If you have an iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, or iPhone 6 Plus, you can use the Apple Watch. But should you get one?
As we come closer to the Apple Watch's sale date, it's the big-ticket question. Most people need a phone. Many people need a computer. Like an iPad, however, the Watch feels like an extra accessory, and that can make it harder to figure out if you need it or not. So, let's break down the decision process and make it a little bit easier.
Whether you should get an Apple Watch or not comes down to how compelling any of the main features are for your lifestyle, either by themselves or when combined together. Those features include not only timekeeping, but health and fitness tracking, notifications and informational widgets, Apple Pay, remote control, and communications.
Put simply: The Apple Watch is the shuttlecraft to the iPhone's starship. Most of these activities can already be done on your iPhone, but can be done more conveniently with an Apple Watch. And a select few can only be done with the Apple Watch.
It's not an uncommon story: You stopped wearing a watch because your iPhone had a big clock right on the Lock screen, only a pocket- or purse-pull away. It's the old single- vs. multi-tasker debate, and why convergent devices like the iPhone proved so popular to begin with.
The Apple Watch is also a convergent device, and that convergence can be seen in every aspect, including how it takes time. When you want to see the time on your Apple Watch, you don't have to dig into your pocket or purse, or reach for your bag or table, you just turn your wrist. The screen lights up, and you can view the time and date. It can be just that simple or, in the grand tradition of timekeeping, you can add "complications".
The Watch's faces range from minimal to chronometer to utilitarian to motion graphics to astronomy to, well, Mickey Mouse. Each face also includes a number of complications which offer even more data, if you want to enable it.
Complications can include features as subtle as a monogram for personalization, but also world clocks, alarms, a stopwatch, the weather, sunrise and sunset, activity levels, phases of the moon, upcoming appointments, and stock quotes.
If that level of efficiency is intriguing to you, the Apple Watch might be just intriguing enough.
Notifications and information
Any iPhone running iOS 8 has interactive notifications. With the Apple Watch, however, those notifications can appear on your wrist, sending you a subtle tap that doesn't even light up the display unless you turn the Watch to signal your interest. Even then, you only get a short summary of the information, providing the app name along with a brief bit of context. From there, you get to decide if you want to stop what you're doing and view more.
When you're interacting with the Watch, you can pull up Glances, which act much like widgets in the Today view of the iPhone's Notification Center. Rather than appearing and disappearing like notifications do, a Glance's information persists, just a swipe or few taps away.
Watch apps take it a step further, providing an even greater level of interaction; they also allow you to hand off activities to your iPhone if and when they'd benefit from a bigger screen.
Facebook messages, turn-by-turn directions, airplane boarding passes, coffee cards, and other app interactions can benefit from being more easily accessible. If that appeals to you? The Apple Watch might appeal to you.
Health and Fitness
If you have an iPhone 5s, the Apple Watch can add vertical movement (staircase) tracking to your step-counting in the Health app. If you have an iPhone 5 or iPhone 5c — both of which lack the M7 movement co-processor — the Apple Watch adds both step-counting and staircase-tracking. If you have an iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, you already have step and staircase-tracking built in; with the Apple Watch, however, you can leave your iPhone behind and go walking or jogging without it weighing you down.
What's more, the Apple Watch offers unique personal training options. There's a heart rate monitor, which isn't available on any iPhone. There's also an Activity app that will show you how much you've moved, exercised, and even stood up during the day.
There's also a Workout app for when you're doing cardio, and a Fitness app that keeps track of your goals and rewards your accomplishments.
If any of those features could help you live a healthier, fitter life, the Apple Watch might be all the help you need.
Apple Pay — wherein you use Touch ID to authorize a transaction at a NFC-enabled checkout counter — is currently only available on the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. That's because only the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus include a near-field communications (NFC) chip with built-in secure element, which handles the storage and transmission of credit and debit card information.
The Apple Watch, however, has its own NFC chip built in, and it can pair with an iPhone 5 or later. That means that even though you may not be ready to upgrade your iPhone, you can still enjoy the convenience of Apple Pay with the Apple Watch.
Moreover, if you want to got out for a walk or run but don't want your iPhone weighing you down, you can just take your Apple Watch. As long as you've authorized it before leaving and it doesn't breaks skin contact, you can use your Apple Watch to buy a drink (or anything else) while you're out.
If adding or extending Apple Pay sounds enticing to you, you might well be enticed by the Apple Watch.
Like the iPhone, the Apple Watch has Siri built in. Just raise your arm, say "Hey Siri," and tell Apple's personal digital assistant exactly what you want done or what you want to find out.
If someone calls, you can answer and converse right on your wrist, and hand the call off to your iPhone if you think it's going to take awhile. You can also dictate or select a quick response to any Messages that might come in, all without ever reaching for your phone.
The Apple Watch additionally has three forms of communication all its own: Sketches, Taps, and Heartbeats. With Sketches, you can quickly send doodles to convey an idea, express an emotion, tease, troll, or simply earn a smile. Taps does pretty much what it says on the tin: It lets you send a pattern of taps that plays out on the other person's wrist. And with Heartbeat, well, you can let that special someone know you're thinking of them in the most personal way possible.
If keeping in touch matters to you, the Apple Watch just might be the right touch for your wrist.
The Apple Watch will let you control your Apple TV. It'll also let you remotely access your iPhone's camera, and thanks to Siri and HomeKit integration, it may even let you program any compatible home-automation gear you have in your house.
The possibilities for the Apple Watch are boundless here: It could lock or unlock your doors, switch on or off your lights, put your living room into home theater or gaming mode, turn on a fan or adjust a thermometer, right on your wrist.
If easy access to all your connected accessories sounds good to you, the Apple Watch might be the easy choice.
Who shouldn't get an Apple Watch
If you have an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4s; if you're content with the functionality of your iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, or iPhone 6 Plus and don't find the Watch's extra features compelling; if you can't stand things on your wrist or you simply prefer to wait and see — then you probably don't want or need an Apple Watch.
Who should get an Apple watch
If you like the features your iPhone has to offer but need gaps filled — like Apple Pay on older iPhone models — or you want new options, like the Watch's heart-rate monitor, or you simply want everything made easier and more convenient, then you should definitely check out the Apple Watch.
If health and fitness is important to you, if you're into home automation, or you simply want a better way to stay notified and informed, you should also absolutely check out the Apple Watch.