Apple Pay

I normally don’t cover mobile payment solutions, but in the case of the Apple Watch I suspect this is the fastest way for anyone not using an iPhone 6/6 Plus to get Apple Pay access. Although I’ve never written anything about Apple Pay on the iPhone 6, in my experiences it’s probably the best solution around when it comes to easy payment due to the NFC boosting that makes the iPhone 6 send and receive NFC with no real orientation dependence and TouchID payment authentication. Coming into this review, the real question for me is whether Apple Watch could have the same seamless experience.

To try and figure out the answer to that question, there are really a few elements to the payment experience that have to be figured out.  The first is authentication, which can easily be the biggest downfall in the experience. To this end, Apple has figured out a pretty smart system of wrist detection combined with a PIN code which ends up making for a pretty seamless experience. At the start of the day, you input your passcode when you put on the watch, and any time the watch is removed you have to input the passcode again or else pretty much everything (including Apple Pay) is locked out. If you lose your watch, no one can access the payment component without your PIN.

This effectively means that when you’re paying for something with the watch, all you have to do is double-tap the side button to activate Apple Pay. I’m not sure why it’s strictly necessary for NFC to be off unless the user activates it, but it’s likely that even the standby power of NFC would be significant with the battery of the Apple Watch.

This payment terminal was at head-level in the back of a taxi

The second potential roadblock is ease of use with payment terminals. To this end, the RF component is actually without issue. I didn’t find myself particularly constrained in terms of distance or orientation of the watch to interface with readers. However, I think the problem with payments on the Apple Watch is that in some cases readers are just placed in positions that require some really odd contortions to get the watch to the reader, regardless of whether the NFC RF subsystem is well-designed. Anything at chest or waist level was usually without problems, but I noticed that readers mounted at head-level were remarkably difficult to use with Apple Watch. Other issues like setup for card payments were really without issue, and I suspect most people won’t have any problems setting up their watch for Apple Pay.

Ultimately, while Apple Watch will work just as well as an iPhone 6 for payments, the real downfall here is mostly a problem of physiology. While in some cases using the watch for payments is a natural gesture, there are a number of edge cases that require a lot of contortion to get the watch to the payment terminal. If you don’t have an iPhone 6/6 Plus and you want to use Apple Pay, Apple Watch is probably the best way of getting Apple Pay. However, I still think the smartphone is a better platform for payments for ergonomic reasons.

WatchOS Final Words

The Apple Watch has a completely new OS, which warrants some especially close scrutiny of the OS as any early design decisions made have a tendency to snowball in terms of momentum, so it’s almost impossible to make some changes once applications are widely using shared libraries and APIs that are expected to work in a temporally consistent manner. To recap for those that don’t want to read everything previously discussed, there are a few areas that are worth examining in WatchOS, namely the watch functionality itself, notification handling, glances, apps, communication, fitness, and Apple Pay.

The watch functionality is solid, and Apple has created a number of compelling, useful, and deeply customizable watchfaces. The use of Force Touch and digital crown here makes a lot of sense when it comes to training the user for the rest of the UI, and the ease of use in customizing the watchface is truly great. There is the issue of no public API for watchfaces, but I suspect that this will come with time as it’s important to ensure that such an API is properly designed for long term support. Glances are well-executed and a useful feature, but I don’t really get the point of integrating heart rate monitoring into a glance or similar cases of app information as anything important to me ends up as a complication on the watchface. In practice, I think glances are best thought of as quick settings toggles rather than sources of glanceable information. To this end, the ability to turn on power reserve mode, toggle airplane mode, silent mode, do not disturb mode, and ringing the paired iPhone, and other controls like music playback control are definitely welcome and make a lot of sense.


When it comes to notification handling, once again I think Apple has done an effective job from a UI perspective as the notification shade uses familiar constructs from iOS/Android and the use of Force Touch to dismiss all notifications is a nice touch. However, I do have issues with how multiple simultaneous notifications are handled, which should be converted into a list view of all notifications rather than a single notification that indicates there are multiple notifications from the same application. Other than this, I think Apple has done a solid job with all the necessary features (do not disturb, actionable notifications, dismiss all, smooth UI). From a broader UX perspective the Taptic Engine is good enough to be worthy of a separate discussion, but within the context of notifications it works well.

