The Tricorder on Your Wrist

I bought the first generation Apple Watch (colloquially known as the “Series 0”) when it came out. Doing so was a measured leap of faith; it wasn’t entirely clear to me at the time what the Watch was for. Most of its features were things I could already do with my iPhone, albeit a bit less conveniently. Track my runs? Check. Show notifications? Check. Play music? Check. Tell the time? Check. Then there was the inconvenience of having another device to charge and the expense of periodic hardware upgrades.

Still, as a digital designer and strategist, it’s important for me to be up to date on form factors and technologies. I also trust Apple. So I bought the watch and went all in, using it daily to track my activity. Although I’ve grown to really like the Apple Watch, I haven’t seen it as an essential part of my everyday carry kit like the iPhone is. I can easily make it through a day without my watch, which is not something I can readily say about my phone.

To Apple’s credit, they’ve improved the product tremendously over the past three years. (Sometimes by making major changes to fundamental interactions in its operating system, which was somewhat awkward at launch.) Even though it’s rather slow now, and its battery doesn’t last as long as it used to, my Watch is better today than when I bought it. (A notable example: I use it dozens of times every day to automatically log into my Mac, a time saver.) Apple has also released subsequent iterations of the hardware that have added significant improvements such as GPS tracking and a cell radio. Still, I’ve resisted the impulse to upgrade. The Watch is not an inexpensive purchase (I prefer the stainless steel models), and as said above, I haven’t thought of it as indispensable.

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