A couple months into using an Apple Watch I said that it needed to get better before I could recommend it. When I wrote that in my last article on the Apple Watch, I wasn’t sure how much longer I’d be wearing it for. Well, the Apple Watch hasn’t actually gotten much better, yet I now lean on it’s conveniences and capabilities more times a day than I can count, almost without realising it.
Before I run through what those things are, let’s be clear that notifications remain the least of my reasons for keeping the Apple Watch on my wrist. My opinion today, like day one, is that one of the most shortsighted use cases for a smartwatch is a mere notification system. Not everyone agrees of course; the CEO of Pebble, Eric Migicovsky believes the contrary, which he reiterated during his recent interview at LAUNCH Mobile. I’m not alone in my thinking though, with Jason Calacan echoing my sentiment, a tech investor who was the very man interviewing Migicovsky at LAUNCH.
If you do simply want notifications on your wrist, any smartwatch will do. So, indeed, buy a Pebble. The Apple Watch however has surprised me, growing to become something beyond that. I’ve found myself benefiting from it in a lot of little ways that I didn’t necessarily expect, which cumulatively add a lot of value to my day.
Basic information without searching (or any effort at all)
There’s little point using a smartwatch if you’re using an analogue face. The 'Modular' face not only displays at least one more piece of information than the others, but it also displays extended amounts of information — such as addresses for calendar entries.
On my wrist at a quick glance is the the time, my next calendar entry, the stock price of the company that owns a 52% share in Contact Light, and the time where my associates reside in San Francisco. Looking up any of this information, on the web or in an app, now feels like an antiquated and inconvenient process compared to the flick of my wrist.
Today’s weather and Time Travel
I don’t use weather apps on my phone anymore. I don’t search for it in Google, either. I just look at my Apple Watch. At a glance it shows me the temperature outside and then with a tap on the temperature, I see an overview of the day, including when I should expect rain.
Spinning the Digital Crown while on the watch face, referred to as Time Travel, conveniently also shows me what upcoming appointments I have as I roll through the hours, which are time-synced with the other information on screen such as the weather at that time.
Wrist vibrations for calls
It only dawned on me as I was writing this article that my phone has been on silent since I started wearing my Apple Watch. Now, instead of needing to ever hear it ring or a miss a call when it’s on silent, I know when someone’s ringing because my wrist is tingling. My phone doesn’t even need to be near by for me to know I have a call incoming.
Asking for directions
I’m not a fan of a robot voice interrupting my music while driving. So, instead, I ask my Apple Watch for directions. “Hey Siri, direct me home” or “Hey Siri, direct me to 20 Queen Street”. As I approach a turn, if my watch taps me steadily 12 times it means turn right. If the taps are broken up into three pairs of two, it means turn left.
Alarm and reminder setting
“Wake me up at 7am” or “remind me to post that letter when I get to the office” are the kinds of things I ask of my watch regularly now. While this isn’t new if you have an iPhone, now you don’t need an iPhone in the same room to do it. Your watch always go where you go, even when it’s just from the lounge to the kitchen, which means you never miss these reminders either. To have Siri start listening, all I need to do is tilt my wrist so that the screen is activated.
Another convenience of having Siri on my wrist is being able to say things like “Hey Siri, play Radiohead” or “Hey Siri, next song”. It’s a distraction free experience, which means less fumbling with my phone while driving.
This is the ‘killer app’ that many people have been waiting for, which was only just turned on for Australians this morning. Not all Australians though, unfortunately - just those with an American Express issued credit card for now. Paying with an Apple Watch is as simple as double tapping the home button, even if the face isn’t on, then holding the watch to a PayWave or PayPass reader in store.
So, should you buy one now?
Based on price point alone, I still find it hard to bring myself to be able to recommend the Apple Watch. But that’s ignoring the benefit it provides entirely. If like me, you have little interest in a notification system and see yourself taking advantage of the features I’ve talked about here, it probably is worth your hard earned cash.