back to article No, Apple. A 4G Watch is a really bad idea

I feel the same way about my Apple Watch as I do about Twin Peaks – I love it, but I don’t go around recommending it. No, sir. One requires a big investment in time while the other costs a lot of money. For Twin Peaks, you really need to have seen the 30 original episodes (the significant ones more than once), and also the …

  1. iron Silver badge

    I just don't see the point in wearing a watch as anything other than a fashion accessory if I have my phone with me and smart watches are not attractive so they are useless for that purpose.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      I use my watch to tell the time. But yeah, it does look nice in an understated way.

      But if you have your alarm clock, dashboard clock, office click or computer desktop with clock in front of your eyes most hours of the day, I can appreciate why you don't need a watch.

      Fumbling in a pocket to dig out a phone to tell the time is step backwards, though.

      1. Tim Seventh
        Joke

        "Fumbling in a pocket to dig out a phone to tell the time is step backwards, though"

        I use a sundial to tell time and it better than any phone from a pocket.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          "I use a sundial to tell time and it better than any phone from a pocket."

          Me too, but I live in the UK so time often disappears.

          1. DropBear Silver badge
            Trollface

            "Me too, but I live in the UK so time often disappears."

            Oh, you need the UK model that comes with a built-in backup hourglass - just just need to pay a bit of attention to wearing it the right side up at all times...

      2. CheesyTheClown

        Step forwards

        Many of us have learned to plan our lives better and not be as dependent on a watch.

        If you check the time so often that the few seconds it takes to take the phone from your pocket is inconvenient, you aren't managing your time. Unless you are taking medication that must be precisely timed, you should easily be able to manage your schedule. A person makes a victim of themselves if they ever find themselves unable to schedule. If you have to be somewhere at 10am, leave with enough time to get there at 9:45. If you're running late because of circumstances beyond your control, call and apologize and inform the person "I have encountered unforeseen difficulties. I will be a little late." Then next time, account for additional delays so they don't believe it is habitual.

        If you're stressed over time because of conflicts of work and daycare for example, cut back your hours, change day cares, change jobs, hire an au pair, hire a teenager near the day care, make an arrangement with a parent to take turns picking up and dropping off with, etc...

        If $500+ watch is in your budget, your life would be better if you spent the money to buy time instead.

        Some people believe a successful person wears a fancy watch. Smart people know that success is learning to manage your life without one.

    2. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

      "I just don't see the point in wearing a watch as anything other than a fashion accessory if I have my phone with me"

      There are things a smartwatch can do that a phone cannot, like be out where I can get at it to acknowledge alerts or texts, or to control the music player in the phone. That way, the phone stays in the pocket, which is useful when I'm sitting down. And a smartwatch can still do the essential thing that a dumbwatch can do: tell me the time just by me turning my wrist and looking at it. (But it can do other things that a dumbwatch can't do, like offer a weather forecast.)

      But no, it doesn't need 4G. It might be able to offer something if it has 4G, but I don't quite see what. With Bluetooth and WiFi to link it to the phone, it has all it needs to do the things it does. Adding any sort of 4G to the already thirsty set of radio stacks isn't going to help it.

      "smart watches are not attractive"

      I'm with you on that. OK, they aren't deeply ugly(1), but they aren't particularly attractive. Part of it, I think, is that they have the wrong kind of squareish bulk, AND they are just a black square unless the screen is lit up.

      (1) Some of the things I've seen people wear that are obviously intended to be fashion-accessory watches ARE deeply ugly. A fashion-accessory watch, in the ideal case, should be sleek and thin and elegant, not a wrist-dominating monster with blingjewels in every possible location.

    3. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      As I said a year ago I think most smartwatches are the ugliest things imaginable. They look cheap and tacky, like those cheap and nasty CASIO knock-offs you used to see at the seaside in the late 1980's "2 for £10 digital watches".

      My Missus loves her Fitbit, it catches all the alerts off her iPhone, the weather and all that malarky but it still looks like it came from a Xmas cracker. Personally when I wear a watch I wear a piece of jewellry that tells me the time and nothing else, I have a nice Thomas Earnshaw that I bought myself as present, it's superb to look at, winds itself and just sits there silently on my wrist waiting to be used to do what watches do best.

      Don't get me wrong, I love the technology of the smartwatch but I don't think it's day is here yet. Much like the Apple Newton ( which I still have in the spare room! ) it's day is just not here yet but one day, maybe, if they can get them to look much nicer.

    4. macjules Silver badge

      I just do not like the idea of being shafted by yet another Apple strapon. Also I grew up in the late 1970's so I just don't want a watch that reminds me of those huge "digital" Casio watches of that era.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        I just a think that a watch that costs a bit of money, I mean a few hundred quid instead of a few quid, needs to still be useful in 20 or more years, not be a useless small box of obsolete electronics.

    5. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      FAIL

      Just give me a real analog watch. They work better than any smartwatch.

      And get off my lawn!

    6. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Fine if you are an urban couch potato, but if you run, surf, climb, snowboard or spend a reasonable amount of time outdoors, in all weathers, whipping out a smartphone isn't viable. My most worn watch is my rather unfashionable and functional Suunto Vector, and the compass and barometer have helped me out of several sticky situations, and I use the stopwatch function to time my runs.

      1. macjules Silver badge
        Coat

        I use the stopwatch function to time my runs.

        I used to do the same, until the amoebic dysentery cleared up.

    7. Enric Martinez

      I do see a point.

      Wearing it to track your time, pace, etc if you are doing endurance sports. It is darn useful, but then I would go for a specialized Garmin or Suunto (or whatever) product and even though this market is relatively big it is still a niche market and one where "normal" smartwatches can't compete, let alone outcompete the already existing big players.

  2. steelpillow Silver badge

    Wrong end up

    The smart watch is approaching wearable smarts from the wrong end. Trying to cram a phone top-down onto your wrist just makes for a crap phone. Instead, start at the bottom - what are the watch manufacturers doing with increased processing power?

