New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest nights of the year. People around the world gather with their families and close friends to eat, drink, sing and dance to celebrate the start of the new year. Usually, I celebrate with my best friends as I live abroad away from my family. This time, though, I felt like spending a quiet night alone watching some comedy, listening to soothing music, and generally avoiding disgusting-crowded places.
It was 11 o’clock in the night when I felt pity. I ordered and paid for some fried chicken online and patiently waited for the doorbell to ring. About 30 minutes later, the delivery man arrived, and I went to the building gate to unlock it and collect the items. As usual, I wore my house wear and didn’t bring my keys, wallet or phone. I usually leave the door open because it only takes a few seconds to accept the delivery. However, for the first time in nine months, I returned to find the door to the house somehow locked.
I panicked. I tried to head through the building hall to my backyard, but I had locked the door separating my bedroom and backyard earlier that evening. My flatmate was hours away in a different part of town and was not planning on returning that night. The neighbors were also visible in the distance, and I couldn’t go anywhere without my ID and some proper clothes. All hope seemed lost. Then, it finally occurred to me that I was wearing my Apple Watch. I use an Apple Watch Series 7 with GPS, but I could rely on it to send texts and make calls because my iPhone and router were nearby. I used dictation to text my flatmate and eventually called him. We tried a few methods to get the door open, but eventually she remembered that she had left the window in her room open. This wouldn’t have happened to me in a million years.
So instead of eating my fried chicken locked on the stairs outside, I came inside, all because I had my Apple Watch with me. In fact, there are plenty of smartwatches you can use to avoid ending up in a similar ridiculous situation.
texting and calling
If you have an Apple Watch model with an active cellular plan, you can text anyone via SMS or iMessage, regardless of the whereabouts of your iPhone. If you have the Wi-Fi-only variant, you can iMessage people when you’re connected to Wi-Fi and SMS them if your iPhone is nearby. Obviously, texting from the small screen is impractical, but it’s a solid workaround during urgent scenarios.
If you want to avoid typing on the tiny screen, you can use dictation (as I did) to send messages, or you can call anyone through your carrier or FaceTime. Like texting, FaceTime Audio works with a Wi-Fi connection, even when your phone is far away. To make a phone call through your carrier, you either need a cellular Apple Watch model or have your iPhone nearby. And make sure the locksmith’s number is saved in your address book.
locating your iphone
If you’re not sure where you left your iPhone or house keys, you can rely on the Find My watchOS app to locate them on a map and ping them. All you need to do is connect your watch to any Wi-Fi network for internet access. To search for physical items like keys, though, you’ll need to attach the AirTag.
Apple’s AirTag provides a low-cost, reliable solution when you need to track an item. It integrates into the Find My network, which allows it to be detected by millions of other Apple devices.
apple airtag leather key ring
Apple’s leather key ring offers a pocket to insert your AirTag and a metal loop to attach your keys. However, you’ll need to purchase the AirTag separately.
controlling your smart home
If you happen to have a house lock with HomeKit or Home Key compatibility, you can unlock it via the Home or Wallet apps on your Apple Watch, respectively. That way, with a tap on your wrist, you can enter your home and worry about finding your lost iPhone and physical keys later.
What if you don’t have an Apple Watch?
If you’re not an Apple user but have other recent smartwatches, you may be able to replicate some of these functions with your Wear OS device and Android phone. For example, if you have a Pixel watch with an active cellular plan, you can message and call people when you’re away from your Android smartphone. If you have a Wi-Fi-only smartwatch, you can still call people if your Android phone is within Bluetooth range.
However, locating your Android phone won’t be as easy because there’s no official way to view the Find My Device map using your watch. Instead, you can ping it by swiping down on the watch face and clicking the Find my phone button. Note that the smartphone must be within Bluetooth range for it to ring. Similarly, you can rely on Tile or Galaxy SmartTag trackers to locate your lost keys, but you’ll still have to rely on your phone for information.
Finally, if you’re using a Wear OS smartwatch, you can control your compatible lock through the watch’s Google Home app or Samsung SmartThings app on supported models. You can also find out if your brand of smart lock can connect with IFTTT automations, which you might be able to run through the dedicated IFTTT Wear OS app.
All this is to say that we should not take smartwatches lightly or treat them as unnecessary accessories. You only realize how valuable they are when you least expect it, and they can help you out in the most unexpected ways. For example, we always read stories about the Apple Watch detecting certain medical conditions early or saving lives through fall/crash detection and emergency SOS. However, this powerful smartwatch is also a lifesaver in a figurative sense. If I hadn’t worn it on New Year’s Eve, I would have slept on the building hall floor that cold night and started my new year on bad terms with the universe.