Working for People with Sight Loss

Labs Product Reviews – Apple Watch Series 6

Apple Watch Series 6 in black

In the first of our Technology Product Reviews, Joe Lonergan in the NCBI Labs team provides us with an insight into the Apple Watch Series 6.

Item Name: Apple Watch Series 6 GPS Smartwatch
Reviewed by: Joe Lonergan

Description

The Apple Watch Series 6 is a fully accessible smartwatch with the VoiceOver screen reader built in. It features the Siri-enabled voice assistant for hands-free use and a raise to speak option that allows you to raise up your wrist and speak into your Apple Watch to get things done.

The watch features GPS and lets you take calls and reply to texts from your wrist. New health features have been added to this Apple Watch that include measuring your blood oxygen levels with an all-new sensor and app. You can also check your heart rhythm with the ECG app.

Apple Watch helps you track your daily activity and see your trends in the Fitness app on iPhone. It is great for measuring workouts like running, walking, cycling, yoga, swimming, and dance.

Set up is easy – just hold your Apple Watch near your iPhone and it will recognise that you are trying to set up a new device and ask you to continue setup through the Watch App on your iPhone.

What are my first impressions of the item?

The watch feels nice on the wrist and looks great. The silicone strap feels very secure. I was happy that VoiceOver worked straight away to help with the set up.

I have been using this for a few days, how do I feel about it?

I feel the watch motivates me to move more. It gives me reminders to stand when it finds I am sitting down too long. When it is coming close to the end of the day, I often get gentle reminders in the form of notifications that I can still do it and meet my daily move goals.

I like getting gentle vibration reminders on my wrist about notifications and find I am not on my phone as much for this reason as I can dismiss or deal with a notification without mindlessly scrolling through social media and other messages.

I like having apps like Hive heating controls and voice memos on my watch. The apps are slimmed down versions of the apps on your iPhone.

Is it accessible?

The Apple Watch is fully accessible with Apple’s built-in screen reader called VoiceOver. You can also do lots with Apple’s personal assistant Siri such as reply to messages and start workouts like an outdoor walk. There are lots of low vision options too, though some might find the screen quite small.

What did I like?

  • Fitness tracking was great and very motivating
  • Discreet notifications on your wrist
  • Multiple apps available
  • Siri is useful on the Apple Watch
  • VoiceOver worked well and gestures are the same as on the iPhone
  • Controlling music on your HomePod mini is easy from your Apple Watch

What didn’t I like?

  • Charging: I had to charge it every night or every day and a half. I would love the battery to last longer.
  • Speaker could be louder, and I would like to listen to podcasts or audio books through the built-in speaker, but this is not possible.
  • I needed to use the rotor gesture to find volume controls and speaking speed, this is too slow.
  • Sleep tracking was not accurate in my experience, even though I was up twice at night it said I got seven hours uninterrupted sleep. I did not use this feature much after that experience.
  • Some people might find the watch a bit gimmicky as there is a lot of apps you may never use.

Did it meet or exceed my expectations?

It met my expectations and sometimes exceeded them.

What improvements, if any, would I like to see in this product?

A cellular version coming to Ireland would be a good thing as the Apple Watch Series Six does not work for phone calls or messages when you are not near your iPhone. A louder speaker would be good in some cases, and I would add snappier volume controls.

It would be good to have the ability to play podcasts or audio books through the built-in speaker and not just through paired Bluetooth headphones. A better battery life would be welcome too. It is not suitable for Android users as it cannot be paired with an Android phone.

Is there other/competing technology you have tried, similar to this item?

I have yet to try other smartwatches similar to the Apple Watch.