Thursday, 09 April 2015 11:34

The Apple Watch gets reviewed: or How to Polish a turd.

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Reading time is around minutes.

So Apple has released review samples to the press in order to build up interest in their entry into the smart watch market. It is an interesting move for Apple as they have sent out their $1,000 product to a select group of reviewers just to see what they think. After reading a number of them (some I could not get all the way through) it seems that Apple might not have the magnificent product they were hoping for and even the most Apple faithful sites had a hard time spinning the deficiencies that are there.

Now, before you go to click away feeling we are biased we are going to take you back in time a little to our thoughts on Samsung’s first generation Gear watch. We felt that the 12-14 hour battery life, limited applications, lack of real notifications and the inability to actually read the messages on the $400 product made it a no-go. This was an honest observation of a product that was nowhere near ready for the market. Samsung did fix the battery and notification issues while the developer community rose to the occasion and met the demand for apps. The problem is that for a little over a year it was not worth the money to get one.

Apple is in the same boat now, but worse. After having to remove most of the biometric functions intended for the watch and needing to find a replacement for sapphire glass they are way behind the times. They Watch has a battery life of around 10 hours if you actually want to use it. The UI can be difficult to see and navigate (despite what the blown up TV ads show) and it is rather blocky and bulky. To quote one person who saw the ad during the UK Wisconsin game “what the f*(k is that?” This was said while he was texting on his nice new iPhone 6 plus.

While some of the reviews we managed to get though covered the lack of apps, battery life and the difficulties with the UI others chose to see them as minor and glossed over them. What makes this interesting is that many of these same sites slammed the Gear, Gear 2 and Gear S for battery life, app support and UI… There were no claims of the UI being visionary or leading technology, it was just all bad. With the Apple Watch they seem to feel that these failings are little more than growing pains and might be corrected sometime in the future. Even the $1,000 price tag did not sway some reviewers that seemed to be in ecstasy even with a product that did not work as it should.

Most companies that are in the smartwatch market are at least on their 2nd generation product. Apple is pushing on their very immature first with failings that simply should not be in a smartwatch. There is ample battery technology that will allow for good use times and screen technology is good enough that Apple should not have to rely the tiny dots that they use for their UI. Remember that the average finger is 7mm wide so anything that fits inside that is subject to error. Apple should know this and have accounted for it in their UI design. Instead they are trying to use their typical (we are going to tell you what you want) tactic. This style of product design simply does not work on today’s technology consumer. You have to listen to what the market wants and give them a product that works for them. I would have thought Apple learned their lesson with the iPhone 6 Plus… I guess not.

For now we are sure to keep seeing reviews that try to sweep the negative under the rug instead of actually showing consumers a real review of the product. Sadly, this has been the pattern when Apple choses their product testers, they expect them to spin the bad and highlight the good only. Of course this is true of many companies, but none really do it as well as Apple and their press crew…

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