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Apple Watch: A Worthy Smart Watch?

Eric Christiansen

3 min read

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About a year ago, I wrote a blog post about my experience with the Pebble Steel smart watch. Now Apple has released its first take on the smart watch and, as with many Apple Products released in recent years, it’s positioned to crush the competition. However, just because Apple makes something,  doesn’t mean you should run out and buy it. Admittedly, that’s what I do. Those product announcements always get me all worked up over something I had no intention of buying five minutes earlier.

In my previous article, I said that I never noticed anyone else wearing a smart watch. The Apple Watch has certainly changed that. While nowhere near as mainstream as the iPhone or iPad, I am starting to see them around. I was just at the dentist the other day and while he was doing horrible things to the inside of my mouth, I noticed he was wearing an Apple Watch.  So it seems that Apple has found a way to get smart watches out to non tech people.

I also said in my previous article that I didn’t want a smart watch that did everything that my phone does. I mainly used the Pebble for notifications and that holds mostly true for the Apple Watch. There are many things the Apple Watch can do that I never use, like the ability to place and receive phone calls (Dick Tracy made it look cool, but when you’re on a crowded train it’s another story and you’ll probably get punched in the face). However, there are some things that the Apple Watch does well and that I find myself actually using:

  • Basic responses to text messages:  You can respond to text messages with some customizable canned responses like yes, no, and OK.  You can also dictate a response, but I never use that (see previous comment about getting punched in the face).
  • Calendar:  I can quickly browse my meetings for the day.
  • Two-factor authentication:  This is a huge one for me.  We use a product called Duo for two-factor authentication to our systems.  I have to authenticate what seems like ten times a day (we have it enabled on multiple systems).  Previously, I was constantly having to take my phone out.  Now, I get the notification on my watch and can approve the request right from there.
Duo Authentication Screen for Citrix Login
  • Shopping list:  Not work related, but I use a third party app called SavouryList which lets you setup a shopping list on the phone app, then view and mark the items as purchased from the watch. This is much easier than constantly taking your phone out while food shopping.
  • ApplePay:  I used this with my iPhone and I’ve been using it when I can with the Apple Watch. It’s just a little more convenient to not have to take out your phone when paying.
  • Fitness Tracker:  While the Pebble could track your steps, I never really used it. Apple Watch does a great job at tracking your activity (it tracks your heart rate in addition to movement).  It also combines the data collected from your iPhone to get more accurate fitness data.

Overall, I’m very happy with the Apple Watch. I do miss some features that the Pebble Steel had. Mostly the 5-7 day battery life and the always-on screen.  The Apple Watch has no problem getting through the day for me, but it does need to be charged every night.  It also does a pretty good job of automatically turning on the screen when you hold up your wrist to see the time, but it’s not perfect.

The Apple Watch only stands to get better over time.  The first major software update is due out in a few months and will allow for native third-party applications.  That’s when we’ll really start to see the full possibilities of the Apple Watch. It will be very interesting to see how the smart watch develops over time, but now that Apple is in the game, I expect things to start advancing pretty rapidly.