    My advice to Apple - go buy the leading manufacturer of cute, upmarket gizmo watches and follow their nose not yours.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Wrong end up

      I would go more modest, if I were Apple: make something simple and discreet that usefully extends the function of the iPhone. KISS. So, page my phone, control media, mute ringtone... A full colour display is not needed to display a notification alert, or even give walking navigation directions.

      1. goldcd

        Re: Wrong end up

        That's a Pebble - and where all this started..

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Wrong end up

          I would start with a traditional analogue hand watch, and, if I were Apple, use some of those micro perforating lasers (that they use on their keyboards) to create near invisible (when not lit) LEDs on the face. I used to have a Sony phone that used a single RGB LED module to communicate lots of useful things (battery and charge status, plus different colours for different types of notification. Strangely, my Nexus 5 has a similar module but Google don't put it to its best use…)

          Tissot, too, have shown for years how different types of information (time, temperature, direction, altitude) can be displayed using a conventional analogue watch face.

          I don't dislike Pebble (their industrial design is too modest and honest to actively dislike), but I'd prefer something that didn't look so 'tech'.

  3. ScissorHands
    Megaphone

    I'm served, thank you verrymuch

    As usual, I found the perfect gadget for me and I'm just waiting for everyone else to fail to recognise its brilliance and leave me with an unsupported lump. As usual. Just like with the Nokia N9, you're all dumb.

    It's called the Withings Steel HR. Looks like a proper watch, several weeks of battery life, health tracking (pulse, steps, workout logging, sleep tracking) and the main notifications from the phone.

    Could it do more, like contactless payments, guided workouts, GPS tracking and bespoke apps? Not for thrice the price and ten times less battery life.

    1. Dabooka Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I'm served, thank you verrymuch

      Have a thumbs up.

      I do like them, but the styles are too limited for my kind of watch. I don't blame Nokia mind, you can't have a dozen different styles with the associated costs but it does put me off owning one. I think the Go is the way forward for me, and just don't wear it all the time. I'm not really fussed about tracking my activity behind the desk at my 9-5.

      I know Tag do a smart range but I just don't believe for a second it's a) worth the premium of a normal Tag, and b) it'll be supported in three years.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm served, thank you verrymuch

      Agree with your choice of the Withings(/Nokia?) Steel HR - it's probably the only smart watch worth getting, providing Withings have fixed the condensation issue that they tried to pass off as a natural occurrence in a watch (hint: it isn't).

      But I think smart watches are still very much in the '1970s LED watch' phase of their development - interesting curios but something much better will be along in 3 or so years. The only smart watch I ever really see on my (limited) travels is the Apple Watch. And I find that watch a deeply ugly and lazy design that Ive was either not involved with at all or just phoned in - pun intentional. I'll stick with my mechanical watch for the foreseeable future. It does everything I need a watch to do.

  4. GordonD

    Most used function

    "Set a three minute timer"

    Saving me from stewed tea: priceless.

    After that, swimming stroke counts and times.

    Both of these work just fine with my cheapskate 38mm.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Most used function

      I used to have a small 38mm watch - best feature was the rotating bezel, perfect for setting a time to check the oven or returning to carpark before the ticket runs out.

    2. fedoraman
      Coat

      Re: Most used function

      What's wrong with singing 15 verses of "Where has all the custard gone" under your breath?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Most used function

        If I walked around town singing that I'd look like a nutter. Or, if in Stroud, be mistaken for a native.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Most used function

          To be a native of Stroud you would have to be shouting about custard, and probably be offering it to passers by.

          Anon, as I live not too far away from Stroud. You can tell I'm not a Stroud native as I can use a keyboard for its intended function.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Most used function

            That's just [redacted]... he shouts about everything. I don't know if it's related to his work for Microsoft, or for the Acoustic Stage at Glastonbury.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Most used function

      You don't need a smartwatch to time your 3 minute perfect tea. What you need is a smart teapot.

      Of course that might struggle to time your swimming for you, but technology can't solve all problems.

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Most used function

      I totally disagree.

      A proper cup of tea takes 5 minutes to brew!

  5. Naich

    £658 for a smart watch?

    I paid 1/100th of that for mine. The DZ09 is £10 on Amazon but I bought mine on Gearbest for £6.50. It's a colour touchscreen smart watch that can make calls if you put a SIM in it. OK, it's not quite as stylish or waterproof as the Apple version, but it is just as marginally useful.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: £658 for a smart watch?

      £658 is the price of the cheapest iPhone *plus* the price of the cheapest full size Apple Watch.

  6. Korev Silver badge

    Calls whilst running

    When you’re swimming or jogging you don’t want to take calls,

    I find that breathing heavily whilst running quickly dissuades people from calling...

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: Calls whilst running

      Jogging should be at a speed where it is comfortable to carry on with a conversation, it's actually how you know you are going at the right speed.

      1. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: Calls whilst running

        "The right speed" depends what you are trying to achieve on that run.

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: Calls whilst running

          And if that run is a jog, what you are trying to achieve is a pace that you can still talk at, it's the fucking definition.

  7. Andre Carneiro

    Who cares about calls?

    Surely you completely miss the point that including a SIM would be meant for breaking the tether to the phone and allow data services?

    I very much doubt that the intent was ever to turn the watch into a phone.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Re: Who cares about calls?

      Have these people not seen Knight Rider? If only everyone were as cool as the Hoff!

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Who cares about calls?

        " If only everyone were as cool as the Hoff!"

        Well, the Mythbusters came somewhat close - they managed to reproduce the "park into a moving truck" thing and that was undeniably cool...

  8. chivo243 Silver badge

    Calling Dick Tracy?

    A watch that doubles as a phone sounds cool, really cool, but it hasn't taken off, and I fear it may never get off the ground.

