Sept. 15 2014 04:56 PM

From real-time-death notification to hot-flash tabulation, it does it all

BW 9-17-14

"We love to make new products that improve people's lives. We love to make things that allow our users to make things that they could never have imagined. We think it will redefine what people expect from its category."  

—Apple CEO Tim Cook


As the winner of an online sweepstakes (I stumbled onto it when I mistyped a url while shopping), I got to test drive the new iWatch for a week and am therefore in a unique position to weigh in on the attributes of this game-changing device. Reviews have swung from sycophantic praise to cartoonish mockery, but aside from it looking a little Casio-esque, I'd say I'm a lickspittle: This. Thing. Rules.

Obviously, you can tell time on the iWatch (big ups to the developers for thinking that one through). You can also talk to Siri, which I found comforting, as I often get lonely out in the world with nothing but my own original thoughts pinballing around my brain. Granted, I have a contusion on my forehead from bumping into walls and glass doors and other humans while staring down at my iWatch like Narcissus into the reflecting pool. But Siri guided me word-for-word right into the nearest emergency room for bandaging. The only improvement I'd like to see in a future generation is her ability to apply the Steri-Strips right there at Peet's. 

As expected, the iWatch can keep you apprised of Facebook and Twitter goings-on, as well as track your fitness progress and monitor your heart rate. What other reviewers have failed to mention—and I'm not sure why, since it's revolutionary—is how the iWatch can upload your real-time death to your social-media platforms should your heart stop beating. This'll save your family not only from having to send difficult text messages about your demise, but also from having to hack into your accounts. 

These incredible features are really just the iTip of the iIceberg. This little electronic wristlette is useful for myriad Activities of Daily Living or iADLs. For instance, new parents will be thrilled that this device can wipe the baby's ass, play Barbie with the toddler (this, alone, is worth the price of admission), and babysit while you take a shower. You don't even have to remove the iWatch: It can do all of this remotely. Lord knows I could have used this iWatch back in the day. 

Still, the iWatch is nothing for the parent of a fourth grader to sniff at. To whom—er, I mean—what did I turn when I couldn't help my kid figure out the number of different combinations in which Jose could feed his gerbil, his rat, his mouse and his snake? The iWatch, of course! It immediately wiped away my tears of frustration, patiently explained the best problem-solving strategy and then offered a consoling, "This is bullshit!" before cuing "Nothing" from A Chorus Line to underscore the sentiment and win my heart forever.

Other iADLs the iWatch can iHandle include picking up and dropping off the dry cleaning, walking the dog and volunteering at the homeless shelter (it cannot go to your dentist appointments, the singular fact that made me most conflicted about its value).

When it comes to grocery shopping, the iWatch has you mostly covered with the free Hot-and-Cold app. The iWatch can't actually do the shopping (Apple is still working on eliminating all IRL interpersonal interactions), but it does give you audio notifications when you're getting closer to or further from gluten-free products. This will make the lives of people with Celiac disease—as well as those who simply martyr themselves for no good reason on the altar of inedible bread—so much simpler.

Those of us who've spent years clamoring for brown-hued emoticons can finally be satisfied with the amazing new Etch-a-Sketch technology that allows users to make their own unique emoticons. Now my black and brown friends can send me pretty blue LED hands clapping instead of the Eurocentric yellow ones that always make me so mad on their behalf. Way to shine, Apple! Way to shine!

One radical feature included as part of the operating system is iBNclSv. It applies a complex algorithm to your contacts and determines whether some of your best friends are black. If you don't meet the required quota, your device will scan your immediate surroundings, and send you text messages each time you have an opportunity to befriend a person of color. (You may set your quota manually by going into Settings, Notifications, iDiversity, and then choosing a number between 1 and 10 in the "I'm Not Racist" field.)

Another savvy inclusion is the SwetTrkr4000. This feature tabulates hormonal dips, hot flashes, self-perception and mood swings. Data is correlated minute-by-minute, and warning pings are sent to partners, spouses and kids when an irrational tirade is eminent. New pings have been added to the device and include a European high-lo horn, an air-raid siren and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing "Hot in Herre." Warning pings can be followed by an automated text suggesting a peace-keeping smart phrase such as, "Your neck looks nothing remotely like chicken skin."

There's a bunch more that the iWatch can do—the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies it baked were nearly as good as mine—and I can't do it justice here on this page. What's most astounding is that we now have so much power right there on our Go-Go Gadget wrists. And this kind of access is never more important than when your iPhone is all the way over there in your other hand.


Email Aaryn Belfer. Aaryn blogs at aarynbelfer.com and you can follow her on Twitter @aarynb.

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