Apple Watch: What it brings to business users

The Apple Watch's notifications, contextual status, transactions, and communications extend the iPhone's capabilities to your wrist

apple watch
Credit: Apple

Apple today formally introduced its Apple Watch, which it previewed last September. The iPhone companion's prices start at $349, and you can order one beginning April 10, with a ship date of April 24. iOS 8.2, which is required to use the Apple Watch with an iPhone, will be released today as an update.

Much of what the Apple Watch will do has long been known: notifications, health and fitness monitoring, mobile payments, and communications. But today we learned more specifics about what Watch apps -- designed using the WatchKIt APIs in Apple's Xcode development tool -- can do for business users. Such apps are critical to the Apple Watch's utility.

Here are the features that you'll likely use in your work life, most of which you can control via a combination of Siri voice commands and scrolling via the watch's crown (dial). Apps also support touch gestures and presses.

Notifications

The Apple Watch stays in sync with an iPhone 5 or later via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and it displays notifications on the watch that arrive at your iPhone. As you'd expect, these include emails, calendar items, text messages, and phone calls.

But the Apple Watch's Passbook app also shows boarding pass for airline flights and other tickets. The Stocks app shows current prices for the stock and funds you track. Additionally, the Weather app shows current weather and forecasts.

Third-party apps will add more such notifications to the Apple Watch.

Glances

The Apple Watch UI uses the concept of glances to show onscreen what the app believes is most relevant in your current context. For example, a hotel app might show your room number the day you are checking in, or an airline app might show the boarding time for your flight that day.

Glances are similar in concept to the Today widgets on the iPhone and iPad, showing you what the app developer believes iOS the relevant current information. If you tap an app's glance display, the Apple Watch launches the app; there's no interaction with the glance content itself in that glance view.

Transactions

The Apple Watch supports Apple Pay, so you can leave your iPhone in your pocket to make purchases. 

But the Apple Watch can conduct other transactions, such as unlocking home doors at hotels with compatible door locks or summoning a driver from the Uber car service. You can expect electronic door locks for homes and offices to support Apple Watch, not only hotel-room locks.

Communications

Using Siri, you can respond to text messages. The Apple Watch also lets you respond to phone calls, Dick Tracy-style, over the Wi-Fi connection to your iPhone, similar to how some Mac and iPad models can take phone calls via Wi-Fi connection to your iPhone using Apple's Continuity technology and FaceTime app.

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