Since its announcement, I’ve been a skeptic of the Apple Watch. However, except for some reactions from the initial watch event, I stopped talking publicly about it. Not because I thought I was wrong, but because talking shit about the watch would serve no point.
One of two things could – and still can – happen:
- The Apple Watch flops, a scenario where my skepticism would’ve been astute, but a scenario that would’ve hurt Apple (and, indirectly, the entire iOS software industry).
- The Apple watch succeeds, in which case I was wrong, but everyone is happy, so why would I want to rain on anyone’s parade?
I got an Apple Watch through Apple’s iOS developer-watch-purchase-lottery. Orta said it would be good to have an Artsy development device, and to be honest, I’m not comfortable writing software for a platform that I’ve never experienced as a user.
Well, it’s been a week since I put it on and – despite my skepticism – I’ve been actively trying to use it. So I’m going to give what I consider to be high praise.
Apple Watch: not as useless as I thought.
It’s true! I swear that’s not facetious! I thought the watch would be quite silly – a device for “people who own iPhones but don’t like using their iPhones”, I joked to myself.
But that description turned out to be pretty accurate. Turns out, I don’t like using my phone. Or, at least, I didn’t appreciate the opportunity cost of using it so much.
The watch’s interface follows a different paradigm – on the surface, of course, but much more fundamental than that. To me, my phone has always been a sort of push/pull system. I can get notified of things (push), or I can go get things to read/do (pull). The watch is meant to be push-only: you get notifications and your interactions with the watch are mostly meant to be reactions to those notifications.
It has surprised me just how many pull-based interactions I was having with my phone just because it had interrupted me with a push-based one. I would get a notification, respond to an iMessage, then head over to check Twitter while I had my phone out. Then Flipboard. Then email. Then Facebook.
The trade-off with the watch is that I don’t spend as much time looking at my phone, which I kind of like.
In the end, I think I was right about there not being a compelling reason to buy the watch. It is a nice-to-have. No one benefits that much from a watch the same way that I would argue people benefit a tonne from having an iPhone or an iPad. But what I failed to understand at the time of the announcement was that that was OK.
Instead of one, compelling raison d'être for the watch, it looks like Apple’s goal is to make my life better by keeping me off my phone.