    Was Dick Tracy using his as a phone or just walk-talkie? It was so long ago...

    1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

      Re: Calling Dick Tracy?

      The Dick Tracy Wrist Wizard (actually developed by Diet Smith's company) went, in its later versions, far beyond what even the most capable modern smartwatch can do. Notably projected 3D video calling.

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Calling Dick Tracy?

      Who says it sounds cool? I have no interest in such a thing, nor do I believe there are very many people who would want to either be permanently talking on speakerphone in public or hold their wrist up to their ear in some awkward way that still allowed them to talk in it.

      Anyway, I don't believe Apple will make the Watch able to make calls if LTE capability is added, though I'm not quite sure what use cases there are to include LTE in it since most people have their phones with them almost all the time. Certainly that would be true of the types of people likely to buy an Apple Watch (or any smartwatch) who are by definition tech lovers.

      Everything I come up with that could use LTE I realize you'd still have your phone. For instance, having it give you driving directions would avoid having to hold your phone, which is illegal in more and more places. But it could connect to your phone via Bluetooth to give you the directions the phone is providing. I see many people strapping their phone to their upper arm while running, and a watch would be more convenient for tracking your running. However, many are also/primarily using it for music, so it would require a Bluetooth interface to AirPods to fulfill that role also.

      Now maybe if you are hiking way out in the middle of nowhere you don't want to bring your phone, but think about why that is - no cell service. If there's no cell service, how useful is having LTE in your watch going to be?

  9. ITBloke

    The battery life kills most of these projects, nobody wants to recharge their watch every night or have it shut down. I had a pebble which was better at this, was great for being able to see who was messaging or calling whilst driving, but it looked awful. Got a Skagen Connected now, hybrid analogue/smart - useful for reminders and fitness, looks good, 4 month battery life, just over £100 in their sale and does the job for me. That said, even the idea of a watch as a timepiece is getting somewhat pointless, ask anyone the time nowadays and they likely look at their phone or a wall clock or computer, its not like the 18th century when finding out the time was a chore, it's available everywhere now. A new apple watch for silly money? - Sim card smart watches are available for a tenner on amazon, yes they will be pointless and pants, but so will the Apple one, just considerably more than a tenner.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      I have a Casio Waveceptor watch, it has solar charging, sets the time from LW transmissions and is waterproof to several metres depth, all for around the £100 mark. Had it now for over 5 years and no battery change needed, and never run out of power to tell the time accurately. Sure I can dig my phone out but a wristwatch is far more convenient.

      Now if someone could add a useful smart feature and keep that sort of power budget they would have something worth buying.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        @PaulCrawford.

        There you haveit!

        If Apple wants to know what kind of added feature watch sells, they should look at the offeri gs from Casio and probably Tissot's T Touch watches. If they can make watches as good as those but with ariuos smart phone features they may have a chance.

        Personally I would prefer a Tissot or G shock plus a phone for phoney work.

      2. Chris King Silver badge

        I've got one too, but adding smarts would mean having to add more buttons - the manual is like a giant list of Konami Codes as it is.

    2. wjake

      " its not like the 18th century when finding out the time was a chore,"

      Wrist watches were invented so that gentlemen would not have to reach into their pocket to pull out their watch. We've regressed back to that point.

      1. Infernoz Bronze badge
        Holmes

        Indeed, even an uncased small mobile is a hassle to take out of a trouser pocket, worse for a cased/larger mobile, probably more so that a pocket watch on a chain, and it's a bad idea to have a pulsed microwave transmitter near your manhood!

    3. Thomas Wolf

      Battery life is always brought up as the be-all, end-all of smartwatch success. I used to be one of them. But I got an Apple Watch anyway - and, guess what, charging every night is just no big deal. I already charge my phone every night on my night stand, so what's the big deal laying the watch next to it? Sure, some would argue "what about sleep tracking"? The obvious answer: get a different device if you care about that. But for anyone other than those sleep-obsessed few, laying the watch on its charger next to the bed is just fine and dandy.

      The author thinks an Apple Watch with 4G is a bad idea (battery life, Dick Tracy look, yada, yada, yada). I think she should have qualified that: it's a bad idea IFF Apple made all Apple Watches 4G-enabled. I think it's a great idea to have it be an option - sort of like 4G is an option for iPads. You don't have to get it (and pay for it) if you don't want to.

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        I don't know how to put this delicately, but for me, accustomed to need to think about the energy requirements of my wristwatch no more than twice in a decade with exactly zero willingness to change that, having to charge it every single fucking day IS kind of a bit of a big deal...

      2. mrdalliard

        RE: No, Apple. A 4G Watch is a really bad idea

        Sleep tracking is possible on the Apple Watch. I use "AutoSleep" and it seems to do the trick.

        As I get 2 - 3 days out of my 38mm watch anyway, there's no immediate need to have it charging up each night. Mine usually gets charged during my morning "getting ready for work" routine.

  10. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Joke

    Wot!

    El Reg recommending that Apple NOT do something.... wonders will never cease.

    Isn't this a departure from wanting Apple to do everything (including making sliced bread /s) so that they fail even quicker as they are certain to?

    Has El Reg and Apple made up and you are getting an invite to the iNext announcement thingy at the flying Donut? We deserve to know if there has been a change of heart away from the BAU slagging off that iFruity gets around this place.

    So what is it eh?

    Pray tell.... You know you really, really want to...

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Wot!

      The Reg tends to be snarky about Apple on news articles and rumours. When actually reviewing Apple kit they are even-handed.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Wot!

        Look to their masthead - their remit is to take the big companies down a peg or two. They don't come any bigger than Apple does at this point in time.

  11. Alastair Dodd 1

    smart watches are definitely not essential

    But I love my Ticwatch 2 and have pre ordered on kickstarter their new Ticwatch E http://kck.st/2uluDXp as at about £120 its a sensible price for everything it gives me. The ease of doing simple things that yes, I can do them on my phone (get it out of my pocket, unlock it) is brilliant. It saves me seconds and is much less intrusive than doing these on with phone e.g.

