No, it’s not fit for purpose. That is of course if you are a man approaching 40 and only want to use it to listen to Spotify whilst you track your runs on Strava.
I’ve just got back from my third run with my new Apple Watch Series 4: GPS + Cellular 44mm and it’s about to be sent back for not being fit for purpose.
That purpose being, of course, to make my life easier. What has actually happened since I bought an Apple watch is spend more money on an Apple Music subscription because you can’t listen to music on Bluetooth headphones from Spotify. Which is idiotic quite frankly and one of the reasons that Apple is becoming more irksome by the day.
I’d say most companies are good at a specific thing. Superga make plimsoles, Hackett make clothes, Land Rover make SUVs, Cartier make jewelry, Samsung makes teles and so on.
In the tech world, Microsoft makes things that work, whilst Apple makes things that look pretty.
I recently spent about £2k on a MacBook Pro that I only ever use to login to gmail.com, I won’t use the Apple email software because it’s rubbish. I literally don’t do anything else on it other than “check stuff online” because if I need to do some work I use my PC at work because it has a number bad, and the buttons on the keyboard are in the proper place. Plus with the Mac I can’t ever find the hashtag.
My PC at work is an ugly bluey black Dell box tucked under the desk and is absolutely fit for purpose, that being, for sitting at, working. My Macbook Pro in Titanium Space Grey, on the other hand, is fit for purpose because it looks nicer on the pouf in my sitting room than a clunky old Dell. The only software I have installed on the Macbook is Excel and Word, because Pages and Sheets don’t work (or I can’t work them anyway) and when people send me documents to read, I can’t because the formatting is different.
And that’s OK because people only really like things for a small percentage of what they can actually do. Take my car for example, it has a central computer and off-road system that is simply unparalleled. Except the only thing I use it for is driving on the road and the only setting I change is what radio station is on. I don’t even use the satnav because it is so appalling un user-friendly that I stick my iPhone on the dash and use Googe Maps. The central computer is hopeless, you have to press the screen three times to change the music.
Cars are too complicated. I bought mine for the same reason anyone buys a Macbook, I liked the color, it’s fast and looks pretty.
So cars like brains only are only used to about 10% of their potential, because you don’t need anything other than what you want. Which is a button for the volume and two pedals, one to go fast and one to stop.
Anyway, back to the Apple Watch, it’s not just that you can’t use Spotify with headphones, it’s that the battery life in the Apple Watch 4 is dire. Perhaps I left it off charge for a bit before going out for a run. But I’m busy, approaching 40, getting forgetful, I’ve got stuff to do, I don’t want to have to charge my watch before going out for a run. With two kids, I grab 45 minutes of exercise when I can.
Boooos for battery, bluetooth and beacons
When I go for runs, I send a Strava beacon to the wife with the jaunty (half-serious) comment, “if I don’t move for more than a few minutes it means I’ve had a heart attach so please come and get me”.
So when the battery went flat and the music went off 15 minutes from home all I was thinking was that clearly she would think I was dead. Of course, normally she ignores these bouts of hypochondria. Except I know from the days when I used to commute to work (and the children were still in nappies) on my Vespa and would be a few minutes later than usual because I stopped off for petrol I’d get home to floods of tears because she’d been imagining the police coming round to tell her that I’d been crushed under a lorry. Which is fair enough, because I had been knocked off three times before.
Of course, typically, this time, she had seen it and checked my progress and saw that the trail had stone-cold stopped. So was sat at the kitchen table debating loading the kids in the car to come and have a look. Clearly, though I’m not the first person this has happened to as Strava also sent a little message saying signal had been lost, that might be due to low battery.
Another problem with listing to new playlists on Apple music is that the Bluetooth is rubbish. When my phone is on my arm with a band there is no problem, but that extra distance really makes a difference. It kept cutting out on all three runs I went on. I know I should probably get better headphones, I’ve got these, and I know I should have these.
I was hoping to use my apple watch when playing golf to measure distances from the rough to the pin because when I played with my mate Mark at Wilderness he said it was the best thing he’d ever bought. but then Mark also suggested I buy an Odyssey putter before our round to replace my old bent pitch and putter, and I proceeded to play the work short game in the history of golf. But I’ve only played twice this year so it’s really no loss, plus I have the app on my phone and they have markings on the floor so it’s really not that difficult to figure it out. Plus if you spend as much time in the rough as I do, you will note that the GPS is all over the place if there is even the spiniest of branches overheads, so if you’re running through the woods it simply can’t cope.
It’s quite handy to check your heart rate and I can see the anecdotal benefits of knowing what gets you going or if there is beat missing somewhere, but Fitbit’s are so much cheaper and you can wear them on your other wrist, researching your actual watch wrist for a wristwatch of some style. Not some wearable tech that is about on par with walking boots and jeans or wrap around sunglasses for the pub.
To be honest, this is the second Apple Watch I’ve had. The first was sent back too because there was no cellular and you couldn’t leave your phone at home when out running. So what was the point? I bought the Apple Watch Series 4 with GPS and Cellular in 44mm because I thought that you now would be able to. But you can’t. So again, what’s the point.
So what should you get if you really do have nearly £600 burning a hole in your pocket?
Well, that’s easy, you should get one of these, or if you already have one, buy £600 worth of Apple shares for your Investment ISA and wait for the innovative chaps in La La land to sort their act out. Which I am sure they will do at one point, then of course, your shares will be worth more, or if you’ve bought one of these, you’ll have plenty of money left over to get the next-gen Apple Watch. That is of course if it’s fit for purpose.
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Richard founded the Good Money Guide (previously Good Broker Guide) in 2015 and has been a broker for 20 years most recently at Investors Intelligence and previously a multi-asset derivatives broker at MF Global (Man Financial). Richard started his career working as a private client stockbroker at Walker Crips and Phillip Securities (now King and Shaxson) after interning on the NYMEX oil trading floor in New York and London IPE in 2001 & 2000.