Do you need an Apple Watch? This is a question many electronics consumers are facing today. Wearable technology is a growing electronic trend in today’s consumer market. From wearables like health trackers and Bluetooth headphone collars to virtual reality headsets and smartwatches, the wearable-market technology is growing. But is it ready to be a useful and productive part of our daily routines? That was the question I set out to answer when I bought my Apple Watch.
Let me be up front, I am an Apple fan. I bought the first Apple iPod Touch. I have had several iPhones, an iPad, a MacBook Pro, and an Apple TV. It is fair to say that I have been anxiously waiting to try on my Apple Watch. However, I am an engineer and I was going to judge the watch as such. Engineers want practicality out of their technology. They want devices to help them in a logical manner, and provide them with new methods to perform the same job better and faster. What good is a new device if it slows me down?
The Apple Watch functions as an extension of your iPhone. Once connected to your iPhone, your alerts for text messages, emails, calendar appointments, phone calls, and other app notifications get forwarded to your watch while your phone is tucked away. The watch serves as a fitness tracker, keeping track of your steps, counting calories lost, and recording workout information. The watch also has a maps app that can give you turn-by-turn directions by vibrating on your wrist when to make the next left or right. It can also play music, store photos, provide nearby restaurant listings, and has near-field communication (NFC) capability for easy electronic payments.
So the question still remains: Is it useful? Besides listing some of its features, I will tell you how the watch surprised me and what I think it holds for the future.
I use my smartphone less. Instead of reaching for my phone for the latest text message or email, I use my watch. My watch provides me with just the essentials, which helps while I’m walking to a destination or sitting in on a meeting. By doing that, I get sucked in less and less into my phone. I don’t browse into other apps and waste my time. Currently we look down at your mobile screens more often than not. Having the watch helps you look up a bit more.
Voice dictation is great. The easiest way to operate the watch is by talking to Siri, Apple’s voice assistant software. I tell Siri to send text messages or find nearby places by just talking into my watch. Improvements to voice dictation in the future will make you feel like the watch is a personal assistant always nearby.
Wearing the watch is like having a small remote control on your wrist. The watch lets you access information via wireless Internet networks (i.e., no smartphone required) and control your Apple TV. I could see in the future being able to control aspects of your home via the watch. Whether if it’s turning off the TV or launching a program on your computer, control at your wrist is an added bonus.
I push myself to meet my daily exercise goals. The Apple Watch encourages you to reach a certain number of calories, exercise minutes, and stand-ups per day. I find myself walking and moving around more during the day to help meet the goal. Health fitness is a big feature for wearable technology. Apple’s initial intention for the watch was for it to track a variety of medical data. The future could see your watch communicate to devices implemented in your body, like a heart-pressure sensor, and help track your heart rate or send alerts to your doctors.
- By using NFC, the watch promotes machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) technology. The Apple Watch uses Bluetooth to connect to your phone. It also uses NFC to execute Apple Pay, Apple’s electronic payment system. IoT and M2M is a growing field in the world of engineering and it’s only logical that consumer devices do the same. Wearable technology is a key example of how interconnectivity of devices will shape our future.
Now, do you need an Apple Watch? My answer is no. The technology in the watch is not a necessity. It is a fun device that can make some day-to-day activities easier and fun to do. But I do feel that the watch and other wearable technologies are showing us early signs of what we can expect in a few years.