    Google/MS auth acceptance/codes

    check txt/email message if it urgent

    Timers

    Calendar notifications

    Fitness tracking

    Navigation

    There's probably a few more (controlling Iot devices like wemo switches/lights) but that lot I use regularly. I know my phone does them but that's like saying why use your phone calendar when your diary can do it. Not the point.

    There is a use case for the smartwatch and wearable tech. They haven't all hit the right mark as too many are just fashion accessories and too expensive. Battery life is still the biggest problem.

  12. xnetman

    Any technology is what you make of it. Many people have a laptop. The most many will ever do with it is browse, watch a few videos, Skype and play Candy Crush on it...and this is on a machine that many scientists from yesteryear would have pimped out their own mothers to get a day of compute time on.

    I personally use a smart watch for a lot. I don't think the problem is with the concept or the technology. It is with people knowing how to integrate it into their lives.

  13. David Lawton

    Whilst i can live without my Apple Watch i would not choose too. I got it on launch day and have worn it every day since.

    I love using it for getting on the underground when i visit London (which is regularly) no getting my wallet out in busy areas, just 2 taps of the button on my wrist and i am through the gates.

    It is keeping more active, i always aim to close my exercise rings.

    I love using it to filter the many notifications i get on my phone throughout the day, and i occasionally do quick reply to texts on it or take calls if my phone is not right by me or my hands are full/messy.

    I get that not everyone wants one, and i had not worn a watch for 15 years prior to getting the Apple Watch. At least try for for a reasonable amount of time and then decide if its of any help, i feels its one of those things you have have before you understand its value.

    1. David Nash Silver badge

      @David Lawton

      " i always aim to close my exercise rings."

      Translation please!

      1. arthoss

        Re: @David Lawton

        that's the part of Apple Watch that takes care you do enough movement (activity) in one day - 3 rings: general movement, exercise and stand up (this last one is one of the best features for me and it's really useful for my back).

        https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204517

        1. M Mouse

          Re: @David Lawton

          maybe it's because I'm closer to retirement than most, but " that takes care you do enough movement " is the part which is enough to deter me from ever touching an Apple watch (oh, and the rip-off pricing for all Apple products, let's not forget).

          Don't get me wrong, I have several used iMacs and even used (at work) the original Apple Mac, back in the 80s, and like them. I now even have an iPhone 5S (as a hand-me-down from a relative for my last birthday) and will have my own (free for users) App developed for Android, Windows, and iOS, in future, but buying anything from Apple, brand new online, or in store, will be reserved for when hell freezes over.

  14. 1Rafayal

    It doesnt need 4G functionality.

    It needs to work with Android.

    1. steamrunner

      As a hardened fanbo..... sorry, run-of-the-mill Apple user *cough*... who's currently experimenting with Android (and been pleasantly surprised, read: some pros, some cons), I concur — Apple need to support Android with the Watch. Yes, it might eat iPhone sales. Meh. It doesn't need 4G; the usage case(s) for it are tiny in comparison to everyone wanting better availability, performance and battery life.

      On top of that - although this is far more of an edge case - it would be useful to have the Watch failover to an approved second/backup phone or even to a computer/laptop for basic c&c if the phone is unavailable (i.e runs out of battery).

      PS: I now hardly wear mine. It's lovely, and having it for discreet notifications is great, but I'm fed up of remembering to charge it and it's bulk on my wrist.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        > I concur — Apple need to support Android with the Watch

        I suspect that the function of sales volumes and margin are not worth it for Apple. A Venn diagram of people interested in the Watch has big overlap with those who already have an iPhone. Chasing the remaining small areas will only cause them more work for less reward, and send out the wrong message.

  15. Lee D Silver badge

    It's all very simple:

    - a software SIM, good idea (means I can transfer things around without fiddly little cards that are ALWAYS the wrong size for the device in question). Hell, to be honest, I'd sign into a phone with a SIP account if SIMs disappeared tomorrow, it's a much nicer way of working that silly smart cards for unnecessary reasons.

    - a watch that's reliant on your smartphone? Pointless. You're carrying your phone around anyway, and looking at a watch for something like the time etc. is stupid when you could just look at the phone. Or even have it say the time out loud.

    - a watch that is a smartphone? Stupid. They're already too small, and we bounced back with the new models to make them wider, larger with full-edge-to-edge screens (which might be going a bit too far the other way, to be honest).

    - any TV series that relies on deus ex machina like "Oh, that series was just a dream"? Utter garbage.

    P.S. Literally the perfect way to make me want to turn off and never watch again, matched only by "revisit episodes" (often Christmas specials that just show 1% new content, 99% old clips - Friends, Big Bang Theory), changing all the main characters for randoms over time (Hustle, ER), turning from a drama into a soap opera or losing the whole point of the series (e.g. Lucifer - great concept, so much you could do with it, but oh no the devil is having a little personal crisis so let's forget about the entire "crime-solving" aspect and focus on him being a bit teary, e.g. Big Bang - full of nerds who like being nerds, can't get women, whoops, let's just give them all women including the nerdiest of all and cut out all the nerdy stuff), ridiculous concepts (e.g. Red Dwarf, yeah, let's set it all on Coronation Street).

    I could go on.

    1. 1Rafayal

      @Lee D

      I dont think soft SIM cards will be a thing any time soon, even though it is probably the best thing that could happen to smart phones in the last 10 years.

      I would imagine it would open up a whole new avenue for SIM piracy.

    2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      You still watch TV ? With all that US-based rubbish and adverts too ?

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      > looking at a watch for something like the time etc. is stupid when you could just look at the phone

      Seriously? Do a time and motion study on it and get back to us.

