When Apple introduced their Watch during their keynote I initially was disappointed. It looked quite bulky, from a hardware perspective they didn’t really introduce anything we weren’t already expecting, and overall they were unable to convince me of its use-case. I just didn’t get it.
After giving it a bit more thought however, I’m realizing it’s not about the hardware, nor the demos they showed us. The Apple Watch requires a new way of thinking to really make sense of it.
Just like when the iPhone was introduced, we were still thinking in terms of translating websites and computer software to the phone. Not really taking advantage of the new possibilities. How could we? We never thought of software in that way. We never considered our software could be available wherever we were. That it could know where we are and enable us to let others know in real-time. That’s why it took a while for concepts like Uber and Foursquare to emerge.
Realizing this, gives us a new way of looking at Apple’s announcement. How is the Watch different from smart phones? Not just technically, but also the relationship between user and device. I think that’s one of the most interesting questions we can ask right now.
Let’s take a step back and look at a regular watch. Aside from aesthetics, you’d say it’s for telling the time right? Although that’s technically true, I’d say it’s to provide the user with a better awareness of time throughout their day. This helps them make better use of their time and gives them a better grip on life. That’s powerful stuff.
The distinction between checking the time on a watch and your phone, is that on a watch it takes just a glance and therefore is way more accessible. I haven’t worn a watch in a while, but I remember having a better sense of time when I did, than I do now using my iPhone. I just check the time less often because it’s not as accessible.
Like a regular watch, the Apple Watch is just a glance away. I think this is one of its killer features: providing awareness. Awareness of time, awareness of your health, awareness of how our loved ones are doing, and awareness of whatever else developers will come up with. (Please no awareness of my email inbox!)
I believe the haptic feedback will play an important role in this as well. It can be a subtle way to notify the user similar to how a regular watch can be configured to beep every hour. You don’t notice it, unless it’s relevant at that point.
What do you think? Is awareness a key element of the Watch? In what ways can it be leveraged? What use cases can we come up with that really thrive on awareness?