So here is where technology has taken us: my wife had a training session last week so she could learn how to tell time.
I should hasten to mention that Barbara is a reasonably intelligent woman despite the fact that she can watch eight or nine consecutive episodes of Property Brothers on HGTV. And although she will sometimes say, “I’ll be with you in a minute” and not appear until a half hour later, she is usually fairly punctual.
An Apple Watch.
There was a time (if you’ll pardon the expression) when it was a simple thing to operate a wristwatch. You’d wind it up, and rotate the hands until it displayed the current time, and put it on your wrist. For the rest of that entire day, you could glance at it and know what time it was. Then somebody invented battery-powered watches, and you didn’t even have to wind them anymore.
That was wayyyyyy too easy. About the only thing those watches had in common with my wife’s new watch is that you wore them on your wrist. Of course, my 1974 Timex couldn’t do much else except tell time. In the 21st Century, a device is not permitted to have only one function. Which explains the near-believability of this other birthday present Barbara received, given to her by our daughter.
While my 1974 Timex was fully operational once it was wound and set, Barbara’s watch had to be charged. And synced to all her other devices. And wi-fied (I think) and bluetoothed (I’m pretty sure).
Then Barb had to decide what she wanted it to look like when it was finally ready to tell her what time it was. Digital or analog? Extra large, modular, or Mickey Mouse? Or perhaps she would like to download an app that would let her Apple Watch display a picture of a Rolex watch telling time. You know, so she could pretend she was wearing a really expensive watch with her bright green silicon sports band.
Anyway, Barbara opted for what appeared to be a basic analog face (similar to that of my 1974 Timex) for her Apple Watch. And even once she had done that, for some reason, every time she touched it, it switched to China time.
I guess maybe it wanted to go home.
But wait! The Apple Watch was still not quite prepared to go to work. While I’ve owned watches with Swiss movements, this watch needed a Barbara movement. It steadfastly refused to perform even its most basic function unless Barbara tapped it or moved her arm. Only then would it manage to light up and tell her the time.
For me, this was a major drawback. I remembered all the meetings I had endured in my corporate days when I would constantly sneak surreptitious glances at my watch to see that only five minutes had passed since the last time some MBA type had used the word “paradigm.”
Although the Apple Watch purports to do many things, it does not include a magnifying function. It would be nice if it did, so it could help you read the microscopic type on the piece of paper that comes with it. Is it the instructions? The warranty? One of those legal documents Apple always asks you to agree to even though nobody ever reads them and for all we know, we could be signing away our first born children every time we register with iTunes?
In any case, Apple must know that a normal person cannot operate its timepiece without assistance, because soon after I ordered the watch, I received an email from Apple offering a live, personal tutorial. I forwarded this to Barbara after I gave her the watch, and, a day later, a tech from Texas endeavored to tutor my lovely wife in the intricacies of time keeping. She closed her office door during this session so I couldn’t eavesdrop. When she emerged, I asked her how it went.
“Eh,” she replied. When I asked her to elaborate, she told me that the guy wanted to tell her about answering and sending texts and downloading apps and such, which Barb had little interest in. “If I want to send a text,” Barb told me, “I’ll take out my iPhone. Or my iPad.”
Not that she has too many devices or anything.
“And,” she added, “we never even got to the fitness functions, which is one of the main reasons I wanted it.”
One of the other main reasons she wanted an Apple Watch is so she would know when her Apple phone was ringing. This is a far better method than the old way she knew it was ringing, which was me yelling “CELL!” because she never seemed to be in the same room of the house as her phone and she wouldn’t hear it ringing. Although, literally as I was writing this post, I had to yell “CELL!” because not only was Barbara not in the same room as her phone, she was not in the same room as her watch. (I assume her wrist was still with her.)
The third main reason she wanted an Apple Watch was to tell time, and I’m happy to report that she had that function working perfectly right away. Except that, right after her tutorial session, the phone started updating. Keep in mind that this was a one-day-old watch in a brand new model (Series 2) that had just become available that week. And already it needed to be updated.
My 1974 Timex never had to do that. It remains to be seen if Barbara’s Apple Watch will take a licking and keep on…whatever the hell sound it makes.
See you soon.