Monthly archives of “April 2015

Visual directions on the Apple Watch

After communication, probably the thing I value my iPhone for the most is in helping me navigate – Maps, Citymapper, boarding passes, planning train journeys and so on. I love that I simply don’t have to stress about that stuff in the slightest any more. Moving some of that stuff onto the wrist makes a huge amount of sense, and it was going to be one of my key uses for an Apple Watch too.

Having watched the tour for Maps, though, I’m just a little disappointed. Functionally, completely fine, and the haptic feedback will doubtless work well. But I’m disappointed because the turn-by-turn directions are presented non-visually. It’s ‘in 30 yards, turn left onto Durham Road’ stuff. As I say: functional, will get you there, and is doubtless suited to how many people navigate.

My mind, though, is better-suited to visual cues. When I’m using a satnav in my car, I turn voice prompts off and I rarely read any road names; instead, I’m just glancing to see where the wiggly blue line of my route is leading and translating that into the landscape I see out the window. I’d far rather be able to glance at my wrist and see a visual confirmation of where I should be going, just like I do on my iPhone while driving, rather than having to think consciously about distances and hunt for sometimes missing or obscured street names around me.

It might be fixable; I can’t imagine that showing 2D visuals would use any more power than the current system, even if it’s decided that showing a live 3D representation is too much of a trade-off. I note too in that video that there are two paging dots at the bottom of the directions screen, so it’s possible that there’s a nice visual map on the other tab Apple just isn’t showing in the video.

And indeed it might be, as is so often the case, that Apple knows what I want better than I do myself, and that I’ll quickly and completely become comfortable without that visual crutch, happy to depend utterly on the haptic feedback. Only a few days left before we can find all this stuff out!

I’m excited about the Apple Watch – and that’s okay

As a technology journalist – or at least, a certain type of technology journalist – you subconsciously internalise a lesson: never be excited about anything. Because as soon as you are, people will rush to tell you two things: the first is that the thing you’re excited about is to a given extent stupid and pointless (and so by extension are you, both for being excited about it and just in general), and the second is that you are an unthinking shill for the company which makes it, hell-bent on brainwashing the public with your hagiographies – and so completely corrupt and untrustworthy.

I’ve gotten pretty good at dealing with (read: ignoring) both over the years, but I’m still not strong or arrogant enough for them not to bother me at some level.

However, I’m hugely excited about buying an Apple Watch, and anyone who would seek to make me feel small about that can fuck off. I am quite aware of the criticisms of smartwatches in general and the Apple Watch in particular, and I acknowledge at least the possibility that it will prove to be an expensive bauble, an ultimately doomed gewgaw, even though it seems unlikely.

But I’m excited to find out for myself. I’m a technology enthusiast – a discerning one, not a blind one, I think. I’m looking forward to finding out what the Watch does, how it changes me and those around me; having a front-row seat for the show sounds like fun.

On Friday, when I preorder my Apple Watch, I will be excited. I can understand why the public would find that an unseemly emotion in a journalist, but it doesn’t have to come at the expense of objectivity, and personally I would far rather read something suffused with enthusiasm and delight than something so constricted by dispassion and neutrality that all the life has been squeezed out of it.

This is the Apple Watch I’m getting

Enough people have asked me what Apple Watch I’m getting that I thought I’d note this down – in part in case in helps anyone else, and in part so I can just direct askers to this post!

Picking the edition is easy. Before the prices were announced, I had liked the look of the Apple Watch in space black with a link bracelet. But that’s nine hundred quid or more, and I just can’t justify that outlay, especially for a first-gen product whose utility I can imagine but which is unproven. Had it been five or six hundred, I might have talked myself into splurging, but nine? Nah.

So Sport it is. I naturally switched to the closest equivalent, the space grey Sport model. But weeks later when I went back I started thinking it was a bit dull and a bit heavy, visually. What’s more, since the case for this model is black, I can’t see that it would look good with anything other than the black band, and I do like the idea of getting a couple of bands.

So a non-black Sport it is. I actually quite like the green band (though I know many hate it), but ultimately, having dismissed it out of hand originally, I think I’m going to go for the white band, on purely personal aesthetic preference; I like the mix of black, white and silver, and I’ll probably buy a green band at the same time. (Plus, if it’s good enough for Tim…)

But then the tricky bit: what size? I don’t have big wrists, so I assumed I’d buy the 38mm, and even when the Apple Store app started showing you the faces at actual size, the 38mm looked better when I squinted and tried to imagine it. Actually, though, it’s not the ‘footprint’ of the Apple Watch that worries me, it’s the thickness, and partly on that basis I’ve decided to get the 42mm; my thinking is that the bigger footprint will wear, will balance that thickness better. The proportions will, I hope, look  less cubic.

The 42mm will also, I think, be easier to read (remember; it’s not just physically bigger, but has more pixels) and we know it will have slightly better battery life. Plus, it looks okay on my wrist according to the visualiser in the Apple Store app.

So: 42mm Apple Watch Sport with a white band. £339. Sold! (Nearly.)