      Looking at a watch is a quick and easy operation that doesn't involve fumbling in your pocket and possibly dislodging plastic fivers, dropping your phone or having it snatched off you by some acid-wielding twat on a moped.

  16. lglethal Silver badge

    bah! Smart Watches are so outdated...

    ... I'm still waiting on the Smart Shoe from Get Smart! Now that was a useful piece of smart clothing!

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure Apple engineers read The Register...

    So could I ask any Apple engineers reading this to kindly fix the following iOS bugs, some of which are at least 5-6 years old. Then you can get back to the watch. Thanks. List follows:

    1. Lose ability to play voicemail even in the presence of good signal.

    2. Mail message bodies not downloaded for random reasons.

    3. Broken text selection in Safari.

    4. Flicker and shoddy screen redrawing in Music app UI.

    5. Inability to reliable distinguish between bring up control panel gesture and text entry when a keyboard is on screen.

    6. Once a piece of text is highlighted in pink, it's very difficult to get rid of the highlight without highlighting something else or losing the selected text.

    7. Some Messages conversations get 'locked' so can't reply to continue them. No idea why.

    8. Badly designed and rendered UI in Messages. The new functionality is horribly bolted on.

    9. Synchronising 'spinner' often remains on screen even when synchronisation isn't happening.

    10. Deeply unreliable WiFi synchronisation with iTunes.

    11. Random failure with personal hotspot connection.

    12. No real info about what is synchronised within an Apple ID and what can be synchronised between them. Inconsistent behaviour - e.g. are WiFi network details synchronised or not? Hotspot details?

    13. Automatic redirection to public WiFi networks even if you've set the phone to never join networks without asking.

    14. Music woes: Duplicate songs. Songs that won't download. Missing artwork, but often just on a small selection of songs in an album.

    15. Apps that no longer synchronise across devices; have to download them everywhere separately.

    Finally, a non-iOS problem if you have time:

    16. iTunes. All of it.

    1. Vince

      Re: I'm sure Apple engineers read The Register...

      I agree about:

      2. Mail message bodies not downloaded for random reasons.

      3. Broken text selection in Safari.

      5. Inability to reliable distinguish between bring up control panel gesture and text entry when a keyboard is on screen.

      6. Once a piece of text is highlighted in pink, it's very difficult to get rid of the highlight without highlighting something else or losing the selected text.

      8. Badly designed and rendered UI in Messages. The new functionality is horribly bolted on.

      9. Synchronising 'spinner' often remains on screen even when synchronisation isn't happening.

      10. Deeply unreliable WiFi synchronisation with iTunes.

      11. Random failure with personal hotspot connection.

      13. Automatic redirection to public WiFi networks even if you've set the phone to never join networks without asking.

      15. Apps that no longer synchronise across devices; have to download them everywhere separately

    2. cambsukguy

      Re: I'm sure Apple engineers read The Register...

      But, it just works?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I feel the same way about my Apple Watch as I do about Twin Peaks

    Me too, funnily enough.

    They're both pointless, pretentious wastes of time.

  20. andy 103

    Never understood the point

    So even if you have an Apple Watch, essentially all it's doing is acting as a second "display" for your iPhone or other devices.

    Given that you still need your phone (or another device) to actually do anything useful from that point with the information it gives... why not just use your phone? And if telling the time is all you care about, you don't need a smart watch at all.

    The technology moves on so quickly that nobody is going to "double up" on buying a phone AND a smart watch at the same time when they know that even 1 of those things will likely need replacing, at a minimum, every 2 years.

    If you think Apple's offering is expensive though, be sure to check out Breitling's Exospace - a watch that costs around 6 grand and does less than an Apple watch. I've never seen anyone with one, and reckon they'll have sold in single figures. Does have the name though I guess.

    1. Thomas Wolf

      Re: Never understood the point

      We live in a world full of "first world" problems - looking at your smartphone would often require you to take it out of your pocket! I get a lot of emails & notifications that can be safely ignored for the time being (or completely) - with a smartwatch, I can decide to do so without first having taken my phone out of my pocket, look at it, and put it back.

      An analogy from the kitchen world: we just installed a faucet that is activated by touch. There's absolutely nothing this faucet does that a normal one doesn't - but it sure is nice to be able to start the water with the back of your grimy or raw-meat-handling hands.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Never understood the point

        > but it sure is nice to be able to start the water with the back of your grimy or raw-meat-handling hands

        I saw a great thing in France. A tap is operated by a rod at knee height. Push the rod in any direction and water flows. No need to touch anything with with dirty hands. Simple, the epitome of good design.

  21. Jay 2

    Damn fine coffee...

    Hmm, it would appear that I haven't done many of the things that I should have done before watching the new series of Twin Peaks, no wonder I have no idea WTF is going on half the time!

    Admittedly I haven't watched the first two series since they came out, but I'm somewhat sure they didn't used to be a strange as the current one (quirky yes, but not so downright WTF).

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Damn fine coffee...

      Dunno, I always thought 'WTF" is all Twin Peaks ever had printed on its card... it's been a while though.

  22. Domix

    I have an Apple Watch. I like my Apple Watch. it looks nice and it tracks my runs and swims. I don't think £400 is a lot to ask considering the technology. But apart from telling the time, running and swimming I don't use it for anything else.

    I can see why a SIM would go in but using it for fitness, it really wouldn't make a big difference but I guess receiving calls whilst out for a run wouldn't be a bad thing. I think a forward facing camera would be a lot cooler for FaceTime pics and, even better underwater shots.

    Nonetheless though, this is about evolution of the product. A SIM won't necessarily make an immediate difference or provide great benefit to lots of people but in the longer term gives the product a lot more flexibility by not being tethered to the phone.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Actually, it reminds me of things like 3D TVs: adding stuff because you can in a vain attempt to improve sales.

      Despite Andrew's invective I'm sure lots of companies are envious of Apple's success with its toy products: Apple TV and the Apple Watch. Volumes aren't that big but the margins more than make up for that. Apple is obviously serving a market for people like yourself and in doing so it is effectively stifling the competition.

