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An Early Adopter Gives the Apple Watch a Whirl

After a 21-day test, he decides whether or not to keep it

By Terry O'Reilly

When it comes to technology, I am an “early adopter.” I had a Commodore 64.  I had a Palm Pilot (several of them, in fact). And now, I have an Apple Watch.

There’s been a lot written in the three months since Apple’s high-end gadget first hit the wrists of folks like me – a lot of it negative.

Blame Apple (why not?).  After all, the hype that led up to the watch’s release was second only to the near-promise of a new world order when the Segway was introduced. (And no, I didn’t buy one of those, though I have taken Segway tours all over the world.  My life didn’t change, but it was pretty cool.)

I digress. Sorry.

Everyone who was expecting the Apple Watch to be either a game- or a life-changer was no doubt disappointed. I, on the other hand, have been pleasantly surprised.  Here’s why:

First, a Critical Test

When I bought it, I committed myself to the soon-to-be-patented “Terry O’Reilly 21-Day Test.” You use a device for two weeks, to learn what it can and cannot do. Then you put it back in its box for a week (a full week!), and see how much you miss it. If by the end of that week of technological cold turkey you don’t miss the device much, it goes back to the store. But if you feel its absence, well, it is obviously something you must keep.

So I did the “21-Day Test” on the watch. On Day 22, I decided to keep it and threw away the box. (Which really bothered me. Have you noticed how much work the Apple folks put into those boxes? It's like cardboard cabinet making!)

But I digress again. Sorry.

Uncovering Some Issues

Now there was nothing about the Apple Watch that from Day One convinced me that I must keep it: no “killer app” without which I could not survive. And for all its technological achievements it had some issues:

  • The battery life wasn’t great — though as the novelty of it wore off and I stopped using it to check my horoscope every five minutes, I found it to be sufficient for a full day of work and play. Not much more, though.
  • The home screen with its balloon-like icons is interesting, but it’s crowded and I keep hitting the wrong damn icons. It’s probably a function of my finger size, so I won’t blame Tim Cook for this one.
  • The screen doesn’t always light up when you want it to. A casual twist of the wrist isn’t going to do it — you need to give it a big, demonstrative “Hey, I’m Going to Look at my Apple Watch Now” motion. (This may actually be a clever Apple marketing ploy; just so all your friends know that you’re one of the cool kids who already have an Apple Watch. Nice move, Tim!)
  • It’s expensive. (Did I mention that it’s expensive?)

Why It’s Still On My Wrist


But for all the negatives, there are a handful of endearing qualities that convinced me to keep the Apple Watch:

  1. This thing is generally good at what it does. It has more computing power than my first iPad and is even more powerful than NASA’s new Orion spacecraft (no kidding — you could look it up, using your Apple Watch). For all its awkwardness from time to time, it lets you do what Apple-designed products do well: focus on what you want to accomplish and not get all caught up with the complications of technology.
  1. While the battery life of the Watch is limited, it has extended the battery life of my iPhone dramatically. I used to pull my phone out of my pocket dozens of times a day, checking messages and draining its battery; now, I rarely touch it. The Apple Watch is a fine, efficient interface.
  1. It has made me less disruptive in meetings. No more “dings” or “whistles” when an email or text message arrives — just a subtle tap on the wrist. I glance quickly to see if it’s important (meaning “from the boss”), respond with a touch (“Yes Sir, Right Away, Sir!”) and no one is the wiser.

The Most Important Thing

But the most compelling thing the Apple Watch does for me is to keep me on time during the workday. I’m not saying I have a chronic “late” thing, but between a packed schedule and an occasional zone out, I have been known to show up for meetings a minute or two late.

No more.

My Watch is sync’ed to my Outlook Calendar, so it always knows where I’m supposed to be and when. And a few minutes before each meeting, it prods me gently with a tap on the wrist — a tactile reminder that it’s time to stop dreaming about donuts from The Baker’s Wife Bakery in Minneapolis (yum!), and time for my next meeting.

So…instead of being a few minutes late for my meetings, I now tend to be a minute or two early, thanks to my Apple Watch. And while that isn’t exactly life changing stuff, it’s pretty good.

Gotta go. I’m about to be early for a meeting.

Terry O'ReillyO’Reilly is Senior Vice President and Chief Content Officer at Twin Cities Public Television (the parent company of Next Avenue).  He is an EMMY® Award-winning producer and journalist. Read More
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