The greatest Xmas gift you can give: Apple evangelism


The holidays are the perfect time to spread the Apple love.
The holidays are the perfect time to spread the Apple love.
Photo: Jack Mayfield

As an Apple fan, there’s a great gift you can bestow upon your friends and family this holiday season. The amazing part is, it’s free.

I’m not talking about the free tech support you’ll inevitably dole out to befuddled relatives (Cult of Mac’s how-to section can help with that, BTW). I’m talking about evangelizing for two of Apple’s least-loved products — and this gracious act will also goose the greater good.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to expound upon the virtues of two of Apple’s most confounding and potentially misunderstood products: Apple Watch and Apple Music.

Both made splashy entrances onto the tech scene this year; both are doing better than could probably be expected. However, neither has taken the world by storm yet, and there’s a reason for that.

Both of these products are murkier and less obviously revolutionary than the iPhone and the Mac were. It’s not immediately obvious to everybody exactly what they do or what the benefits of using them are. Apple execs have talked them up, and pushed them with advertising campaigns, but still they remain slightly mysterious to loads of people.

For many of us, the holidays mean getting together with people who might be a little older, and/or a little less tech-savvy, than we are. If you show up wearing an Apple Watch, or whip out a stellar Apple Music playlist, this might be their first exposure to these products.

That makes this the perfect time to bust out your Apple soapbox (it goes great with eggnog, trust me).

It can be tricky to explain Apple Watch's subtle allure.
It can be tricky to explain Apple Watch’s subtle allure. But you can do it!
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The Apple Watch’s time to shine

The Apple Watch in particular is a difficult device to explain. I love my Apple Watch Sport, and wear it daily — I feel strangely detached if it’s not tracking my steps or sending me unobtrusive notifications about incoming text messages or whatever.

And yet, it’s a gossamer gadget — a shimmery thing that’s so subtly useful that it’s hard to put in words exactly what it does or why I like it so much.

When an acquaintance spots it on my wrist, I often get asked, “Is that an iWatch?” Even in San Francisco, the device is relatively rare (and people still don’t know its proper name). That’s bound to change, what with all the killer deals on the wearable this Christmas, but if you find yourself sporting an Apple Watch in Appalachia or some small town that’s 60 miles from the nearest Best Buy, you might wind up with an even more curious reception.

The way the Apple Watch works doesn’t make it simple to show off, either. Just try showing your watch face to a friend. You can do it, but only briefly, as the watch will go dark quickly if you’re not actively engaged with the device. If you are tapping the screen or twirling the Digital Crown, the Watch’s tiny screen makes it nearly impossible for an onlooker to get a feel for what’s going on.

The tiny buzz of the Taptic Engine that lets you know you got a text message, or that some hot hashtag is blowing up Twitter? That’s almost too intimate to accurately describe in a way that doesn’t sound sort of silly.

This is Apple’s most personal device, after all.

It sounds weird to gush about those tiny alerts, or the health-tracking features, or the stealthy tappity-tappity as the Watch signals me to make a turn. And yet after half a year with the Apple Watch, I don’t want to go without any of these things.

If you’ve got an Apple Watch, try the old screenwriters’ trick and show don’t tell — stand up and look out the window when the awesome Dark Sky weather app says snow is about to fall, or Dick Tracy it by taking a quick call from your wrist.

If your iPhone-toting friend or relative hasn't tried Apple Music yet, set 'em up.
If your iPhone-toting friend or relative hasn’t tried Apple Music yet, set ’em up.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Singing the praises of Apple Music

When it comes to Apple Music, explaining the streaming service’s appeal to a member of the great unwashed masses seems a bit easier. A straightforward explanation of its most basic function — “You can listen to almost any song you want, any time, with no commercials at all, for just $10 a month” — is pretty simple to grasp, even for a person who’s not familiar with how Spotify or Pandora work.

Layer on a little love for playlists, Beats 1 and the low, low pricing of the family plan, and you can quickly paint a pretty compelling picture for why Apple Music is the way to the future.

If you want to tease music geeks with the possibility of high-resolution audio files rolling out next year, fine. And if The Beatles’ catalog really does turn this into a White Album Christmas on Apple Music, that’s gravy.

But by all means, if you run into somebody who is toting an iPhone or iPad and they have never tried Apple Music, at least show them where they can find the app and how easy it is to sign up for the free trial and start enjoying the service.

Wait … there’s a bonus!

Clueing in others about the subtle beauty of these new Apple products won’t just help them discover something wonderful. In fact, you could almost call this soft-sell evangelism self-serving.

Done successfully, your efforts will boost the Apple ecosystem in unforeseeable ways. The more people wearing Apple Watch, the more developers hell-bent on crafting new apps that delight us and even save lives. The more paid subscribers grooving to Apple Music, the more money flowing into the service and, ultimately, the more features Eddy Cue and Co. will be able to bolt onto the service as they work to iron out the rough edges.

Ultimately, the more you talk up Apple Watch and Apple Music to people who aren’t familiar with Cupertino’s most confounding offerings, the more everyone floating through the Apple universe benefits.

So, when you get together with those you love this holiday season, it’s time to testify. Tell them why you love Apple Music or the Apple Watch. It beats rehashing the platform wars or chatting about terrorists.

It’s the holidays. It’s time to kick back and share the love. (And, hey, if you want to talk up Apple TV a little, don’t let me stop you.)