No, I did not receive an Apple Watch.
What did end up happening was me finally taking a break from exam preparations and going for an Apple Watch try-on. I’ve not yet ordered one.
I arrived at the Apple Store ten minutes early. As soon as I entered, a retail guy directed me to the try-on waiting line when I told him I had an appointment at 6 PM. The line was short, and there were demo watches along the side of the line you could try out. I ended up spending the ten minutes before my try-on appointment fiddling with the demo Watch. Although I was told what to expect (thanks in part to Twitter and a couple of day one reviews), I was not prepared for the size of the thing. I double-checked the size of the Watch with the guy at the line, and he assured me that, yes, it was the 42mm. That instant, the notion of me saving fifty bucks and getting the 38mm1 flew out the window. Other than the size, I was also surprised by how much I liked just the watch face. I loved using Force Touch to navigate through the other nine faces, and being able to customize it. I settled one one I liked: the ‘Utility’ analog face, with just the sunrise/sunset and calendar complications and no ‘numbers’2 around the face. Who knows, I might as well throw in the Activity ring in there, too.
And yes, I did end up Force Touch-ing everything. After I was done customizing the watch face to my fancy, I swiped down to find the Notification Center (if it’s even called that). I started dismissing notifications one-by-one by swiping them away, then remembered I can clear them all by Force Touch-ing the display. A feature I’ll sorely miss on the iPhone. A swipe up from the bottom unveils the Glances view. I don’t have much of an opinion of this, particularly because I didn’t think about it much in the five minutes that I had with it. It felt to me rather like the equivalent of Today view extensions of the Apple Watch, and I could see myself using it in the future.
Pressing the Digital Crown once takes you to the apps view. I stubbornly refuse to call it the home screen. It’s not a home screen. It’s a view used only for access to apps you have on your Watch. It’s a similar ideology to the Android experience. The watch face on Apple Watch is like Android’s home screen, with the widgets, shortcuts, etc., with the apps screen being a place to launch apps. In my opinion, this ideology is more appropriate for a wrist wearable than for a smartphone. Unlike others, I didn’t have much of a problem touching icons to open apps, but it’s not like I took long on the app screen anyway. Unfortunately, the demo watch didn’t have third-party apps on display, so I was unable to experience how long and how complete third-party developers’ applications are.
I didn’t get much time to use the actual software of the Apple Watch, but what’s significant about it isn’t really the software, but the hardware mostly. Consider this where the ‘software’ section of this mini-review ends. I didn’t have any more time to mess with the UX, since the watches you get to try on only run an interactive demo video, and not the actual software. I felt a tap on my back and the line guy told me it was time for my appointment. I followed a nice lady down into the ‘fenced-off’ area — pretty much an area taped off just for those with appointments. The try-on area was pretty standard for Apple. Normal high-quality wood tables, this time with some sort of blue mat. Another one of the demo units — the ones which you could actually interact with — were placed next to the mats, attached to some sort of display stand.
She started off by asking me how to pronounce my name (it rhymes with “fade”, by the way), introducing herself, then by asking me if I had any idea which two watches I’d like to try. I came prepared, of course, and picked out the 42mm Space Gray Apple Watch Sport with the Black Sport Band, and the 42mm Stainless Steel Case with the Link Bracelet — now being made aware that the 38mm didn’t cut it for me. She made a show of unlocking a drawer under the table with her phone — no sensors visible — and opening a drawer, containing the entire Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport collection. She took out the two I’d picked, and started fitting the Sport on me. Even though I expected it, the black sport band was much more comfortable than I’d thought. It was really light, and within a few seconds as my ‘guide’ tried to pitch the watch to me3, I was able to completely forget it was on my wrist — a relief, considering one of my main concerns with getting the watch was that I’d have a hard time wanting it on my wrist all the time. I already had my mind set on this watch, or as we know it, the ‘geek’ Apple Watch.
Once I was done, she put on the stainless steel. It felt much colder, and also heavier. I was also surprised to find that she did not adjust the band to my size, even on request, so I didn’t really get the ‘full experience’. The stainless steel looked really great, but it didn’t feel right. It was too heavy, and I was not interested in it that much anymore, especially after trying on the much cheaper, much lighter and much more comfortable Black Sport band. Unfortunately, the demo for this watch wasn’t working, so I couldn’t try out the taptic feedback on this one.
To my surprise, she asked me if I’d wanted to try on another one, to which I promptly said yes. Turns out, you’re only allowed two at the same time. I chose the Stainless Steel Case with the Milanese Loop. Since the Milanese Loop was the one featured probably the most prominently in Apple’s marketing, I had high hopes for it. It looked much smaller than on the marketing material — the little mesh was much smaller, but also felt more uniform. I don’t have a lot of arm-hair at all (I’m 15), but putting it on did pinch a few. I expected a cold, steel kiss, but it was comfortable and wasn’t cold at all like the link bracelet. Remember that report from 9to5Mac stating that employees would give fashion advice? Well, my guide told me that the Milanese loop was ‘too elegant’ for me, too which I completely agreed. In my polo shirt and ankle-length three-quarter khakis, I’m pretty sure I’d look stupid with a stainless steel watch with a Milanese loop band.
At the end of the appointment, I had a pretty good idea what I was gonna get. Firstly, the 38mm was way too small for me, and not that intuitive to use. The Apple Watch collection (stainless steel) would look too ‘mature’ for me, in the words of my guide, and I already have my heart set on the Sport with Black Sport Band. Of course, the stainless steel looks better, but the extra $200 isn’t worth it.