Apple Watch To get to your apps, just press the Digital Crown

As I spend more time with my Apple Watch, I am finding that we are starting to settle into something of a routine. The watch tells me when someone or something wants my attention, and I triage that notification based on its importance and the level of attention I can give it. It might not sound exciting, but the process of quick notification triage is something that the Apple Watch is proving most adept at.

But the Apple Watch is more than a way to read notifications. It has apps, and glances, and sensors. Some apps, just like on the iPhone and iPad, are more useful than others, and it’s still very early days for the Apple Watch ecosystem as a whole. That said, after a week of using my Apple Watch, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t launch apps by tapping their icon on the watch’s Home screen. In fact, I don’t really use that many apps at all.

What I do use though, is a collection of Glances.

An Apple Watch re-imagining of the iOS Today screen widgets we have grown to love, Glances are flicked up from the bottom of the watch’s screen when looking at the watch face. Each glance can be swiped left or right to reveal the next, but they all essentially do the same thing – they provide little snippets of information. I have one that tells me the weather, and one that pulls my due and flagged items from Omnifocus. I have the Cheatsheet Glance that shows the data kept within that app, too. What I don’t do is head to the Home screen and launch either app. Ever.

Which leads me to an interesting realization in that I don’t really use apps at all on my watch, or at least not how I expected to. Instead of launching apps the old fashioned way by tapping an icon, I look at an app’s Glance to get the basic information I need and then, if required, use that glance to jump into the app in order to interact with it. If I don’t, then I can go days without seeing the inside of an app at all.

With that in mind I think it is particularly important that developers make heavy use of Glances, especially given the fact they are given pride of place on the watch face and can be seen and interacted with without the need to press the Digital Crown. It all just feels so much more seamless than launching apps the way we have become accustomed to on iOS. And if done right, Glances can often mean we don’t need to go into the apps at all, which is just wonderful in my book.

All this speaks to the fact that the Apple Watch isn’t an iPhone on your wrist, too. It’s a system for getting bits of information quickly and unobtrusively, with notifications thrown in as well. Start thinking of the Apple Watch as a place you are told about things rather than were you hunt them out, and it starts to make a great deal more sense.

Well, it does to me anyway.

  • Kurt

    Interesting read. This reminds me of Windows Phone/Windows 8. Designed so you don’t need to open the app and are able to get the information more quickly. I expect most people will use the Apple Watch in a similar way as time goes on if they are already not.

  • Stefano Polo

    This was one of the reasons why I stuck with the Pebble. I love getting notifications on my watch, especially when I’m at work and during a meeting. However I have no use for apps on the watch. It’s just unnecessary for me. I have a couple on my Pebble and I rarely use them.

    • Fanboy 

      Well, the Pebbles “apps” couldnt pull in much real data or interact 2-ways with the watch. They were mostly mirrors. I personally dont use 3rd party apps on my Apple Watch (such as Instagram, etc.) but being able to actually interact with Messages, or get a call and use the Send Text feature to reply when I cant answer makes it worth the switch.

  • socrates

    Had mine 24 hours now, and I agree with this 100%.

  • rfow

    Agreed 110%. Couldn’t have said it any better.

  • Chang in Charge

    No app zone. Strictly Glances and Notifications.

  • Manuel Molina

    After reading this, it makes me wonder why would you spend 350 and above just to receive messages 1 to 2 seconds faster if the apps won’t be used.

    • iBanks

      Same reason why people spend more for first class when the plane lands at the same time. Convince costs.

      • mike

        The only way first class is worth is if you are going over seas and the flight takes like a day or more. Also I think your phone would receive the message first then your watch. Another thing is that you can set different vibration so you know if its a message or just a twitter notification.

      • iBanks

        First class is always better no matter where you’re flying. What’s better than being served first, better seating, in most cases better entertainment and to be first on and off the plane? Based on your other responses, you’re still missing the point of the Apple Watch. It’s for the conscience of quick glances and notifications (and of course more) without the need to pull out or go searching for your phone where as its all quickly there on your wrist.

      • But the difference between first class and coach is a lot bigger than the difference between having an apple watch and not. Apple watch doesn’t increase productivity soo much that it warrants the high price tag. Of course that’s all opinion. If it was such a hassle to pull my phone out my pocket I would understand but an Apple watch wild only save me a second or two, not to even mention having to charge and all the other bs it comes with. It’s a good product, just not there yet for me.

      • Manuel Molina

        There’s more of a comfort level in relaxing, avoiding negative feelings like jet lag and the inability to sleep when you compare first class to coach. In my mind, there’s no comparison to that as oppose to spending 350 and up to only see a message a second faster and not use all functions of the device. Even more so when you keep it.

  • People will criticize iphone5 for its “small” screen and love the new bigger screens then go and get an apple watch and scroll all the apps on it talking about how beautiful it is. Shit is crazy.

  • techfreak23

    third party glances can’t be interacted with except for tapping on them to take you to the app. they can only show static data and can’t have any buttons or actions. this won’t be possible until apple releases the native sdk.