When Apple first announced their sleek Apple Watch, I wasn’t impressed. I hadn’t worn a watch in years, instead relying on my iPhone to show me the current time. I AM an Apple fanboy however, having switched from Windows PC’s in about 2010 or so and never regretted it. But the Watch? Looked like an expensive toy to me and not something I could justify the cost of.
An article I read changed all that.
This article in Wired talked about how the author was able to silence his iPhone and get all notifications through taps on his wrist. This in turn allowed him to leave the phone in his pocket and focus more time on the people he was with.
Humm. I don’t have a problem with engaging with people, but my wife is VERY sensitive to noise and was constantly complaining about my iPhone going off on a regular basis, especially when we went to bed at night. I never liked the vibrate only feature of the iPhone because I had been caring for my sick father for several years and was always worried about getting a phone call in the middle of the night from my mother and I wouldn’t hear it. My dad passed way last year but I still worry about my mom calling and needing help in the middle of the night.
I told my wife about the silent notifications and she immediately said “GET IT. NOW!”
Well, OK, if you put it that way, I think I will try it out. Kind of expensive but it is not often my wife is adamant about me acquiring new technology.
So a week later and a trip to the Apple Store and I had a nice, black $399 basic Apple Watch. I spent a couple of days playing with it, getting it all set up and watching videos to learn the nuances of the watch. Within a week I was really happy and after a month of use I absolutely LOVE my watch and look forward to putting it on each morning.
As a working freelance photographer, I find the Apple Watch really enhances my work and life. There are quite a few features I love about my Watch, but here are the key photography-related features I love most.
- Silence – Yes, my wife loves the silence my Apple Watch brings to my life, but now so do I. No more ringing phone, no ESPN tones for game scores, no dings when I get a text message or Facebook message, no ringer when I get AP newswire updates. I love staying up to date with the world and knowing what is going on, but now all I get is a slight tap on the wrist. I can take a quick glance at my watch if I like to see the notification is important. If so I can answer it, if not, just let it wait until a more appropriate time. Now when I meet with clients or am working on a photo shoot, I can basically ignore my phone in my pocket and focus on my client. My phone stays in my pocket the entire time until I am done and out the door. How many meetings have you been to where everyone sits down and plops their phone on the desk? No more for me. Phone stays in my pocket and I can concentrate on my client.
- Music – Yea, yea, we get music with our iPhone, and I still use my iPhone to play my music. But now I can control my iPhone from my wrist. If I am on a photo shoot, especially in the studio, I will bring a Bluetooth speaker and play some tunes during the shoot just to help set the mood. But Bluetooth only has a range of about 30′ or so on a good day with no obstructions. Get out of range with my iPhone in my pocket and the connection to the bluetooth speaker drops and I have to restart it again. If I leave my iPhone next to the speaker, then if I want to change a song, change volume, or pause the song, I have to walk over to the phone to make those changes. Now I can leave my iPhone within range of my bluetooth speaker and control the iPhone from my watch app. Just a quick flick of my wrist and the app is up – I can skip songs, adjust the volume, pause a song, all with a touch of my wrist. I can even keep my camera in my left hand and adjust settings with my right without ever putting my camera down. And if I wander out of range of my iPhone, the music just keeps playing and I can control the phone again when I come back in range, without having to restart the session with my bluetooth speaker.
Music is MUCH nicer with my Apple Watch and hence much more enjoyable on a shoot.
- Messages and Notifications – I really like how my Apple Watch makes messaging easy while driving or riding motorcycles or my bicycle. I can quickly respond with a touch of my wrist or by speaking to SIRI. On two wheels I have to pull over because SIRI can’t understand me through the wind noise, but no more fishing my iPhone out of my pocket at a stop sign. Just flip my wrist up, say “Hey SIRI” and I can respond to texts and messages as needed. Or just pop up my wrist and check a message.
- Photo Podcasts – I really like to listen to photography podcasts and my watch makes the process much easier, especially when riding my bicycle or motorcycle. I can put my earbuds in under my helmet, start my podcast, drop my phone in my pocket, then listen to the podcast and control it as needed right from my wrist, just like I do with music.
- Fitness – Probably the biggest change for me has been using the various fitness apps on my watch. This is not necessarily photography related, but after dealing with my father’s failing health for over two years, I can really see the value of having long term data such as heart rate, calories burned, steps taken, exercise time, etc. I also started recording my blood sugar, weight, and blood pressure every morning so that I could provide trend information to my doctors at my next visit. I know that long term trend information is very, very valuable for doctors and the health app on my watch is a great way to record that information and present it to my physician during checkups. I expect this will have a long term valuable affect on my health. Not to mention seeing your health improve is motivating!
I haven’t started using other features of the Watch like timers and many third party apps. I am looking forward to my Develop app running on my watch so I can be notified of my chemical film developing times via my wrist rather than my phone. I can see benefit from having my other photography apps on my wrist such as sunrise and sunset, depth of field calculations, etc.
So was my Watch worth the $399 investment? HECK YEA! I was very pleasantly surprised. I was expecting to be underwhelmed by the Apple Watch, but so far is has far EXCEEDED my expectations. Of course, if you don’t have an iPhone you probably don’t want to buy an Apple Watch, but if you are tied into the Apple ecosystem I think you will LOVE the Apple Watch.