The Apple Watch’s unlock feature could turn the smartwatch tides

Pull on your commenting pants because I’m going to offer up some wild speculation coupled with real-world experience to come to a conclusion that some of you might find ludicrous and others will find just weird. Here we go: I think the Apple Watch’s Mac unlock feature is one of the most compelling things about the watch itself and could turn the smartwatch tides if more manufacturers figure out how to get their wearables to talk to more and more devices.

I rarely wore my Apple Watch until WatchOS 3. I’m a mechanical watch guy so usually I’d strap on something I was testing or one of my other pieces. Now, however, I’m facing a dilemma – do I type in my password on my iMac and my MacBook or do I simply wear my Apple Watch. I’m trending towards the latter and my dumb watches are gathering dust.

The Apple Watch doesn’t do much. It has a few great features and the second edition looks pretty interesting on a sports front but I’ve stopped wearing it to exercise and I can’t really take it with me when I travel so there’s not much call to strap it on in the morning. But, as Danny Meyer discovered, the Apple Watch – and any smartwatch, really – is a great way to consume ambient information. It is also a great way to transmit ambient information like your heart rate, smiley stickers, and, in this case, your password.

Not having to type in my password (which is “IamnotanAppleshill,” by the way) is a small but compelling reason to eschew my dumb watches and folks like Samsung would do well to figure out a way to do the same thing for Windows and Linux. I’d love for my phone to unlock automatically as long as it was, say, a few from my watch. I’d love for my TV to react to my watch, setting up my favorite channels and picking up the media I’ve been consuming. In short, I’d like my watch to be my passport to the digital world. And, because of this one afterthought of a feature, it’s clear that it can be.

A month ago I made a dire prediction: the Swiss watch industry is doomed. I still think this is true. You can say that smartwatches are undignified and ugly and that mechanical watches are better but I would argue that the Blackberry was undignified and ugly but that didn’t stop the rich and famous from tapping away on those ugly blue phones for almost a decade. In this pitiless world utility trumps artistry. Mac unlock is just one thorn in the Swiss watch industry’s side but it is one that cuts deepest because, in the end, it will become the most useful in melding humanity with technology.