14 Quick Thoughts on the Apple Watch

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[There are a billion of these on the web. Maybe you care about another one. Maybe you don’t. YMMV. ☺]

  1. It is, fundamentally and essentially, just this: a wristwatch. If you’re someone who wants to wear a watch, this is a great one in many ways. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to wear a watch, this will not make your life better. In 2015, wearing a watch is a bit of an affectation — you have to want to have a watch on, you certainly don’t need one — and that’s true for this, too.
  2. Notifications are great. They did a great job, although they probably should have defaulted everything as off instead of on. But notifications are great, and useful.
  3. Input is a PITA. Tough to get input of any sort into the watch.
  4. But Siri is great. In my experience, Siri’s voice recognition is excellent, although the set of things it can do, like on the iPhone, is thin.
  5. The contexts where I can actually use Siri are virtually non-existent. Same issue I have with voice controlled UIs generally.
  6. Glances are great. Really nice way to quickly interact with application information, and will be better when they allow apps to cache info.
  7. The glance “dock” UI, where you swipe between glances, won’t scale well at all. Obvious reasons. Maybe okay up to 10 glances, which might be too many anyway.
  8. Custom watch faces will come, and have the potential to be awesome. App-specific information to the watch face will be super useful, and I predict developers will be insanely creative when they get to.
  9. The app platform is profoundly unfinished. I find apps, as opposed to glances or notifications, to be basically useless. The app home screen is a miserable exercise in tiny target tapping after random visual scanning — but we knew that the second Kevin Lynch demoed the interface back in October. It is just obviously the wrong UI in so many ways.
  10. But I’m not sure apps really matter anyway. I have a sneaky suspicion that apps, beyond glances & notifications & poking information through to the watch face, will not be all that important for the watch. Even once it’s a ton faster. I just think interactions will be much, much lighter.
  11. Communications is a top level item, and useful, but kinda wonky still. It’ll get better. And will be important.
  12. Hardware is magnificent. Really an unbelievable job for a 1.0 product.
  13. Interesting that you can configure it from your phone but not your laptop. Idle observation.
  14. The sensors are good, but not amazing. Once we get enough battery life to do continuous heart rate monitoring, in the watch and other devices, some very interesting things are gonna happen in population health.

For whatever it’s worth, I like mine. It’s been fun to wear a watch again.

But I doubt that a ton of people who didn’t wear a watch previously will wear one of these for any length of time. (And I may be in that category, don’t know. We shall see.)

I suspect that for the year they’ll sell ~20M watches, which by most standards would be incredible but by Apple’s standards will about 20–25% lighter than they would have really liked, I think. Wild guess though.

I do think that over time, these will get to be incredible, but will stay optional. But: more screens, more screens, more screens. All connected. That’s for sure.

Photo by Anthony Delanoix

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