Thoughts On Apple Watch

It’s been a whole week since Apple’s Spring Forward keynote and I’ve had plenty of time to dwell on the Apple Watch and everything else that was presented at the Yerba Buena Center. That said, I’m still no closer to deciding if I’ll purchase one or not.

It’s a damn safe bet that the Apple Watch will be a success, I have no doubts about that. You can safely cast aside all the naysayers with their predications of the Watch being a “flop”, I’ve not seen one reasoned argument to suggest how on earth that will be the case and Apple’s track record on product successes has been… let’s say ‘pretty good' over the past fifteen to twenty years. More pertinent than all of that though is where the benchmark is currently set:

TalkAndroid:

Market research firm Canalys found that Android Wear accounted for more than 720,000 devices of the 4.6 million wearables shipped in 2014. That means less than 750,000 units shipped in seven months of availability.

750,000 units? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Apple achieves that in the first week of being on sale.

Other doubts surrounding the Watch seem to centre around the notion that it’s just a small iPhone and of course all the usual suspects have trotted out the beleaguered and beaten old line that only one specific group of people will buy it – “the apple faithful”. At this point you look like a moron that’s completely out of touch with reality when you use that line. Apple sold over 70 million iPhones last quarter, newsflash folks: people that buy Apple products aren’t some weird niché group, it’s mainstream fucking culture. Your knuckles must be awfully sore from dragging them around the floor of your cave all day, come outside and we’ll get them patched up while catching you up with everything that’s happened since 2007.

As for the Apple Watch just being a smaller iPhone, I think Rene Ritchie at iMore swats that aside with consummate ease, much more elegantly than I could hope to:

The Apple Watch isn’t an iPhone any more than the iPhone is a Mac. Computing has moved from the server room to the desktop to the laptop to the pocket and now onto the wrist. Every time that’s happened, every time it’s moved to a new, more personal place, those of us who were used to it in its old place have become slightly anxious, we’ve become subject to our own expectational debt.

In other words: technology is once again moving relentlessly forward to a new medium, you can either accept and embrace it, or fall behind and dismiss it. Whether the Apple Watch will ultimately be a phenomenon or not is irrelevant… the Smartwatch as a whole is going to be a phenomenon at some point. You can argue that Apple is a few years early to the game with this, but give it time and let’s see what happens. It’s far better to be too early to the party than too late, and if you don’t believe me then just ask Microsoft.

I think the Apple Watch has genuine uses. Notifications to your wrist may seem unnecessary at first but when you think about it for a little while you begin to realise that you can set everything up so that your phone gets the notifications you deem don’t deem important or pressing and everything else comes to your watch. That way you can only be interrupted when you feel it’s necessary and a quick glance at your wrist is a much more polite way to deal with a social interruption. The health and fitness potential of this thing is pretty amazing, it’s way more compelling to me than any of the fitness bands out on the market right now and I think this may be the single most compelling use case for the Apple Watch I’ve seen so far. Beyond any of that is what developers can achieve on this new platform, and this is undoubtedly how the true potential of the device will be realised. I think the single most useful example we’ve seen of this so far is the ability to be able to unlock your hotel room door by waving your wrist in front of it. No need to worry about losing hotel keycards, or checking in. Add this to flight updates from apps like American Airlines, simple taxi requesting from Uber, and Apple’s own Passbook app allowing you to have your airplane boarding card on your wrist, and it’s safe to say the Apple Watch will be one hell of a useful travel companion.

Something I’ve seen very little discussion over as well is maps. Again, like notifications, having maps on your wrist doesn’t seem like that big a benefit at first but you can quickly begin to realise just how short-sighted that notion is. When I’m in a city that I don’t know I use maps on my phone all the time to find my way around. I consistently feel stupid walking around staring down at my phone like an idiot and I’m always weary of someone snatching the phone from me while I’m in my distracted state. It would be much better if I had directions that I could follow on my wrist. Not only is it more difficult to steal but I’d look like less of an obvious tourist as well. I think the Apple Watch could be a fantastic piece of kit for providing directions, specifically walking directions.

All that considered, does the Apple Watch solve enough problems to justify another device and the price tag that comes along with it? I’m really not sure, it’s almost too close to call right now. But I don’t doubt that at some point within the next two years, as more and more apps are released, that the answer to that question will be a resounding yes. The real question is how quickly will it happen?