This is why you want to wear an Apple Watch, no matter who you are

Late last year, I wrote about how convenience was the Apple Watch's killer feature. I broke it down into five areas where I felt the Apple Watch could really save everyone time and effort by better surfacing brief but important interactions — communications, information, remote control, health and fitness, and authentication (Apple Pay).

While taken together, those five areas are absolutely killer. But other potential customers could easily find each area on its own incredibly compelling. It's a multi-faceted opportunity for Apple, and one that could make the watch appealing well beyond many expectations.

For Apple Payers and music lovers

For iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s owners, the Apple Watch gives you access to in-store Apple Pay, letting you tap-to-pay for purchases at thousands of retail locations. For walkers or joggers who don't want to bring their iPhone — or wallet — with them when they're out, it can be a great solution until you upgrade to an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, or future iPhone. So can having music with you, iPod shuffle- or iPod nano-style. It's not everything, but it's everything you really need.

For health enthusiasts

The same goes for step- and stair-counting, and other quantified life statistics. Some of us use dedicated bands for this, just like we used to use dedicated personal digital assistants like the Palm Pilot before the rise of smartphones. I've heard from friends who plan to buy the stainless steel or even gold Apple Watch also tell me they plan to get an Apple Watch Sport as well — just for exercise. That might sound excessive, but it also shows the appeal of the Apple Watch as a pure fitness device. It'll have all the right sensors and an Apple interface on top of them. That'll make for a phenomenal fitness experience all on its own.

For home automators

As home automation continues to take off, especially Apple's HomeKit, those of us who have implemented lighting, sound, temperature control, and security will need a unified and coherent way to monitor and control it. The iPhone and iPad will be great for setup and fine-tuning, but for moment-to-moment actions — turning things on and off, raising and lowering them, closing and opening them — the watch will be better. Especially when you factor in Siri. I can't wait to say "Game time" and have the lights go red, the TV switch over, and the bass come to life. Or "crash the compound," and everything have everything shut down for the night. It's one step closer to JARVIS.

For the always alert

If you're obsessed with notifications — if every time your iPhone beeps or buzzes your dive for your pocket or purse or race across the room — the Apple Watch should eliminate a tremendous amount of overhead. It'll tap you when something comes in, give you the gist when you turn your wrist upwards, and expand the details if and when you want them. Likewise, if you're waiting for a delivery, or to board a plane, or want to know what the weather is, or how long it will be before your Uber arrives, or anything else that had you pulling down widgets in Notification Center every few minutes to make sure you have the latest information, glances will give you all of that on your wrist as well.

For communicators

For those of you who simply want to be able to answer phone calls or return messages without having to pull a phone from your pocket or dash for your purse or charger, the Apple Watch will you do all of that right from your wrist. It's the same for Twitter and Facebook and potentially any other messaging system that hooks into iOS. For longer chats, Handoff will let you go back to your iPhone and its much bigger screen. For quick chats, however, and for sketches and heartbeats, the Apple Watch will be like something out of Dick Tracey.

Different strokes

Some people might just want Apple Pay. Others might prefer step-counting or the heart-rate monitor. Still others may want the Apple TV and home control, or notifications, or the ability to stay in touch without having to reach for a phone. Each one of those things could be valuable enough to make the Apple Watch well worth it. Several or all of them, in combination, could be invaluable. Never mind all the Apple Watch apps that are coming as well.

It's a product that will appeal to different people in different ways, much like the iPhone has done so. And it's a product that could come to be just as important.

Everyone I've spoken to who has used an Apple Watch for any length of time — and Tim Cook's public statements — make it sound like the watch quickly becomes so integral to their digital experience that they never want to take it off. I only got to try it for a few minutes back in September, but that was my impression as well. I can't wait to see what more than a few minutes.