      There is certainly a market for this kind of product but there is also a risk of missing other developments.

  23. Stuart Castle

    ! have the 38mm Apple watch, and I think it's best use is for notifications. It also makes a handy remote control for when I am listening to Music and my phone is docked at the other end of the room. Contactless payments is handy as well.

    It also makes a handy second screen, for apps that support it. For instance, when travelling, I can set my destination on my phone, start some music, listen to it on my bluetooth headphones, then stick the phone in my bag or pocket and go on my way without having to stop to look at the phone. I know when I need to change direction, because the watch will tap my wrist to tell me to look at it.

    As for battery life, that's unimportant to me. I have to sleep myself, as does everyone. When I go to sleep, I just take the watch off and attached it's charging cable.

    Don't get me wrong. I find it useful, but it hasn't changed my life and I would get along just fine without it. I didn't even buy it thinking it would be useful. I bought it because I had a couple of hundred pounds, and I wanted one.

    That said, there are a couple of apps I find useful on it. One is Bus Checker. This (and it's associated iPhone app) connects to TFL and enables you to look up bus times on the watch, or Phone.

    Would I use 3 or 4G connectivity on a watch? Probably not, to be honest. I already have the ability to make and receive calls via the watch thanks to iOS's Handoff system, and beyond the initial James Bond/Dick Tracy/Micheal Knight thrill of talking to your watch and having it answer, I haven't had a use for that facility.

  24. MHZawadi

    My Pebble

    So I have read all the comments and seen little on the pebble, it's not a very pretty watch. But does the main job of being a watch very well!

    It has a colour e-ink display, so I can see the time without having to turn on any light. That also means it runs for about 4 may 5 days on a charge.

    The smart stuff is what I wanted, I like being able to read notification without having to get my phone out. Or shaking my wrist or anything. I can then dismiss notifications on both watch and phone or just the watch!

    So if Apple wants to make a better watch, they should look at an e-ink display! That what I want in my pebble replacement!

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: My Pebble

      Yep, the pebble took a rational approach to smartwatches, at least until the health thing came along.

      I still wear a pebble time, cost little, does loads.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mr Orlowski, surely...

    A product you wear on your wrist to save the immense labour of picking your phone out your pocket?

    Made by Apple, so stylish, and, ss the ad says of lager, reassuringly expensive.

    Replaces £1 step counter and £5 digital watch functions for merely half a bag of sand?

    How can it fail?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: how can it fail????

      It does not run Android and is sold by the Devil themselves, Apple

      Well, that is what an awful lot of readers of this site think and say at just about every opportunity.

  26. Vince

    The watch is much more useful than I anticipated actually... some of the bits I like/use:

    1. Unlocking my Macbook/MacBook Pro without password faff.

    2. Better than getting phone out to pay for stuff (I almost exclusively pay via Apple Pay)

    3. Run/Walk tracking

    4. General exercise data as background to get an idea of daily burn

    5. Silencing all the devices that ring every time someone phones with a quick face cover

    6. Provides navigation when walking so no need to get phone out (handy when hands are full)

    7. Quick check to see if a notification is worth getting phone out or not

    8. Handy to send a text when driving as speech works remarkably well (non-Siri dictation)

    9. Music remote (although could be a lot better and work with stuff other than built in music)

    10. Can leave phone on charge and still get messages etc

    Things that aren’t so good:

    1. Using it for phone calls, you both look stupid and it doesn’t work very well

    2. App support is pretty low and those that exist are way too slow to load

    3. Wish it could be told not to alert when driving (phone knows so wish watch could know)

    4. The breathe thing, turned off but seems totally pointless and irritating

    5. Having to fully reset the watch which takes ages if you change iPhone is just stupid

    6. Honeycomb UI is actually pretty lame

    7. Watch constantly lights up when driving as can’t tell between looking at it and turning the wheel

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      I almost exclusively pay via Apple Pay

      Which puts you in a pretty small niche, I think.

      Can leave phone on charge and still get messages etc

      You mean an I-Phone doesn't do notifications while charging?

  27. kmac499

    No-one memtioned the Pebble (yeah I know they're dead coutesy fitbit) I still think their design using e-paper is the best for a smartwatch, as opposed to a watch which goes ping when a text comes in.

    Combine that with a contactless chip that you can turn on by pressing the watch crown or the strap somehow, to avoid 'drive by' theft and we've got something useful.

  28. ibmalone Silver badge

    A friend uses Pebble for seizure detection (sending alerts to people who can help if needed). Key characteristics as I understand it are battery life (no good if you have to take it off in the evening to charge, ideally can wear overnight if needed) and being able to develop for it with access to raw data and not via some web api. Being affordable enough to have a backup is a nice bonus. The Pebble does a great job, and there doesn't seem to be a suitable replacement at the minute for when the platform finally goes.

  29. skuba*steve

    I Love mine :)

    The other half bought me an LG Urbane as a "well done for not killing everyone in a tirade of rage at the subtle inconsequence of your pathetic little life" gift; have to say I'd be lost without it.

    It has a pleasant face - round, not square - and tells the time and date, along with when my next meeting is, on the face; I can see who is calling by looking at my watch - and reject the call with a message if needed; I get my messages pop up on there, and it does turn by turn navigation while I'm walking so I can walk round Amsterdam without having my phone in my hand.

    By far the biggest benefit for me in my daily life has been getting my phone out of my hand, off my desk and away, without the need to disconnect and "go wild", living without technology and growing a beard whilst trying to build a shelter out of old twigs in the woods.

    All for about what I'd spend on a halfway decent watch (mine was circa £160 iirc).

  30. pse1336982

    The watch strap will be a battery!

    I think it is obvious that Apple will offer watch straps that help power the third gen Apple Watch.

