This post by Christopher Russel does a great job capturing my feelings about the importance of the Apple Watch in a busy classroom environment.
The surprise Apple Watch feature this week has been a combination of Siri and Alarms. Yes, alarms.
Our Middle School has no bells (other than start of the day and end of the day). We have different schedules all the time. So what I have done is this: at the end of one class, I raise my wrist, say, “Hey Siri, set an Alarm for 10:15” (or whatever the ending time of the next class is).
At 10:15, my watch dings, but more importantly, taps my wrist, and I know that I need to dismiss students.
I cannot overstate the importance of alarms. My school has bells this year and I STILL need alarms to remind me when to let kids pack up in time to be at their next classes. I am usually setting alarms throughout the entire day. In the frantic moments of teaching it absolutely does make a difference to save a few moments asking Siri on my wrist to do it rather than fiddling around with my phone.
The same goes for notifications. I am always on the move at school. And I am able to be attentive to so many things without ever stopping the task at hand. I get notifications from Slack (the messaging service our music department uses to collaborate), iMessage, and important staff emails. This might seem unnecessary, but I love being able to know if one of my colleagues is sending me a troublesome student or if there is going to be a fire drill at a particular time that afternoon without dropping what I am doing. I keep all of my Apple devices on silent or do not disturb mode so I only get notified by the gentle haptic feedback on my wrist. The only exception is when I am sitting in front of my Mac which I also leave in do not disturb mode at work but see the little red badge on various apps to know I need to attend to something. Watch notifications are non intrusive enough that I can easily ignore them. But they are still pretty non intrusive even if I choose to read them. I think the basic clock and notification features of the Apple Watch are so well implemented that they very well may be the "killer apps" everyone is always saying a new and innovative product needs to have. At least they are for me.
That being said, I am curious to see what other kinds of apps can be made when Apple releases watchOS 2 on September 16th. This update is shipping with a native SDK which will allow software developers to make their apps perform a lot faster (all third party apps are garbage slow right now) and take advantage of the hardware of the watch, particularly the digital crown, speakers, and haptic engine. I am desperately awaiting a metronome app for the watch that allows me to change the tempo with the crown and feel the tempo with haptic feedback rather than the speakers.