The Apple Watch is undeniably the “must-have” gadget of the moment. Roughly 1.5 million of these high-tech timepieces were sold in the first week following the Apple Watch’s presale release on April 10, according to conservative estimates from analysts at Slice Intelligence. Some analysts predict Apple will sell over 30 million by the end of the year.
Still, the app ecosystem for the Apple Watch is young and sparse compared to the numerous apps available for smartphones and tablets. Some question the real benefits of smart watches, which, in many situations, are essentially push notifications, allowing users to view and respond to texts, calls, and email by glancing at the wrist as opposed to digging around for a smartphone or other device. For some small-business owners, though, there are some key apps for productivity and financial management that can prove the utility of this wearable technology. Whether you already have an Apple Watch strapped to your arm or you’re trying to rationalize buying one, here are a handful of apps that showcase the merits of the device for your business.
Invoice2Go makes great use of the Apple Watch’s portability for contract workers. The service uses the device’s geolocating ability to help you keep accurate records of check-in and check-out times at client sites. It also allows you to easily track time while on the job and get instant updates on expenses, who needs to be invoiced, and who owes money. With a few taps, you can send an invoice to a customer showing time spent on a job, balance due, and rate per hour — all through the Apple Watch. The app syncs across all devices to create simple, precise invoices. The Apple Watch version also provides a notification when a customer pays an invoice. Over 200,000 small businesses already use Invoice2Go, according to the company, which also claims to save users an average of three hours per week. Pricing starts at $49 per year.
Long emails are no fun on any small device, and can be especially painful on the small screen of the Apple Watch. The makers of TL;DR — which is internet-speak for “too long; didn’t read” — created an ingenious way to tackle email on the Apple Watch. The app translates email messages for easy Apple Watch consumption by turning them into cards resembling social media updates. In addition to essentially turning email into a series of text messages, TL;DR extracts all links to make them more clickable and turns any attached images into photo galleries. It also estimates how long it will take to read an email — and if a message is too long, users can instantly bring it up on an iPhone with a tap. TL;DR, which is free, allows for quick responses, including canned statements (“I’m on it,” etc.), emoji, and voice recordings.
Staying on task is one of the most obvious uses of adding a computer to a wristwatch. Clear, a terrifically minimalist productivity app, is a front runner for the best to-do list Apple Watch app. Clear allows you to easily create reminders and multiple running to-do lists, create different lists for different clients, or separate business tasks from personal ones. Scheduled tasks pop up (“Book Flight to NYC” or “Call Aaron”) right on your wrist. Clear, which is used by over 2.5 million people on various devices, can also create inventory and shopping lists. Since Apple hasn’t brought its Reminders app to its watch yet, this is a great alternative and can easily sync up across devices and online. Price: $4.99.
Fantastical 2 takes the simple concept of a calendar app and packs in an impressive amount of functionality. The makers even top the Apple Watch’s default calendar app by allowing simple voice dictation to set up appointments. You can say, “Staff meeting at 3 p.m. on Friday” to the Apple Watch and Fantastical 2 will create a calendar item. The app understands ambiguous terms like “lunch” and “dinner,” automatically scheduling these events for noon and 6 p.m., respectively. If a location is attached to an appointment, the app also pulls up driving directions. With a simple and colorful interface, Fantastical 2 also allows you to see at a glance how your time is allotted each day. Price: $4.99.
Slack, a free team communications tool, has been rapidly gaining popularity in the corporate world — employees at companies including Adobe and BuzzFeed use it — and the company that created it was valued at $2.8 billion during its latest funding round in April. The Apple Watch version of the app brings group conversations wherever you go and showcases them in easy-to-read messages. Users can switch among several separate group messages or direct message specific people. With a few taps on the Apple Watch, Slack users can respond with simple voice memos or saved responses (“Great work, team”). Slack messages are instantly searchable, which comes in handy for referring back to group discussions.