Why You May Need Apple Watch

Apple Watch

Much has been made of the “need versus want” discussion regarding technology. Of course you may want that shiny new piece of technology, but do you need it? Will Apple Watch make your life measurably better?

After three weeks with a 42mm stainless-steel-and-sapphire companion, affixed to my wrist for 18 hours per day with Apple’s black classic strap, I have found five (5) reasons you might in fact need it:

1. Presence

I’m a single parent to two active, strong, curious, young boys. The moment iPhone comes out of my pocket, they lose. They lose my focus, my attention, my adoration, and my personality.

The only reason I want to take iPhone out of my pocket when I’m around my kids is to take their picture or shoot some video.

The only time I can spare to lose focus around them is for the briefest of moments to connect them with loved ones via FaceTime.

Apple Watch allows me to monitor only the most important notifications without occupying one of my hands. Hands that could be used to reach out to them, provide for them, or signal to them.

Apple Watch gives my kids, co-workers, and friends more of my presence. If you don’t think that the world could use more of you, then stop reading here.

2. Health

I’m a relentless athlete. I surf two or three times a week at one of the toughest breaks in America: San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. I skateboard, I walk vigorously at least half an hour per day, and I train my boys in wrestling and sparring at least once per week.

I have a walking desk at home. I avoid sugar, I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t smoke, and I avoid meat. So take my word for it:

Healthy habits are a lot of work.

Apple Watch helps me measure the effectiveness of all my habits, and helps motivate me. I know my heart rate, I make sure to keep from sitting for too long (sitting all day is provably worse than smoking). I measure my caloric burn. Of course iPhone can do a lot of this work, but many folks don’t carry their iPhone on them all the time.

You wear Apple Watch, and it knows more about you than iPhone. It’s more accurate when measuring steps, and it will be there when iPhone is tucked away in your bag or your purse.

If you don’t really care about improving your health, then you have my permission to go browse YouTube or something right now.

3. Punctuality

Time is money, they say. I believe that time is actually priceless, and I may be strange but I do believe in being on time.

I used to wear a watch always. Then I developed repetitive stress syndrome in my wrists and had to stop wearing one while I healed. That period of time coincided with the rise of iPhone and voila—no need to carry two timepieces.

iPhone tells me the time with perfect accuracy, but with a slight delay because I have to fetch it from my pocket. Sometimes I’m too busy or my hands are occupied. Lots of times, I’m either sitting down so it’s inconvenient, or I’m in mixed company and it’s socially awkward to fetch the phone.

Eventually, I developed a less-than-accurate measure of time. I became slightly late to every appointment, or sometimes missed windows of opportunity altogether because I lost track of time.

Apple Watch allows for the traditional gesture of checking the time at a glance.

It’s a subtle difference, but gestures are incredibly powerful.

I’ve replaced the “study” gesture of head-down, or the “worship” gesture of two-hands, with the heads-up “flick” gesture of the Watch glance. These gestures are orders of magnitude more efficient.

I now check the time more often, and I’m on time (or early) much more often than before.

No one needs to wear a watch—any watch—but if you care about the irreplaceable commodity of time, you need to save yours. Apple Watch saves me precious seconds that add up to minutes throughout the day, and maybe an hour or more over the course of a week.

4. Capability

Apple Watch is an extension of iPhone. It relies on iPhone’s connection to GPS and Internet for most of its functionality. There is one capability, beyond the heart-rate and other sensors, that Apple Watch has that iPhone does not: haptics.

When I first heard about Digital Touch, I thought it might be useful. Having used it to send taps and heartbeats, I realize it’s not merely useful—it’s revolutionary. Touch is a new network type, just like visuals or sound.

First we had our words or images to communicate remotely, via print or post. Then, we had voice to communicate remotely, via telephone or radio. Then we had video, via motion picture or television. Now, we have touch.