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

89 Comments
  • This does nothing other smart watches do not already do and I don't want those either.
  • Okay, thank you. Sent from the iMore App
  • It fully interfaces with the iPhone, which, if you're an iPhone owner, is significant.
  • I agree most people don't know how big of a deal this really is. I haven't wore a watch since my Mickey Mouse watch when I was 9 but am looking forward to it like I did when the beeper came out Sent from the iMore App
  • For iPhone customers I am happy for them. Like many, though, I still fail to see the true need of a smartwatch and what I can do with them that I cannot already do on my phone alone. This is not an Apple specific gripe really but all OEMs. They need to make a really awesome unique use or experience that a phonr itself cannot do on its own.
  • I think it'll be like the first generation iPhone. It didn't do anything so brand new that PCs, digital cameras, and cell phones couldn't already do. But the "how" - immediately, portably, persistently, delightfully - made all the difference. First it's a watch - a beautiful, customizable timepiece with easy alarms, stopwatches, etc. And yes, it'll do things a phone can do - but more discreetly, more conveniently, and largely hands-free. I'm looking forward to using it for discreet notifications, silent alarms and reminders, controlling my music/Apple TV, being my music/wallet/tracker on jogs, eyes up hands-free walking directions, and as a remote viewfinder for my IPhone. So with respect I think you are missing the point if you're only thinking "what can it do that a smartphone cannot do" :)
  • A smartphone can do all this stuff and smartwatches that already exist can do what an Apple Watch. Until ANY OEM can give a convincing amazing NEW need or use of a wearable that a phone cannot already do (at least on its own) then wearables are still a hard sell regardless of OS or OEM.
  • If the heart rate monitoring works well, I can finally ditch my polar fitness watch and the need to wear a chest strap. I think that's totally worthwhile. It also means I don't need to keep taking my phone out of my pocket when I'm jogging. Discreet notifications will also be nice. My iPhone 6 Plus sounds like I've got a sex toy in my pocket when it's on vibrate. Sent from the iMore App
  • Well I will not argue the convenience factor, but still, nothing really new we haven't seen before. I just don't feel outside of Holo Lens by Microsoft that wearables is advancing technology forward.
  • You will be able to replace your Polar. The Apple Watch heart rate monitoring tech won't replace your chest strap. It'll provide better understanding of your activity throughout the day with intermittent samples. For the most accurate constant readings, as well as saving battery life, you'll want a Bluetooth Smart HRM which pairs to your phone with readout on the watch.
  • Yeah I considered that I might need to do that, but first I want to test the  Watch heart rate sensor to see how well it measures the intensity of my workouts. As I understand it, the heart rate monitor uses light sensors and will only be active in workout mode. I don't need to know my exact heart rate but if I wear both the polar (with chest strap) and the  Watch for testing and compare the calorie burn at the end of a few sessions, I'll get an idea of how accurate it is compared to using my polar with its chest strap. When I'm not in a workout, the step counting and distance data is fine to give me a general idea of my daily activity. I'm looking for consistency and reliability, and I can't wait to test it out! Sent from the iMore App
  • Same situation here! i already sold my polar loop + chest strap, I loved my polar loop and compare to the apple watch now it looks like crap lol.
    HRM looks really big, bigger than any other i have seen, I guess thats good !
  • True, but what people seem to not realize is some of us don't want or NEED this thing. It's a ridiculous product at a ridiculous price point. I have been an Apple employee and faithful Apple user since 1986 and I can tell you this thing above all else shows Apple is not building devices that are useful for the sake of being useful. Most any $49 training band can do much of what this watch does and I won't worry about wearing one of those out. I can dig the luxury aspect of the brand, but just because it seems awesome doesn't mean it's going to be awesome or usable.. and just because it's an Apple product doesn't mean we're not getting something the rest of you are. Some of us honestly don't want this thing.
  • +1
  • $49 training bands do not do nearly what the Apple Watch does. I think it's supremely useful - making technology both more immediate and less intrusive (hopefully). By all appearances it will be the first fashionable wearable technology in history. It's easy to overlook, but we're witnessing the transition from tech as discrete chunks of metal and technology to something that you wear. Whether $349 is worth it or not is a matter of opinion, values, and income. But we all know the iPhone started at $600 with contract, and now they're free-$199 with contract. The iPad was a minimum $499, and now older models sell new for $249. The field is wide open, but you can bet in 2 years they will be 25% thinner, 5x faster, and 25-50% cheaper.
  • As a consumer, it benefits me if they all interface with each other. Lock in is bad.
