I’ve been an Apple Watch user sine it first came out in 2015. It was no surprise as I love my Apple products and I’ve been interested in wearables for years importing the very first Fitbit to track my steps.
However I resisted upgrading from the original Series 0 waiting for a bit of a redesign which the Series 4 finally delivered. I’ve been using the new watch for just over a month so how has it performed?
The new watch comes in a slightly bigger size along with a far bigger screen. It’s not quite edge to edge but the bigger screen makes for a far more readable display. I plumped for the 44mm and it’s really comfortable on my wrist. Now that I’ve seen both sizes I prefer it over the 40mm.
It also feels comfy to wear. Like all smartwatches it’s pretty thick but not ridiculousy so. I went for the Cellular version this time and thankfully the red crown has been replaced with a small red line around the crown instead which is far more pleasing on the eye.
Cellular has worked well. I’ve streamed music and podcasts while out and about around Glasgow listening via AirPods and without the phone. Speeds are good, easy to select content and calls have come through with clear audio.
Speaking of speed, the Series 4 is really quick. Apps launch quickly, taps are recognised without a pause…it makes for such a different experience compared with the older watch.
Couple of other points. Battery life is excellent. I use the watch all day, keep it on overnight for sleep tracking and charge it for an hour while getting ready for work. Around once a week I need to do a top up at night but I’m fine with that. For an overnight trip I no longer need to pack a charger.
The crown – it’s digital but the haptic feedback is so good. The sport loop straps are more comfortable than the sport bands…although there are far too many colour choices. Damn you Apple.
Despite all that’s great about the hardware it’s hard to avoid the obvious miss – the always on screen. Will come one day but still feels a few years away which is a shame. Can never truly call it a watch until it’s always on and you don’t need to flick your wrist to trigger the screen.
It’s also a shame that that ECG feature isn’t available anywhere yet and hasn’t been cleared for UK use. It’s that breakthrough that made this watch so appealing.
While the hardware delivers I can’t say the same for the software. The most noticeable addition is the new watch faces in particular Infograph and Infograph Modular. Infograph is the face seen in most of the adverts for the new watch as it shows of the increase in the size of the screen. You can customise the hell out of this face and can show up to 8 complications.
New in Series 4 are complications around the edge of the clock face. Some of the new ones are great like weather showing upper, lower and current temperatures or the activity rings that show the individual totals as you progress through the day. We are also seeing more and more third party complications that can take advantage of the new display.
However it’s hard to get an Infograph setup that looks clean and elegant. It’s informationally dense but you can’t say it looks nice. There’s also a lot of complications that you can’t use on other faces like Utility or if you can they look out of place.
Other new faces like Fire and Water are nice but you’ll use them once and then swap back to something more useful. Series 4 has more watch faces available than before but the choice in some ways feels more limiting. With the extra hardware and complications you want to be able to do more not less. The watch is your most personal device but Apple really limit what you can do.
It feels like there’s a really small team working on watch faces at Apple. Each new release has a new watch face or two with the others hardly touched and worse it will be almost a year until we see Watch OS6 assuming Apple do address these issues in the next update.
Other improvements – workouts auto detects activity and offers to start or stop monitoring. Walkie Talkie is now there which is basically an always on audio chat. Works well but be warned that if you have one enabled with someone and they send you a message it will play automatically – be careful who’s listening.
Siri hasn’t changed much in this release but you can now ask it things without saying ‘Hey Siri’. I’ve found it really hit and miss to work though. When it works it’s great – fast and sometimes reliable answers but it is Siri so what do you expect. However there’s too many times where I’ve had to try 2 or 3 times before it triggers and that unreliability stops me from using it at all.
There’s also some issues elsewhere in Watch OS5.
I use the watch as an alarm – when it’s on the wrist the alarm appears like the screen on the left. When it’s on the charger it appears like the screen on the right. Why are stop and snooze the opposite way round on each screen?
I’ve also has some days where complications just don’t update until you click on them and the app is launched. Worse, I’ve clicked on an alert or notification and the watch resets showing only the Apple logo for a minute until it has rebooted. Hopping the 5.1 update that came out last week addresses some of the instability.
Was this a good upgrade? Yes. Watch OS5 isn’t supported on Series 0 and the faster hardware coupled with much better battery life has delivered a fantastic platform – I’ve finally given up on the Fitbit too.
However the watch feels like some other Apple products right now. The hardware is far better than the software allows it to be. Here’s hoping that Apple are listening to their community.
Last weeks Apple event was very interesting. Thinking about a new iPad and maybe the larger one…will try it at the store later this week. It was also good to see some Mac updates especially the Mini. Finally!
Next 3 months are the worst. Dark nights arriving at work, dark nights leaving. Makes the lunchtime walks all the more important.
Red Dead Redemption 2 – believe the hype. Taking my time and doing a lot more side missions than I expected to.
Apple’s New MapHas Apple closed the gap with Google’s map?I’ve linked to Justin before. His maps analysis is so good. Surprised at the gains Apple have made but in such a small area. Google still the maps king.
A busy and tiring last fortnight. Made the most of the Autumn weather and had a couple of trips out to Perthshire. Both were glorious and really pleased with the camera and drone shots like the one below.
Also enjoying the new Apple Watch although I do have some niggles. Hope to get a post up later this week on the last 4 weeks of use.
Forza Horizon 4 is just fantastic. A blip last week stopped multiplayer working smoothly but it’s a realy fun game with loads to do and enjoy. However, it won’t get much playtime over the coming weeks…
Red Dead Redemption 2 came out Friday and it looks stunning on the Xbox One X. Proper 4k and HDR and so far it looks and plays really well. I’ve only put around 6 hours in and it does get off to a slow start but the game soon starts to unveil more depth and suddenly there is tons to do but all at your own pace.