I’ve been wearing an Apple Watch for almost 10 months now. I chose the 38mm Stainless Steel with Black Classic Buckle. I went as cheap as possible because I’m not a watch wearer by nature, and version 1 of any Apple product is usually not a keeper. So I wanted to keep the financial damage low, and, I was skeptical about the value – would it really be useful?
For me, the answer has become a resounding “Yes”. The primary reasons are handling notifications and fast access to information. Here’s what mattered to me and may be of value to you:
- Notifications – The haptic “tap” technology of the Watch makes it very easy to know when you’re getting a text message vs. a calendar alert or other kind of notification. Instead of reaching into my pocket, I decide whether to look at the watch depending on the kind of tap it gives me. For example, if I’m in a meeting, I may want to ignore texts, but glance at an alert or the next event on my calendar. If it’s a message I want to reply to quickly, there are emoticons and one-word replies just one tap away. If I need to dictate a longer response and am not worried about looking like Dick Tracy, that ability is also right there, and it’s usually spot on with the speech to text to speech conversion.
- Calendar Reminders and Fast Forward – I mostly use the “Modular” watch face shown above. Centered in the middle of the display is my next appointment. When someone asks me if I’m free later in the day, I can turn the crown of the watch to move forward through time to see if there’s an opening.
Generally, I set the alerts to tap my wrist 15 minutes before a scheduled meeting. That gives me time to finish up what I’m doing and get there on time. This feature has broken me out of deep thought many a time and saved me from being late or missing a meeting entirely.
- Phone Call Handling. Phone calls at inopportune times can be quickly dismissed with a single tap and no need to touch the iPhone. I would imagine this to be especially handy for embarrassing ringtones that need to be squashed quickly.1 If I do want to take the call, I can quickly answer. As far as I can tell, no one so far has realized that I was talking to them via my wrist. To be sure, it’s a weird surreal sort of feeling the first time you do it.
- Stop Watch. Because the Modular face allows for multiple “complications”, which is fancy Jony Ive White World lingo for additional kinds of information on the watch face, I can have a stop watch at the ready. I like to work in 60 or 90 minute blocks, so I can quickly set the timer, and then work until the Watch taps my wrist.
This is much better than laying my iPhone on the desk to use the iPhone timer. I’ve left my phone on the desk more than once and missed an important call.
- Glances. Glances provide a quick look at information from the various apps on the Watch. When traveling, I use this in conjunction with TripIt and the various airline apps, to go through security, get gate and flight information, and in many cases even board the plane. It’s hard to truly appreciate how much time can saved by the Watch until you start traveling with it. Another glance I like is the heart rate monitor, which is especially handy during workouts if you’re “chasing a number” on the treadmill or other cardio exercise. The glance for the Music app allows you to quickly stop the music when someone approaches to talk. Without the watch, all of these activities otherwise require repeatedly pulling out the iPhone, stopping to tap in a passcode2, pulling up the right app, and then digging through the app to find the information.
- Notification Clean Up. It is extremely fast and easy to go through your notifications and delete them both from the Watch and your phone in the same action. A big time saver.
The rest of the Watch really hasn’t been overly impressive or useful to me. Of course it does a fine job of telling the time and date, and even the outside temperature. I also use a second watch face called “Simple” to set a wake alarm.
But for example, while I find the app launch screen fun to look at, I never use it. It’s essentially useless except as a fun thing to show friends. I even built a metronome app for the Apple Watch, but ended up not using it much. My experience has been that when more than just a simple interaction is required, it’s better to just pull out the phone and use the full version of an app instead.
So would I buy it again? Absolutely. It makes me more efficient, and it’s fun. Two thumbs up.
Would I buy a fancier one? Nope. They’re going to get better over time, so I want to save my pennies for the next generation.
Should you buy one now or wait? I’d wait, unless you just love gadgets. The Watch needs to be thinner, and the battery needs to last longer. We’ll undoubtedly see that in future models.
If you have an Apple Watch, how do you like it?