The Apple Watch with Voiceover review – Day 5

I’m a terrible blogger. Day 3 and 4 of my Apple Watch review have been amalgamated into this. Day 5. Please forgive me.

On the plus side, I have a bit more of interest to tell you hopefully.

On Friday I was in Dublin for the day so the Apple watch was used quite extensively. I tried not to reach for my phone as much and in fairness, the Apple Watch saved me some time. Or…. Did it? Yes. The apple Watch is always on your wrist but the interface isn’t always intuitive. Specifically from the perspective of a Voiceover user. When I raise my wrist for example. I want Voiceover to always speak the time automatically. It’s quite good at that but it’s not 100% consistent. Likewise when I get a notification. I want to raise my wrist and hear the notification. I don’t want to have to tap and feel around the screen. That’s not efficient at all! So, yes. At times I wonder if it’s not just easier and faster to read these notifications directly from my phone. Certainly the responsiveness of Voiceover has a lot to do with this frustration. It’s only about a half a second but if any other screen reader had this kind of lag I’d have thrown it out ages ago. The apple Watch will be no exception if I don’t see signs of improvement very shortly.

I said in my previous post that I’d try using the Apple Watch with a Bluetooth headset. This certainly feels more natural than holding a watch up to my ear but it’s yet another component to carry around. I use a headset very regularly so it’s not a big deal but I choose when to bring it. With the Apple Watch I may need to bring it all the time.

That aside, I left the house on Friday morning and as I usually do, I started to catch up with customers, suppliers and colleagues while walking. I had the Bluetooth headset paired to the watch so I could hear Voiceover however when I made a call the Bluetooth headset was useless! The watch speaker was used instead! This to me is almost a deal breaker. Why oh why can’t the Apple Watch use my Bluetooth headset to take a call. It seems like the most obvious feature. Especially considering the Apple Watch supports music playback through the Bluetooth headset. That by the way seems like a stupid feature to me. But if it’s going to support music playback, why can’t it support calling over the Bluetooth headset?

I can get over the need to use a Bluetooth headset for the watch if it allows me to make and receive calls directly from that device using the same headset but this half implemented solution really annoys me.

One thing I really like about the Apple watch is the exercise, movement and stand reminders. These would be irritating to most people but I am actively trying to become more physically active so I’m liking the regular reminders at the moment. Of course, when I don’t want them, I can just disable that feature. On Saturday, I cycled for almost three hours so I achieved over 420% of my exercise goal, 226% of my activity goal but sadly only 87% of my stand goal. How I only achieved 87% of my stand goal is completely beyond me but anyway. I’m’ not particularly worried. By Saturday night I was just ever so slightly tired. It was nice to know that I had a tangible notification and record of my efforts. It’s important to acknowledge the work that Apple have done on making the Apple Watch accessible to people who are blind. Although in many ways I think the product isn’t quite ready for most users of Voiceover, I highly respect Apple’s intentions and the work they have put in to this. It’s also not lost on me that before the Apple Watch, much of this technology was inaccessible to us. In fact, this is the first wearable technology to be fully accessible to Blind people. That’s something that I probably haven’t praised enough. However, the bottom line is important. As a consumer and as a user. Can I justify continuing to use a device with so many flaws?

The summary screen on the activity appI mentioned that I was cycling on Saturday. We had gone about 3KM when I remembered to start tracking the trip. I had everything ready on the Apple watch so I pressed the digital crown, used force touch to bring up the start screen then tried to swipe left and right to find the start button. The problem is, I was also trying to peddle etc. It was very difficult. Unfortunately, I thought I double tapped on start but it mustn’t have worked because it didn’t track the cycle. I was more than a little disappointed by it. The point I’m making is the interface isn’t consistent enough to use without giving it more than a little bit of your attention. For example, on the iPhone the surface are of the screen is bigger so you can touch the area you think a button might be and you will probably find it very quickly. The Apple watch is very small so you would think finding the buttons would be easier. No! The buttons are smaller so it’s actually often much more difficult. The lag between when you put your finger on the screen to when Voiceover starts speaking is actually so pronounced in my opinion that sometimes you may actually have been on the right control but because Voiceover didn’t speak fast enough you’ve already moved on to where you think the control might be in error.

Echoing what others have said about the Apple Watch, the battery life is fantastic and because I’m not checking notifications as often on the phone the battery on my iPhone seems to last a little longer as well.