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I have a love-hate relationship with my Apple Watch. That is, I mostly love it but I don’t love it like I love other Apple products I own. If I leave my house and forget my iPhone — it’s rare, but it has happened — I go back and get it. I don’t care how long it takes; I can’t be without my iPhone and I don’t want to be without it. Everything that’s important to me, from photos, to music, to notes, are on my iPhone. I can’t say the same about my Apple Watch.
I can think of 3 times where I’ve left it behind and while I thought briefly about turning around to get it, I never did. I was always fine waiting until I got home. I never cared enough about closing the fitness rings just to end up being late to where I was going. Now don’t get me wrong; The tap on my wrist alerting me to a text message is very nice and comforting after more than a year of using the device, but it’s not the same as rubbing your hand against your pocket and realizing your phone is MIA.
So why doesn’t the Apple Watch stoke the fanboy in me? Why is it the one Apple product I haven’t truly loved in my 32 years of using Apple products?
I think it’s because it feels rushed to market. Think about it — the device itself is amazing. It’s so Dick Tracy and Michael Knight from Knight Rider with that unmistakable Apple elegance. But for everything it is, there’s so much it’s not.
Still, there are plenty of hits:
- Customizable watch faces are fun and provide utility.
- The ability to measure your heartbeat is cool and important.
- Anything that focuses so deeply on fitness is good for you.
- Being able to read text messages without taking your phone out of your pocket is convenient and, in many cases, good for safety.
Those are great, but there’s so much room for improvement. And I’m well aware that we are talking about a version 1.0 product. There’s no place for the Apple Watch to go but up. But the current version feels more like an incomplete beta than a true first version.
So here are a few things that I’d like to see in Apple Watch 2:
1. Better battery life
Honestly, based on the early reviews I was expecting battery life to be a lot worse than it is. I’ve never run out of juice after a full day, and it charges back to 100 percent pretty quickly. But there are all kinds of applications that will track sleep but running one of those regularly would require a charge during the day that’s not usually possible with my schedule. Of course, all of the other things I want to see go into the Apple Watch 2 are probably going to use up the those battery life improvements. But here’s to hoping there’s at least enough improvement. It’s not unreasonable to expect a generous battery bump between a first and second version device.
2. Less reliance on iPhone
Right now, your Apple Watch is extremely limited in terms of what it can do if it’s not connected via Bluetooth to a nearby iPhone. I walked outside the other night to take out the garbage and left my iPhone on the kitchen table (can you believe I did that?!?) and saw that familiar “not connected” symbol on the watch. At that point it’s a really good timekeeper and fitness tracker but that’s it. This makes Apple Watch feel more like an accessory than a device. While I’m never far away from my iPhone (see above) that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t mature and be its own thing. Obviously Apple benefits greatly selling the iPhone and Watch as a pair, but that definitely has a negative impact on sales. As shocking as it sounds, I bet there are plenty of people who would happily wear an Apple Watch but be loyal to another phone. Not everyone, but some. Making the phone optional is good for business and consumers.
On that note …
3. Apple Watch needs its own GPS
I’m sure Apple is really worried about battery life here, so it makes sense that it didn’t make it into version 1.0. But by 2.0 I think it’s time to get this GPS party started. And to counter some of that battery drainage, Apple can create a toggle to turn off GPS or have the toggle read “use GPS from iPhone.” That would truly be the best of both worlds. And for a sport model, no dedicated GPS isn’t very sporty at all. Sport = working out and working out = GPS.
4. Always-on, if you want it always on
Again, your battery life mileage will vary. If you choose watch GPS and leave the face always on, you’ll pay for that with a faster battery depletion. But for what it costs and the lifestyle we choose to live, that should be up to us to decide.
5. Design that goes beyond the band
It’s great that Apple sells bands separately. You can change the look of your watch as often as you change your mood. Or your underwear. But a band is just one part of the package. I like the retro look that comes with a square Apple Watch, but I would love to have a choice between square and round. Heck, I might even buy one of each depending on how well Apple addresses my other concerns. Apple likes to keep things simple but limiting something as basic as shape isn’t the place to do it.
