Unexpected Uses for the Apple Watch

Just to the shoot the elephant in the room: Yes, there is gadget lust involved here.

Ever since the original announcement I’ve wondered exactly how I could justify the purchase of something so unnecessary. The features are well documented by Apple and others. I don’t see a need to rehash what a cottage industry of speculation has already hashed.

So to my possible financial detriment, I went and looked at Apple’s Watch pages. Most of it was shown at the Spring Forward Event. As expected the photos are jaw-dropping, and all of the use cases seem oh-so-practical. It’s a site designed to open wallets.

Unexpected Productivity

What I wasn’t expecting to find was something that was entirely business-oriented and practical: time tracking.

Apple Watch with Invoice2Go app shown.

There are very few people on the planet that enjoy time tracking. One of the major reasons I’ve found is the lack of a common interface. Some apps are desktop-centric, others are phone-first. Switching between them is annoying. Even with the smoothest apps I’ve tried, there’s still friction.

Thankfully I’m not working on any projects that require me to track my time. I have a basic workflow tested in case something comes up. But I’m not happy with it. There’s a Mac widget for when I’m at the keyboard. It works well enough. The friction comes in when switching to the phone.

On the phone the usual process is to unlock it, open the app, choose the project, select the task, and then finally start the timer. Other apps might combine the project/task stop, but the workflow is pretty much the same across the board. Pomodoro timers for the phone have the same problem. There’s still the unlock step and app tapping.

Using an app faster than scribbling notes. There’s no transcription errors or forgetting to enter the data into the desktop app. Overall the apps are faster than anything we’ve had before. But they’re not seamless. Starting a timer doesn’t need a big screen. It just needs to be accessible.

These are the type of tasks that should migrate to the wrist. Mainly because there’s no device to pick up and unlock. The Watch will be right there1 no matter what you’re doing at the time.

Besides, with the right business apps, the purchase would be a tax deduction.

Apple Pay

One other thing I found: The Watch can use Apple Pay without the iPhone present. This means I could combine my exercise walks2 with quick errands. I don’t take my wallet on walks. I also can’t use Apple Pay because my iPhone is past its expiration date.3 It doesn’t have the NFC chip like the latest generation. Unless I grab my wallet or tuck a few bills in my sports bra, I can’t add an errand to my walk.

This doesn’t come up often, but it would be peace of mind to know I had a card available if needed. The security features of Apple Pay are also important. My bank has sent me two new debit cards since Apple Pay was launched. I’d really like to stop putting my card numbers in the hands of these large companies with poor IT practices.

In the end will I buy one. Probably. But not at launch. I want to see how they’re working in the real world first.

  1. Literally within arm’s reach.
  2. The exercise/health tracking features of the Watch are cool too. But I already have a fitness tracking band.
  3. It’s the original 5 and still going strong.