (For the record, my battery has never been lower than 50% by the time I turn in at night.)
Apple Pay: Yesterday, I went to Peet’s Coffee to write. I ordered a cappuccino, extra hot. When the barista asked me for $3.25, I didn’t dig around in my purse for my wallet, or for my iPhone to use Apple Pay—I double clicked the button on the side of my watch and held it up to the reader. That was it. No keypunching, no signatures. And the vendors do not actually get your credit card data—so it’s one step safer than actually using your card.
Music: When I go for a walk around my neighborhood, I usually carry my iPhone to listen to music. It’s not really a big deal, but I’d rather carry nothing. I’d rather not have to negotiate the tether to my ears when I take off my sweatshirt either. Well now, the watch that I already have on holds music. No phone necessary. Of course you need Bluetooth earphones, but no more cord swinging around getting tangled in my sweatshirt.
Directions: While driving to San Francisco to meet friends for dinner, I lifted my wrist and said “Hey Siri—Directions to Commissary.” She found the restaurant and the watch tapped my wrist a few hundred feet before each turn I was supposed to make. No programming the car’s cumbersome navigation system—no fumbling with Google Maps on my phone.
Texts: So now, when I’m playing the piano, or gardening, or cleaning the house and a friend texts me (remember, my phone is no where near me and my ringer is probably off), a vibration lets me know I’ve got a text. And if I want to answer it, I just talk to my watch. So far, on dozens of texts I haven’t even had one typo. Which is much better than my actual experience typing responses on my iPhone.
Calendar: The watch face tells me what my next appointment is and when I swipe to the map, it tells me that I’m 20 minutes away--another tap navigates me there.
Airline Boarding Passes: I already loved the fact that airline boarding passes can be loaded on phones nowadays. But that still requires fishing out your phone while wheeling you carryon, while holding your coffee cup. Now it just requires lifting my arm—even if it’s the one holding the coffee cup.
But wait there’s more: I can hail an Uber with a tap, read a Yelp review of nearby restaurants, see the Zillow value of homes I’m driving by, hold my wrist up to identify a song using Shazam, check the stock market and the weather, pay a parking meter, even talk on the phone James Bond style in a pinch—all without actually touching my phone.
Oh yeah, and it actually tells the time.
It’s funny because I’ve always been the very last person to come around on new technologies. It’s embarrassing to say now, but I initially didn’t see the value in voicemail, email, iPods, mobile phones, and more recently Uber’s services. I am truly the last adopter. But I wouldn’t be surprised if in another decade, these phone devices we find in the bottom of our purses go the way of the Sony Walkman, the rotary phone, and the VHS player. By that point we might only be using devices that we can actually wear.
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As an Apple stock owner, your report makes me very happy. Hope everyone buys away. As for me, I always wait a few seasons. I don't like being the first one on the block. I wait till Apple gets it right. My iPhone is a 4S and about the time it's ready to die, it will be the perfect time to buy a new smartwatch. Ka ching! That's the stock going up. I bought it back in the late 1990's when it was only $13 a share and the Wall Street Journal gave Apple Computer only 3 weeks to live. Gee? How did that prediction work out? My shares have split and split and split again.
PS: Glad you are back writing again. Plus, I love the new look of your blog. Way to go, Syd!
Posted by: Cindi | May 13, 2015 at 02:52 PM
Oh, Syd. A $349 Apple watch AND a $3.25 cappuccino?! You consumer! (LOL)
I too have my spending weaknesses. And some of them -- like my collecting of history books and horse figures -- make me wonder enough to actually have to write about them. So enjoy!
And for full disclosure: the first time I saw a commercial for the Apple Watch you could have picked my jaw off the floor. What a toy! :O
Posted by: Retired To Win | May 13, 2015 at 03:08 PM
Cindi: Thanks--speaking of late adopting, over the years I've received emails from subscribers that my blog posts are not readable on mobile devices. It took me this long to figure out to remedy that with the new layout!
Retired to Win: Well, the cappuccino isn't really about coffee. I have to pay $3.25 to make myself write. Too many distractions at home. Cheap when you think of it as office space, right?
Posted by: Retired Syd | May 13, 2015 at 04:05 PM
Awesome!!! Three blog posts in a row. Love it! Also loved your posts on the 4% rule. Saw the article in Times, but it was nice to get your take on the 4% rule as well.
Posted by: Linda Vaughn | May 13, 2015 at 06:57 PM
I didn't really want one but wow that was quite an endorsement. Love reading your blog.
Posted by: Mark | May 13, 2015 at 08:27 PM
I'm just managing to get a fit bit, and I expect I will love it. No watch for me though (and I am one of those people who do use the phone for all those other things-yes, I keep the ringer off or on vibrate, but my phone has my life on it).
Posted by: [email protected] | May 13, 2015 at 10:27 PM
Thank you for this report. I want one so bad!!
