ZeTime: The End of an Anxious Wait and The Beginning of a Big First-Timer Disappointment

ZeTime in a boxThree days ago I got my ZeTime Smartwatch Kickstarter Award. It’s indeed one great looking watch, with hands. At first look, a significant achievement in the smartwatch world, which was suffering from terrible, toy-like devices (including Samsung’s smartwatches and Apple Watch).

I’m prominent Kickstarter/Indiegogo campaigner. I support a lot of projects, mainly gadgets/devices, but sometimes others. So far, I was always satisfied big time, with zero lost money. One of the projects failed to deliver. They were a Pebble accessory project, so with the death of Pebble, they refunded me fully.

when it comes to the final Kickstarter products I’m, in general, satisfied with the quality and functionality. Until today, I had no major complaints, related to the final product. Of course, there were some glitches and beta issues, but this is something expected when you’re one of the first-time users of a product.

ZeTime in actionSadly, today this beautiful watch has the crappiest, most buggy piece of software ever. I’ve got more than 25 years software engineering experience in various fields and various roles. It’s a rare event to see production software of such lousy quality. I have the ZeTime paired with a Galaxy S8+ phone. The app currently has no integration with anything else but itself, no open SDK, and no ability to extend the product. Worst of all, it seems MyKronoz do not plan to open this and to have a marketplace of applications for the watch. Recently they also did not have open bug tracking system, but thankfully (to many people’s feedback), they published a community message recently with their bug tracking system.

I am very sorry when I see such great platform, combined with such a bad implementation. ZeTime can track my heart rate, but it’d do it once every 5 minutes. I cannot decrease the time. I cannot put the watch in “intense activity tracking” mode, despite the fact it’s an “activity tracker.” I cannot extend it with custom apps; I have to live with what engineers at MyKronoz give me. And, as of today, they give me crap.

Maybe one of the worst things in my experience so far is the blackout, which all current ZeTime users suffer. There’s a closed Facebook group “ZeTime – Community”, where everyone could join. However, the updates there are usually crying users (like me), which share the pain between each other. MyKronoz acts like in “God Mode.” There’s the Help Center, of course, but if you see an update in their community, it’ll be from the CEO, and it’ll be pinned there for the next weeks to come. Yes, weeks. That’s how frequent we get updated. Combined with the wrong product quality, it’s quite awful experience.

In my opinion, MyKronoz should do the following, so they keep their crowd satisfied:

  1. Get someone, preferably a PM with excellent communication skills, always with the community.
  2. Expose their timeline. We need to know when things will get better. Otherwise, we sit and assume. And get even angrier.
  3. Get the MyKronoz SDK in the open. Let people start experimenting and providing their solutions to the problems. Yes, there’s a risk they’ll do something much better than what MyKronoz could do, but after all – MyKronoz seems to be a watch factory, not a software shop! Their watch excels as hardware, but their app(s) and software UX sucks big time.
  4. Fuel up as much as possible the efforts to get things with the app right. If they don’t do that, they’ll lose the most significant advantage: their community support. Engineers and technical guys, in general, are the influencers, who will make a product like ZeTime a success. If, of course, MyKronoz want to have their product a victory.

Before finishing this rant, let me give you just one example of how bad UX is today. While writing this, I was listening to Spotify on my phone. If I want to “skip next” and I want to do it with my watch, here’s what I have to do.

  1. Push the “light on” button.
  2. The watch lights on, giving me the Spotify app and above it: a fresh notification on screen.
  3. I don’t care for this notification now, but I’d like to skip next on my Spotify. So I press the “notification dismiss” button.
  4. Only then I can do what I initially wanted.

It’s not a big thing, but when you do this like countless of times, this gets incredibly annoying. You expect from a smartwatch the experience to “tick” flawlessly. E.g., I want to pause Spotify: I just click one button, max two! I don’t need to see the current passive notifications at the moment; I want the work done. Of course, if an intrusive event comes (like a phone call), it should pop-up the moment it’s there.

As I said, I think MyKronoz has tons of work to do. The sooner they do it – the better. If they decide to engage active community people as beta testers – much better. But even publishing and keeping up to date their possible timeline will help big time the overall experience.

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