The secret history of the Apple Watch

A fluff piece, but still an interesting read about the origins of the Apple Watch. Two parts stand out to me. First:

Along the way, the Apple team landed upon the Watch’s raison d’être. It came down to this: Your phone is ruining your life. Like the rest of us, Ive, Lynch, Dye, and everyone at Apple are subject to the tyranny of the buzz – the constant checking, the long list of nagging notifications. “We’re so connected, kind of ever-presently, with technology now,” