Despite its very limited availability Apple has released a series of tutorial videos on its website, giving step-by-step instructions on how exactly to use the complicated new device.
Video number one: learn how to wait. Seriously, that’s the first video.
The videos feature super-high Apple production quality complete with patronizing voice-overs, telling you things like “to read the time you don’t even need to switch it on”.
The videos also tell what you what the watch can’t do.
The “Faces video” says the watch is “easy to make look however you want”, meaning you can change the display. While there are configuration options there are no tools to upload backgrounds or build your own watch app. It’s Apple’s way or the highway.
If you wanted your Apple Watch to look like a Tag Heuer or Cartier, forget it.
What’s most significant about the videos is that they expose major usability issues with the watch. While the watch packs a ton of technical power, and it should given the battery lasts under a day, its difficult to interact with.
It’s also notable that Apple felt the need to release a video about how to wait for you watch. The launch was clearly bungled and the delays mean people’s expectations for the product will increase as the weeks go by. This is not good for a first run product which will naturally not be as elegant or refined as the 6th iteration iPhone. People expect this refinement from Apple and making them wait longer for the watch only compounds this problem.
When you need a set of videos to work an Apple watch it indicate the UI is a nightmare. The combination of buttons, jog dial digital crown, swiping, standard and firm presses are just very complicated to use.
How the UI behaves also depends on what either you watch or your iPhone is doing. Swiping up will do different things if the phone is playing music or the phone is running maps. Not exactly the picture of uniformity customers have come to expect from Apple.
Another glaring issue address by the video is using Apple apps for common functions. For instance to use Apple Pay you need to double click on a button and then swipe to choose your card and then awkwardly present the face of the watch to the card reader. The process is cumbersome and non intuitive.
While Apple will no doubt sell a ton of watches it will be interesting to see how sales hold up going forward. Apple has a lot of money and reputational karma riding on the product and early indications are that it doesn’t live up to the reputation the firm has cultivated over the last 10 years.