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My year with the Apple Watch: Good-looking tech, still flawed

Michael deAgonia | April 29, 2016
It's got a lot going for it as a wearable, but remains a work in progress.

For travelers, the Apple Watch is downright revolutionary. The American Airlines and Southwest Airlines apps are just two examples. Have you ever gone to an airport with just a carry on, a photo ID, and your Watch? It is incredibly convenient traveling without a paper boarding pass: no more struggling to juggle luggage and paper passes; just show your ID, scan the Watch face, and you're through security and boarding the plane in no time. For frequent travelers, this is almost a godsend. The best part is that since your boarding pass is digital, it updates on the fly. Did your boarding gate change and you missed the announcement? Doesn't matter; the Watch knows, and so do you.

While you're wandering through the airport, you can also quickly respond to incoming Messages on the Watch. I use Siri to dictate messages and rely on the animated emojis more often than I should admit. (Sometimes they're just cuter than the stock emojis.) Speaking of Siri, support for hands-free activation by raising the Watch and saying, "Hey, Siri," is an irreplaceable feature in the kitchen for starting count-down timers. Siri is also useful for dictating messages, checking scores, and quickly setting alarms (more on that below).

The Watch also works really well for controlling other Apple devices: Apple TV content and audio played through an iPhone or iPad can utilize the Watch as a remote control. This works really well because you can't ever misplace the remote when it's attached to your wrist.

Finally, for me the first- and third-party Complications on the customizable Watch Faces have become a major time-saver. Being able to glance at my next appointment, or flight information, or the current weather, or stock prices, or even moon phases -- all of which are continuously updated -- is such a luxury I've come to rely on.

The one app you should have

There is one utility I use all of the time on the Watch: MacID. It establishes a Bluetooth connection to your Mac, and whenever you walk away from the computer, it automatically triggers the screensaver and locks the Mac. When you return, the Watch buzzes and brings up an alert, letting you unlock your Mac with a touch of a button before you even sit down. It's very useful if you are working on confidential documents or even if you have prankster coworkers.

The utility has become more consistent in establishing and maintaining connections from day to day, though I sometimes have to delete the linked device and re-add it. But overall this is a great time saver; especially for those that have to leave their Mac up and running, such as IT workers.

 

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