  • Not everyone is an iPhone user. You said it was what we all want no matter who you are. Without the ability to sync it with whatever I want whenever I want, it is not for me. And it won't be for many. No smart watch does things so well that I will feel the need to throw down hundreds on something that will not outlast it's price tag by all likelihood. I'm also in no need to see so little on such tiny screens. I understand that smart watches need to start somewhere, but I think they're all going in the wrong direction by following traditional watch design. And there's also a lot of bad ideas being implemented. It shouldn't do everything, but should do a few things amazingly well. Make it a souped up fitness tracker and a cram as many sensors as you can in there. Cramping the interface with tons of notifications is going to be distracting on those little screens. People run into things all the time with there faces in there phones 24/7, can you imagine people looking down at there watches every minute or constantly holding their arms in their faces just to get a gander at their messages? Be complimentary, not confusing. Be classy, not clunky. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • @VAVA Mk2: Actually, you are demonstrably wrong on the first point, and the second point is irrelevant.
  • Please do explain. Enlighten me.
  • Well checking Apple's website for even a moment will definitely show you that the Apple Watch can do things that other watches cannot. Just because you don't like these things, doesn't make them non-existent. Your second point is irrelevant because it's a personal opinion, and based on no facts apart from that (at least that I can see). So it's not even what they used to call an "informed opinion." All the posts you are making here today seem to reflect nothing other than your quite obvious hatred/dislike of the Apple Watch. You make no factual claims, you don't even have a real argument. You are really just stating your dislike for the product over and over again in various ways. It's perfectly fine if you don't like it of course. To pretend that you have arguments against it's utility or that your dislike of it is based on anything substantial, or factual, or really anything other than your own personal preference however is false.
  • Neither did you. What can it do other watches can't? You fail to mention that.
  • All that taptastic stuff for starters. The picture messaging, etc. It's obvious to anyone who's actually read the site that the watch does things that others don't. That's why I didn't state it, it's plainly obvious. Self-evident.
  • No please write it here as you are just saying whatever is on their site is stuff no one else has done. I have read plenty of blogs, pro Apple, pro Android, and neutral, that have basically come to the same conclusion that the features in their smart watch is nothing we have not yet seen before and so far smart watches in general offer nothing new or amazing or ground breaking. You fail to make any arguments for Apple other than redirecting me to go to their site which is pretty lazy and not helping you argue why Apple Watch is a game changer.
  • "In a world where people value first first first, you value what matters first" -Sep 2014 apple event. People did not see the need for a smartphone or a tablet until the iPhone or iPad released. Even though smartphones and tablets existed before that did what the iPhone and iPad did. Don't apple skeptics ever learn from history? Its is not matter what it does, but how it does it. Plus partnerships, dev community, accessories market, quality of 3rd party apps, after sales support... all together change the world. Until now Android wear did not pick up. Once the Apple watch releases, then more Android wear products will sell. See even being an alternative to an Apple product is profitable. -Domnic
    @m3mario
  • Sorry not a watch guy Sent from the iMore App
  • We weren't pocket phone people before cell phones either.
  • Not exactly the best retort or response but OK. A cell phone can help you check the time along with the many uses people have enjoyed from cell phones for decades. A watch is now a jewelry piece as pretty much everyone carries around a smartphone that can check the time anyways. A smart watch currently acts as an accessory or extension to a phone, but so far, no earth-shattering need or experience has been shown from ANY smart watch.
  • Yeah... But watches exist now.... Sorry Rene. I just don't see it happening. The whole apple watch thing is a joke to me. I have tried smart watches. They solve a problem that doesn't exist. Sent from the iMore App
  • That's different. Watches have been around a lot longer than cell phones, so people are used to the feeling on the wrist. I am not a fan of it.
  • No doubt there are plenty of people who will buy the Apple watch for the reasons discussed above (and because it looks cool, of course). But for me: the entire article could be swallowed up in one sentence: makes it so I don't have to take my phone out of my pocket. I'm not spending $350+ for that. I'm really, really interested to see the sales figures when this thing hits the streets. Are there more enough gadget people to make this a worthwhile project for Apple? Or are most people going to pass?