Posted by: Margaret | May 14, 2015 at 05:56 AM
Like Cindi, as an Apple shareholder I find your endorsement of the iWatch interesting. But I guess I'm less of a gadget person than you since I own no Apple devices at all. Being cheap or, rather, "thrifty", I use Tracfone to keep my cell phone costs down to ~$90 a year. And the only reason I upgraded to a smartphone (LG Android) was because that was the only way I could get a Tracfone that gave me reception in my remote rural house, because it uses Verizon 3G cell service. That, in turn, allowed me to drop my landline at long last, saving $250 a year. But the only thing I use the smartphone for is texts and the occasional phone call.
I also don't eat out, cheaper to just make my own meals, or buy much of anything other than groceries, so I don't need fancy phone payment schemes. I suppose it isn't the "good life" by your standards Syd, but it works for me. I do have one indulgence though: my Nissan LEAF electric car and the solar panels that fuel it. I'm looking to upgrade to a Tesla Model 3 in a few years and get rid of my backup gas-powered car, at long last. I suppose an EV could be considered a really BIG gadget. But once one drives electric, there's no going back! So, my thrifty living does allow me some indulgences. Just different ones from most early retirees.
Posted by: dgpcolorado | May 14, 2015 at 07:17 AM
DPG: I really want an electric car for my next car. But our older car is only 16 years old with just over 102k miles--so it's still just a baby! At this rate, we won't be due to replace it until at least 2025! By then, the electric car ranges should be really great--even for the less expensive models! Now I'm sure some folks think driving around a 20 year old car is hardly the "good life." To each his own . . .
Mark & Margaret: I have still yet to read a positive review of the watch. I think I'm the only one on the planet that likes it! Here's one I read yesterday, "I regret buying an Apple Watch (and I knew I would)": http://www.engadget.com/2015/05/13/apple-watch-buyers-remorse/. I'm starting to think it's only good for people like me that don't constantly use their iPhones. If you are on it all the time, you will find the watch can't do as much as easily. So maybe that's the key--if you are really connected all the time, this might be a step down. Think about it, if you're the kind of person that puts her iPhone out on the dinner table at a restaurant, why would you need the watch?
Posted by: Retired Syd | May 14, 2015 at 09:07 AM
I am one of the last to try new technology. I still have a VHS and only in the last couple years invested in a DVD player. I had a flip phone up until 2 years ago and then I went for a Nokia Lumia windows phone instead of an IPhone. I still have too many friends that have nothing good to say about the IPhone. Others love it. I have no bluetooth device and really don't want one, may be forced to have one if states make totally hands free driving a law. I don't text or call while driving but I do answer if my mom or other family members call when I am in the car, which requires at least one hand. It's nice to see someone likes the Apple Smart Watch, I won't be getting one any time soon.
Posted by: Lydia | May 14, 2015 at 12:08 PM
Good to see you back posting again Syd. The Apple watch sound very nice but I,ll keep my Dick Tracy radio watch just the same. Blue tooth? They make tooth whiting strips for that:)
Posted by: fred doe | May 15, 2015 at 12:36 PM
I have two problems with the apple watch which I believe are insurmountable. 1) I wear reading glasses. So for me to look at my apple watch I'd have to carry my reading glasses at all times and fish them out whenever I wanted to look at the watch. Too much trouble. And 2) I have fat fingers, and I'd always be punching in the wrong letters and numbers ... like I do with my smartphone now. Am I wrong?
Posted by: Tom Sightings | May 16, 2015 at 07:21 PM
Tom: No you are not wrong. I need readers too, but I have those mono vision contact lenses, so I can read and see long distance. Without those, I couldn't see the watch either (or my iPhone). If I don't have my contacts on (just glasses), I have to take them off to read the phone or watch. But maybe you don't have to wear glasses EXCEPT for readers. In which case, I envy you.) Now the fat fingers--that's a definite problem. Sorry. But saves you 349 bucks!
Posted by: Retired Syd | May 16, 2015 at 10:41 PM
I'm so happy that you are posting again!
I'm currently not tempted by the Apple watch, although you listed a few intriguing features. I stopped wearing a watch awhile ago because I hardly ever looked at it and some of them gave me a rash on my wrist so I'm not sure I'm ready for one... and it's so flipping big!
I'm waiting for Apple to just plant a chip on my forehead and be done with it.
Posted by: Janis | May 18, 2015 at 05:25 PM
Hi Syd, I am debating between a fitbit or the Watch. I expect to use it mostly for fitness and calorie tracking. Would you go straight to Watch if you did not own a fitbit? Thanks!
Posted by: Karen | May 21, 2015 at 05:40 AM
Karen: No, I'd try the Fitbit first--it actually does a better job on calorie tracking. And probably you will find more friends on Fitbit to compete with--which makes it more fun. I'd only splurge the extra $$$ if you really wanted the other stuff like text, email, music, Apple Pay.
Posted by: Retired Syd | May 21, 2015 at 08:17 AM
I had to laugh when you explained that you only watch Fox News because you hate it. Wouldn't want anyone to think you were one of those evil wing nuts!
Posted by: DuhREB | May 31, 2015 at 04:39 AM
DuhREB: Strong opinions around Fox News for sure. If people hate me for watching, I just want the to hate me for the right reason.
Posted by: Retired Syd | May 31, 2015 at 09:59 AM