Finally, it's Apple Watch time

Pre-orders start Friday; sales (and deliveries) begin two weeks later

apple watch clock chrono pr

It's almost time.

Apple Watch pre-orders begin at midnight tonight, Pacific time (that's 3 a.m. ET Friday), with the Watch arriving in stores and from the delivery man on April 24.

It also means that on Monday morning, April 27, a lot of early adopters -- having spent the weekend figuring out how their new wearable works -- will stroll into the office without waiting for approval from IT.

The good news: Given Apple's history and the fact that it kick-started the BYOD movement with the iPhone and iPad, embracing the Apple Watch shouldn't be a big deal. Sure, early reviewers complained this week that it can be confusing and sluggish -- even as they acknowledged that it represents a paradigm shift in how people relate to technology.

But that's how people relate to the Watch, not how it relates to the workplace. Though there's been some concern about yet another device walking into the workplace -- network issues, data privacy concerns -- there's nothing the Watch can do that an iPhone doesn't already do. Its raison d'etre is to streamline specific activities without requiring you to grab your phone. (Nervous IT support types should already be familiar with Apple security in iOS devices, which can be found here.)

As such, it's the apps that will be crucial to success. According to a company memo sent by Apple CEO Tim Cook, more than 1,000 Apple Watch-compatible apps were submitted in the first four days after Apple started accepting the apps. And, according to Cook, the "rate of submissions has only been climbing since then." Like the iPhone, there will be an app for nearly every need and every instance, and each Watch will be a personalized extension of its wearer.

There are already a few features and apps that will have a major affect on those that live on their mobile devices. For instance, customizable Watch faces will help play an important role in displaying relevant information at a glance, including upcoming meetings, events, weather info and other data. For people who constantly check their phones, the Watch will be a major win: It's much easier to glance at your wrist than pull a phone out of your pocket. I found this out first-hand after spending five months with the Microsoft Band, which offers phone notifications, but lacks the sophistication and details that can be shown on the Watch's much larger Retina display.

Salesforce Wave Apple

Salesforce Wave

For businesses, there are already a variety of apps that deliver enterprise-worthy functionality: collaboration apps such as Slack and Redbooth will make it easier for groups to stay on top of things to do. Invoice2Go lets you track time spent on a site visit, using geofencing to start and stop the timeclock based on when you enter and leave the geofence. And if your company uses Salesforce, there a few apps on deck that should give you at-a-glance information on key metrics, alongside Salesforce Wear, an SDK that allows Salesforce customers to create their own watch-capable apps.

Some companies are responding by changing how information is delivered. The New York Times has said it plans to offer one-sentence articles, succinctly summing up news so that the marrow of a story can be digested on the go. For those that spend a lot of time staring at their phone, this is the beginning of a trend that accentuates what the Watch is great for: important data in bite-size bits.

NY Times content for the Apple Watch New York Times

The New York Times plans to offer a variety of stories and other features in bite-sized bits on the Apple Watch.

For road-warriors, the Watch will be even more useful. Apps like the one used by Starwood hotels and resorts will assign you a room so you can bypass the front desk and unlock your door with a wave of your wrist. Airline apps will store and display relevant flight and boarding data (as well as scanable barcodes that can be used to quickly get by security without fumbling for paperwork). If you travel for work, these kinds of changes will save you a lot of time.

American Airlines app for the Apple Watch Apple

American Airlines app for the Apple Watch

That's true, too, when you're away from home and don't know exactly where you're going. Not only are you a tourist but you look like a tourist, too, fumbling for directions on your phone. While the iPhone's map applications and GPS are extremely useful in navigating to destinations, the Watch will offer more discreet directions along the way to your destination.

Apple's Maps and third-party Watch apps like City Mapper both offer haptic feedback to directions in the form of taps on your wrist. This silent information lets you know exactly where you're going in strange cities, without the hassle of staring at your phone's screen. The City Mapper app even features mass transit data and will tap your wrist when it is time to get off at train, subway and bus stops without making it obvious.

If walking isn't your thing, the Uber app -- it was highlighted on stage during last month's Apple event -- allows you to book a car using your current location, also providing you information and a picture of your ride and driver, right on the wrist. And of course, you'll be able to pay for things using Apple Pay with a flick of the wrist.

The point is, all kinds of data will be available at a glance, and all of it can be personalized to your specific needs. Better yet, Apple execs are already looking beyond the upcoming launch and have promised that Watch software will improve, both in the short term and, more importantly, over the long haul with the introduction of fully native Apple Watch apps.

Because the Watch is aimed at the millions of people already using Apple products, especially the iPhone, it should just slip right into existing workflows and equipment, like a puzzle piece nobody knew was missing. Support for Handoff and Continuity is especially important: You can begin a phone call on the Watch and push it to the Phone with a button tap; start reading an email on the Watch, finish it on your Mac or iPhone. The level of sophisticated integration with products you're already using -- and with iOS 8's security -- is a major plus.

If Apple's reputation for easy-to-use first-generation products is any indicator, many new Watch owners should be able to get by with only a minimal amount of formal training. Most of it can be figured out by poking around the Watch and its apps themselves or by watching some of the Apple walkthrough videos -- which is, no doubt, just what a lot of Watch newbies will be doing in a couple of weeks.

So when they do walk into the office on the 27th, they can show you just what the Watch can do.


Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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