Should You Buy an Apple Watch?

This article appeared in the March/April 2015 issue of iPhone Life magazine. To subscribe to the magazine, visit iPhoneLife.com/subscribe.

Photo Credit: Huge digital agency, Jocelyn Song

 

When I first heard about the original iPhone, I wasn’t impressed. My initial reaction went something like: “Just what I need, another way to check Facebook” Admittedly, at the time, I was a couch-surfing kid in Thailand, rocking a fuzzy mohawk and carrying all my worldly possessions around on my back. I had not yet blossomed into the tech enthusiast and die-hard Apple fanboy that I am today. That began to change the first time I saw an iPhone in action while hiking through Golden Gate Park with a friend. When we started to get hungry, he took out his new iPhone, found a tasty Thai place nearby on Yelp, and used Maps to direct us there.

When Apple announced the iPad in 2010, I once again failed to recognize the value of the new product category. “Why would anybody want an oversized iPod touch?” I thought. Six months later, an iPad occupied prime real estate on my nightstand and it hasn’t left my side since.

 

READ BETWEEN THE SPECS 

Just as I once questioned the value of the iPad’s larger screen, many are now questioning the utility of the Apple Watch’s tiny screen. It’s human nature to resist change and to doubt the next big idea. I’ve underestimated Apple twice already, and I’m not about to do it again. In my five years of covering the industry, I’ve learned that what makes a product great is not a collection of features and specs, but rather the contribution the product makes to your life. Steve Jobs understood this better than anyone, and the company that he built is continuing his legacy.

 

RECEDING TECHNOLOGY 

A major critique of modern society is centered around our tendency to walk around with smartphones in front of our faces. The Apple Watch will give us access to many of the iPhone’s most valuable features while allowing the technology to recede into the background. It will allow us to navigate big cities, pay for goods, and view notifications all while keeping our phones in our pockets and remaining engaged with the outside world.

 

IMPROVING HEALTH 

One of the biggest benefits of the Apple Watch is, of course, its fitness-tracking capabilities. It’s no secret that we have an obesity epidemic in the United States. Nearly 70 percent of all Americans over 20 years old are now overweight or obese, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Apple Watch uses an accelerometer, a heart rate sensor, and GPS to track our steps and number of calories burned throughout the day to help us improve our health by getting in better shape.

 

NAVIGATING THE INTERNET OF THINGS 

I believe the Apple Watch will be instrumental in connecting the so-called “Internet of things” One of the hottest trends at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show was the connected home—from smart cars to refrigerators to security systems. While smartphones offer more advanced navigation than traditional analog controls like keys, light switches, and intercoms, they still pose some challenges. Nobody wants to constantly keep his or her smartphone on hand.

Smartwatches provide the perfect solution—they still offer an advanced user interface, but are much more accessible than the iPhone. On a frigid winter day, it would be much easier to hold your wrist to your car’s ignition than to have to take off your gloves and dig your phone out of your pocket or purse. I think that smartwatches will eventually become the lynchpin of the connected home and the Internet of things.

 

THE COMPETITION 

The Apple Watch is going up against competition from two product categories: smartwatches and fitness trackers. Most competing smartwatches are Android wearables running Google’s modified OS, Android Wear. Yet Apple Watch is well ahead of today’s Android watches, both in terms of looks and functionality.

Android Wear relies primarily on Google Now cards. In theory, these cards give you relevant information based on your time and location, showing the weather as you leave the house or your shopping list as you pull up to the store. In practice, however, I found Android Wear to be somewhat limiting. Google didn’t always pull up the information I wanted, and the operating system felt a little half baked. While it lets you respond to texts and set reminders, it lacks some core functionality, such as the ability to initiate texts and view photos. Furthermore, all of the Android watches still feel bulky. The round-faced LG G Watch R is perhaps the nicest-looking Android wearable on the market, but it still feels a bit too heavy on my wrist.

Apple did not differentiate its health functionality much from other fitness trackers on the market. If all you want is to track your health metrics, most fitness trackers will have the same metrics as Apple, but they'll be more compact and cheaper, with a better battery life. My favorite fitness tracker is the Withings Activité. It looks like an analog watch, but it syncs with your iPhone and has all the fitness metrics you could want. But if you want iPhone integration, including navigation, messaging, and Apple Pay, the Apple Watch is by far the best option on the market.

 

THE QUESTION AT HAND 

So, for those of you wondering if you should buy the Apple Watch, my advice is unequivocally, “Yes!” Not only will it make your life better right out of the box, but it will also continue to improve over time. As with the iPad and the iPhone before it, many of the benefits of the Apple Watch will become obvious as we start using it and as third-party developers invent new uses for the device.

When the iPhone first came out, the media and blogosphere wrote countless articles analyzing whether or not you should buy the world’s first smartphone.Today, very few people are debating whether smartphones add value to our lives. The question has shifted from “Should you buy a smart-phone?” to “Which smartphone should you buy?” In five years, we will be treating wearables the same way. Smart-watches are the future, and Apple has once again moved to the head of the pack.

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Author Details

David Averbach's picture

Author Details

David Averbach

David Averbach is the CEO and Publisher of iPhone Life and has been teaching readers how to get the most out of their iPhone for 8+ years. He has shared his Apple expertise on multiple industry panels and was awarded FOLIO magazine’s 2014 media industry’s innovators 20 in Their 20s. David co-hosts the iPhone Life Podcast and writes regular columns for iPhone Life magazine and iPhoneLife.com. He grew up on Macs and now has a MacBook Pro, iPhone, iPad Pro, Apple Watch HomePod, Apple TV, and AirPods. David enjoys a good cup of coffee and loves traveling (he’s been to over 25 countries and was featured in a San Antonio Express News article on travel apps.)

To contact David, email him at david@iphonelife.com.