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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Apple Watch 5: B+ Product Makes A+ Gift

The apt starting point for this post on the Apple Watch Series Five is the 1999-2002 CW sci-fi teendram "Roswell." A central fine young brother from another planet is stressing over what to give his easy but demanding earth girlfriend for Christmas. He is advised to buy her something that she really wants but would not buy for herself; equally insightful but more amusing wisdom comes from similar series of the era "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." The pithy remark from that show is "a gift certificate; like money, only less useful,"


The first part of the "Roswell" equation dates back to this summer; the panic of phoneous interruptus occurs when I realize just as it is too late to turn back that I have left my iPhone 8 at home. The consequences of this include cancelling plans to see a movie so as to not lose out on loyalty points by not being able to have the app for the chain scanned.

This incident prompts the first of many discussions regarding whether buying an Apple watch is worth it; a big pro for this guy who has always worn a watch since the seventh grade is knowing that I never would forget the watch. Related big pluses are not feeling compelled to always carry around the often bulky-feeling phone and the momentary panic associated with the phone not being in the remembered pocket. 

The cost and the inevitable forced obsolescence are big cons; another is the belief that having cellular service for the watch is an additional expense; time will tell if that is so.

The Unboxing 

Unwrapping a gift to find a gleaming white box is as exciting to lovers as tech. as discovering a robin egg's blue box is to a trophy spouse or significant other. Finding that said packaging contains the latest and greatest is even more thrilling. It truly is something that I really want but am unlikely to get for myself,

The same is true as to the AirPods with the charging case with which Apple gifted me roughly a year ago; I still use the wireless Beats headphones with which Apple gifted me a few years ago when flying.

Finding the watch in a protective pouch is exciting; finding the strap in two pieces in a separate sub-box is less enjoyable; it is understandable that some folks want to further line the pockets of Tim Cook by buying custom straps; it is less understandable that that requires the rest of us to suss out how to attach the provided straps in this age that greatly values instant gratification, Even being a "when all else fails, read the instructions" guy rather than a RTFM dude is not an issue when there is no FM.

The first few efforts to attach (and detach) the straps did not go well; even getting it right is not the end of the story. Fastening the watch to your wrist requires blindly lining up a prong on the lower strap with a hole on the upper strap; this is getting a little easier but evokes sympathy for women having to fasten bras. 

A cool element of the Apple watch for Gen Xers is that it looks like a Swatch; having one of those timepieces that is another great gift actually bought in Switzerland being destroyed in a very '80s way during my school days still evokes sadness. I ran it over when it fell out of my pocket when I got the keys to my Mustang out to drive home after renting "Ghostbusters" on DVD; yes, I was wearing Vuarnet sunglasses with a Ralph Lauren cologne and a polo shirt. (Of course, my feet were sockless and clad in Topsiders.) 

The Apple calculator working on the watch evokes thoughts of the nerd de rigueur accessory of the late '70s and eary '80s; the Casio calculator watch. 


The watch nicely pairs with an iPhone after downloading the watch app on the latter; however, not every app transferring to the watch is mildly disappointing; a little online research shows that Chirp for Twitter compensates for the Twitter app itself not being compatible with the phone.

An oddity is that the watch does not seem to be compatible with the Amazon or the Amazon Music apps but does display the Music song that you are playing on your phone; the lack of an app may be be attributable to the Notorious JPB trying to compel people to buy the Alexa that is designed for use in your car. 

A personal choice of having the time, the local weather, the phone, messaging, e-mail, and the battery life display on the "homepage" makes for an equally nice and practical display. The clear and adequately large display is nice for those of us whose eyesight is not-so-perfect.

Speaking of the battery life, it seems that moderate use sucks up 50-percent of the life each day. Also speaking of the battery life, it is disappointing that the watch simply does not have a port for the standard Apple charging cable. 

You must place the watch on an (admittedly cool) magnetic charging pad, which does quickly charge the watch. A big downside as to this effort to facilitate Tim Cook buying Greenland is that forgetting this charger on even an overnight trip (especially if you do not bring your phone) can create a big problem.

The better news is that the voice feature works very well as to both texting and telephoning with a technology that precludes butt dialing except for the occasions on which all of us speak out of that orifice. Although folks familiar with fictional detective Dick Tracy will think of his wrist radio, a very nifty thing is that you do not need to hold the watch very close to your mouth for it work. Further, the text feature is amazingly good at filtering out ambient noise such as music, television, and other people speaking. It would be nice if you could erase part of a message; rather than having to cancel and rerecord. 

One note is that watch technology not being especially widespread will earn you funny looks as people see you seemingly talking to yourself without holding a phone or having a bluetooth device in your ears. (AirPods work AWESOMELY with an iPhone.) 

The fun and functional Etch-a-Sketch style Scribble feature is a good way to avoid questioning looks. 

To Buy or Not To Buy 

Returning to the initial theme of the post, the gift of an Apple watch is guaranteed to thoroughly delight anyone with any interest in tech. It also is a stupendous way to treat yo self to celebrate a big win.

​At the same time (pun intended), this being a pricey luxury item that mostly is a substitute for another pricey luxury item makes running up a credit bill to purchase it foolish; in such a case, there are better uses for your money than trying to keep up with the Cooks. 

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