Confessions of a Smart-Watch Wearer
With only a few days left until the Apple Watch is released, a lot of people I know have been asking me about what I think of owning a smart watch. I got a Motorola Moto 360 in October of 2014. I love it but it’s not what I thought it would be.
First off, it’s not something you need. After months of thinking about buying an iPad, I didn’t pull the trigger until I admitted to myself, I don’t need this. No one needs a tablet or a smart watch. An iPhone or phone in general is a must-have. It’s how we communicate, get information, navigate, etc. I had to decide if I’d spend $700 (the 64 gig) on something that I don’t need but just wanted. It wouldn’t replace my phone, it would just make my life a bit more convenient. Maybe.
This is what the smart-watch is. I always wear a watch. I have my more expensive watches for weddings and my every day digital watches for work, or running errands. Because of this I was always interested in the idea of wearables. I own a Nike Fuel Band, which really motivated me to exercise a bit more and take the long way home for some extra walking. Smart watches seemed like the next step but there was no real presentation on how it would be used.
When selling a phone you get shots of people talking. Texting. Navigating. Playing games. We watch them seeing ourselves, using the phone the same way. The keynotes for smart watches seem to be companies throwing every possible use at the wall and seeing what sticks. This is partly the reason so many people aren’t sure about what to make of a smart watch yet. Ordering an Uber from your wrist won’t appeal to everyone. All of the health apps might be as used as often as the Stocks app on a teenager’s iPhone. Instead of people seeing the Apple Watch and initially being shown what they would do, they’re seeing all the things they won’t do.
How do I use mine?
As A Watch
My watch first and foremost tells time. Like I said, I normally wear a watch, so throughout the day if I’m checking the time, this is most likely how I’ll be doing it. I have a few inexpensive watches so when going to work I’ll usually grab one over the other based on how it looks with what I’m wearing. Now I just change the watch face. When at work, I use a face that tells me the temperature outside along with the time. If I’m out, I’ll switch to a big digital display so I can quickly see the time. When I went to Pax East, a video game convention I used my Metal Gear Solid or Fallout Pipboy watch face. As a watch it’s really efficient and does more than it would for a fraction of the cost.
The biggest argument against any of the smart watches are the price. Even the Apple Watch which is more expensive than the Android wearables is still pretty cheap when compared to higher-end watches.
A Notification Machine
Even as I write this, my phone is face up on the desk beside me. When I explain to most people how I use the watch the most common response is “Why? Just look at your phone.” I agree. But doesn’t that apply to notifications in general?
I could just check my calendar to see if I have a meeting at 11. I could set an alarm. There’s tons of ways we find things out, but notifications, unless really intrusive are usually always welcome. Before iOS had a dedicated notification screen, you’d have to look at your apps and see if there was a badge number on it. The watch is just another version of a notification window except this time it vibrates on your wrist.
When at dinner, if I’m waiting for a call or text, I can keep my watch in my pocket on silent and glance at my wrist and see who’s calling. I often customize which apps will notify me. If I’m waiting for a work email, I can turn off texts, twitter, Instagram and any other notifications that would pop up, and only be alerted when I get an email.
Sounds insignificant but as someone who’s sat across from many people checking their phones every 3 minutes saying, “sorry I’m expecting something to come through,” it’s a welcome change.
Now I know this sounds corny, but in all honesty this watch has been acting almost like a wingman. The way my phone, an HTC One M8 is typically used you control what you see. If I want to see the temperature, I check the widget, if I want to see a sports score, I check it. With Google Now, the watch will display things on the bottom quarter of the screen that it thinks may be relevant. A lot of times it is.
The other night I went to dinner and was heading home from 34th street. I looked at my watch to see what time it was, and below it said “29 Minutes to Home.” I tapped it and it revealed a train schedule. Instead of taking the M, I took the N since I knew it would be arriving in 5 minutes. Sometimes I’ll be at a bar, check my watch and it’ll have the Brooklyn Nets’ score. Every once in a while it’ll be something I’m not interested in, and with a swipe it’s gone. I love Google Now, but on my phone I have to open it. On the watch it’s just there.
But hands down, my favorite feature is when the watch vibrates to let you know your phone is out of range. After a night of drinking I forgot my phone on my table. As soon as I stepped outside my wrist vibrated. No one I was with would have noticed I was missing a phone. Watch: 1, Humans: 0.
There’s No Wrong Way to Eat a Reese’s
When watching the videos for the Apple Watch, friends would say “I wouldn’t talk into my watch.” In all honesty I don’t either. Every once in a while I’ll use it to respond to a text at home. Most of the time I speak into the watch is for reminders. Throughout the day you might catch me saying, “Okay Google. Remind me to call Best Buy at 4pm.” It’s really handy.
If you’re the kind of person who’d talk into your watch, so what. Do it. No one, manufacturers nor users, are really sure how a smart watch should be used, and that’s the cool part. Some people think it will replace their phone and have them composing texts and emails on it. Others will only use it as an addition to their phone, and rely on it for notifications, like I do. For some I’m sure these watches are the fitness accessories they’ve been waiting for. There aren’t a ton of apps for either Android or Apple’s platforms but I’m sure that will change.
Just know, you won’t need it and that’s okay. It’s fine to get something for yourself because you simply want it. I like my watch, and I think the Apple Watch will be a nice accessory too. I’m curious to see how smart watches evolve as people stop telling us how to use it and start showing.