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Legal Loop: A week with the apple watch: first impressions

I’ve had my Apple Watch for a little over a week now. I bought the lowest priced Apple Sport Watch with a white band and I’ve worn it daily. I’ve had a chance to use many of its current functions and figured I’d share my first impressions with you now and then revisit the topic in a month or so once I’ve had a chance to travel with my watch — because I expect its features and apps will be particularly useful while traveling.

Nicole Black

Nicole Black


At the outset, it’s important to note what the watch is not. It is not a replacement for your iPhone. Just as tablets didn’t replace smartphones, the watch won’t either. Instead, like tablets, it supplements your smartphone’s features by screening out your iPhone’s digital noise and filtering out all but the most important notifications and updates.

The watch provides you with the most important information you need to know in a convenient, easily accessible way. No more reaching for your phone or digging through your purse to locate it when it’s ringing. Instead, you just look at your wrist for the time, the weather, your upcoming appointments, notifications of important communications and more.

For example, if you know you’ll be in a meeting or in court, you can adjust your phone’s “do not disturb” settings to allow calls from the specific contact groups that you create. Then, if your watch is set so that its notifications mirror your iPhone’s notifications, only calls from the people you specify will make it through to your watch. You can also create VIP email lists on your iPhone and mirror those alerts on your watch or filter out alerts for all but one specific email address.

I’ve chosen to receive only emails from my work email address on my watch. That way I don’t miss any important work emails. I receive all phone calls and texts on my watch, but since I don’t get many of either, the issue of an over-abundance of notifications hasn’t been an issue for me. The ability to receive these notifications and others on my watch has noticeably reduced the amount of times I reach for my iPhone and I find myself reaching for my phone less frequently.

The ability to receive phone calls on my watch has already come in handy. I happened to be in another room when I received a call that I’d been waiting for; the call rang simultaneously on my iPhone and Apple Watch. I accepted the call on my watch, thus allowing me to avoid an unpleasant game of phone tag.

The sound quality was surprisingly clear and I took the call while I was lifting something from a shelf above my head. The person who called me was unaware that I was taking the call on my watch and seemingly had no issues hearing me. I’ve read that calls received on a watch in a noisy environment can sometimes be difficult to hear but haven’t yet experienced that myself.

Another really useful function is the turn-by-turn directions with sound alerts and haptic notifications on my wrist prior to each turn. This is a noticeable improvement over using my phone for navigation purposes-even when my phone is connected to my car’s Bluetooth. With the watch’s navigation, because of the haptic notifications, I know a turn is coming up and am getting used to the different signals for left versus right turns. And if I’m not sure which way I’ll be turning, a quick glance at my wrist is all that’s needed to confirm. It’s an incredibly useful and intuitive way to navigate.

I’m really looking forward to using it while traveling and navigating a new city on foot. Instead of looking down at my phone as I walk, I’ll be able to simply walk and use my watch as a reference point should I need to. The ability to use the TripIt watch app to access my agenda and other information instead of fumbling around for my phone appeals to me as well, but I’ve not yet put that to the test.

I’ve also found the Activity app to be surprisingly useful. I appreciate the prompts to stand throughout my workday and enjoy viewing my activity levels for the day in addition to reviewing the Health app for an overview of my heart rate throughout the day. The noticeable spikes when I’m running late for a meeting along with other notable increases remind me that I need to pay more heed when the Cue app advises me to “take a few deep breath and pay attention to my breathing.”

Finally, it’s a more palatable experience than using Google Glass. I’ve never used Glass in public because I felt it made me appear anomalous. That’s not an issue with watch. It’s far more unobtrusive and fits in well to my daily routine. In my opinion, Apple Watch the gateway drug to wearables and in a few years, people will be wearing smart glasses, contacts and more. As a society we’re just not ready for that yet. But Apple Watch is a good bridge to that future.

That being said, the watch hasn’t changed my life nor has it changed my daily routine. But then again, I never expected that it would. Instead, as I said in my article about Apple Watch that I wrote before it was released: “The Apple Watch won’t clutter our digital lives; it will streamline them. This wearable technology will serve as an unobtrusive, immediate link to the truly important information that we need to know while filtering out the digital noise for later when we have time to sift through it.”

After using it for more than a week, I’m sticking to that prediction. As it stands now, I’ve enjoyed using the watch thus far and am looking forward to trying more features and apps as they are released. It’s got a lot of potential and I can’t wait to see where it will take us.

Nicole Black is a director at MyCase.com, a cloud-based law practice management platform. She is also of counsel to Fiandach & Fiandach in Rochester and is a GigaOM Pro analyst. She is the author of the ABA book “Cloud Computing for Lawyers,” coauthors the ABA book “Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier,” and co-authors “Criminal Law in New York,” a West-Thomson treatise. She speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes three legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.

One comment

  1. Interesting write up Nicole. I have been resisting buying the apple watch as it appeared more like an unnecessary neccesity. Being a lawyer myself, your experience definitely throws light on the possible utility of the apple watch. For now I would say it’s too early to buy it. Thanks, abhishek

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