The Apple Watch Series 1 and 2 suck. Unless you are one of those sporty people, they are at best accessories for your iPhone. At worst, they are just dumb bling for your wrist. But the new series 3? The new series 3 makes me want to ditch my phone for the first time.
That’s because LTE–high speed cellular connectivity–is now built into the watch. As Apple’s Jeff Williams said during today’s keynote, having cellular connectivity was always the company’s objective for the Apple Watch. Like all nerds, Apple wanted to build Dick Tracy’s watch–one that could connect to high speed internet without the need for a phone. But until now, the company’s engineers just couldn’t fit every piece they needed into such a small package with a decent battery life.
Today, we get the realization of every nerd dream–the materialization of every future watch in every sci-fi movie and TV series.
This is a tiny device that I can wrap around my wrist to connect me to other people beaming signals through space without having to look like too much of a douchebag. I can take it with me at all times without worrying about it getting dropped or stolen. I use it to do everything I do with my iPhone except take photos and videos. I can access all the music I have in the cloud and listen to it in my AirPods. And it has new, enhanced heart monitoring software–the icing on the cake that will alert me when I have a heart attack on my way from the sofa to the fridge to lick the actual icing on the actual cake that is waiting for me right now.
Can I ditch my iPhone and live with an Apple Watch Series 3? Yes, if it truly works as advertised, I think I can. Like me, I suspect millions will look at this watch as an alternative to their phones–if not as a complete replacement, at least as a replacement for a large part of their day. The phone is still better for things that require concentration, like extensive writing, reading, or viewing large photos and videos. But I only do those things for work, and only on very specific occasions.
For free days, the Series 3 is a no brainer: Messaging a friend, looking at directions and the weather, monitoring activity, playing music or podcasts, and the occasional call can all be easily managed from the watch and a pair of AirPods. The one caveat? The watch doesn’t have a camera. So it wouldn’t replace the phone for people who take regular photos and videos (though this could be an opportunity for manufacturers–imagine a simple camera that would use the Apple Watch to upload photos and videos to the cloud).
Eventually, we will get to a point where we’ll no longer need iPhones. Technology is evolving rapidly, and Siri’s AI will eventually reach a Star Trek level of comprehension. Sure, I can imagine Westworld-style slates hanging around for everyone to consult and manipulate visual information through, and tiny autonomous cameras capturing dear mementos, but as far as having a personal computer and a connection to the cloud with us at all times? The watch could be the penultimate step into a future in which hardware fades into the background of the user experience.