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Note-Taking with Apple Watch

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In this article, Jason R. Rich explains some of the ways you can compose, access, and manage notes, to-do items, and information using the Apple Watch, by utilizing Siri, as well as the Reminders, Evernote, or Microsoft OneNote apps.
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While the Apple Watch lacks any form of traditional keyboard, it does offer easy access to Siri, which allows the wearer to use their voice in order to input information into the watch. To activate Siri, simply press and hold the Digital Crown for about two seconds, or raise your wrist to look at the watch (which wakes up the display), and then say, “Hey Siri,” followed by your verbal command or question.

Create Lists Using Siri and the Reminders App

Depending on what you say once Siri is activated, this will determine which app gets utilized. For example, if you begin a Siri command with the phrase, “Remind me to...” whatever you say next will be stored within the Reminders app that comes preinstalled on the iPhone, but that’s accessible from the Apple Watch.

For example, you could say, “Remind me to pick up my dry cleaning,” to the watch, and this to-do task would be added to the default list within the Reminders app on your iPhone. However, you could just as easily say, “Remind me to pick up my dry cleaning tomorrow at 2pm” (shown in Figure 1), “Remind me to pick up my dry cleaning next Wednesday,” or “Remind me to pick up my dry cleaning on August 4th at 4pm,” and the appropriate information would be added to the default list within the Reminders app with a notification (alarm) associated with that to-do item.

Figure 1

Figure 1

As always, using iCloud, all Reminders app-related data can automatically be synced between your iPhone, iPad, Mac(s) and PC(s); plus, it’s possible to manage multiple lists using the app. When a new list is created, it’s given a custom name. So, when using Siri from the Apple Watch to create a new list item, within your verbal command, it’s possible to state which list you want the item to be added to. For example, you could activate Siri and say, “Add milk to my Groceries list.”

In conjunction with the release of WatchOS 2, in addition to or instead of associating time and/or date-based alarms with to-do items, it will be possible to add location-based notifications to to-do list items created using the Apple Watch. For example, you will be able to say, “Remind me to walk the dog when I get home,” into the watch, and a notification associated with this to-do item will be displayed when you return home.

Once content is added to the Reminders app via the Apple Watch, it automatically gets transferred to the Reminders app running on your iPhone (shown in Figure 2). From there, it can be set up to automatically sync with your iCloud account and then share the data almost instantly with all of your other iOS mobile devices, Macs, and PCs that are linked to the same iCloud account. Your Reminders lists can also be accessed by visiting www.iCloud.com from any Internet-enabled computer, once you log in using your iCloud (Apple ID) username and password.

Create Notes From Your Apple Watch Using the Optional Evernote App

In some cases, it’s first necessary to launch a third-party app from the Home screen of the watch, and then when prompted, use your voice as a data entry tool. What you say when prompted will be translated into text and then stored within the app you’re using. This is the case when using the Evernote or Microsoft OneNote app with your Apple Watch.

Evernote is a popular note-taking, information-gathering, and data organization tool that’s available for the iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC, and Android-based mobile devices. There’s also an online edition of Evernote that’s accessible via any web browser (www.evernote.com).

Basic use of Evernote is free, but (paid) premium versions of the service are offered that allow you to store more information and unlock additional tools within the Evernote software or mobile app. Once you set up a single Evernote account, any virtual notebooks and notes you create will automatically sync with your online-based Evernote account, and are then accessible from whichever version(s) of Evernote you’re using on your mobile device or computer. The iPhone edition of Evernote has an Apple Watch counterpart.

Once you have Evernote running on your iPhone, the Apple Watch version will automatically install onto the watch. For this app to function, you must first use the iPhone edition of the app to log into your online-based Evernote account. If necessary, you can first create your free online account from within the iPhone app.

To view content that’s stored within your Evernote account, or create new content using Siri, from the Apple Watch’s Home screen, launch the Evernote app by tapping on its app icon. At the top of the screen, you’ll see an Add (“+”) and Search icon (shown in Figure 3). By scrolling down, you can view recently added content to Evernote. Scrolling can be done using a vertical finger swipe, or by rotating the watch’s Digital Crown.

Figure 3

Figure 3

When you want to create new content within Evernote from your Apple Watch, tap on the Add icon, and when prompted, begin speaking for up to 30 seconds. What you say will be translated into text and displayed on the watch’s screen. As soon as you’re done speaking, tap on the Done option that’s displayed near the top right corner of the screen.

