I’ve stopped wearing my Apple Watch.
After buying it the day Apple released it in April, I wore it faithfully every day for at least two months. I strapped it on every morning when I woke up and made sure to place it on its charger at the end of the day.
But one evening this summer, I took it off and didn’t put it back on.
I didn’t discard my flashy new Apple Watch out of disgust. I wasn’t trying to make a political or commercial statement by removing Silicon Valley’s trendy status symbol from my wrist. And I didn’t replace it with another watch or fitness band.
I simply didn’t have a compelling reason to wear it. And it turns out I didn’t miss it.
When I did try to resume the Watch habit while on vacation a couple of weeks ago, I found it somewhat useful for storing boarding passes while flying. But back on the ground, I quickly ceased wearing it because we spent a lot of time in the pool, and the Apple Watch isn’t waterproof.
In fact, I’ve found it to be a limited device that doesn’t do anything particularly well. Heck, because the screen’s off by default, it’s not even as good as my old Swiss Army watch was at displaying the time.
Despite all the hoopla around its release this spring, the Apple Watch seems much like other novelties that shine bright for a moment only to gather dust in the drawer.
In particular, it reminds me of fitness bands like those from Fitbit. A survey released last year indicated half of people who had owned a fitness band at that point had already stopped using it and one-third did so within six months of getting it. According to the study, conducted by consulting firm Endeavor Partners, one of the primary reasons consumers stopped wearing the bands was because they provided them with “no material benefit.”
That’s how I felt about Apple Watch. The main thing the device did for me was to send alerts and notifications, such as when one of my close friends had posted something on Facebook, when I had an appointment coming up or when someone was calling. This was a mixed blessing at best.
On the one hand, I was more likely to get those alerts than if I was just relying on my phone. On the other hand, most of the alerts I receive don’t require my immediate attention, and even when they do I don’t necessarily need to be alerted on two devices at the same time. If I’m waiting for a call, I often have my phone out; I don’t need to have it and the Watch ringing simultaneously.
You can customize notifications in the Apple Watch app on the iPhone, but it’s often a binary choice. You can have it notify you for all your calendar reminders – or for none of them. You can have it ring whenever the phone does – or not at all. If you want the phone to send alerts at certain times, but not others, you have to change its settings manually; you can’t automate them.
And some notifications are just annoying, because you can’t do anything with them on the Watch. It will show when you get a notification on Facebook, for example. But if you want to actually see what your friend has posted, you'll have to pull out your phone.
The Watch’s shortcomings with notifications and even displaying the time wouldn’t matter as much if it had some compelling apps. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.
Many of the apps I use most frequently on my iPhone – things like Facebook, Netflix and MapMyFitness – aren’t available for the Watch.
And I didn’t find any great reason to use the apps that do exist. If I wanted to search Amazon for a book or other product, it was much easier, more satisfying and usually much faster to use my phone with its bigger screen, fast Internet connection and full keyboard. Same goes for Twitter or my email. There just weren’t many situations where it was easier or more compelling to use the Watch.
Even using the Watch to board my plane pointed to its limitations. It took far longer for me to call up my passes and scan them than my fellow passengers who simply presented paper printouts.
Apple Watch may become a more useful product in the future once software updates allow developers to create more powerful and potentially compelling apps. Someday, a version of the Watch may have its own cellular radio, allowing it to access the Internet and take calls when users aren’t at home and don’t have their iPhones nearby.