Alan Mooiman

Thoughts on the Watch

September 16, 2014

I remember when the iPhone was originally announced in January 2007. I was excited, to say the least. I mean, I worked at an Apple Store at the time, but the iPhone’s potential to change everything was clearly there. I anxiously looked forward to the phone’s June release, speculating on so much of how it would work and change how we interact with our phones and one another. This wasn’t just a new approach to making a cell phone, it was a miniaturization of desktop computing in a way that hadn’t been successfully acheived before.

With this week’s announcement, I don’t have the same “OMG I can’t wait” feeling that I did in 2007, but I’m definitely intrigued and will be buying an Apple Watch shortly after they are released. Jonathan Stark argues that the Apple Watch and Android wear devices are just tiny smartphones strapped to our wrists, and that only Pebble currently gets functionality right. While I don’t currently own a smartwatch, I have to disagree that the Apple Watch is too “phone-like”. Sure, it has things in common with the iPhone, and even appears to be dependent on a connection to one, but I don’t think it’s being positioned as a miniature iPhone. I think that the glancable functionality is there and will prove useful, especially if they can get the logic behind them right. For example, when there’s a meeting in the next 15 minutes, make that the first thing you see; when you wake up put the weather up and center, etc. No one’s going to be composing emails on this thing, but answering a quick “this or that” text message? That’ll certainly be handy. One thing I’d like to see is a Swarm app, so that I don’t have to pull out my phone to check in to a venue. It’s these types of interactions (the same type you might perform in, say, the new Today widgets) that will be where this device starts to come into its own.

So is this a miniature iPhone? Hardly. While it certainly doesn’t stand on its own, even Apple has to start somewhere. I’m sure that after a few iterations of hardware and software that it will start to evolve in ways that we haven’t imagined.