a bit monkish.
Recently, I was sent an 42mm Apple Watch Sport to review from the perspective of how one might use it in a ministry setting (Note: I didn't pay for it). I've worn the watch for about a week now and feel I'm able to assess how it assists pastors and others in ministry.
Before receiving the Apple Watch, I had some fears, particularly about the screen scratching. I've read reports that despite the hardness of the glass, wearers noticed significant scratches on the watch face within the first couple of days of use. So far, in a week's worth of wear, I haven't experienced any scratches. Perhaps it's due to extra care I've tried to take. Give me a couple of more weeks when I forget that I'm wearing a $400 computer on my wrist, and who knows where I'll smack it.
Despite worries about battery life, I've worn my Apple Watch all day, every day, and have yet to register below 35% battery life. That's actually better than I anticipated it would be.
Out of the box, the Apple Watch started rapidly and without much fanfare. I was somewhat expecting the watch to greet me with the customary Apple multi-lingual "Hello," but it just went to the watch face. I found it easy to place the sport wristband on my wrist and it felt snug. The watch itself is very light, and I sometimes forget that it's on my wrist. The screen is bright, the text incredibly crisp, and the watch faces are semi-customizable, albeit a bit boring.
My initial thought regarding the watch is that it feels chained to my iPhone. In reality, it can't really do much if your iPhone is outside of bluetooth range. I've read people's report that the Apple Watch is an extension of the iPhone and that's exactly the case. What happens on your iPhone happens on your Apple Watch. The only native app I've noticed (besides the watch and the heart rate monitor) is the music player, which can hold a few gigabytes of songs. This comes in handy when you're working out with bluetooth headphones, as you don't have to lug your phone with you.
I've spent a week wearing the watch around the church I serve, and I've noticed that the Apple Watch can be an annoyance. For example, I was in a meeting this week and forgot to disable the sounds on my Apple devices. My phone, iPad, and Apple Watch all rang at the same time when I received a phone call. It was more than a bit embarrassing! Turning off the alerts can solve this, but if the alerts are disabled, why are you wearing an Apple Watch?
What I have found helpful, though, is the ability to see one's next appointment on the watch face. It's not necessary, of course. I found myself thinking, "Wow, I just saved three seconds of my day because I didn't have to take out my iPhone to look at my calendar!"
The Apple Watch health activity functions are what I like the most about this device. The watch reminds the wearer to stand up if the person is seated for more than an hour, it tracks steps, calories burned, and how much exercise one is getting each day. I've used health trackers before, but this one is the best.
The Apple Watch is so brand new that its full capabilities are yet to be known. Right now, I can see the Apple Watch being useful for Apple Pay, airline boarding passes, LED wireless lights control, and even unlocking and locking automobiles or home alarm systems. As developers discover creative uses for the Apple Watch, the number of apps will increase significantly. Apple says a software update is already being prepared for a fall release, so at least the company is aware of initial issues that need to be resolved.
My final thoughts? I hardly see a reason how the Apple Watch is going to help pastors minister to their congregations more effectively. In fact, it might (in the spirit of Methodism's founder John Wesley), do harm if church members see their pastor with a $400 gadget on his or her wrist. What kind of financial stewardship might that model? However, an Apple Watch received as a gift might be a fun diversion from stressful ministry.
After all, pastors can still like gadgets, can't we?
(c) 2015 Michael C. Voigts
I'm a follower of Christ serving as an Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation at Asbury Theological Seminary.