If you’re wondering whether to buy an Apple Watch, consider your computing life as a hierarchy of needs:
At the bottom sits your must have device—a computer, tablet, or phone—capable of independently accessing the Internet and storing useful quantities of data. And one step above that is Internet access itself. You need a device to use it, but your device can’t do much without it.
Every tier similarly builds upon the one below it. Next comes useful apps—browsers, productivity software, whatever you need to work and play—and these all extend your device’s functionality in basic, useful ways. Services for work (Dropbox, Office 365) and entertainment (Spotify, Netflix) follow. The line between software and services is increasingly blurry (especially if we’re talking about software-as-a-service) but most of them feel more optional. Everyone needs a browser. Not everyone needs Dropbox and Netflix and Facebook.
The Andrew Cunningham Tech Hierarchy of Needs. Note the Mickey Mouse watch face at the very, very top.
Finally, we get to the top of most users’ needs—accessories. This encompasses anything that wouldn’t work (or would be drastically less capable) without everything toward the bottom of the pyramid: standalone cameras, iPods, printers, scanners, input devices, and—yes—watches.
Make no mistake, the Apple Watch is a thoroughly optional accessory. Even if you think you want it, wait if there’s a shadow of a doubt in your mind—if not for the inevitable hardware revision, then at least for the OS and the surrounding app ecosystem to firm up. A $349-or-more pricetag is still a lot of money to spend on a question mark.
But after spending a week with an Ars-purchased 42mm space gray model (and spending a substantial amount of time with Android Wear), I can tell you that unnecessary things can still be useful. If you buy or like using your Apple Watch, you’re not an idiot who is wasting both your money and your precious time on this earth.
So the Apple Watch isn’t something you need, but does it make things “quick” and “convenient,” as Apple’s own marketing suggests? As the heir apparent to the smartwatch throne, does it live up to its advance billing? And as a version 1.0 product, what still needs to be fixed—and how?