Apple Watch – The Three Killer Use Cases

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 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.

This is a different type of personal than what I am describing.

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.

Screenshot 2015-05-11 09.25.28

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.

Sunset with your new best friend.

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.

End To End – Apple’s acquisition of Beats isn’t about headphones, its about Android.

Originally published on Medium.

To make sense of the Beats deal, stop looking at Beats and start looking at Apple: Apple doesn’t care about selling music[1]. Apple doesn’t care about selling headphones[2]. Apple cares about selling phones, tablets and computers.

So why buy a headphone and music company?

To sell more iPhones, iPads and Macbooks.

Apple is at war for the future of computing with Android.

Android is as much an opposing army you fight during the day as a ghost you fight in your dreams. Android has the massive armies of Google and Samsung assembled on the front lines but Android isn’t just a threat materialized, its a shape-shifter; a Microsoft fork, a Facebook phone. Android is everywhere and can become anything, so the threat to Apple can come from anywhere.

But Android’s biggest advantage is its biggest weakness: Things that can be anything are usually many things but seldom the best thing.

Apple thrives by making experiences simple. They stay focused. They create integrated systems. Apple wins by blending hardware and software into one package that just works.

Apple is buying Beats to make streaming work. Well not just work, but work delightfully.

Buying Beats is about giving everyone that purchases an Apple device a bundled, simple, seamless, end to end system for listening to any song in the world easily and instantly right out of the box.

Apple is all about music. Apple owns digital music sales. Apple has had concerts at their product announcements. Music brought Apple out of the ashes.

Listen to Steve Jobs talk about music when he introduced the iPod.
“Why music? Well, we love music. More importantly, music’s a part of everyone’s life. Everyone. Music’s been around forever. It will always be around. And, because it’s a part of everyone’s life, it’s a very large target market. All around the world. It knows no boundaries.”

Apple is working to perfectly meet a universal desire of their users and baking it into every product they sell.

So why buy Beats?

Beats is a special company when it comes to licensing. Licensing is a beast. Even for major players like Google licensing can take years. Many contracts don’t allow for transfer of rights on acquisition. Beats’ deals are probably the same but Beats isn’t just any company. The CEO of Beats works at Universal and reports directly to the CEO. One of the major funders of Beats is the owner of Warner. Even if Sony isn’t involved Jimmy can navigate those waters.

Beats is cool. Apple isn’t just offering access to songs — they are making it cool. Not only is Beats a cool brand, but Beats has the artist involved (and you can bet many many more will be there soon now that Jimmy and Dre are staying at Apple).

Beats music is already great product. Its clean, fast and already works. While Apple understands the need for simple integrated systems, they don’t always execute perfectly and buying a functioning product removes the opportunity for another Maps or .Me disaster.

Apple needs streaming. Google Play is already embedded on many Google Devices. Amazon will have their content front and center on their phone just like they do on the Kindle Fire. Apple, like they have been many times before, is behind on integrating new features into their platforms but they’ve made up for it before.

By buying Beats Apple gets the sexiest product in a universally important space and the ability to bundle it inside every device they sell.

Buying Beats isn’t about selling headphones or selling music: Its about giving their customers an simple, beautiful, integrated customer experience with no risk. Its about bundling every song in the world with every product they sell.

Buying Beats is about beating Android.

[1] iTunes is somewhere around $6B/year. Thats including music, software, movies, apps, everything.

Apple makes 30% of those sales. Maybe they have a great deal and have 15% cc fees. So they make $900M a year top line.

Apple made $10B in profit last quarter.

This isnt about selling music.

Buying a streaming company costs Apple money.

Its actually more cost effective to let Beats grow outside of Apple.

Apple would make 30% of every Beats transaction processed on their platform and they would make 30% of every Spotify transaction and 30% of everyone else.

If they owned them, 80% of revenue would go to the labels.

This is’t about selling music.

[2] Apple makes the best hardware in the world. Apple has the worlds most valuable, desired and important brand.

This isn’t about selling headphones.