The apple Watch with Voiceover – Day 1

The Apple watch on my wristI ordered the Apple Watch a few days after it was officially available in April and it arrived yesterday, a bit sooner than I had expected.

I had tried one in the Apple store in Belfast back in April but the demonstration models didn’t have the ability to enable Voiceover so my conclusion wasn’t definitive on if this was going to be a benefit or not. However, as I like all things techy, I decided to go and buy one regardless.

I want these reviews to be comprehensive without being too long so let me jump right into it.

Firstly, there is an offal lot of packaging. I don’t know how Apple is ticking its sustainability box when it has so many little bits of packaging around the watch. It came in a card board box. Inside this was a card board shell which suspended another card board box. Inside this was a plastic box with the watch in the middle. The watch was also wrapped in about four types of plastic from the outside of the box to the strap.

Fortunately it had plenty of battery when I started with it. It wasn’t at 100% but it was probably around 90. I turned it on, successfully paired it with my phone and within a few minutes the Apple watch was talking and working well. It’s just as well it was a quick process as I got it into my hands at 7:35 and I had to be out by 7:50PM last night.

The fact I had to go straight out after the watch was configured meant that I didn’t really give myself enough time to get even slightly comfortable with this new user interface. I knew how to check the time, get to glances, open notifications and move around applications but I hadn’t yet customized the watch face or installed the update to 1.01.

On the up side, bringing the Apple Watch out straight away meant that it was thrown into a real life scenario right out of the box. I had to meet the rest of my family for a big event so the room that we were in was very noisy. This posed a challenge for the Apple Watch from the perspective of a Voiceover user. How do you gain the benefit of the apple watch as a discrete extension of your iPhone when you need to have the volume up so high that everyone in the room can hear it or you need to hold your arm close to your ear like someone doing a type of very weird salute? It was one of the reasons I have a lot of reservations about the Apple watch. I have always hated talking watches with a passion. Do I really want to use one?

I’m in noisy environments a lot so I’ll explore this potential problem more as the days go on.

The other problem I had was when we were eating. I’d move my arm and the watch would start talking. It’s very irritating but yet I see the benefit of this feature being enabled when I’m walking. Unfortunately there’s no quick way of disabling this that I know of however I must say that I haven’t bothered reading the manual yet. I probably should have read some of this by now but I generally only read the manual when all else fails.

I got the opportunity to configure the watch a little more last night when I got back at 1AM. It seems easy enough to use.

One complaint I have is that voiceover is far too sluggish. Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s very slow to respond, it just means that it’s slower than the phone to respond to flicks and taps. This is probably an unfair comparison to make. The phone has a much more powerful processor but if the screen reader doesn’t respond instantly to gestures the user interface feels sluggish and the experience feels very cumbersome.

I’m being harsh. This is the first version of the Apple Watch but for the price I’ve paid for it, I demand a certain standard. The Voiceover implementation doesn’t begin to live up to that standard.

One of my plans when buying the Apple watch was to make my own watch face. This wouldn’t be a visual face, it would use the taptic engine to provide the time in a sequence of vibrations. Unfortunately Apple put a stop to my plan by restricting the development of watch faces.

One very positive point to the Apple Watch is it is smaller and lighter than my TISSOT TOUCH SILEN-T watch.