Apple Watch Early Review Roundup [Update]

With Apple Watch pre-orders starting this Friday, April 10, the early reviews are starting to come in. Overall, the big publications seem to be liking Apple Watch, but it isn't coming across as the coolest-OMG-buy-it-now device ever. TMO rounded up the early reviews for you and it's looking like bridging the gap between tech and fashion isn't the easiest thing for some people to do.

Apple Watch reviews are coming in ahead of Friday's pre-order launchApple Watch reviews are coming in ahead of Friday's pre-order launch

Bloomberg thinks you'll want an Apple Watch even though you don't need one. Their verdict is that Apple has made the world's best smartwatch.

"After using it, I had no question that the Apple Watch is the most advanced piece of wearable technology you can buy today," Joshua Topolsky said.

The downside is that Apple Watch can overload you with notifications. You'll need to take the time to shut down app notifications you don't need, and using VIP lists for email messages will be a big help, too.

Daring Fireball thinks Apple Watch will be an easier sell to people who aren't already wearing watches. It works fine as a watch, but the fact that the display isn't always on showing the time indicates it isn't just a watch—or primarily a watch.

For John Gruber, the big surprise feature was digital touch. It's more than the haptic feedback you get when tapping the screen or rolling the crown; it's the interaction you get with other Apple Watch users.

"On Apple Watch, the rubber band animation coincides with haptic feedback that somehow conveys the uncanny sensation that the digital crown suddenly has more tension," he said. "It feels like you're stretching a rubber band. Now that I'm getting used to this on Apple Watch, it makes the haptic-less rubber band end-of-scrollview bounce on iPhone and iPad feel thin."

Re/Code says Apple Watch offers the best smartwatch experience to date, but it isn't for everyone. The learning curve is steep in part because Apple Watch offers a completely new way of interacting with our data and handing communication. The confusion you get with a totally unfamiliar interface is frustrating, but at least with Apple Watch it's temporary.

"With some other smartwatches, that feeling never fully evaporates," said Lauren Goode. "With Apple Watch, it does."

Lauren added that Apple Watch is a capable health and fitness tracker, and the reminders to get up and walk are nice to have.

USA Today calls Apple Watch "second to none," with Edward C. Baig saying he's "reserving a prominent spot on my wrist" for one. He says it's elegant, has style and purpose.

He said Siri voice control worked well, but using Apple Watch instead of your iPhone for answering phone calls isn't that great outdoors. The issue was that background noise overpowered the watch's speaker.

Despite some limitations, Mr. Baig said he's getting one.

New York Times reviewer Farhad Manjoo echoed Re/Code saying learning to use Apple Watch is frustrating. "It took three days — three long, often confusing and frustrating days — for me to fall for the Apple Watch," he said.

The various taps you feel for different notifications cut down the time he spent looking at screens. Once he was comfortable with the interface and notification style, Apple Watch was like a part of his body. Mr. Manjoo said he wasn't buried in his iPhone screen anymore.

"The effect was so powerful that people who've previously commented on my addiction to my smartphone started noticing a change in my behavior," he said.

The Verge says Apple Watch is slow. Notifications stutter, data transfers lag, and sometimes apps simply don't launch. Those are issues Apple is aware of, and plans to fix with a software update.

Apple Watch may be slow, but The Verge also says it looks great and is a marvel of engineering.

It's a supercomputer on your wrist, but it's also a bulbous, friendly little thing, far more round than I expected, recalling nothing quite so much as the first-generation iPhone. It is unbelievably high tech and a little bit silly, a masterpiece of engineering with a Mickey Mouse face. It is quintessentially Apple.

Wall Street Journal says Apple Watch is the first smartwatch that makes sense, but then goes on to say you can wear the future on your wrist if you can put up with its flaws.

Alerts were an issue for the WSJ's Geoffrey Fowler, too. "The Apple Watch isn't quite the gatekeeper to my digital life that I wanted," he said. "Take app alerts—there's a fine line between being in the know and having your wrist jiggle all day."

Removing unwanted alerts is a tedious and ongoing process he called a chore.

Yahoo Tech calls Apple Watch "half computer, half jewelry, mostly magical." David Pogue says it's clear Apple put a lot of thought into design, which makes sense considering it crosses over from tech into the fashion world.

He adds that Apple answers the question "Why would we want a smartwatch," where other companies have failed. Apple Watch discreetly delivers notifications while saving you from pulling your phone from your pocket over and over every day. You can do the same with other smartwatches, but he thinks Apple gets it right.

Wrapup The early reviews have an overarching theme: Apple Watch is an amazing device, but it has flaws. It's also like any other technology in that if it does what you need, it'll be really useful. If not, good luck shoe horning it into your life.

[Updated to include Daring Fireball and USA Today]