Apps are ultimately what make a platform, because at the end of the day the reason why people use any general purpose computer is because of the apps that it can run. To this end, there’s currently a huge division in quality and functionality between first-party and third-party apps. Apple’s applications are executed well, with pretty much all the functionality that makes sense and great design. I never really had any frustrating moments with Apple’s apps on the watch. For any kind of input, there was always the ability to use Apple keyboard predictions or Siri voice input, which covered just about every case in which I wanted to input some kind of text in reply.

However, the same can’t be said of third-party apps. Probably the best example of this is Uber, which is literally just a button to request a pick-up with no other options when I can easily imagine a UI leveraging the digital crown to precisely indicate pickup, and swipes or Force Touch to select the type of Uber I want to use. This kind of UI is simple, but arguably too simple for a watch with as many UI tools as Apple Watch. I’m not sure that “native apps” will necessarily fix everything here, but native apps combined with developer experience and more powerful hardware will probably deal with most of the complaints I have about third party apps for WatchOS 2.


Communication is really a part of apps, but deserves specific mention because it’s such a critical task of the Apple Watch. To that end, there are really three key native apps that fall under this category. These are the phone, messages, and email application. All of these are well-executed, and in practice the user experience around all of these is pretty much painless. One could argue that email is missing some functionality, but for at a glance email viewing it works pretty much as it should. Fitness falls under a similar category in the sense that it’s a subset of the apps category, but if nothing else, Apple has made a great fitness tracking application when it comes to information presented, design, and ease of use. Apple Pay is also well-implemented in terms of ease of use, but there’s a fundamental issue with ergonomics that prevents Apple Pay on the watch from being as great as it is on the iPhone.

Overall, I think Apple has created an OS that is forward-looking and fully capable of supporting future iterations of Apple Watch without too much trouble, although many details will change as time goes on. However, for early adopters I suspect there will be some objection to performance. As one might be able to guess from our S1 CPU analysis, the S1 SiP is not going to be able to come close to a modern smartphone for performance, which means that even basic UI tasks can be a bit of a struggle with visibly-dropped frames when scrolling and swiping through some parts of the UI like the fitness app. There’s also the issue of app load times, but I suspect this will disappear with the inevitable advance of Moore’s law and native apps can load almost instantly in some cases.

Currently, third-party apps are lacking either from the lack of native app support or from general unfamiliarity of design principles for the watch. Probably the only real criticism I have for the OS overall is that there’s currently a distinct lack of watch independence, as if I set the iPhone to airplane mode but keep the watch able to connect to the internet applications like weather are unable to download anything even though it should be able to connect to my home router and download this kind of information anyways. Given the number of constraints that come with the wearable form factor, WatchOS is probably one of the best OSes out there for wearables.

WatchOS: Communication and Fitness Display


View All Comments

  • Murloc - Monday, July 20, 2015 - link

    First! Reply
  • Murloc - Monday, July 20, 2015 - link

    the reviewer has no hair?? Reply
  • ianmills - Monday, July 20, 2015 - link

    HAHAHAHA exactly. The apple watch is reviewed by someone who is self-concious enough to shave their arm hair. This explains why the review is so positive. Some people find self-esteem in odd places... Reply
  • supermoon - Monday, July 20, 2015 - link

    That's just what some people's wrists look like bruh, including mine. what are you grasping at?? Reply
  • dsumanik - Monday, July 20, 2015 - link

    This entire article (photos and content) has been 'photoshopped' by apple PR. Hair and skin smoothed, bokeh added....look at how the watch is posed in the shots, it is amateur photography heavily post a lame viral marketing attempt.












    12K FOR THE 'EDITION' ?????????????


