The Apple Watch is the must-have gadget of the moment. The reviews have been mixed-to-positive, with some critics saying the still-hard-to-get watch will change how they receive and interact with information throughout the day.
But the question for small businesses to ponder is: Can an Apple Watch actually help you be more productive and efficient? Or is it simply another sparkly toy to distract you?
The answer depends upon the apps you use. Hundreds of business and productivity iOS apps offer extra functionality on the Apple Watch. Keep in mind that your iPhone is, more or less, the "brains" of your Apple Watch, as the wrist device depends upon your iPhone for most of the information it delivers.
Also, there are no stand-alone Apple Watch apps per se. Rather, Apple and other developers have updated their iOS apps with features that work on an Apple Watch, in addition to features that work on an iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. For example, with some apps in the iTunes App Store, you'll see the familiar description of "This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad," followed by "Works on Apple Watch with an iPhone."
Here are 12 iOS apps—organized below by function—that can help you get more done without taking your iPhone out of your pocket.
A Dozen Apple Watch Apps for Small Business
Microsoft's PowerPoint (free) is still the go-to presentation software for many small businesses. With the latest version of its iOS app, Microsoft added PowerPoint Remote, which lets you control a slide show from your wrist. Using the app, you can start and stop a presentation or return to a previous slide. In one screen, the app displays the elapsed time, current slide number, and total number of slides in the presentation.
Apple's PowerPoint competitor Keynote ($10, or free with the purchase of recent iOS devices) also provides a remote control function for Apple Watch. You can tap a big Play button to advance to the next slide, as well as see where you are in the presentation.
One disadvantage to both apps on an Apple Watch: Given the watch's small screen size, you won't have access to speaker notes.
Communicate With Your Team
Slack, a team communications tool with freemium pricing, is gaining traction among businesses both big and small. Small Business Computing included the app in its 20 Best Small Business Collaboration Tools in December 2014. The Slack iOS app now displays team messages on an Apple Watch and lets you reply to your most recent messages with either a canned response or a quick voice dictation. The Slack iOS app doesn't offer a Glance view for Apple Watch, however.
In Apple Watch parlance, a Glance is a one-screen glimpse of information displayed on the watch, such as current weather conditions or a company's stock price. Not all apps that work on Apple Watch offer Glances.
HipChat is another freemium team messaging tool that's popular with small and large businesses. The current iOS app lets you respond to messages with emojis or voice dictation, or you can hand off the message to your iPhone or Mac for a longer response.
Keep Up on Email
TL;DR (which stands for Too Long; Didn't Read) is a free iOS app that turns your Gmail messages into cards that resemble social media updates. On the Apple Watch, you can quickly respond to email with a thumbs-up or happy-face emoji, a quick voice dictation, or by choosing a canned response. It also gives you estimated read times of email.
Keep Tabs on Your Website
Squarespace is a freemium service that lets businesses build blog, ecommerce, and other websites using a variety of attractive templates. The free Squarespace Metrics app for iOS lets you quickly view your website's analytics on an Apple Watch, such as the number of daily and weekly page views; total revenue earned this week; browsers used to visit your site; and more.
The boldly attractive and aptly named Clear, a task, reminder, and to-do list management app for iOS ($5), lets you dictate new tasks and reminders using the Apple Watch's microphone. You can swipe tasks to mark them as completed and use the watch's Force Touch (in which you push down on the screen with your finger) to create a new task. Glance view shows your next upcoming reminder. The app supports Apple's "Handoff" feature, wich lets you view an upcoming reminder on the watch and then edit it on your iPhone.
Evernote is an excellent tool for small business collaboration, especially for sharing Web pages, email, and other content with team members. The Evernote iOS app lets you dictate and search for notes (including those made at specific locations), view recently added or updated notes, and create reminders.
While most small businesses can probably get by using Evernote's free service, Evernote Premium ($5/month) adds some goodies, such as annotating PDFs and the ability to automatically turn notes into a presentation.
Track Your Time
The free iOS time-tracking app Timely lets you start logging your time by tapping a button on an Apple Watch. By using Force Touch, you can delete a task or reschedule it for the next day. And Glances show your currently active timer. Though the app is free, Timely is a freemium service, though most small businesses will need at least the $14/month Freelancer plan.
James A. Martin writes The Apple Watch Watch blog and is a frequent contributor to Small Business Computing.
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