5 ways to fix the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is taking some big hits. People are jumping ship. Here's how to fix it.

wwdc 21 all new apple watch features
Credit: Apple

The rumors are true -- people don’t seem to like the Apple Watch as much as expected.

In my tests, I’ve found the Watch is not changing how I work at all. It’s more of an annoying gadget that you have to babysit constantly (and recharge every night). It buzzes too much and is seriously lacking in features. It’s too delicate. People are returning it.

Sadly, it may be too late to change the perception of the Watch, but there is hope. With a few major fixes (not just tweaks to the SDK), Apple could save the product. Here’s how.

1. Make Siri much more powerful

Perception is everything. With the Watch, there’s a sense that Siri -- which you access with a long-tap -- can’t do much of anything, even though she is actually quite capable. You can almost perform as many basic tasks as you can on the iPhone like replying to messages or looking up sports scores and the weather. If you ask “Who is Obama” you see a nice pict of him. Yet, if Siri was much more helpful, I’d use the Watch more. You can’t hold conversations or ask complex questions. If you ask “How much does the Dodge Challenger cost?” you get a blank stare. I want total voice control over my house, my car, my work meetings -- just about everything. I don’t want apps at all. I want the Watch to know I have a Nest, a BMW, and use Google. (For the record, I don’t actually own a BMW -- here’s hoping.) I want Siri to be an AI helper.

2. Make it durable

The Apple Watch is not chintzy by any means. It can take some light splashes, and in my tests has a build quality that is obviously meant for some abuse. It probably won’t “bend” like a phone. Yet, it just looks a bit delicate. The band has stayed firmly on the Watch, but there’s something about it that says “fashion statement” and not longevity.  I want a watch that can take even more abuse -- swimming, hiking, etc. You just wear it and forget it. And I don’t want Apple to focus so much on fashion. Give me technical features that just work.

3. Three day battery life at minimum

Daily charging ruins the entire experience. I just don’t want to charge a wearable that often. Before any wearable device becomes part of our daily routine it has to be life-altering. I wear the FitBit One because it counts my steps and syncs automatically to my phone. I use it to plan my day and to track my fitness (and weight loss). But you can’t “alter” anything if you are in a charge cradle. The FitBit One lasts for weeks. I forget I'm even wearing one.

4. Change the interface

Apple won’t do this of course. But the Digital Crown and those tiny icons have to go. They are too confusing and too small. There needs to be a simple Home and back button. When you press the Crown once, you see the app screen. Press again and you see the watch face. There isn’t a proper Home screen at all or a Home button. I’d rather have much larger icons and swipe through them and then a “home” watch face screen. But the interface really needs to be bigger and then rely more on voice commands. I want to say just about anything -- adjust temp to 75, lock my car, read me the latest news, jot down a voice memo -- and have those all work.

5. Make it cheaper

I’m convinced the main problem with the Apple Watch is that it’s too expensive. Adding more voice options, making it more rugged, pumping up the battery life, and changing the interface will help, but the “secret sauce” will be a $99 price point. That’s the only true fix. At $99, it becomes an impulse buy. It becomes an accessory, in both senses of the word. You can overlook some of the first-gen problems. At $350, it better slice and dice better than any watch I've ever owned in my life.

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