For those of you who are on the fence about the Apple Watch, you might want to wait for the next-gen, rumored to be coming out in April. On the other hand, it works pretty good now, so I’m going to recount my morning and tell you how it works even when you don’t have your phone with you:
This morning my watch was on its dock on my nightstand. It’s a pretty nice dock, as it holds the watch up, charging it (the charger is fished through the stand) and makes it feel like it really is an alarm clock. The alarm went off at 6:00am and I tapped the watch face and rolled out of bed. I took the watch and put it on my wrist and tugged the loop band and adjusted it tight because I was going to take a walk. I got the rest of my workout outfit on and stuffed my iPhone 6s plus in the right side pocket of my sweatpants.
I looked at the watch at this point and noting the temperature in the top left corner of the watch face, saw that it was 23 degrees F. I said to myself that I probably ought to fish out my bright orange windbreaker to wear outside my fleece top. I then stepped out my front door, started the activity app for a walk, and began my circuit around the neighborhood.
It was a beautiful morning and several times as I could look east over Boston in that pre-dawn time, with the sky a pink glow from the impending sunrise, I argued with myself if I should take a picture. I decided that that pre-sunrise glow was just for me (sorry). About half way through my timed walk, the watch buzzed at me to let me know it. Then a few minutes later as I crossed a mile, it buzzed me again to mark that distance. I continue to trudge back up the hill through the slush and ice. The sun had yet to appear behind me, but the sky was no longer dark it was a turned light blue. About 2 blocks from my home, the watch buzzed again. I had been at this walk longer than the previous one recorded
I approached my home and when I got to my doorway, I turned my wrist to wake the watch face and ended the workout, then saved it (sometimes I forget this). I proceeded to get ready by showering and dressing and got my things together to depart for work. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I placed my phone on a piece of furniture in our foyer and pulled my coat, hat and gloves out of the closet. I placed the gloves on top of the phone. I grabbed my gloves after adjusting my hat and went out the door.
I drove toward work and stopped at a Starbucks for a cup of coffee on the way as I was slightly on the earlier side and didn’t want to start my formal day just yet. I went in and paid with my watch and sat down to read a chapter of “Baudolino” by Umberto Eco, which I’ve been working through in short spurts this month over coffee about a chapter at a time. I wanted to quickly check my email, and went to grab my phone and it wasn’t there. Hmmm…I looked at the watch, flicked up the status screen and saw that I was connected to the cloud via a familiar network, but I wasn’t sure if I was connected to my phone. I pinged my phone in hopes that it was somewhere in my coat or maybe I had left it on the counter or something. Nope. I walked back out to my car looked around and didn’t see it. I looked at the watch and now it was telling me that I was no longer connected to a network AND I was not connected to the phone. This was curious. I figured out at that point I must have left it at home. I went back into the Starbucks and had a few more sips of the coffee and then got myself upset. I needed a phone so that I could get phone calls. I remembered that I had my “work” phone on my desk (I forward my calls to my personal phone…I use the work iPhone 5s when I travel out of the country). Driving back home was out of the question because that would be into the main traffic going south on Rt 3. I’d never be back in the office at the start of the day. So I started driving the 2 miles to work from the Starbucks.
As I’m driving, my watch buzzes me. I turn my wrist and see that I’m receiving a message from my wife saying that I left my 6s+ as home. I got a message? Oh of course, my Audi has internet connectivity and that is a familiar network for the watch. So I tapped reply and dictated a message acknowledging that I forgot it and then tapped it to send as text. Now that was pretty cool because that was the first time my watch and iPhone were separated by a significant distance but this was the first time the watch still was able to function within iCloud functionality.
I got to work. I was still a bit upset because I knew that at work, in a protected network, the watch wouldn’t connect. Then I remembered that the work iPhone could also be a hotspot. So I went in, reversed the call forwarding between the phones and then turned on the hotspot. Now my watch, while not connected to its primary iPhone, was still able to be connected.
This was all very cool to me. If the subsequent watch (and watchOS update) allows more capability independently of the phone, I’d say we are on the verge of a very useful device.
The main limitation, battery life, will still be a hindrance, but connectivity isn’t now and will be less so in the future.