  • navysandsquid - Monday, July 20, 2015 - link

    Hate on brother lol butt hurt much its ok enjoy your droid turbo lol Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, July 20, 2015 - link

    "This entire article (photos and content) has been 'photoshopped' by apple PR. Hair and skin smoothed, bokeh added....look at how the watch is posed in the shots, it is amateur photography heavily post a lame viral marketing attempt."

    While we do use Photoshop for editing (once you get past basic cropping, you probably want Photoshop), to be clear here these photos haven't received any significant processing. The only work we do on our photos is lens/sensor correction and auto toning.

    The fact of the matter is that Josh is an excellent photographer (the best one among us, in fact), which is how he's able to pull off these amazing shots. So the fact that you think it has been heavily edited is flattering in a sense; we didn't have to edit them, we were able to take those photos naturally in the first place.

    And no, no one from Apple PR has touched the photos. Or the article.
  • BittenRottenApple - Monday, July 20, 2015 - link

    Worship the holy apple.

    The apple way, selling over expensive crap to stupid consumers that like to
    get robbed.

    This has been a disastrous launch in every respect. The iwatch is such an
    ugly piece of crap, it is truly unbelievable how a company, formerly known for
    its remarkable design, dares to put out such a crap ton of shit. Some
    characteristics are glaringly obvious and inherent to it: over expensive,
    hardly innovative, limited functionality and usability (need of an iPhone to
    make it work), looks exactly like a toy watch and so on.

    There are of course way better smart watches out there, especially from the
    likes of Samsung, Sony, Motorola, Asus, LG, simply put, there is no need for
    another piece of over expensive junk.

    Regardless of what the casing and strap are, it's still maybe $8 worth of electronics at best, a painfully tiny screen, awful battery life, absolute dependence on an iPhone for proper function, and in reality adding extra time to decide if the message your phone just pinged your wrist with is worth pulling the phone out for to reply with.
    The smart watch is a dumb idea in its current form. The Apple icrapWatch (tm) with its "Wealthy - Rich - Look how obscenely rich I am" case material tiers (seriously, the upgrade from plastic to red leather band is $7k? Not even a gold band available to justify that $17k price?) is the ultimate expression of that.
    Maybe in 5 years or so a transparent OLED screen over a traditional watch with these sensors to pop-up notifications long enough to be noticed but not need to be charged every two hours is when it'll make sense, but for now it's a useless gimmick that nobody really needs.

    Let's face it, the Apple Watch is a total and utter failure. The one called Sport edition doesn’t even has a dust, shock and water resistant exterior and thus fails in nearly every "sports" related usage scenario, albeit still costing nearly as much as an iPad, or, you know, a real watch, which works for years to come.
    And the luxury one? Oh god, 17k+ for this utter crapicious experience. If you’re a millionaire, donate that 17k+ to the EFF, the communist party, an union or consider that such an amount of money could save lives in many third world countries or help to preserve nature. Besides that, it doesn’t even look that luxurious compared face to face to Rolex standards, more like some sort of ugly, chubby toy enclosed in a thin, and tiny gold case. The functionality provided, if one even dares to call it that way, are utter crap too, nothing new, nothing exciting here, nothing Samsung, LG, Pebbles haven't been offering for years on a far superior basis. For example the Pebbles watch which costs
    less than 79$ and has 8 days of battery life, shows many of the notifications and info someone might need, all the while being water and dust proof, with changeable wristbands. Seriously, fuck this overpriced, environmentally obscene, eco terroristic icrapWatch (TM).

    Yet another fine addition to the long list of "Terrible Products Apple Makes to Gouge Money out of People".

    The new icrapWatch (tm) is a testament to Apple's collapsing technical acumen. They eliminate all ports providing no cable based connectivity at all? This craven stupidity should send the last adherents running. But running to what? Windows isn't even a viable option anymore, since it now is the most widespread commercial NSA gathering tool available, closely followed by Android, iOS and OS X.

    It's a sad day for people who need real smartwatches. Jony Ive is a pompous, clueless hack who should be fired and shot on the spot (or torn apart by a horde of rabid dogs) for introducing crippling regressions like this one.

