Since its debut back in 2015, the Apple Watch has evolved to become far more than just a wearable reminder of all the unanswered emails and messages you’re ignoring. But while Apple continues to push it towards being a potential life-saving accessory, my wishes for the wearable are less ambitious: all I want is access to Apple’s Notes app on my wrist, so I don’t have to keep reaching for my iPhone when I need to remember something important.
As the number of candles on my birthday cakes continue to grow, I’ve come to realize that while my long-term memory is still in relatively good shape, my short-term memory is starting to show its age, and is nowhere near as reliable as it once was. If I don’t immediately write down something I’m supposed to remember or do, it will quickly be lost to the ether. To compensate, I’ve come to rely on to-do lists—and lots of them. I’ve got lists for work, lists for things to do around the house, lists for shows I should watch, and lists of everything I need to pick up at the grocery store. Years ago, I kept them in a dayplanner, and then a Moleskine, but then I went digital with Gmail’s notes, followed by Simplenote, and eventually I moved everything to Apple’s own Notes app once I was able to sync it across all of my devices—or nearly all of my devices. Even if there are third-party Apple Watch notes app alternatives, I’m now used to Apple’s ecosystem, which I otherwise like.
Like an external drive plugged into a laptop, Apple Notes has become an extension of my brain, and a reliable backup of everything important I need to remember. Most of the day, I have quick access to it, either through my MacBook or my iPhone, but there are times—like when I’m behind the wheel, or pushing a shopping cart through a grocery store—when I don’t want to have to reach for either of those devices. As for falling back on Siri through my iPhone? She’s proven herself to be an unreliable note-taker.
Although the Apple Watch has become a robust health-tracking device, I actually keep all of those features turned off. I continue to primarily use the wearable as a second screen for my iPhone, and do the vast majority of my messaging and calls through it. I’m as proficient with scribbling messages letter-by-letter on its screen as I was with the Palm Pilot’s ‘Graffiti’ handwriting system decades ago, and thanks to the ever-growing screen size of the Apple Watch, there’s now even a full on-screen keyboard available in WatchOS. At this point, when I’m out and about, the only reasons I need to reach for my iPhone are to take pictures or access my Notes, and I really want to move that last one to my wrist.
I realize that Apple has expanded the capabilities of Notes quite a bit since its debut. It’s no longer just a basic text editor that syncs across devices, and I understand that bringing the full experience to the Apple Watch’s smaller screen may not be possible. That’s fine: iMessage on the Apple Watch is nowhere near as robust as it is on the iPhone, either.
If all I could do is access and read my Notes on the Apple Watch—browsing my shopping list while I walk through a grocery store—I’d be happy. But if I could also create basic notes, either by writing them out on the screen or dictating them to Siri (with some level of reliability), I’d be ecstatic. I’d even be happy if a watchOS version of Notes just collected all of my random thoughts into a random file I could sort out and organize later when I got back to my laptop. It will still be better than having to text myself things I need to remember, which is my current workaround.
At its WWDC in June, it’s rumored that Apple will reveal some major updates to watchOS 10 that could include scrollable widgets that provide quicker access to news and other information. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that everything I keep stored in Notes falls under that “other information” category, so that my Apple Watch can take one step closer to becoming my perfect personal assistant.