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Hands on: The first Apple Watch apps for road warriors

Galen Gruman | April 28, 2015
30 first-gen apps show promise, but still make you wonder about smartwatch utility

Also, PowerPoint heavily favors storing files on a cloud service (especially Microsoft's own OneDrive), so you either have to remember to copy the file to your iPhone's local storage in PowerPoint, or be sure you have a good Internet connection. Keynote syncs a copy of its files to all devices, so chances are you have a local copy automatically to remote-control. Even if Internet access is unavailable, you still can present. This is not an Apple Watch issue specifically. But when combined with the iPhone-only remote control, PowerPoint for Apple Watch is less usable.

The Yelp app is nicely designed, providing a good amount of detail on nearby restaurants, bars, and cafés on the Apple Watch -- without becoming difficult to read or navigate. That's a coup. But there are no phone numbers to call to make a reservation or order takeout! That's a big miss, especially since the Apple Watch can make calls. Again, I'm left wondering why do this on an Apple Watch in the first place. (The good news is that you can tap the location on the Yelp map to tell the Apple Watch to begin navigating to it.)

Several apps, including Evernote and OneNote, use Siri for transcribing. (Several texting apps, including Skype and Apple's own Messages app, do the same.) That makes sense given the lack of keyboard on the Apple Watch, but it's not too handy for detailed typing. The use cases for note-taking and texting seem fairly limited to me.

I see the advantage of reviewing list-style notes from your wrist, which you can do easily enough on the OneNote app. But I found Evernote hard to work with on the Apple Watch, especially when trying to find previous notes.

Cloud storage providers like Apple, Dropbox, and Microsoft are desperate to get you to save your photos on their cloud services because those files are likely to take enough space to force you to move from a free storage tier to a paid one. That's got to be why Microsoft has an Apple Watch app for OneDrive -- all it does is access your photos on OneDrive, no other files. For business users, this is a useless watch app. For shutterbugs not aligned to Apple's iCloud or Dropbox, perhaps not. 

Some apps provide a useful feature but don't finish the job. Case in point: the PayByPhone app. If you don't have quarters or (in cities like San Francisco that have these) prepaid parking cards, the PayByPhone app is worth the surcharge it takes for paying for parking spaces on your behalf.

On the Apple Watch, the PayByPhone app shows you how much time is left on the meter, so you can add more money to the meter (from the app on your iPhone) or move your car elsewhere. But it doesn't let you when it's about to expire or when it does expire -- you have to check it manually. That's dumb. I also wish the PayByPhone Apple Watch would let me feed the meter, as the iPhone app can do.

 

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