  • From the time I heard rumors of the Apple Watch I had a similar mindset. "Sure it's nice, but why bother when my G Shock is in great shape and I can just pull my phone out of my pocket for anything related to it. Then a couple friends convinced me to get a Pebble. After two weeks with it, I'm sold on smart watches in general. As professionalism goes, it's bad form to pull out the phone even if you're just checking the time; this is why I've continued to wear a watch. Now with the Pebble I can check my wrist when it vibrates. To most people I'm checking the time. Even if they're aware it's a Pebble, a quick glimpse at the wrist is less "offensive" than pulling out the phone to be sure that phone call isn't important. However, after two weeks with the Pebble, I'm now also pretty much sold on the Apple Watch. Granted, it's partially just for convenience - where it overlaps the Pebble as well as where the Apple Watch will be more tightly integrated with the phone than the Pebble. A quick response to a text from the wrist and such. I'm also interested in the health aspects it will incorporate. I'm not 100% sold at this point - that will have to wait until the announcement - but I'm pretty close.
  • I love the idea of all these features, but the battery life has kept me with my Casio ABC watch (I just bought a new one, rather than holding out for the Apple Watch). I don't want to be sitting there with my wrist attached to a wall right next to where my phone is attached to the wall, both charging. I use my watch far too much as a watch (mainly when coaching) to have to worry about how often I'm lighting up the screen. Also, not waterproof, so no go for me.
  • Actually, I just want one 'cos it's a nice looking watch - anything else it can do is a bonus.
  • If you want a nice-looking watch, get a Citizen or another brand in that price range. I like tech as much as the next guy, but a nice conventional watch just looks classy. I bought an Invictia a couple of years ago for just over $100, and I had no idea how many compliments I'd get when I wore it to work.
  • But what if he likes the AppleWatch? That's the thing about "nice looking." It means different things to different people. I don't care for Citizen watches, but I love my Mondaine.
  • One thing that Apple Watch (even if it did NOTHING but tell the time), has over most other watches (ESPECIALLY the expensive ones), is that it's digital. One of the main reasons I never wear a watch anymore is I have no time to be figuring out analogue clock faces, and all that ancient "it is a quarter past five," crapola. Most of the digital watches are just some crap $10 plastic thing, and most of the really fine, high end watches are analogue. When I look at my wrist or pull out my phone, I want to see the TIME. I don't want to be presented with an old-fashioned analogue *representation* of time, based on sun-dials and mechanical gears. I don't want to have to spend time looking at the watch and translating the position of the hands into the time. I just want to see 11:32 (or whatever).
  • Not to mention you can set alarms and whatever. I constantly miss calls or reminders on my phone because I set it to mute. Hopefully the watch makes that better.
  • You're pained by figuring out what time it is when the big hand is on the 2 and the little hand is on the 5? Really? I guess we truly are a lazy society.. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • You can't tell time in a traditional watch? Really? No, seriously? Sent from the iMore App
  • Gazoobe I hope you tell everything you said in your previous comment to your 2nd grade teacher.
  • Those expensive watches are like that for a reason. They still hold classic timeless aesthetics to be of utmost importance. No watch with a digital face has the class of an analog watch. That isn't opinion. If you can't read the watch, they don't want you buying one. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • I too am a technology enthusiast. Owning a MacBook, iPhone, iPad and other Apple devices in the past. I will not be getting the watch. Good sales pitch tho...
  • +1 Sent from the iMore App
  • Here's my issue with most smartwatches: they really don't add much functionality that my phone doesn't already have, and my phone is right there, in my pocket or on my desk. All I really get is the same information on my phone pushed to my wrist. And, for that convenience, I have yet another device to charge, and I'm out several hundred bucks. For that price, I can get a very nice conventional watch that, with proper care, can last for decades. How long will the average smartwatch last, either before it dies or needs to be replaced to gain new features? A year or two? Sorry, I'm not seeing the value. Maybe it'll be there in a few years, but it isn't there right now.
  • This Sent from the iMore App
  • They add convenience, and the ability to substitute small tasks that you would do normally on your phone, I have had the pebble for nearly 2 years now, I wear it every day and it doesn't do 1/4 of the stuff the apple watch will. I will enjoy the ability to decline a call and send a text when I am in a meeting. I will use it when I am running to track my time/distance and see real time as I train for an upcoming marathon. Right now I use my pebble to check scores using the espn app and check in using the swarm app, control my music when I am in the shower or running. I know that as much as I use the pebble I will use the apple watch even more, for me that makes it worth it, and I suspect millions of others will agree. I do agree that smart watches are in their infancy and there is a lot of upside to this technology in the future.