    Look at this POS: No USB port, which won’t require an adapter to do anything. So if you aren’t going to require an adapter anyway, why not make that nonexistent port a modern port one: Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt can carry USB, video, Ethernet, external storage... ALL AT ONCE. And it can be daisy-chained, which would be hugely important when the icrapWatch (tm) would have ONLY ONE PORT. So WTF is Apple doing in not making its nonexistant port into a thunderbolt port?

    And again, are you kidding me? No thunderbolt connector? Now every sorry user of this pos doesn’t have to find a thunderbolt to USB C, a USB C to USB to HDMI, a USB to USB 3.0 period, a USB C to USB connector for apple’s time machine and also does not manage to don't short circuit all that with the AC/DC to USB C connectors, seriously ? Not worth 200$ new pile of hairy connectors for the brand new icrapWatch (tm), and that is called a revolution nowadays? No ********** way, the Pebbles is way superior, period.

    By the way, they're perpetrating no connectors at all. Thunderbolt is a much-needed step to a modern I/O standard. No connector is an outdated, abused standard that was designed primarily for Rolex watches. It's not suitable for external storage, video, or anything else requiring bulk data transfer with minimal CPU overhead. A nonexistant connector at all is a regression, a major step BACKWARD.

    Starting at $349.00----Less than $8.00 worth of hardware = ~$341.00 premium to use icrapWatch OS instead of windows. (Honestly the most expensive component of this icrapWatch (tm) is probably the screen.)
    Anyone with real work to do will not even be able to buy this thing. My friend’s last Air was neat in that it was small and lasted all day, but it was so under-powered, it was frustrating. I can only imagine how limited this machine will be.

    Who cares about price, weight and size, when this product is crippled by a hopelessly defective design? You can't hook up a power adapter and external storage at the same time. You can't hook up an external display and external storage. Hell, you can't even plug in a thumb drive!

    This product is the most asinine piece of shit Apple has produced, and that includes the (thankfully) short-lived Shuffle that could only be controlled by a gimped Morse code.

    $270 less gets you the new Pebbles which will eat the crapWatch's lunch.

    If you need to do a lot of processor intensive work, than you would not even go near this thing. It would be useless to you. If you need to crunch spreadsheets or are heavy in corporate analysis, this icrapWatch (tm) would also be useless to you.

    This is the kind of icrapWatch (tm) that Apple sells a lot of. This icrapWatch (tm) is largely useless for anything other than email and facebook. It cannot store many files, it cannot process much information, and it has no external port. There is nothing wrong with using this icrapWatch (tm) for casual tasks, but it is CERTAINLY not a productivity machine.

    It is what it is. A status symbol/statement. Or some other statement. A statement that you just bought a $349 or icrapWatch(tm) with a $341 or more case so you can show off in front of your hipster isheep friends.

    I hate to stick to Apple only facts here, but Apple said that the current Samsung Smatwatch is 24% thicker than this new icrapWatch (tm). That does NOT mean that the new icrapWatch (tm) is 24% thinner than the current Samsung Smatwatch , it means that it is ~20% thinner than the current Samsung Smatwatch. They clearly phrased it that way to make it sound more impressive and hence dupe the consumer, aka stupid isheep.

    So, it's a toy watch plus with a display and no over expensive dongle so you can’t do everything a Pebbles can do, at more than four times the price while looking posh.
    And here I thought technology was about function over form. I get it, functional art; art I can do things my phone does, but in a space that anyone can see me doing it, stylishly. Crippled and non standard in-house branded "business" software does great, can't do anything really artistic on it except maybe GarageBand or stock filter photo edits to my innumerable selfies, but it's got that partially eaten fruit on the back that screams "money I'm too stupid to keep or invest wisely."

    Take my money!
    I wouldn't hold my breath.

