I never thought of myself as the smartwatch type. I'm already too addicted to my phone, and making it easier to check in on Twitter and email and Slack seemed like the very last thing I needed. I had no plans to buy one. But then, my company bought all its employees an Apple Watch, so here I am with one. And unexpectedly, I'm loving it — mostly because I think it's a device that's really great for women.
The wearables world, and Apple in particular, has sought to woo female customers by making "fashionable" products that come with different colors, sizes, and buckles. The results have been decidedly mixed. While the colors are nice, even the small watch feels masculine and bulky.
But wearable tech has found a less shallow way to attract female customers, even if it didn't mean to.
If you added up all the minutes I've spent digging through my purse trying to track down a phone vibration, only to realize that it was just someone I don't know favoriting a tweet from someone else I don't know, you would easily have enough time to host a Star Wars trilogy marathon night.
Other women know how this feels. After the release of the iPhone 6, there was a collective eye-widening on the internet: How would this giant thing fit into anyone's, and especially a woman's ever-shrinking, pocket? How much time will we lose to bag-digging?
The Apple watch is now my answer to this problem. Since I put it on a week ago, the time I've spent dredging up my phone, tossing receipts and hand lotion on the ground in the process, has dropped dramatically. I'm no longer reaching behind myself at the dinner table or circling back to my bag at a party just to make sure I didn't miss a text or call.
And missing a birth control alarm? With the watch, it seems like a thing of the past.
Sure, I spend a decent amount of time worried that someone is going to rob me of the watch, since it's so ridiculously clunky and obvious and can be easily reset. But there's also an element of safety to having it as a woman: We've been told again and again not to look at our phones while we walk alone at night, but how are we supposed to get directions if we don't know where we're going? The watch vibrates when you're supposed to turn, with different vibrations for left and right.
More importantly, with the watch I feel like I could easily make an emergency phone call if I felt threatened on the street, whereas I would never have time to dig through my purse for my phone.
"It's also really easy and fast to call an Uber using the watch — probably my favorite use for it so far," a female colleague emailed, "which is handy in late-night situations."
Personal safety apps for women, like Circle of 6, are not yet available on the watch. But those too would be more accessible on a woman's wrist, adding a layer of mental if not physical security to walking home alone at night.
These features may not be a primary concern for wearable makers. It's certainly not the fashion-forward approach that companies have professed to. But it's an added upside for me personally, and maybe one that women in general will pick up on too. It's certainly a better selling point than the array of color-coordinated straps, even the pink one.