I have been so entertained lately reading how much people who don’t have the new Apple Watch hate it.
The best one was watching Harris Faulkner’s show on the Fox New Network this weekend. (First, a disclaimer that I don’t watch Fox “News” because I like it. I hate-watch it because I’m a masochist.) You would think a news organization could at least get the price right. But after their review of several smart watches, they deemed Apple’s watch not worth its $650 starting-price tag. I wonder if they would have thought it was worth it if they got the price right at $349.
I am not really a gadget geek. I owned the original iPhone until five upgrades passed me by. And even then, at the sixth generation, I only upgraded by inheriting Doug’s iPhone 5 when he upgraded to the 5S--and only because the calendar wasn’t supported on my original phone anymore.
I use my phone to initiate calls, texts, and emails. But most people know that if they actually try to call or text me on it, they probably won’t reach me. Usually I forget to turn the ringer back on after going out to dinner or the to the symphony.
And even if the ringer is on, the phone is usually buried in my purse in a completely different room of the house than I am in. This may be a situation more common among women—men tend to carry their phones around in their pockets. In any case, if you text or call me on my cell phone, I might not discover it for several days.
One gadget I have really enjoyed, though, is the Fitbit. It counts your steps, your calories burned, even your sleep efficiency. And it’s interactive--you can compete remotely with your friends, and that competition gets you moving more. At least it did for me. But I did always think it was strange to be wearing a device on my arm that didn’t even tell me what time it is. For that, I still had to dig the iPhone out of the bottom of my purse.
Just as Fitbit was coming out with a new band that actually does tell time, news of Apple’s release of their smart watch was getting out. So I decided to wait and check that out. And now I’m wearing one.
The big drawback to me is with the fitness apps. It does not integrate at all with Fitbit, so I can no longer play with my friends unless I’m willing to wear two devices on my arm. (I’m not). And Fitbit was able integrate with calorie counting apps, so you could see how you were doing each day on calories in vs. calories out. Apple can’t do that yet.
Apple’s watch has an activity tracker, but the data won’t post to Fitbit or to meal-tracking apps unless you manually enter a workout on another app, the Workout app. If you happened to walk eight miles around New York City sightseeing, that activity wouldn’t transfer those extra calories to your other apps. There’s also a Health app that shows your activity but it doesn’t track the calories you eat either. In fact I’m not even sure what the Health app does that isn’t already being done in the other two apps. Why you need three apps to not even be able to do what one Fitbit app can do, I don't know.
So Fitbit is far superior in this area. (Note to Fitbit: If you were to offer an app for the Apple Watch, I would pay you the cost of one of your lower end trackers for it. I just don’t want to wear two bands on my wrist! Just an idea . . .)
Many reviewers complain about the steep learning curve. Believe me, if I’m telling you this is ridiculous, it really is. I am not one to take to new technologies well. But this one is a breeze.
And most reviews complain incessantly about the short battery life. It only lasts about a day. This is another one that I think is a non-issue. I always take my watch off before I got to bed; I think most people do. So when you take it off, you just connect it to your charger right next to your bed. Who cares if it doesn’t last longer—I don’t think most people sleep in their watches. (For the record, my battery has never been lower than 50% by the time I turn in at night.)
Apple Pay: Yesterday, I went to Peet’s Coffee to write. I ordered a cappuccino, extra hot. When the barista asked me for $3.25, I didn’t dig around in my purse for my wallet, or for my iPhone to use Apple Pay—I double clicked the button on the side of my watch and held it up to the reader. That was it. No keypunching, no signatures. And the vendors do not actually get your credit card data—so it’s one step safer than actually using your card.
Music: When I go for a walk around my neighborhood, I usually carry my iPhone to listen to music. It’s not really a big deal, but I’d rather carry nothing. I’d rather not have to negotiate the tether to my ears when I take off my sweatshirt either. Well now, the watch that I already have on holds music. No phone necessary. Of course you need Bluetooth earphones, but no more cord swinging around getting tangled in my sweatshirt.
Directions: While driving to San Francisco to meet friends for dinner, I lifted my wrist and said “Hey Siri—Directions to Commissary.” She found the restaurant and the watch tapped my wrist a few hundred feet before each turn I was supposed to make. No programming the car’s cumbersome navigation system—no fumbling with Google Maps on my phone.
Texts: So now, when I’m playing the piano, or gardening, or cleaning the house and a friend texts me (remember, my phone is no where near me and my ringer is probably off), a vibration lets me know I’ve got a text. And if I want to answer it, I just talk to my watch. So far, on dozens of texts I haven’t even had one typo. Which is much better than my actual experience typing responses on my iPhone.
Calendar: The watch face tells me what my next appointment is and when I swipe to the map, it tells me that I’m 20 minutes away--another tap navigates me there.
Airline Boarding Passes: I already loved the fact that airline boarding passes can be loaded on phones nowadays. But that still requires fishing out your phone while wheeling you carryon, while holding your coffee cup. Now it just requires lifting my arm—even if it’s the one holding the coffee cup.
But wait there’s more: I can hail an Uber with a tap, read a Yelp review of nearby restaurants, see the Zillow value of homes I’m driving by, hold my wrist up to identify a song using Shazam, check the stock market and the weather, pay a parking meter, even talk on the phone James Bond style in a pinch—all without actually touching my phone.
Oh yeah, and it actually tells the time.
It’s funny because I’ve always been the very last person to come around on new technologies. It’s embarrassing to say now, but I initially didn’t see the value in voicemail, email, iPods, mobile phones, and more recently Uber’s services. I am truly the last adopter. But I wouldn’t be surprised if in another decade, these phone devices we find in the bottom of our purses go the way of the Sony Walkman, the rotary phone, and the VHS player. By that point we might only be using devices that we can actually wear.
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