After your spoken content is translated into text, at the bottom of the watch’s display, two additional icons are displayed. Tap on the Alarm icon to assign a time/date-related notification to the new content. Tap on the Save button to wirelessly transfer the newly created content to the iPhone (via Bluetooth), where it will be stored within Evernote’s default notebook, and within a few additional seconds, sync with your online-based Evernote account (assuming your iPhone has Internet access).

From the Apple Watch edition of Evernote, you can also search for and retrieve (view) content that’s stored within your various notebooks and notes. To do this, launch the app and tap on the Search icon. Then, when prompted, speak what you’re searching for. In other words, instead of typing a keyword or search phrase into the search field, say that keyword or search phrase, and when you’re finished speaking, tap on the Done option. All related search results will be displayed as listings on the watch’s display. Tap on a search result to open that note and view it directly from the watch.

Create Notes From Your Apple Watch Using the Optional Microsoft OneNote App

Microsoft OneNote is another popular note-taking, information-gathering, and data organization app that’s available for all popular computer and mobile device platforms. Unlimited use of OneNote is offered for free, although this app is considered part of the Microsoft Office suite of applications.

After installing the OneNote app onto your iPhone, as well as your iPad, Mac(s), and/or PC(s), if applicable, you’ll need to create a free online-based OneNote account (or utilize your already established Microsoft OneDrive account log in information) to activate your OneNote account.

Keep in mind, once OneNote content is created, it gets synced with your Microsoft OneDrive account, which is required to use OneNote. OneDrive is a free, cloud-based service, like Apple’s iCloud, that allows you to sync, share, and/or backup content and data in the cloud. So, to begin using OneNote on your iPhone and Apple Watch, install the free Microsoft OneNote app (which is available from the App Store) onto your iPhone.

The Apple Watch edition of OneNote will automatically be installed onto your Apple Watch, but won’t function properly until after you’ve logged into OneNote from your iPhone using your Microsoft OneDrive account information.

When you’re ready to create new OneNote content via your Apple Watch, launch the app from the watch’s Home screen, and then tap on the Add (“+”) icon that’s displayed near the top-center of the watch’s display (shown in Figure 4). Begin speaking when the Siri prompt appears on the screen, and continue speaking or up to 30 seconds. As soon as you’re done speaking, tap on the Done option that’s displayed near the top-right corner of the screen.

Figure 4

Figure 4

Your spoken words will be translated into text and displayed on the watch’s screen, and then automatically be transferred to the Microsoft OneNote app that’s running on your iPhone, where it will be stored as a new note within the app’s default virtual notebook.

The newly created content will then sync with your online-based OneDrive account, and within seconds, it will be accessible from any version of OneNote that’s linked to your OneDrive account, regardless of which computer or mobile device you’re using. Using any other version of OneNote, you can view, format, edit, print, share, or organize the note content that was originally composed using the Apple Watch.

Additional To-Do List and Note-Taking Apps Are Available for Apple Watch

While Reminders, Evernote, and Microsoft OneNote are the three most popular note-taking and to-do list management apps currently available for Apple Watch, because these apps easily sync data with other computers and mobile devices, if you browse the Apple Watch App Store, you’ll discover additional apps with similar functionality.

Plus, once the WatchOS 2 operating system is released for Apple Watch this Fall, app developers will be able to create native Apple Watch apps that will not rely so heavily on the iPhone to function. Thus, additional features and functions will most likely be added to the Apple Watch editions of Reminders, Evernote, and Microsoft OneNote, plus additional apps with similar functionality will likely be released by other app developers.

To discover additional Apple Watch apps that can be used for note-taking or composing to-do lists, launch the Apple Watch app on your Internet-enabled iPhone, and tap on the Featured icon. You can then browse through available apps. To narrow down your search, tap on the Categories option that’s displayed in the top left corner of the screen, and select the Business or Productivity category.

Another option to find relevant Apple Watch apps (from the Apple Watch app on the iPhone), is to tap on the Search icon, and then within the Search field, use the search phase “note-taking” or “to-do list” in order to view listings for available apps.

Final Thoughts...

You never know when a brilliant idea will pop into your heard, or when you’ll need to document and remember an important tidbit of information. When you have a note-taking or to-do list management app installed on your Apple Watch, quickly and conveniently recording and saving this content is easy. The content you dictate into the watch can then be viewed, edited, formatted, shared, printed, or archived on your iPhone and/or the cloud-based service the app you’re using is set up to work with.

Chances are, you’ll discover that using the Apple Watch to quickly dictate ideas or to-do items is as (if not more) convenient than typing this content directly into your iPhone, especially if you’re engaged in another activity.

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