Can Your Watch Answer These Practical Questions?

Eleven Questions I Regularly Throw at My Apple Watch

One of the hot topics in personal computing today is wearables, specifically smart watches (other ideas haven’t really taken off).

I got an Apple Watch when they were first released. I had some specific ideas of how it could help me get more done with less friction. Other uses would present themselves as I got used to it and new apps were released.

It didn’t take long before my Watch was an integral part of my productivity system. Here are the top eleven questions I’ve started using my Watch to answer as I go through my day.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / bramgino

  • Is it time to get up? When your alarm goes off, Apple Watch gently taps you on the wrist. This is the only alarm I’ve found that will wake me up and not disturb my wife. Since I tend to get up before she does, this has turned out to be the perfect alarm clock.
  • Should I wear long or short sleeves? One of the complications I use on the watch face is Dark Sky. Now, when I want to know how warm it is outside, I just need to raise my wrist. This is almost as natural now as glancing at the top of a page to check the time when I’m reading a novel.
  • Will that be paper or plastic? I love using ApplePay. It’s fast, secure, and quickly gaining traction. Last weekend, I bought gas, groceries, cinnamon rolls, birthday cards, seasonal hand soaps, and a pumpkin spice hot chocolate (six out of eight errands) by using ApplePay on my Watch. It may seem silly, but when you have multiple bags and an energetic child in tow, it’s convenient not to have to fish out your wallet or even your phone to pay. The best thing of all? The temporary authorization code is useless if (read: when) the merchant’s system gets breached.
  • What should I do next? OmniFocus for watchOS lets me stay on top of what I need to get done today. I can check off tasks as I go and keep things from falling through the cracks.
  • Where’s something to write on? You know that scramble to find something to write with before a thought escapes? Or the panicked chanting of an idea while you look for a scrap of paper? No more! With Drafts on your wrist, you don’t even have to remember where you put your phone to capture that idea. Just tap and talk.
  • What is my next appointment? A watch’s first function is to tell you the time. I love that I can now check my Watch and see where I’m supposed to be. As I’m going through the day, I don’t usually need to see my entire day’s schedule. With a quick glance, I can see how long I have before I need to head to my next meeting. (I use Fantastical, though the built-in Calendar complication is almost as good.)
  • How far is it to the green? Most golf apps for iOS will tell you how far it is to the green. Many include a watch app so you can check the distance to the dance floor without pulling your phone out of your pocket. (Currently, I’m using Arccos because it automatically tracks my shots.) If I need to know how far it is to carry the creek, then I still need to pull out my phone. Soon, we’ll have a full AI caddy on our wrists; too bad it can’t carry our clubs.
  • How many steps have I taken today? A major selling point of the Watch (smart wearables in general) is as a fitness tracker. The more active you are, the more healthy you will be. You can turn that correlation into causation if you have the right information. The simplest metric to focus on is the number of steps you’ve taken. HealthFace can put any of HealthKit’s metrics in a complication to help keep you moving.
  • When do I need to change over the laundry? Setting a timer is quick and simple with Siri on the Watch. If you have the Timer complication, you can see how much time is left at a glance. It’s also the simplest way I’ve found to time pomodoros.
  • Who’s calling? I’m particular about which applications I let interrupt me, but I do want to receive some notifications. I found that with my phone in my pocket, I was missing many texts and important calls because I just wouldn’t feel the vibration. By forwarding (certain) notifications to my Watch, I not only know right away when my wife texts me, but I can see who’s calling without fishing my phone out of my pocket. Very handy.
  • Where’s did I leave my phone? One of Apple Watch’s sleeper features is its ability to ping your phone. Instead of wandering around the house, wondering where you left it, your Watch can have your phone announce its presence. It’s a real time-saver.

Most of this functionality is possible with your phone, but the Watch makes it more convenient. Some features, the Watch makes possible (like heart rate monitoring).

Think about that for a second. On your wrist, you’ve got the equivalent functionality of:

  • a clock
  • a thermometer
  • a wallet (with a large coin purse)
  • a pen and paper
  • a perpetual calendar
  • a caddy
  • an OCD Muppet
  • a set of calibrated hourglasses
  • a carrier pidgeon
  • a towed sonar array

(Okay, I’m stretching on the last one. What’s something that’s good at finding things? A metal detector? A long piece of string? My kids are pretty good at finding my phone when I’ve set it down.)

Some people wonder what the point of having a smartwatch is when they already carry a smartphone. The watch extends the phone. It adds new abilities and makes others more natural. They work together to expand what you can do.

That’s the important consideration when looking at any new productivity tool. It’s easy to get caught up chasing after the latest shiny piece of tech. The question you need to ask yourself is how it will help you be more productive. What will it let you do more quickly with less effort? That’s the important question.

Question: Do you own an Apple Watch? What’s your favorite use for it? If you don’t own one, what use are you most curious about? Share your thoughts in the comments, or on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

About

Colter writes software and blogs about personal growth and productivity. He lives in Silicon Valley (California) with his wife and children, recently took up golf, and watches mostly British TV shows.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. For more information, see my comments policy.

  • Margie Reed

    I use my watch the most for a timer, mostly for cooking, then to see the outside temperature, maybe to check the time ties for second. I, too, find it valuable for not missing a text, especially in muted situations. It’s also great when following driving directions as the wrist tap occurs a fraction ahead of the audible directions and confirms what I’m hearing without having to look at the screen. I love my Apple Watch and am lost without it!