    A Cat M1 LTE UE requires only a tiny amount of power and is limited to only 1 Bit/s but this is enough for Apple Watch connectivity needs and VoLTE calls.

    P.

  31. rssfed23

    Glad I'm not the only one...

    who uses the "ping phone" function far more than any app on the watch.

    I got an Apple Watch as I'd never owned a watch before so thought why not make my first plunge into the world of watches a digital one. I use it as a watch and to preview notifications so I don't have to get my phone out as often. That's enough for me I don't need it for anything more really nor would I want to!

    Oh I do use the exercise/HR tracking features the most when I do go swimming or down the gym. I think that's a pretty neat feature but it's not unique to Apple and unless I'm mistaken can't be enhanced by adding in a LTE modem! The battery life is rubbish on an Apple Watch as it is let's not find pointless ways to drain it further please :)

  32. lazarus

    I just can't get past smart watches been a gimmick. I love the idea of the technology but in practice it just turn out to be cumbersome and clunky. I bought a cheap smart watch (a dedicated fashion follower I am not so the looks were really of no consequence) and given its quality was about right for its price point I wasn't expecting greatness.

    Did it tell the time? Yes.

    Did it tell the time every time i lifted it to my face regardless what position I was in? not a chance.

    Did it pass on any alerts that came up on my phone? Yes.

    When my phone vibrated in my pocket did I look to the watch to see what was happening? No. The muscle memory of a decade of reaching for the phone kicked in and it was in my hand before I ever gave the watch a second though.

    Fitness tracking... I like to cycle, It knew nothing of that.

    3 days of wear and 3 nights of charging and it went back in its box and the 10 year old casio telememo with its analogue hands and little digital display was back. It never needed a battery charge, told the time all the time, took and absolute battering for over a decade and had all the features of a moderate digital watch and all for 20 quid. I retired it last year when the case got to the point that I couldn't repair it enough for the strap to be secure (though it still functions perfectly). Want to guess what I replaced it with.......

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      You've given an honest use-case, and by the sounds of it have identified differences twixt the concept and the implementation.

      It also sounds like the watch you tried fell between two stools. Either go simple - analogue face with simple notifications and long battery life - or go big and activity specific, like a bulky Garmin or Casio. They have GPS (and probably altimeter, barometer etc) are suitable for cycling and trekking. They are a bit big to be worn everyday though.

      The first 'wearable' I saw and had described to me was over twenty years ago, by a mountain biker in his forties. It was a strap around the chest heart rate monitor - made by Polaris?. Being a teenager, the concept of 'training' was odd to me - my mates and I just went for rides all the time. He did explain something about the difference in resting and active heart rates being a quantifiable measure of one's fitness - but I was seventeen and thus fit by default: my smoking would take another decade to really impact upon my stamina.

      On the technology front, the old boy did have some lovely forks fitted to his bike, made by AMP - they weren't telescopic, they were parallogram in design, and carbon fibre too. Fitted to a titanium frame. Nice.

  33. Mad Hacker

    Thought this was going to be another Apple bashing article but...

    They you said this in the first sentence: I love it, but I don’t go around recommending it.

    Which is exactly how I feel. I love it. But recommending it means I think it's worth the money and I'm still not sure it is.

  34. whoseyourdaddy

    Intel LTE on a watch?

    When this turd lands, I'll look for a price break on a series 2 to get better swimming tracking (not my favorite cardio).

    Meanwhile, I've got some rings to close since this damn thing keeps track.

    Later...

  35. John H Woods Silver badge

    Who needs a watch?

    You checked Facebook less than 210 seconds ago.

  36. AMCMO

    One fundamental flaw with your article, claiming the Fitbit is the only wearable success. The Apple Watch is an outstanding success, not in the same league as iPhone, however they are the largest mfr of smart watches, and I I’m correct, the second largest of watches.

    That is sucesss at the level any other company on earth would rave about and the press would fawn over.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      I don't think Apple consider the watch a success - they consider it a place-holder, a foot in the door. Battery life is just too big a compromise at the moment, but as silicon becomes more efficient (as it always has done so far), and if some breakthrough in battery tech is developed... they'll be there. I remember that GSM mobile phones were around for almost a decade before they were adopted by the masses - the price and form factor had to shrink.

      Still, the traditional watch world thinks Apple did a fucking superb job on the strap attachment mechanism.

  37. TheElder

    Watch

    My watch is analogue. Three dark hands with a light background with all the numerals easily visible. When I push the button it lights up for a second. The name at the top is Forester. As I look out the window I am about 10 metres from a triple trunk 50 metre spruce tree.

    As for watching TV I prefer Max Headroom

  38. iansmithedi

    Healthcare watches are yet to take off

    Smart watches have saturated the fitness market, but I think we are yet to see the impact of wider healthcare apps for smart watches. The sensors and apps are not quite ready but are close. There could be a significant market for people at risk of heart disease who would pay money for health monitoring on the wrist and an alert for medical help.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Healthcare watches are yet to take off

      I suspect that the certification and reliability demanded of a Medical Device are greater than that of a fitness tracker.

  39. se99paj

    Target the fitness market

    I haven't had a watch for years as I always used my phone, but bought a normal watch earlier this year, I think it looks great and tells the time. That's all I need from a watch 90% of the time.

    But I also enjoy running/cycling/going to the gym - An ideal watch would record GPS to track my distance/time, capture my heart rate so I can see how I'm performing maybe even allow me to make use of my Google music subscription and play music to my wireless headphones, if I was really pushing it include Android pay so I can buy a bottle of water or catch the bus home.

    I think fitness is their target market, you only need to browse the Garmin products and see how well its working out for them

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why?

    I mean if you really want a decent looking smartwatch, which does pretty much everything, including a decent GPS, why would you spend Apple money???