    This is apple's marketing strategy: mind-numbing markup on dirt-cheap, mediocre icrapWare (tm). They throw together a cheap little toy like icrapWatch (tm), pretty it up with silver or gold paint, and ride the wave of ignorance, outrageous markup, and marketing that they've been using as a business model for many, many years now. The only thing Apple has ever made that's less worthless than all the other crap their conspirators like Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd excrete all day and night by taking advantage of child labour are iOS and OS X which, besides being notoriously crippled and constrained walled gardens, aren’t even worth the hassle unless you also dumped thousands of dollars into other apple products.

    Many apple owners I’ve encountered never stop trying to belittle and demean others because they don’t have a Macbook or an iPhone (or an icrapWatch (tm) for that matter) and then try to act like their overpriced apple products are overall better when they are certainly not, by any standard.

    Luxury cars, while still worthless crash grabs, usually offer some quality and features that are actually somewhat superior to cheaper competing vehicles and models.
    icrapWatch (tm) such as this start already expensive as hell with little performance to warrant such outrageous costs. Apple isn’t the luxury car of anything. It’s the luxury car DESIGN with a 4-cylinder under the hood and a tape-deck in the sound system, all with the price tag of "luxury". They sell laptops made cheap in china, using child labour and the same hardware you can find in SO many other laptops, slap their OS on it, put it in a thin case, and then markup the price by 300% to 600%. These are the facts. This icrapWatch (tm) in question is nowhere NEAR worth that kind of money. I mean, smartwatches in general are overpriced, but apple has made their entire business model out of extreme markups backed by clever marketing with little actual technological superiority of any kind. Every single apple product on the market can be outperformed in every way by comparable products. Apple icrapWatches (tm) can be outperformed by smartwatches that are FAR FAR cheaper while relying on older tech. The only thing that apple has that nobody else does is OSX and iOS, their operating systems. These are mediocre operating systems, but they are literally designed to be limited on anything it determines to be "non-apple hardware". Other operating systems can be installed on just about any computer you can slap together, whereas OSX is specifically and deliberately designed to be non-functional on ANYTHING that isn’t made by apple. It’s nothing but a cash-grab.

    Apple is indeed playing run-of-the-mill capitalism, they try to capitalize on the ignorance of the average consumer with marketing campaigns designed to make you assume you're getting your money's worth.

    There are millions of consumers who are on the fence, who are actually interested in buying something that's worth the money they spend. Those people deserve factual information and do not deserve to be exploited for their ignorance on the topic. So excuse me if I have a problem with it. College students especially, who don’t have a lot to spend in the first place, are being taken advantage of in every area of their life. Buying a smartwatch should be one less area of exploitation. This is why I have a problem with apple and with many other companies and services that attempt to capitalize on ignorance.

    Years down the road when the batteries in this model are dead and you have to keep it plugged in just to use then you'll have no way to plug in a flash drive or an external hard drive. I don't care how sexy it looks: sometimes and more often than not less means a serious lack of functionality.

    We can only hope that consumers send this piece of diabolic garbage to oblivion, as they did the idiotic iPod Shuffle that could only be controlled with Morse code over a proprietary headphone wire.

    The Apple Iphone 1 and Ipad 1 might have been innovative at their time,
    but since then, the bitten apple has been continuously rotting from the inside
    outwards, always swarmed by millions of Iworms which regale themselves with its
    rotten flesh, not forgetting all other Americans who support apple by means of
    their tax dollars to finance its bought US Treasury/Government bond interest rates.

    Last but not least, every Apple product includes a direct hotlink to the NSA,
    free of charge, something that might make it a good value, after all.

    Ceterum censeo Applem esse delendam.
  • twanto - Monday, July 20, 2015 - link

    "There is nothing wrong with using this icrapWatch (tm) for casual tasks, but it is CERTAINLY not a productivity machine." I was really hoping it could handle some spreadsheets and a bit of 3D rendering, but I guess not.

    This post was either satire or the greatest literary achievement by someone with a bonus chromosome 21.
  • Schickenipple - Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - link

    Word. If you are trying to create spreadsheets on your watch, or any screen that small, you are an idiot. Reply

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