One month with the Apple Watch: We’re joined at the wrist

Image: Quartz/Dan Frommer
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I’ve now been wearing the Apple Watch for more than a month, which is long enough to get used to its quirks and start to notice how it fits into my routines. How is it?

The best sign: I haven’t forgotten to wear it yet.

Perhaps it was the pent-up excitement, or the responsibility associated with a $400 price tag, but I haven’t yet left the house without my Apple Watch. Nor have I removed it because it was uncomfortable. After 15 years spent mostly with a bare wrist, I guess I’m a watch-wearer now.

One of the biggest surprises is how engaging I’ve found the Watch’s activity tracker.

I’m semi-consciously trying to get in better shape. And the math nerd in me is really enjoying the ability to track and chart my activity relative to my daily goals: 800 calories burned, 30 minutes of exercise, and 12 hours of standing at least once per hour. I’ve done well enough—a median 772 calories and 33 minutes of exercise—that it’s time to increase my goals.

The heart-rate monitor has also been a surprisingly interesting feature, and it seems plausibly accurate. It was neat to see my pulse rise when I was anxious about a flight, for instance.

These capabilities aren’t new to the Apple Watch. But unlike other fitness trackers, they’re just two well-integrated features of a more powerful, capable device. And that’s what has kept me interested, unlike other, limited gizmos like the Nike Fuelband or Jawbone Up, which I’ve abandoned after days or weeks.

It reminds me of how simple iPhone apps replaced many single-purpose devices over the past decade, such as pocket cameras and digital audio recorders. And it suggests there’s a bright future ahead for wrist computers.

Most other apps range from modestly helpful to useless.

It’s still early in the Apple Watch timeline, and most app makers simply haven’t figured out what a wrist app is supposed to do. It’s nice to be able to quickly pick the next podcast in Overcast, and glance at the forecast from Dark Sky. Replying quickly to text messages is super. But most of the time, I find myself reaching for my phone.

The key to a successful Apple Watch app will be to focus on things that can be accomplished more quickly on the watch than the time it takes to pull out an iPhone. Apple’s new, more powerful app-making kit for the watch, due soon, should help.

Siri is finally becoming a habit.

I’ve never used Siri much on the iPhone or iPad, because it’s almost always faster and better to tap a few times and go directly to the app or website that will answer my question. But there’s no keyboard or web browser on the Apple Watch. So I’ve gotten in the habit of asking for help. Hey, Siri. What time is the Cubs game?

Voice dictation is one of the better features of the Apple Watch. But longer sentences often contain errors, and there’s no way to make minor edits.

Now comes the hard part.

Apple has successfully launched the Watch to its early adopters, and most seem to like it. But it’s far from mainstream. Now Apple is finally starting to catch production up to demand, and soon you’ll even be able to walk into an Apple Store, try one on, and buy it. By September, new, better apps should start to roll out.

The question then is whether the Watch will start to build the sales and network effects that led to to the rise of the iPhone—arguably the biggest software revolution in history. For now, though, it’s a fun new toy.