Smartwatch Life Hacks


I’m two months out from the first day I put on my Moto 360 smartwatch. I’ll be the first to admit that buying this gadget was a bit of a risk. I didn’t realize how useful this device was going to be. But now that I use it every day, I find myself lost when I forget it behind or the battery dies.

The great unboxing on December 16.

The great unboxing on December 16.

The first question everyone asks when they realize I’m interfacing with a smart device on my wrist is “What does it do?”. ( I mean, that’s after “Is that an apple watch?” ) And it’s hard to develop a quick answer. My answers revolve around the simple and fast: I can text from it, read emails and decline phone calls.

But the magic of this watch is the more nuanced, interesting tech life hacks that an always plugged-in person can appreciate.

Immediate Notifications

Social media is important to me. When I tell someone, “I’m always online.” I mean it. I want to know if someone is trying to reach me. It’s easy to push notifications to a tablet or a phone, but reading those notifications depends on the next time you check your device. If you’re in class or a meeting, it’s rude to fiddle with your phone.

The genius of a smartwatch is that I get the update as soon as it goes online. If you mention me in a tweet, my watch vibrates and the tweet pops up on my screen. As soon as it’s online, I know it’s happened.

And it’s not just twitter. We’re talking about Facebook and Tumblr too. If something I posted is blowing up, I know even if I’m not looking at my phone.

Calendar Alerts

Do you ever forget what classroom your class is in? Or exactly what time that class starts? I’ve been there (so many times). My planner runs my life. When it comes to schedule management, the old “if it’s not written down, it’s not real” explains my outlook.

I love getting a reminder 30 minutes before an event that the event’s going to happen (and where). Even better, some watch faces keep your upcoming daily events in queue on the homescreen. Every time you check the time, you can see what time your meetings are.

The notification cards are cute and timely.

The notification cards are cute and timely.

More Phone Battery Life

I hope those last few points sent home the idea that more watch checking = less phone checking. Because I’m using my watch to get updates I’d get from my phone, I keep my phone in my purse or out of my reach. This means I use my phone less. Which means my phone battery lasts longer.

The watch itself usually lasts me 12 hours or just a bit less. I haven’t worn it to death that often, maybe 10 times in the last two months. I have to charge it daily. But I also charge my phone daily. I don’t consider it a nuisance. It’s not like I would wear the watch to sleep.

You know what’s a nuisance? Replacing a one-trick-pony watch’s battery every 6 months at a kiosk at the mall. That’s literally the reason I went smartwatch: I like knowing the time but regular watches are kind of stupid.

All that info!

All that info!

Fast Information

When I check my watch, I know:

  • the time
  • my next appointments
  • the temperature / weather
  • my wifi status
  • my phone battery
  • my watch battery
  • the date

And that’s all without pressing any buttons. By raising my watch, I get that information. That’s because the dynamic watch faces (of which you can download for free) can offer so much information.

I didn’t realize how handy those things were until I started playing with different faces. But now I plan my device use around how much battery my watch says my phone has. Below 30%? Better not stream spotify while driving home.

Verbal Commands

I text while driving and I don’t have to take my hands off the wheel. With my Moto 360, I can tell my watch what to send in a text without touching a keyboard. It seemed silly at first to talk to my watch. There were a lot of blunders and embarrassing messages sent to my besties. But I’ve learned the nuances of voice texting and it’s convenient. Pronunciation has to be clear and the microphone has to be unobstructed.

Of course, texting while driving is not my preferred action. I’d much rather wait to arrive at my destination. I mostly use this function when I’m walking to class, at the supermarket or in a different room than my phone. (Or when I’m just too lazy to fish out my phone.)

Also, people totally talk to themselves when wearing bluetooth headsets and we’ve gotten used to that as a society. I’ve accepted that people can get over me talking at a watch.

Tumblr support is real.

Tumblr support is real.

The World’s Best Conversation Opener

If I got a dollar for every time I’ve heard the question, “Is that one of those smart watches?”, in that exact phrasing, I’d be able to buy a couple of new watch straps by now. And it started immediately; day one a cashier asked me about it while I bought some thai food. Since it’s new tech, everyone’s curious.

This might annoy some people, but I love the peanut gallery. I want to show you the amazing world of technology. This might be the first time someone sees a smartwatch, and I want it to be a good experience. If they can affiliate that experience with me, I don’t see a downside. I’m starting my career and if someone associates me with cutting-edge technology because of my watch, that’s a huge win.

I’ll even let someone try on my Moto 360. It took me a few weeks of explaining it to people to realize that this was a viable option. But let’s be honest, if it’s your first time putting one on, you might not have any idea how to use it. And there’s not a lot to actively do on it. I mainly let people put it on so they can see that it’s not mythical, bulky or strange. It’s a watch.

At the end of the day, that’s all it is: a watch. And it’s amazing to me that this watch can do so much. The potential for development is astonishing.

It’s Only Getting Better

I’ll never forget the first time I saw a Tumblr card on my watch. I was flipping through my updates and thought I was experiencing a glitch. I checked it out on my phone and sure enough, Tumblr added wear functionality without telling anyone. It’s so cool to experience the device become more useful while I’m using it. (Coming from a windows phone, which has no developer support, this is a world of a difference.)

I’m always scrolling through the app store and browsing the android wear support communities online. I can’t wait to get more functionality from this device.


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