A lot of people have compared the first generation of Apple Watch to the first generation of the iPhone and rightly so: Apple Watch has a (likely intentionally) constrained feature set, bulky-ish hardware, critics that say the exact same thing has existed on other platforms for a long time…
But like the iPhone, the Apple Watch is exactly what the first generation of the iPhone was for many of us: our first peek into the form of a device nearly every human on earth will own.
Apple Watch is the spark that will light the fire of thousands of product designers that over the next few years will move this device from a status item to a must-own for nearly every one – and I’ll give you three reasons why.
But first a disclaimer: When Jony Ive said it was “the most personal device they’ve ever created” he wasn’t kidding. Apple Watch is personal in a very different way than the iPhone is. I remember walking into an Apple Store for the first time, tapping Safari and browsing NYTimes.com for the first time: an experience that wasn’t just breathtaking for me, but one that changed the internet for billions of people around the world.
That isn’t going to happen with the Apple Watch. None of the potentially life changing use-cases I’ve found can happen on a demo unit in an Apple Store. None happen immediately out of the box. None can be truly understood but placing your friend’s watch on your wrist for 10 minutes.
It’s too personal (And not in the metaphysical way). I’ll explain. Lets dive in:
Going into a store and swiping around on the tiny screen isn’t going to show you the possibilities of this device and it won’t show you its nearly universal appeal – not because it isn’t appealing but because unlike the phone, the Apple Watch needs to know YOU.
Unlike, desktop computers that are shared by several (in a home) if not hundreds (in a library) Phones aren’t shared at all. This minor point becomes a massive benefit and enabled entirely new ways to experience technology.
“Logged In” almost isn’t even a term anymore. If you are on the phone it is you.
Unless it isn’t.
So we first created passcodes. Then swipeythingers (I don’t get it android people). Then TouchID.
Apple Watch completely and totally explodes this paradigm because unlike a phone that is supposed to live in your pocket or purse, Apple Watch is attached to your actual body.
Put on your Apple Watch, enter your passcode and thats it. 16 hours later your watch knows you are you. You never put in your password again.
Sensors in the back of the watch ensure it hasn’t been removed from your wrist and instantly your credit cards aren’t a pocket-removal, wallet thumbing and swipe away. Or a pocket removal and passcode away. Or a pocket removal and a thumbprint away.
They are instantly, already on your wrist.
Imagine every real-life authentication we do: bus passes, boarding passes, keys to our homes, badges at work, picking up prescriptions, buying things, firing up your car, signing for deliveries, maybe even grabbing merchandise on your way out of a concert.
Apple Watch will open the world drastically and beautifully faster than keys, signatures and swipes.
A quick reminder: iPhone v1 had an EDGE connection. A low res screen. No copy and paste.
Oh, and no Apps.
These were very common complaints/objections when the product was released and they were legitimate. They were also rectified.
Product designers looked at the original iPhone as an infinitely malleable slice of glass connected to the internet. Other challenges would be addressed – and they were.
The same is true of Apple Watch and the main complaint I hear from athletes today is legitimate – Apple Watch requires a phone.
But over time this will be addressed, and when it is either rectified or a non-paired mode is created it will change sports.
Phones are too heavy, wide and rigid to make it to the field, a problem that a watch doesn’t have.
The Apple Watch will open up ESPN level stats to every enthusiast of every sport in the world.
Every score of every game will be stored on the watch – not just because it is great to have the stats, but it is easier to keep score on two watches than repeating it out loud or arguing between each point. Every split time of every sprint in every practice will be saved and available for analysis.
Imagine Strava, but for every sport. For every game. For every practice.
That is the future Apple Watch will bring.
I know you hate Siri. But every time you hate on Siri I think of something else that was hated: the “convergence device”.
For nearly 20 years the tech world was swinging and missing on the idea that… wait for it… your calendar and address book and phone could be “All-In-One”. Some attempts at bringing the above together few hundred thousand units, but nothing was even close to being a zeitgeist for so long the press wondered if those of use enamored with the idea were wrong about the category.
Clearly we weren’t – We just hadn’t found our device yet.
Maybe I’m calling it too early. Maybe in 5 years we will still be waiting for an amazing voice-based assistant, but there’s a major difference between Siri on iPhone and Siri on Apple Watch: you will want to (and likely try to) use Siri every single day on your Apple Watch.
She is inescapable because typing is impossible.
So instead of trying a few things and giving up and going back to your previous world of typing, Siri will tempt your questions, requests, orders and dictation daily. AND she will get better at answering them.
And Siri is always ready to hear your requests. No need to remove your phone from your pocket or purse. No need to hold down a button to call her attention. Just lift your wrist and speak.
The opportunity is so much larger than questions and answers, imagine speaking to every app you have today to command it’s use.
Imagine new voice only apps.
This is a massive opportunity for Apple to instantly establish new standards for how apps communicate with voice-based requests and commands. I expect Apple to be opening up a completely new type of API for Siri (and if they aren’t, they should call me) to bring new types of integrations into the world.
Should you buy an Apple Watch?
If you care about creating the future – absolutely.
Follow me on Twitter @aten.
Thanks to Kevin Tom for finding a few egregious typos. 😀
A tiny bit more for the nerds:
1 – I’d expect Apple Pay and Passbook to merge into a single identity authentication app/protocol. Some things would involve payment, others wouldn’t.
2 – I hope to write a blog post about what a great Siri API would look like.