Apple Watch. Yay or Nay?

I admit it.  I’m a geek.  I like gadgets.  But only if they add value to my day, not if they distract me from what I really should be doing.

The Apple Watch is due for release any day.  But what could it add to my life?  From the look of the pre-launch advertising material , quite a bit.  It makes it easy to see, at a glance, things like messages and incoming mail, as well as find out who is calling me.  I can even use the built-in microphone for phone conversations.

For me, a watch needs to be able to tell me the time quickly and easily.  Beyond that, anything else is a bonus.  I am the proud owner already of a smart watch, by Martian.  Like this one.  I love that I can leave my phone in my bag, and see quickly who is calling me or texting me, even when I am at a meeting with a client.  It works with my iPhone, whereas a lot of other smart watches are Android-only.

The only thing I am not so sure about is that the small writing on an incoming text can be hard to see.  And it scrolls and disappears quickly, so if I am driving it makes it hard to catch.  The Apple watch, on the other hand, looks like it will be much easier to see and use.

apple watch

The latest update of my iPhone’s operating system automatically added this app for the Apple Watch. Just in case.

Which makes me wonder.  Here in Victoria, Australia, it is illegal to use a mobile (cell) phone while you are driving.  You can use bluetooth for a phone call, as long as this doesn’t involve actually touching the phone.

But what if the smart watch, on your wrist, is the thing you are using for the call, or you are touching that to send a text?  From a safety point of view, I can’t see that sending a text via a watch would be any safer than using a phone while driving.  Apple, however, like Martian, doesn’t allow you to type a text on the watch itself.  The information page says “Just raise your wrist to see who it’s from and to read the full message. Respond with a preset message, dictate a reply or record an audio message.”.  With my Martian watch, it effectively works via Siri.  My guess is that the Apple Watch would be similar.

How about cost?  The pricing or the Apple Watch hasn’t been announced yet, as far as I know, but rumours are saying the price in the USA will be from $349.  The Martian one on Amazon is around $100 less at the moment.  Of course, once the $US -> $AU conversion cost kicks in, not to mention the surcharge foreign manufacturers seem to put on high tech stuff sold in Australia, just because they can, my guess is we are looking at paying well over $AU600.  For the simplest model.

For me to spend $600 on a gadget, especially if I already have something similar, I would expect it to improve my productivity, or perform a function I can’t already do.  This watch is going to look great, and impress the heck out of people for a while.  But since I work mainly from home by myself, with iPad, iPhone, Mac, PC, old-fashioned battery clock, and landline phone all on my desk, a Martian smart watch on my wrist, and a little dog in a basket under the desk, I don’t really see what is missing in my life.  And the dog is already impressed.

The bottom line, in my opinion, is that if you don’t already have a smart watch, this might be worth considering, if you have an iPhone 5 or later.  But only if the people you are trying to impress will actually be impressed by such a thing, rather than labeling you as a “try hard”.