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Apple Watch Review: Not Living Up To Expectations?

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My obsession with time pieces, especially the digital kind, started when I was just a bespectacled, nerdy little kid back in school. I currently own a first-gen Apple Watch – I was one of the first, lucky few to get my hands on this smartwatch which will one day become a part of digital history. No doubt, I love my Watch, but my first love will always be my Casio Databank calculator watch. Sure, you couldn’t make calls with it or use it to count your steps, but hey, it was as smart as watches got back then! Pardon me, I’m digressing J What I wanted to talk about in this post is really about the Watch – I wanted to make sure that I had used the Apple Watch long enough before I penned-down my take on it. After having it attached to my wrist for a little over 3 months, I think I’m finally ready. So here it goes (my Apple Watch Review!)…

Apple Watch Review

Personal User

Let me spare you some time by not going into all the things the Watch CAN do, which I’m sure you have read about like a gazillion times already. Like I had mentioned earlier, I love the Watch, but it falls short in certain aspects, which I’ve listed below.

Just so that we are clear, a few gaps in terms of usability have already been addressed with the watchOS 2 update, but things aren’t all hunky-dory yet. First of all, the Watch tells you the time, shows you all your notifications, allows you to take calls and helps you track your fitness, but its utility sadly ends there – it still doesn’t do away with the iPhone completely. I still have to look at my phone to view Heartbeat Trends. Did I mention that the battery life is abysmal? And don’t even get me started on the volume!

Even with the OS update, the Watch is only really used as a display; you will still need to rely on the iPhone to change the settings and configurations. Apple coming out with an OS update barely 3 months after the Watch started shipping tells you that Tim Cook and co. realize that they haven’t quite lived up to customer expectations. On the other hand, users expected the Apple Watch to work like a mini iPhone – Apple wouldn’t have called it a Watch then, would they? Personally, I find it difficult to tap the various icons on the Watch display, and I’m okay with that – not everything needs to be touch-enabled. I’d rather have Apple fix the utility based features like Apple Maps for example. While I appreciate the haptic feedback on the Watch, telling me which direction to turn, what I’d really love is more non-apple navigation solutions extending their support to the Watch. It’s no secret that Apple Maps are a dud, but I’d at least like to have SOME navigation tool available at my disposal, until Google decides to bring their Maps to the Watch.

Another gripe I’ve with Apple is that when I updated to iOS 9 Beta, all the health and heartbeat related data from my Watch got wiped. I must have either missed reading the instructions or maybe, there weren’t any instructions?

Enterprise User

Quite frankly, as things stand today, the enterprise utility of the Apple Watch is very negligible. A few enterprise uses I can think of are:

  • In case a user misses the notifications from the enterprise apps on their phone, those notifications can be pushed to the Watch, notifying them with haptic feedback.
  • NFC APIs are not yet available to developers but there are plenty of possible use-cases – like swiping in for work or accessing secure facilities, replacing the magnetic swipe card system. Similar technology could be used to checkout books, equipments etc. I bet you’ve already seen the video of the Watch unlocking a hotel room, haven’t you? Here’s the link anyway.
  • The Keynote remote works perfectly with Keynote on the Mac. But we still have the big brother MS PowerPoint left out, don’t we?
  • Thanks to the watchOS 2 update, the WiFi on the Watch could be used to communicate and sync with other enterprise devices soon.
  • We are already working with our customers to extend their home automation and security solutions to Watch-based remotes!

How can Businesses Leverage the Apple Watch?

The Apple Watch already has some useful 3rd party apps like Evernote, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Salesforce Wave analytics and more. But, here are a few vertical-specific use cases to demonstrate how businesses could use the Apple Watch to create engaging experiences for their customers:

Healthcare
  • Extend the app’s core features to the Watch as applicable to the healthcare provider – enabling data pull/push from the EMR, typical data collection including voice-messages, data presentation with search capabilities, etc.
  • Collect heart rate samples – Apple Watch allows 3rd party applications to collect data samples, using a sensor that is connected wirelessly through the Health App on the smartphone.
  • Access user activities – Walk, Run, Cycle and Stagnant. Sleep cycle tracking is the next big thing, which could prove helpful with many treatments.
  • Complying with Health Records act, applications can add/retrieve historical health data.
  • Trigger alerts in case of emergencies – this addresses both local alerts to the users, and remote alerts to care provider/POC. The cab companies have done this very well; in case of panic – a simple tap and voila, you have help!
  • Glances/complication can provide quick access to relevant data like calorie intake/suggested activity or personalized health tips. This should be effectively utilized in changing the user behavior and arriving at positive outcomes.
  • Reminder notifications about doctor’s appointments, medicine intake etc. are app specific features, but extremely simple to implement.
  • Leverage Maps and user location to find/navigate to nearby hospitals/pharmacies.
Retail
  • Extend the app’s major functions to the watch as applicable to the retailer – Minified product catalog, deals, shopping cart, last 5 orders, billing details etc., synced with the remote server.
  • Track user’s location, activities, to derive insights from user’s behavior patterns, to provide personalized deals /promotions.
  • Push discount coupons/store passes to the wallet on the Watch. These passes can even be geo-tagged to increase the visibility of the promotion.
  • Leverage region monitoring to provide location aware local notifications like – notifying the user about the sales/promotional events happening in stores around the user’s vicinity.
  • Remote notifications for pushing messages relevant to the user – offers for items on the wish list etc.
  • Present important contextual info on Glances – like ‘deal of the day’ etc.
  • Trigger beacon driven notifications inside the store to boost the shopping experience. This beacon ranging can be achieved in collaboration with a paired iPhone.
  • And who likes long queues – build express checkouts making use of Apple Pay.
Banking
  • Enable features like user authentication, account balance checking, viewing mini statements, bill pay etc., as applicable to the bank.
  • Make primary account balance details easily accessible to the user by providing the info using Glances.
  • Leverage region-monitoring to provide location aware notifications like – manual check deposit or any other activity which demands the customer’s physical presence at the bank.
  • Local notifications/reminders to the user about due payments or any other critical activities.
  • The Watch can serve as a second or third factor in those critical authentication mechanisms/OTP deliveries as well.

 Verdict

The Apple Watch is a sweet piece of technology and it has plenty of useful features that allow you to do things which you never imagined you could do using a watch. However, if you’re one of those users who expect to use the Apple Watch like you would use your iPhone or iPod, I’d recommend you wait, because that’s going to take a while. There’s a lot of room for improvement and honestly, I don’t think anybody has really figured out the true potential of the Watch, not even Apple! But that being said, the watchOS 2 update has given businesses and app developers a glimpse into what the future holds for the Apple Watch.

Read more about how businesses can make their Watch app watchOS 2 ready

Avinash Birnale

Avinash has been associated with Endeavour ever since its inception in 2002 and is a co-founder. In his current role as VP - Strategy, Quality and IS, he leads and inspires the technology and quality control teams at Endeavour. He’s passionate about technology, portable devices, automobiles and photography.
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  • Arun Kurian

    If second or third gen Apple Watch becomes Android compatible, then it would surely dwarf the competition. Just a thought.