GUEST BLOG: Apple Watch is for girls (and that's a good thing)

In this guest post Dr Sunny Bains, editorial director of UCL ENGins and lecturer specialising in stories on emerging technologies in AI, computing, and telecoms, discusses why the Apple Watch is well suited to women and why this is a good thing. 

I have no pockets. Well, not none but few: and, like many women, I tend not to use those I do have (it’s a thing). Instead, I keep my phone in my handbag, usually with the ringer off.

You can imagine the consequences: phone calls left unanswered, texts unread. Turning up to teach at the wrong lecture theatre because, as I walk around my giant university campus, I foolishly rely on memory rather than dig out my phone, juggling coat, bag and backpack as I go.

I used to wear a beautiful analogue watch with a personal inscription on the back and was happy with that. I was an Apple person, totally co-opted by the eco-system but never really felt tempted by this particular gadget.

That is, until one October evening in 2016. I had dinner with a friend who is a real action hero: she had been a paramedic and a high-flyer (sometimes literally) in the Territorial Army, and now works as a medic on ships in the Royal Naval Auxiliary. She demoed her watch for me. Her appointments were right there on her wrist, with locations and reminders and names. That was useful. That would get me to lectures on time.

I took a punt and I bought one (I think it was actually the next day), and have never regretted it. Neither has my husband. Not only do I now know where I am going and why, but I always get my text messages and answer them instantly (even if Siri’s interpretation of my reply is often comedic, and I occasionally have to give up and scribble instead). I can also answer my phone without getting it out of my bag (even if I do look like a lunatic talking into a Dick Tracy watch).

Those are the big things, but there are little ones too. The voice-activated timer and alarm for instance, I use daily for checking on things around the house (laundry, cooking, kid) and calling people back. I routinely ask Siri when a particular film came out, or what the weather will be, or some other random fact: and I often get the right answer.

Best of all, my phone now calls out to me when it’s mislaid. We play an electronic game of Marco Polo and I find it in seconds. Miraculous!

The downsides? Not many. One would be the navigation system that works well enough for you to want to use it but not well enough for it to reliably get you from A to B without looking at your phone. Also, there are lots of apps for the watch that seem cool in theory but do almost nothing in practice: you have to separate the wheat from the chaff. Oh, and there is the fact that most of the men I meet are perplexed that I find the thing useful. (They have pockets.)

Lastly, there’s the advertising. I think of the Apple Watch as a personal organisation tool. Judging by the ads, Apple seems to think it’s a cool toy for young sporty types. Personally, I’m too clumsy to risk wearing anything but a cheap sports watch in the gym, and – though I was willing to spend £300ish on something for work – I would never have spent it for play.

The lesson? There are a lot of professional women. We have money (and spend it). Don’t ignore us!