Again the effect is subtle but powerful, like an unexpected tap on the arm. This capability is in stark contrast to the buzz of iPhone in your pocket or bag. The Taptic Engine inside Apple Watch is equivalent to a gentle tap, or a lovingly insistent tug. The effect is a far more pleasant reminder. The result is a more authentic series of taps from a friend. The message becomes the most intimate series of beats right from the heart.

Maybe you are satisfied with the generic buzz of iPhone, or perhaps you’ve taken time to customize the buzz pattern for a friend or loved one. Even if you’ve gotten used to “phantom buzz” of iPhone in your pocket, these experiences are nothing like the Taptic Engine.

Once you’ve tried Digital Touch, you’ll realize how isolated we’ve become with these ancient methods of remote communication.

It’s only the beginning of this feature, but I’m convinced it’s a capability that we need.

5. Security

Perhaps you’ve found a reason to dissuade yourself from all of the previous four arguments. Maybe you’re a zen master with perfect mindfulness. Perhaps your old bit or band measures your health just fine, and you love your analog watch. Probably you’re jaded when it comes to new networks. I was jaded, perhaps because I’ve helped to create a few of them, and I know the usual end game means less connection without serious effort.

If none of these points hit home, here is one final reason that you absolutely need this new device:

Apple Watch is a more tactically appropriate and secure method of accessing information than any other device.

Glances are seconds instead of tens of seconds, information retrieval is sub-minute instead of minutes, and distraction is limited because functionality is understandably constrained.

In addition to this, the device is physically secured to your person. It doesn’t need to be retrieved and then returned to the pocket. I’ve gotten quick on the draw with iPhone, because I rely on it as a camera, and quick to return it to my special “tactic-cool” pant pocket. I’ve learned to do this because, remember, I have two boys.

The other night, I was practicing Core survival skills with my cadre at San Francisco’s Triple Aught Design. The first thing we are taught about surviving dangerous situations is how to avoid them. This is called Managing Unknown Contacts (or MUC).

The way we practice MUC is by role-playing. One person approaches the other, attempting to distract them or back them into a compromised position. The intent could be robbery or assault, it doesn’t matter. The point is to put someone off their guard using words and subtle approach. You can see where I’m going with this, but allow me to illustrate.

In a normal MUC situation, it takes a fair amount of genuine effort to enter a person’s personal space, or striking distance. You ask them for a dollar, or you fake being hurt, or you ask them for the time. All the while, you are encroaching on their personal space.

The proper way to react to this is to put your hands in front of you, affect a balanced and off-axis stance, and retreat in an arc towards safety. All the while you’re supposed to react with increasing verbal defensiveness.

With iPhone in your hand, you are immediately compromised. First, you’re a target, and the aggressor can manipulate you looking for information. Second, it takes valuable seconds to holster it. Third, your hands are out of position when you do holster iPhone. I tried MUC with iPhone in hand and failed every single time to anticipate or avoid the attack.

Then I tried MUC while checking Apple Watch. It was the perfect foil, because my attention was not in front of me, and the aggressor could ask for the time. However, in the Watch scenario, my hands were already in position. I didn’t have to holster the device because it’s attached to me. Although I was a target, my device is made of the strongest stuff possible, so I’m not as worried about Apple Watch as I would be about iPhone in a conflict.

The result was that I was less distracted, more prepared, and was able to anticipate most attacks, and avoid most compromising situations. I wasn’t as effective as I would be without the Glance gesture, but after that exercise I decided to write this article for you.

We live in a dangerous world. iPhone is an important tool for self-defense because of its camera and networking. That capability comes with responsibility and the cost of your attention, however. Whether you’re in a busy city like New York or San Francisco, or in the wilderness of a trail, it is far safer to check in using Apple Watch versus iPhone.

That’s why a major theme of iOSDevCamp this year is Apple Watch. There are many subtleties with development that go beyond learning to write good code. Join us from July 10-12 in San Jose, and share best practices along with new approaches to interface design for this unique new device.

Become a part of the iOSDevCamp community, and build on these ideas to make each other more safe, capable, healthy, punctual, and present.