It isn’t just about time anymore!
After a long two-month wait, I finally got my Apple Watch. That’s a long wait when you are spending $1,100! Yes, I got the 42mm Space Black Apple Watch (the most expensive of the 20 different models in the Apple Watch collection). At least I did not get the $17,000 Rose Gold model in the Apple Watch Edition! The least expensive is the 38mm Silver Aluminum Case with Sport Band at $349. I strongly suggest the 42mm over the 38mm size for “mature” eyes. So, was it worth the wait—or, more importantly, should you consider adding this new technology to your busy lives? Let’s look at some of the many features of this device before deciding.
If you care about the technical specifications of the Apple Watch, I suggest that you go to the Apple Web site and read all about the processor speed, the Digital Crown, the Retina display, the Force Touch, the Taptic engine and how the beautiful bands are made, etc. If you haven’t stopped reading already, don’t worry, it is not my purpose, nor am I able, to be technical. It is my intention to show you how this device (whichever of the three different model lines you choose from, the Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch or Apple Watch Edition) is so much more useful than you likely imagine when first seeing it.
The “watch” element of the device is, in my opinion, the least of the functions it offers. That said however, you can choose from 11 basic watch faces, each customizable in numerous ways. You can change the faces and customizable details at any time—from Utility to Mickey Mouse, with different colors and with detail you want to see at a glance. I have chosen to use the Modular face (most of the time) with the time, day/date, next upcoming calendar entry, temperature, the current S&P 500 index and battery level elements/applications on the display. Touching any of these screen elements takes you directly to that application so that you can get detail on say the weather, stock market or your calendar entries. You can also set the watch to alert you (by sound and/or wrist tap) to upcoming calendar events such as an appointment in 10 minutes, etc. To turn the watch on, you merely turn your wrist toward your face. The opposite motion turns it off so that the battery life is preserved. Speaking of the battery, the watch is charged with a magnetic charger cable (usually each night) and functions on a charge for 48 hrs. as a watch only, over 6 hours for audio playback, over 6 hours for workout time, 3 hours for talk time, with a 72 hour power reserve. I have yet to have the battery go below 20% with everyday use, so nightly charging is all that is needed.
Rather than try to tell you all of the features that are available with this device (many of which I do not yet know), I think a list of the basic functions will help you decide if this is something you would use. The watch comes with over 15 basic applications built in, accessible by pushing the digital crown on the side. Thousands of additional applications are being developed to add to the functions of the watch. Many of the applications you have on your iPhone can be added or already exist on the Apple Watch. The watch functions in conjunction with your iPhone by blue tooth connection, so your phone must be nearby. The beauty of the watch is that you do not have to access your phone to use/see many of the functions, which would require you to get your phone out of your pocket, holder or briefcase.
The phone can be set to give you notifications for the applications you choose by a light tap on your wrist, with or without an accompanying “ping” sound. These “glances” can be activated for each application you choose in settings on the phone and/or on the watch. By swiping up on the screen, you can review the glances you have received and by swiping down on the screen, you can act on those glances—e.g. reply to a message or a missed phone call (or go to your phone to make your move on Words with Friends in response to the move just made by your friend, of which you are notified). The following are some brief examples of notifications which will “pop up” on your screen to alert you of activity that would otherwise require you to access your phone:
• New emails in your inbox
• New phone calls
• New messages
• News alerts (using USA Today, CNN or other news applications on your iPhone)
• Weather alerts
Once you get an alert, you can respond with brief replies on the watch if you choose—e.g. answer mail or messages with brief pre-set “smart” replies by text or by audio which you can record and send from the watch. You can also send a brief message or an email directly from the watch. You can dismiss/ignore the alert by simply lowering your wrist. Personally, I use the the mail and the message alerts mainly to see what is coming in to determine if a reply is needed, and then go to the phone to “type” or “dictate” the response (but it can also be done from the watch).
Using the watch for incoming or outgoing phone calls is more useful than you might think. Aside from the “Dick Tracy” appeal, you can actually use the watch instead of your phone for calls, if you are inside and in a relatively quiet place. The speaker is, of course, small so outside noise will make it difficult to hear. Inside calls, especially when alone (it is a speaker phone so anyone nearby can hear as well) work fine. You can ignore/mute a call by covering the watch with your hand or choose an option like transferring to your iPhone or sending a message in response. You can easily make a call from the watch by going to the side button which brings up your favorites (people you regularly call) and pressing the digital crown to dial the number. If you prefer, you can also have Siri make the call for you.
Yes, Siri is available on your watch as well as on your iPhone. All you have to do is either press the digital crown or just raise your wrist and say “Hey Siri” and then give “her” your instruction—e.g. “call the office,” “how do I get to the ISBA office” (the map will pop up), “set an alarm for 6:00am” or “open the weather application.”
The Maps application can be used on the watch with turn by turn instructions. You can tap on an address in say an email or in a contact. The map screen will appear and will show the address and your location, with instructions on how to get from one to the other. This feature is useful in the car—it is much easier to glance at your wrist than your phone while driving. The same is true of the phone if your “ride” does not have a blue tooth speaker system.
Another useful function of the Apple Watch is the Activity application. We can all use more exercise for better health, especially those of us who have attained “senior lawyer” status with the ISBA. The watch keeps track of your daily activity and can be set up to remind you to achieve your set goals by tapping your wrist—for example to “stand up” at least once an hour. You can also use the Workout application to record your walks, bike rides (inside and outside), elliptical, runs, rower, stair stepper and other activities. You will be surprised to see how far you walk with your dog or while cutting your lawn or walking around the Courthouse. The watch also measures your heart rate which gives you an idea of how much “benefit” you are getting from your activities.
Believe it or not, you can also control your iPhone music from your Apple watch, to be played on your iPhone, the watch or your blue tooth headsets or speakers. The watch can also be used as a remote control for other devices such as your TV. Using the Passbook application, you can pay at stores with Apple Pay or scanner capability—e.g I use my watch to pay at Starbucks each morning. While handing my cup to the barista, he/she uses the scanner for the stored bar code on my watch for payment. You can also use the watch as an iPhone camera remote (the watch does not yet have its own camera)—i.e. the watch face is used as the view finder for the camera on the phone. The watch also functions as a timer which could be used to record the time for client phone calls, etc. The World Clock and Alarm functions are useful, especially when traveling.
I hope you are getting the idea that, depending on the applications on your iPhone and those being developed literally daily for the Apple Watch, the “time of day” feature of the Apple Watch may well be the least used function of this new technology. This device is, in many respects, a computer, disguised as a beautiful piece of jewelry. At the very least, it is certainly more than a timepiece!
So, now that you know a little about the Apple Watch from my experience with mine, you decide if you think it would be useful to you. While to some it may seem redundant to the iPhone, you will be surprised how quickly you get used to not having to get your phone out for many of the times you look at it during a typical day. For me the answer to the question “Is it worth it?” is a clear YES. Check it out on the Apple Website or go to an Apple Store for a demonstration and to see the numerous styles. One thing I know for for sure, your grandkids will love it!