We’ve talked a lot about the Apple Watch and wearable tech in the past.  I finally did it –I bought an Apple Watch.  This wasn’t an overnight endeavor; I’ve voiced concerns in the past about how practical this kind of product really is or isn’t.  So, I took a long time to buy one.  My experience has been a little different than I anticipated.

Here’s what I like…

The Apple Watch is an extension of your phone, not a new device.  It allows you to see quickly what’s happening on your phone to stay more connected.   It’s a way to glance at your watch to figure out if the text message you just received is one you care about or if the phone call that’s coming in is one you need to take in that moment.  You can control what’s displayed on your watch and what reminders you receive.  I like that it gives you a much more personal relationship to your phone.

It’s also a great business tool.  If you’re in a meeting, your phone buzzes, and you look at it –you’re being rude.  With a watch, you can glance down and check it without creating a distraction.  It’s just a quick look at your watch to see if it’s something that needs your immediate attention. 

Now, this isn’t something you’re going to be typing on.  It has some built in replies and quick responses which are great because you don’t have to touch your phone, it’s just a tap.  There is also a dictate button using Siri which is very convenient.

There are also features that I hadn’t considered before.  When you are driving using Apple Maps, it uses different tones for different turns –right or left. It buzzes when you need to do a maneuver.  This is just another way that it works as an extension of your phone to augment your experience.

You won’t be taking photos with this watch or using facetime, but there are some great apps that you can install.  They aptly call the notifications you receive “glances”.  With these glances, you can do some pretty cool stuff depending on what apps you have.  For instance, I can turn lights on and off in my house.  If I still have my watch on as I’m heading to bed and I think I forgot to turn off the kitchen lights, I can do that with my watch.

Think about it this way –your phone is something that you set down.  As soon as you walk into your house you’re taking it out of your pocket (or forgetting it in your purse) and you walk away.  You might set it on the charger or on the kitchen counter.  Maybe it’s on silent or vibrate.  A watch on the other hand, is not something you’re taking off and putting on all day long.  Because of this, you’re still receiving the important messages, calls, or reminders that you may have otherwise missed.

If we take a step back and just look at it as a watch for a moment, it’s pretty impressive in that respect as well.  Obviously it tells time, but the custom watch faces are a cool feature as well.  You can display a rotating photo album, so the photo is different every time you see it.  It displays my next meeting every time I look at it so that I can stay on the ball and plan ahead.  For a few hundred dollars you get a watch with some amazing capabilities.  You can also change the look very simply by changing the band or taking links out without a trip to the jeweler.

The last thing that I’ve learned to really appreciate about the watch is the fitness tracking.  It keeps track of the number of steps you take, the calories you burn, heart rate etc.  It also reminds you to stand up every hour.  Normally, especially working from home at a desk, three hours can pass no problem without me moving.  It does a pretty good job of prompting and encouraging you to get up and get moving.

 I will say that I have had no trouble with battery life, which is a complaint I’ve seen.  I use it as a watch, glancing at it from time to time throughout the day, and I think that greatly helps with the good battery life.

Those are the things I’ve found very useful with the watch.  Like any habit, it takes a few weeks to get into the routine of wearing a watch if you don’t already.  It wasn’t a difficult adjustment by any means.  The key is to find the apps that work for you; there are extensions of apps that are already on your phone.  From a UX perspective, I give them very high marks.  It is intuitive and easy to use.

Has anyone else been pleasantly surprised by how useful the watch actually is? Were you a skeptic turned believer? What about those of you who had huge hopes and felt like the watch was a big let down? Does it do everything you thought it would? What’s it missing? What surprised you? Comment below!