The Apple Watch is just around the corner, and has gained so much buzz that it has won some notable awards even before it has hit the shelves (one can only guess at how that happens). Given that Apple’s marketing department is in high gear for this new device, we are left wondering whether it will take off, or flop. From this, the big question really boils down to: will you buy one? Even though a new slick watch looks and sounds neat, unless it fits your lifestyle you might end up with a device you either do not use, or find little utility for.
Do You Currently Use a Watch?
If you do not own a watch, then what makes you think you will suddenly enjoy strapping one to your wrist every day after you get up in the morning, and in addition, have to deal with remembering to charge the thing every night before you go to bed? Such habits are difficult to consider in the face of a shiny new toy, but will largely determine whether or not the Apple Watch will even work for you. My recommendation if you have not used a watch in a while, is to get a cheap $10 watch from a local drug store, and try using it for the next week or two, until the Apple Watch is out, and then let that help you decide.
Next, consider Apple’s initial offerings with the watch, at least in comparison to what apps and services you currently use on a daily basis. While the device has some health sensors that have potential, because of unreliability, Apple is apparently toning down the watch’s health monitoring features. Apple is also working with developers to bring a number of initial Apple Watch apps to the table; however, these will at first be buggy, but overall will in no way match the functionality of their big-brother counterparts on iOS and OS X. It may take a while for developers to tap into tangible uses for the watch, or at least those that you will use.
Does it Replace Your Phone?
Perhaps this is an incorrect judgement, but if you are considering an Apple Watch, then chances are you already own an iPhone or another smart phone. If so, then essentially the only convenience that the Apple Watch brings is similar (albeit limited) approaches to the apps that you have on your phone, and places them on your wrist. The overall question here then becomes whether this convenience is really worth the $350 baseline price?
In most cases reaching into your pocket for a device is not that hard, and if you think about it, not much different than raising your wrist. In addition, you likely often access your phone to type new input (responding to a text or email, or entering a URL for a Web page). The Apple Watch will simply not be able to replace this functionality of your phone, so consider how much you might be reaching for your phone, even with the Apple Watch on your wrist.
Keep in mind that as with any device, while it looks great on Apple’s site and when discussed by Johnny Ives in presentation videos, it will undoubtedly bring unforeseen frustrations. Have you ever had a problem syncing your iPhone with your Mac, or with iCloud? Adding an Apple Watch to your current iOS and Mac OS devices will only increase the possibility of odd handling of your data and communications. Granted it is a bit much to jump to conclusions about this, and bugs that are found will undoubtedly be squashed rapidly, but at least for starters, this may be one reason to wait a while before jumping on board.
The True Benefits
While critiquing the Apple Watch may dull its sheen a little, it is worth noting the device does have some notable benefits, or at least potential benefits. Currently its initial offerings may have limitations, but as with the original iPhone that shipped with only a few apps, over time the Apple Watch could take on an entire market, and an infrastructure of utility that we have yet to even think of. Its health apps and services are poised to grow, and for those who are already considering a Pebble or other smart device, it will be a competitive option. In addition, the one feature that may be most beneficial is Apple Pay support for iPhone 5S, putting it in line with iPhone 6 and 6 Plus by allowing it to use NFC-supporting touch pay terminals for retail transactions.
The Geek Factor
Beyond all these considerations, ultimately the Apple Watch is half jewelry and half toy, so if the aesthetics or the sheer geek factor of the Apple Watch appeal to you, then perhaps the decision to buy it has already been made.