By Dan Moren
February 25, 2016 8:02 AM PT
Why slowness is killing the Apple Watch
Note: This story has not been updated for several years.
As I walked home the other night, I checked my Apple Watch to see how many steps I’d done during the day, courtesy of the complication for Pedometer++. The number on it was clearly old, since it was the same one I’d seen 15 minutes of walking earlier. And in that moment, I realized exactly why the Apple Watch’s poor performance is so very frustrating.
Much has been made about the Watch’s slowness and the fact that it doesn’t always present the most current data, but the reason that’s so very galling is that it’s the entire point of the Watch.
Strapping a watch to your wrist is a fashion statement, to be sure, but it also serves a utilitarian purpose. Checking the time on your wrist is faster, for example, than pulling out a pocketwatch1, and if the time was so critical that you needed to know it right now2, well, a wristwatch delivered.
The problem with the Apple Watch is that we’re being asked to strap something to our wrist—to attach it to our very body—without it delivering on the corresponding promise that it will be much faster to use than our phones. The stale data and the lack of speed means that either you have to stare at your Watch for several seconds and hope the data updates; or tap on the complication to load the Watch app, which as we all know takes a good long while as well; or simply give up and pull out your phone.
It’s not just that the Apple Watch is slow; it’s that it’s slow while promising to be faster. That the Watch is a remarkable piece of engineering I won’t dispute, and as a fashion statement, well, it’s as personal as fashion always is. But as a consumer electronics product, it doesn’t really deliver on its primary reason for existing.
- So to all those critics who don’t understand why you’d wear a smartwatch when you can just pull out your phone and check that, well, it just goes to show you that there’s nothing new under the sun. ↩
- According to Wikipedia, for example, one reason that the wristwatch became popular among men is that it was more practical during military operations than producing a pocketwatch. ↩
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at @firstname.lastname@example.org or reach him by email at email@example.com. His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]
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