    This is a fraction of the price, just as functional, and looks and runs better.

    http://tinyurl.com/y7tty2fc

  41. Ian Joyner

    Prices

    Apart from this is a story based on speculation about what Apple might or might not do, your prices are all wrong. Series 1 38 mm starts at £269, 42 mm £299, series 2 42mm £399. Yes, I agree quite expensive. However, I finally yielded and got one before travelling overseas (figuring this would be the most useful time, and I can get VAT back). I now think this is an important item in Apple's efforts to achieve pervasive computing (see Van Steen and Tanenbaum https://www.distributed-systems.net/index.php/books/distributed-systems-3rd-edition-2017/). OK, I do notice that the watch is still there, but I don't think I'm ready yet for a chip implant. I'm still working out all the things that Apple Watch can do - it is far in advance of any normal watch - some of which people pay £1000s for.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    unless you've given a smart watch a fair trial your opinion is worthless.

    I was a smart-watch cynic. Then I saw the Sony Smartwatch 3 on sale for just over £100, a price comparable with some fitness bands, worth a try, if it's a fail, for £100 who cares.

    I resolved to live with it for a week to give it a fair trial. Now I'd not be parted from it and would gladly replace it with the next generation when it finally expires. The problem is that there's no "killer app", I can't say "Buy it because...". However the combination of seemingly insignificant factors adds up to "indispensable". If I were to tell you about one or even 10 of those you'd dismiss them as trivial. Individually they are so I'll resist the urge. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts and I'd strongly recommend anyone give it a try.

    As for adding a SIM, well I've not tried it so not qualified to comment and my budget probably rules it out. My current watch/phone interface is usable (accept a call on the watch and it switches phone to speaker mode while you fumble to get the phone out).

    Among the problems, as seen in the comments above, is that if you identify the feature that makes the watch indispensable to you, people who've not tried the watch will dismiss it because there are easier cheaper alternatives. In any case that feature may not be one they need. Personally I don't give a damn about the fitness tracking aspect, the phone does it better. If I've just run 10 miles I don't actually need a device to tell me but I accept there are folk who like to do that (BTW there was a piece of research suggesting that fitness trackers actually reduce activity levels. That was based on the finding that if you have a target of, say 10,000 steps a day many people will slack off once they hit their target).

    Plugging it in at night is a minor annoyance but I'm old enough to remember the minor annoyance of manually winding a mechanical watch daily.

    My own opinion is that, at a price point of £100, the watch is a worthwhile peripheral to my phone. If the only option was £400 the cost-benefit analysis wouldn't justify the business case for me but for others even at that price it might make sense.

    1. skuba*steve

      Re: unless you've given a smart watch a fair trial your opinion is worthless.

      >> Plugging it in at night is a minor annoyance but I'm old enough to remember the minor annoyance of manually winding a mechanical watch daily.

      I'd never even thought of that :) I have a couple of decent-ish watches sat in a drawer because I got fed up of sitting and winding them, so taking my phone off at bedtime and dropping it in the charger (as opposed to just dropping it in my bedside tray) was a very small adjustment.

  43. TheElder

    But I also enjoy running/cycling/going to the gym

    I ride a very nice e-bike designed in Vancouver. It has a very special design. It is easy to hack and they even provide documentation that makes it even easier. This is to increase the horsepower above the local allowed limit... Like exactly how are the constabulary going to measure the horsepower?

    I always use the same psychology I have for many years. When you see one in uniform riding past one should smile and pretend you know them. This confuses them into thinking they must know you and they will automatically pardon you in their minds.

    The bike computer has everything I need to know when riding. I use a dumb phone and I do not take it with me. If somebody needs to leave a message I have e-mail.

  44. ttGuy

    Still rocking my Pebble Steel Black (ForeverPi.com/990800355938) Got it for about £40 used from CEX and it is so reliable and integrated into my life, I don't even think about it. Always on daylight readable display. Only smart watch that does notifications properly - just the right amount of info, so saves me getting my Note5 out. Best thing really, intuitive tactile controls. No faffing around with complications and a touch screen. Tragic Pebble didn't continue, they were doing everything right, except for marketing to the clueless masses, hence only geeks have a Pebble.

  45. airmanchairman

    It's Just a Matter of Time...

    ...Before a wrist device, coupled to gestures and some other tech that has not yet materialised yet (possibly AR/VR soon and "teleportation" much much later) becomes the next de facto "device du jour"... resistance is futile.

  46. HelpfulJohn

    Vambraces? Anyone?

    Two of the main complaints about "smart" watches are battery and lack of room for programs and data. Both could be easily solved by vambraces. Indeed, I'm astonished that these are never tried.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Polar V800

    Does all the things I need it to and would expect from a vaguely smart watch. OK, not the prettiest, but not obscene.

    Tracks my pool sessions accurately enough, daily activity, GPS for my meanderings (don't be silly I don't do running, more or an animated shambling), waterproof to deep enough for me to troll around under the pool surface and should I feel the need, I strap on the HRM to see how close I am to cardiac implosion.

    Lasts 2 weeks if I don't bother with the HRM and GPS. 3-5 days if I use GPS etc.

    Does smart notifications so I can see which app is bothering me and now it even can control a go pro 4 (if that floats your boat).

    Mono screen black on white or the other way around.

    Got it on offer a while ago, effectively half price, can't complain really.

  48. Kindwarrior

    Twin peaks and G4 Apple watches

    I always thought Twin Peaks appealed to people who pretend to be intelligent but really don't know how to think.

    A G4 watch is a great idea given that the engineering issues (bulk, battery, SIM, waterproofing and radiation) can be resolved. Ultimately, you want the communication/personal identification device to be wearable. identification device to be wearable. This does not mean a watch will ever be the best user interface for communications but, by making the communications hub wearable and therefore ubiquitous, any nearby device can function as the phone UI: your car, your iPad, your iPod touch, your PlayStation, your TV, etc. This could be very disruptive. Perhaps it will mark the end of the handheld phone.

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