6. Smart straps
There’s so much Apple can do with the band beyond the color and fabric. Plus, there’s room for medical advancements like blood sugar testing. There’s a lot of room for creativity. And bands of this caliber can add plenty to Apple’s bottom line. I would line up and happily pay $99 on top of the price of the watch for a see-through band that flashes for messages or pulses to the beat of the music I’m jamming to.
7. Wake me up before you go go
Apple is fond of telling us that a simple flick of the wrist is all that is needed to wake up the display. Meh, that’s not really true. Sometimes, no matter how hard I try, I still have to touch the screen with my finger. That’s annoying. If Apple wants to continue to tout this feature, it needs to make the feature more reliable.
8. More customization for workouts
If the Apple Watch is so focused on fitness, why are the fitness offerings so basic? Maybe my stand goal isn’t 12 hours. Maybe it’s 10 hours. And maybe my exercise goal is 45 minutes, not 30. The move goal can be modified, so why not everything else? Let me decide how to close those rings.
9. And fix those rings!
The fitness rings are a great idea. You start with nothing filled in and if you complete your goals for the day the rings close and become full circles. Now they are so limited. For example, my current watch face is orange. The rings are also orange instead of the more iconic red for move, green for exercise and blue for standing. Why in the world can’t I have full color rings yet still keep my orange theme? There’s no reason at all. That decision should not reside solely with Johnny Ive and his design team. #MyWatchMyRings
10. FaceTime camera
This might seem a bit overboard, but let me explain where my head is. A traditional camera for still photography is unnecessary on an Apple Watch, although that didn’t stop Apple from adding it to the iPad – which is even more unnecessary. But for a video call, even if the screen is small, there’s something very personal about talking to someone as you gaze at them on your wrist. For the parent who is away from their family who wants to see a video of their child, it matters. For every person in the military who wants a quick glimpse of home, it matters.
11. Speed bump
For the love of everything, please make this thing faster. Ugh. I could have dinner and see a movie in the time it takes to update the weather on my wrist. Ok, maybe just dinner but seriously it’s faster to look it up on the iPhone with a less-than-fast connection than rely on the Apple Watch. Every rumor regarding Apple Watch 2 and watchOS3 says it’s much faster. Anything will be an improvement so I’m excited about this. I remember when the earliest iPhones were so slow that it was like keeping a digital turtle in your pocket. Things improve over time but this improvement cannot come fast enough.
12. Hello sunshine
I was so excited when I read that the Apple Watch was really good about correcting for glare. Turns out, my iPhone is much better at that, automatically adjusting when necessary. The Apple Watch is no fun to look at in the sun. Even the much more expensive models aren’t good. Again, it’s version 1.0 but a sport model that’s supposed to be used when working out should be easier to see while jogging.
13. Tap tap tap
That cool tap on your wrist when you get a notification is just that: Cool. But it’s not enough. Sometimes I don’t even feel the tap even though I have the setting on high. The tap should be stronger and the ability to customize the taps is really necessary. I should be able to tell who is texting me or what app is alerting me based on vibration alone.
14. Crowning achievement
The Digital Crown, that button on the side modeled after the crowns on traditional and digital watches is awesome. It’s a great idea and serves multiple purposes. I hope Apple only improves on it. But there’s another button directly below it that I could do without. It’s not going anywhere because in new versions of the software it activates the new watch dock. But channeling my inner Ross from Friends here, do you really need another button? Probably not. I’d like to see Apple do more cool things with the touchscreen and make the watch itself as clean as possible. Granted it’s a crown plus an additional button which is better than a lot of other watches, but a world without excess buttons is a better world.
15. Please don’t call it Apple Watch 2.0
I know Apple likes its numbering system, but I’m tired of it. We’re weeks from the launch of the iPhone 7. I’m so confused that I couldn’t even tell you what version of the iPad is current. The Mac’s OS is soon to reach version 11. I’m not sure what the alternative is but it feels like this is a good time to break a long cycle and find a more creative way to refer to the Watch. S
Soon, we’ll have a much better idea of what’s coming imminently and what’s coming later. We waited an awfully long time for copy and paste on an iPhone so I know perfectly well that many of my wish list items aren’t right around the corner. But better to get them on the list now so Apple can start working on them. Implemented correctly, the Apple Watch of the future with all of these features added is a device you WILL go back home for when you leave it on your nightstand.