First look: getting hands on with the Apple Watch

Digital crown guides you through screens smoothly once you curb touchscreen instinct

 Apple CEO Tim Cook with the Apple Watch that is operated by a digital crown at an Apple event in San Francisco. Photograph:  Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Apple CEO Tim Cook with the Apple Watch that is operated by a digital crown at an Apple event in San Francisco. Photograph: Stephen Lam/Getty Images

 

Looking at the Apple Watch lineup, the most eye catching of the three versions is the Watch Edition. But this gold version of the Apple Watch will set you back thousands.

For the rest of us – the ones without the bottomless wallets – the regular Watch or Watch Sport it is.

The Apple Watch looks, at first glance, a little chunkier than you’d expect. You’ll never mistake it for a run of the mill timepiece. But the 38mm version, even on smaller wrists, doesn’t look too much out of place.

The biggest leap is not automatically going for the touch screen.

Tim Cook on Apple Watch

The screen, while it looks lovely and is quite sensitive to the touch, can be fiddly when you are on the app screen, and it picks up fingerprints quite quickly.

That’s where the digital crown comes in. Instead of messing up the screen, you simply scroll, click and select. The digital crown takes a few minutes to adjust to – a long press, for example, will take you through to Siri instead of the menu you are looking for – but it’s a far easier way to interact with the screen once you get over the false starts.

There is a certain amount of swiping though, so you’ll end up wiping the watch screen to keep it pristine looking.

When you get a new notification, a small vibration will let you know. It’s tap on the wrist – not intrusive, not a jolt.

The health and fitness applications are easy to read and access; the heart rate monitor reads your pulse quickly. You can also see your goals and your progress against them at a glance, and alter goals for the next day by pressing and holding on the screen.

It’s mostly easy to pick up. With the exception of sending my heart rate, I picked up the gestures first or second time.

One thing we couldn’t test was battery life. It’s expected to be around a day – about 18 hours – for the average user, but for those who are prone to fiddling with their phones, expect to be checking your watch frequently and seeing the impact on the battery life as a result.