New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest nights of the year. People all over the world gather with their families and closest friends to eat, drink, sing and dance to celebrate the beginning of a new year. Usually I celebrate with my best friends since I live abroad away from my family. This time, however, I felt like spending a quiet night on my own to watch some comedies, listen to soothing music, and generally avoid obnoxiously crowded places.
It was 11 p.m. when the suction hit. I ordered and paid online for some fried chicken and waited patiently for the doorbell to ring. About 30 minutes later the delivery man arrived and I rushed to the building gate to unlock it and take the items. As always, I was wearing my housecoat and had no keys, wallet or phone with me. I usually just leave the house door open as it only takes seconds to receive deliveries. But for the first time in over nine months I returned to find that the house door had somehow been closed.
I panicked. I tried to go to my backyard through the building hall, but I had locked the door that separates my bedroom and the backyard earlier in the evening. My flatmate was hours away in another part of town and had no plans to return that evening. The neighbors were also apparently gone and I couldn’t go anywhere without my ID and some proper clothes. All hope seemed lost. Then it finally dawned on me that I was wearing the Apple Watch. I use the Apple Watch Series 7 with GPS, but I could rely on it for texting and calling since my iPhone and router were nearby. I used dictation to text my flatmate and finally called him. We tried a few methods to open the door, but he finally remembered that he left the window of his room unlocked. This would not have occurred to me in a million years.
So instead of eating my fried chicken locked out on the stairs, I came in, all because I had my Apple Watch. You can actually use many smartwatches to avoid ending up in a similarly ridiculous situation.
Texting and calling
If you have an Apple Watch model with an active cellular plan, you can send text messages to anyone via SMS or iMessage regardless of where your iPhone is located. If you have a Wi-Fi only variant, you can iMessage people if you’re connected to Wi-Fi and send them SMS if your iPhone is nearby. Obviously, texting from the small screen is inconvenient, but it’s a solid solution during urgent scenarios.
If you’d rather avoid typing on the tiny screen, you can use dictation (like I did) to send messages, or you can call anyone through your carrier or FaceTime. Like text messaging, FaceTime Audio works with a Wi-Fi connection, even if the phone is gone. For a phone call through your carrier, you need either a mobile Apple Watch model or iPhone to be nearby. And make sure you have a locksmith number saved in your address book.
Find 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 the map and ping them. All you need to do is connect the watch to any Wi-Fi network for internet access. However, to find physical items such as keys, you need an AirTag attached.
Apple’s AirTag offers an affordable, reliable solution when you need to track an object. It integrates into the Find My network, which allows it to be discovered by millions of other Apple devices.
Apple AirTag leather key ring
Apple’s leather key ring has a pocket to insert the AirTag and a metal loop to attach the keys. However, you must purchase the AirTag separately.
Control your smart home
If you rely on a house lock with HomeKit or Home Key compatibility, you can unlock it through the Home or Wallet apps on your Apple Watch, respectively. This way, with a tap of your wrist, you can enter your house and then 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 tasks with your Wear OS device and Android phone. For example, if you have a Pixel Watch with an active cellular plan, you can send messages and call people while your Android smartphone is away. If you have a Wi-Fi-only smartwatch, you may still be able to call people if your Android phone is within Bluetooth range.
However, finding your Android phone won’t be as easy because there’s no official way to see the Find My Device map on 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 to make a call. You can similarly rely on Tile or Galaxy SmartTag trackers to find your lost keys, but you still have to rely on your phone for information.
Finally, if you’re using a Wear OS smartwatch, you may be able to control your compatible lock through the watch’s Google Home app or the Samsung SmartThings app on supported models. You can also explore whether the smart lock’s tag can be linked to IFTTT automations, which you might be able to run through the dedicated IFTTT Wear OS app.
All this means that we should not take smartwatches for granted or perceive them as unnecessary accessories. You only realize how valuable they are when you least expect it, and they can help you in the most unpredictable 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 metaphorical lifesaver. Had I not used it on New Year’s Eve, I would have slept the cold night on the construction hall floor and started my new year on bad terms with the universe.