Recently a group of us were invited to a non-descript industrial park just south of Cupertino to get a first look at an Apple Watch with some of the more advanced apps already loaded. I was handed a pristine white box, and inside was my Apple Watch in gold with a sporty red leather band, and were shooed out the door. The message was, if we needed instructions, something was wrong. With us.
This review was supposed to be embargoed, but as usual, I can't help myself.
As you may have heard from Jony Ive, the Watch is meant to "blur the boundary between physical object and user interface." I can now report, boy, does it ever. The Watch is in perpetual physical contact with you, and can send you messages back through your skin, and in fact to your entire body, some of which you will be aware of, and some, not so much.
Take the app which senses your serotonin levels (happiness) and can modulate your serotonin re-uptake by carefully timed pulses that talk directly to your Raphe nuclei. Named Zenix, you can run it on auto, so you always feel pretty good, or you can run it in manual mode, tapping on your Watch whenever you need a little mood upswing.
My first night with the Watch I wore it to bed (creeping out my wife) and experienced one magnificent dream after another. I woke feeling a little guilty, and the next night, she banished it to the nightstand.
Another app (which really began to get under my skin after awhile) is a clever little thing that operates on the same principles as its ancient predecessor, the lie detector. Truthi monitors your skin's galvanic response and tells when you're shading the truth, either by giving you a little buzz in your wrist, or if you're really telling a whopper, an electrical tingle that can really get your attention. What's fascinating, is that you don't really need to be saying anything less than completely truthful, since Truthi is monitoring you whether you're saying something or just thinking it. I had not realized, until now, how often I was fooling myself.
At the moment, the Watch is a great attention-getter. I was seeing my butcher about a chicken and he immediately noticed the gold and red wonder on my wrist. "Is that It?" he begged. "Can I try it?"
I handed it over and he immediately strapped it on, admiring it on his huge forearm. I was there for a chicken, so I asked him, as usual, if the one in front had come in this morning. "Of course!" he proclaimed. "Ow!" He yelled as Truthi gave him some volts. His face turned a bright red as he ripped off the watch.
He handed it back to me, scowling. "That watch. She's a liar."
For the hobbyist, the Watch can do some pretty amazing things. A painting-by-the-numbers program, Vintz, senses both the location of your hand and can also refine your fine muscle abilities. Put yourself in front of a canvas, load some paints onto a palette, and, behold, Starry Night begins to emerge before your very eyes.
Ever experience that feeling when you fly from coast to coast or farther that although you are emerging from the plane and going about your business, that your soul can take a few days to catch up?
With so much of my feelings and emotions coming from my wrist, I began to sense that my soul was beginning to migrate to a point somewhere between my head and my wrist. Weird -- sensing your soul had somehow drafted to a spot near your elbow.
When the week of testing was up, I had become deeply involved with the Watch, almost dependant for guidance, but in a good way. I was surprised when a number of the reviewers, when we gathered to turn our devices back in, were greeting each other, inexplicably, with funny high-five salutes. But our right arms were straight out at an angle, and we were all excitedly yelling 'Hale' at each other. I couldn't really explain it, but, maybe it was the serotonin talking. To tell you the truth, it felt pretty good to be part of this special pioneering group.