From its vibrant display and slick design to its robust app selection and Apple Pay integration, the Apple Watch is the best smartwatch yet. However, some early issues have cropped up, including tattoos throwing the Apple Watch’s heart rate sensor for a loop and reports of a faulty Taptic Engine on some units (although those apparently didn't ship to customers).
A lot of people I've spoken to say they're going to wait for the second version of the Apple Watch, so that Tim Cook & Co. will have the kinks worked out by then. That's a fair stance to take, given that this is the company's first wearable device. But most of the issues I have with the Apple Watch -- with the exception of no built-in GPS -- could be easily fixed with various updates and tweaks.
Here's what I think Apple's engineers and software specialists should be working on right now.
Always Show the Time
To show the time on the Apple Watch, you need to lift your arm to light up the display. I get why Apple made this call - it saves battery life - but I'd still much rather see the time whenever I looked down. Apple should just employ a low-power mode that lets you see what time it is with a dimmer display, even if it means going monochrome.
Add Downloadable Watch Faces
I really like that you can customize the Apple Watch's preloaded watch faces, especially the modular one that lets you place the time, your next appointment, current weather, battery meter and more, all in one place. Unfortunately, the 10 included watch faces are all you get, and - at least for now - you can't download additional faces. In fact, Apple has prohibited developers from submitting apps that are primarily used to tell time. I hope the company sets up a separate store for watch faces, because that will give users more personalization options.
Let Third-Party Apps Access Heart Rate
It sounds like this is temporary, but at least for now third-party fitness apps like Nike+ and Runtastic can't use the Apple Watch's heart rate sensor. So if you want to see how many beats per minute you're hitting during that run or elliptical session, you're going to have to use Apple's own Workout app. The good news is that "native" apps that can tap the full potential of Apple's hardware are coming later this year.
MORE: Apple Watch FAQ
Allow Me to Respond to Emails Via Voice
Apple made the odd decision to let people respond to text messages with their voice but not emails. I say give us the option. There are plenty of times where I just want to utter a quick reply and I don’t want to get out my phone and type. That's the benefit of having Siri onboard.
Revamp the App Screen
I admit that the App Screen on the Apple Watch looks kind of fun, and it's trippy when you zoom around the sea of icons with your finger. But overall it's a pretty mess, even though you can use the Apple Watch app on your iPhone to reposition the icons. Maybe there should be quadrants for categories (like fitness, news, social, games) that you can zoom into, or maybe Apple should only show your favorite six apps at once and then you scroll for more. Whatever the option, there must be a better way.
Speed Up Performance
Here's an easy one for Apple to fix. The Apple Watch can be slow to load apps, but that's partly because it's fetching data from your iPhone while it launches the app. I noticed this issue with apps like The New York Times and Flipboard. By working with developers, Apple could allow the Apple Watch to fetch data in the background (at least for certain apps) so you spend less time waiting.
Make It Easier to End Workouts
When you're going for a run with the Apple Watch's Workout app, you currently end your workout session with a long press on the display, followed by pressing end or pause. When you're trying to beat your own time, that's one extra step too many. Apple should let you use the side button to stop the workout or let you cover the display to stop the timer.
Save Exercise Data
Another issue I have with the Apple Watch as a fitness tracker is that the Workout app doesn't let you see your past sessions at a glance, should you want to see your times and try to beat them. You can see these stats on the iPhone's own Activity app, but not on the watch itself. Plus, you have to hunt day by day for the data. Apple should fix this by following the lead of third-party apps like Nike+, which lets you see your history in a dedicated window on the Watch.
Make First Touches Count
It's one thing to not respond to my first touch when I'm trying to open an app or customize a watch face -- which is frustrating -- but it's quite another not to recognize my tap when I'm trying to start a navigation session while behind the wheel of my SUV. Regardless, I’m hoping a firmware update will make the Apple Watch more sensitive to digits.
Use Siri for More Tasks
Just like on the iPhone, Siri on the Apple Watch lets you do lots of stuff, including asking about the weather, getting directions, setting reminders, initiating calls and responding to texts. Plus, you can use Siri to open apps, which can be faster than using the app screen. But I wish Siri could do even more by understanding commands related to apps. For instance, I'd like to be able to say "Hey, Siri, start outdoor run." And even though there's a Shazam app for the Apple Watch, if you say "What song is this?" to Siri, it will try to hand you off to the iPhone. Missed opportunity.