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Are Apple Watch business apps worth it?

Need to send an email, check your flight's status or get ready for a presentation? You can do it all on your smartwatch, thanks to a slew of Apple Watch business apps.

Like the iPhone, the Apple Watch comes with a set of native apps that business users often find helpful -- even indispensable -- including Alarm, Mail, Calendar, Maps, Messages, Passbook, Phone, Photos, Siri, Stopwatch, Timer, Weather, and World Clock. But these Apple Watch business apps are really just extensions of the same apps already running on the iPhone.

Smartwatch adoption is on the rise, growing 30% through 2017, thanks largely to Apple Watch's popularity. Smartwatch sales are expected to generate over $17 billion in revenue through 2019, according to Gartner.

In many cases, the Apple Watch serves as a handy haptic notification and display unit for small chunks of information, allowing users to conveniently tap to respond. The watch's operating system has evolved to support more than 10,000 third-party apps, including many that now run natively on the device itself.

Apple Watch business apps such as Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple Keynote can help users deliver presentations more smoothly.

For example, the Apple Watch can help you quickly read and react to business email and calendar events without pulling your iPhone out of your pocket or bag. Among the most popular third-party email apps for the Apple Watch today are Microsoft Outlook and Airmail. The Apple Watch is not a platform for composing lengthy email messages, but it makes alerts harder to miss and enables quick hands-free response. A watch-enabled app such as Fantastical 2 can make it easier to schedule meetings.

Similarly, business apps for Apple Watch such as Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple Keynote can help users deliver presentations more smoothly. The watch serves as a convenient remote control that can't be misplaced or lost.

Perhaps the most effective way to use an Apple Watch to enhance business efficiency is to run a task manager, to-do list and reminder app. One of the biggest challenges faced by these smartphone apps is the user who never looks at his to-do list and ignores task notifications. With an Apple Watch app such as Clear or Swipes, it becomes much easier to remember tasks in a timely manner.

Another common business task the Apple Watch can simplify is password recall and entry. For example, apps such as 1Password and LastPass let users wear a password vault on their wrists for easy access, while Authy leverages the watch as a convenient token generator for two-factor authentication.

For the business traveler, Apple Watch apps can also prove handy for hands-free notification of status updates and more. Popular Apple Watch travel apps include Uber, Apps in the Air, TripCase and a myriad of airline-specific apps.

Although the device's screen is really too small for many sophisticated, data-intensive business apps, examples of popular Apple Watch business apps that have made the transition include Cisco WebEx Meetings, Salesforce Wave Analytics and Slack.

With apps such as these, don't expect a full smartphone, much less desktop, experience. But do expect these kinds of apps to make Apple Watch -- and the iPhone -- more useful as a business tool. Apple Watch apps will continue to evolve as the smartwatch market matures, driving demand for business app support.

Next Steps

Why businesses should develop apps for Apple Watch

Readers debate using the Apple Watch for work

Review: Apple Watch is less smartwatch, more iPhone accessory

This was last published in March 2016

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Essential Guide

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