The purpose of Apple Watch is something that has been greatly discussed ever since the company first unveiled it last September, and as the release date nears, it seems to be the topic of even more arguments.
Admittedly, Apple isn’t doing a great job at highlighting the true selling points of Apple Watch. If you go to the Watch mini site on Apple.com, the first thing Apple tells you about it is that it is an incredibly precise timepiece. I don’t know about you, but I don’t recall ever wondering if the time I was looking at (be it on my iPhone, my Mac, or my microwave clock) was indeed precise, and I imagine most people feel the same.
To me, there are three features Apple should have made essential parts of its marketing materials. The company either didn’t feel the need to because they aren’t actual features per se, or maybe Apple didn’t realize their importance, something that can only be measured as you use the device day in day out for an extended period of time.
I will not pretend I know better than Apple when it comes to communicating. That’s clearly not the case, but as someone who’s been using a Pebble every day for over a year, I believe I have a very good sense of what makes a smartwatch so indispensable.
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Before you go any further down this page, there needs to be some sort of warning. I am very well aware that everything I am talking about here can be summed up by the popular hashtag #firstworldproblems. But just like it was hard to make people understand back in 2007 how indispensable the iPhone was and why they needed one, it is incredibly hard to formulate the necessity of an Apple Watch. Until you have used a smartwatch, you just don’t know how essential it is to your daily life.
As a device worn on the wrist, interaction with Apple Watch is a fast, easy, and instant involvement. There is no need to reach for the phone in your pocket to find out who is texting you and what this person is saying. It makes communicating more immediate.
This is arguably a first world problem, but let’s not lie to ourselves: we jump on our phones at the slightest ringtone or vibration. We love the idea of being connected to so many people, and we love it when a new notification appears on our screens. Apple Watch will bring those communications even closer to us, instantly.
Convenience is an extension of immediacy, and both are very much tied together, in my opinion. Just like we like to get access to things instantly, we like to have access to them easily, and again, Apple Watch will offer just that, at the raise of a wrist.
There is no time wasted reaching for a device to find out about a notification that could be trivial. Think about it. How many times have you reached for your iPhone to have a peek at the latest notification to find out it was something you didn’t care about. It’s time wasted. It’s inconvenience to get your phone out of your pocket for something that may be trivial.
With Apple Watch, you can simply raise your wrist and have a glance at what is happening. You can decide to act on it, or you can decide to go on with your day. No friction, just plain convenience.
To me, focus is intrinsically tied to immediacy and convenience. Because of the immediate and ease of access to our connected world, Apple Watch allows us to be more focused on things that require our immediate attention.
Any time I am not spending looking for my phone, unlocking it, and launching an app is time I can use to focus on things I am currently doing. It could be focusing on my work, focusing on my driving, or more importantly, focusing on the people I am physically interacting with.
Disrupting a conversation to look at your phone is something that is mostly accepted nowadays, although I still find it extremely rude to talk to someone who’s looking at his phone and gently nodding as if he was still part of the conversation. With that said, quickly glancing at a notification on your wrist while sitting at dinner with the in-laws is much more socially acceptable than pulling your iPhone out of your pocket to see what that notification was about.
With glances, Apple Watch gives you a bite size look at your notification in a very discrete way. The screen size and its somewhat limited capabilities also allow for less distraction. In contrast, the iPhone is merciless in that once you unlock it to act on an incoming message, you soon get drawn to its attention grab in the form of other alerts, messages, apps, etc.
As I mentioned above, there is no obviousness in all this. It’s only when you live with Apple Watch for an extended period of time that you realize the most incredible features aren’t the gimmicky heartbeats you can send to your friends, or the tracking of some basic health indicators. The most important features of Apple Watch are those that allow you to quickly and easily stay connected while still giving all your focus and attention to the physical world you’re in. It’s the time saved. It’s the convenience of communication without the burden of distraction. It’s the connectivity to the whole world without the disconnection from our immediate world.
Yet again, just like you didn’t really know how much you needed an iPhone until you owned one, you won’t know how much you need an Apple Watch until you get one.