Notes on Apple Watch experience

Executive summary: Apple watch is great. Surprised to discover people who disagree.

People wanted bells and whistles, but ended up with a tool that is similar in its utility to your regular watch telling time. But Apple goes far beyond that, naturally.

Industry taught consumers to judge products by their technical parameters, features and looks in the ads. Not actual experience and craftsmanship. 

Much like many other Apple products, watch is built from many gems that deliver a great experience by playing together as an orchestra. A hard to sell to naysayers and people who only get specs and killer features.

The product design exceeds expectations. Assumed it would look and feel like a weird brick on your hand. Was wrong. Feels and weighs just right.

Manual controls (crown & button) do swell, rubber band I had too. Delightful.

A ton of great and very fine design work went into this little device. Physical and digital.

The watch faces do look, work and get setup like they were crafted by the swiss. :)

No surprise Apple isn’t welcoming your great custom watch face ideas. It is hard to think of any other company that would put so much effort into designing a digital watch face.

And guess what. Face quality is a key factor for buying real watches. Letting third parties freely customize your watch face is akin to letting them sell your product for you.

Apple watch is a glanceable gadget. Your hand will get tired soon enough if you want to read a book off of it. And that is an important value point.

The very approach to reviewing watch interfaces should be similar to reviewing a speedometer. And it does perform for at-a-glance.

Watch is tied to your iPhone. But it almost never feels lacking. It never feels incomplete. Never feels like you have to have your iPhone in your other hand to get anything done with it. It is time for your phone to rest in the pocket.

A lot of smart thinking went into collaboration between the devices, deciding what can be accomplished on the wrist and what has to extend into the phone screen.

Key value

Key value of the device is reminders, notifications and fitness motivation. I did feel more empowered, more motivated for a healthier life and more confident I don’t miss the next meeting. AND I’m taking calls on it! :)

No more checking the phone so frequently.

This is the core, done very well and the lookout for features and capabilities coming to watch is great.

When you pick up the phone to check when the next meeting is or what that message from friend was you end up sucked into it browsing, checking updates etc. Watch won’t suck you in.

By purchasing Apple watch you’re buying youself a ton of time off the screen, not an extra distraction device.

The few shortcomings

The screen lights up sometimes when you don’t expect it too. E. g. when you’re operating a fork and a knife. Minor annoyance that hopefully will get fixed. Ideas for an app that teaches you table manners?

I can get a bulk notification saying that I have 2 tasks coming up, but no way to look into the tasks (my Any.Do task manager doesn’t have a Watch app). Apps will need to adapt.

Not all of the things on Watch face are immediately clear (‘What’s that red dot?’ So get ready for some learning curve here.

Fingerprints on the screen don’t look cool too.

I could name a few other, but all the tiny annoyances don’t add up to be considered a show stopper, impact purchase decision or matter much.

Creating more, better apps

I bet Apple and any other app market owner struggles to figure out how to get people to create more apps. Better apps too.

Now, inventing Swift to code an app up easier is a good step.

Better yet in my opinion would be building an easy way for designers to collaborate with developers and entrepreneurs to build stuff together.

Helping find a fellow engineer or a fellow designer to try to make that idea you both like happen is a worthwhile challenge.

Drying ink in Google Docs

Here’s an idea to show recent changes in a shared google doc.

Imagine a mode where font color would fade much like regular ink does. Recent stuff more vibrant and ‘wet’, older — dry.

Ink pen

Following the real ink analogy, changed sections’ color could alter as the time goes by.

Now I could spot what’s updated since I last peeked in. :)

Gathering printed book reviews

Gathering book reviews is hard. Now, digital versions can come with all kinds of ways to engage the reader and get one to write a review or at least ‘Like’ the volume.

Different story for printed books.

Here’s a fairly simple idea. Why not put a blank page at the end of a book, print a QR code on it and ask people to write the review by hand on that last page, snap the QR code and have that review submitted to publisher?

I guess automating what happens then is a big problem on its own. But for books that get few reviews, this could be a real game changer.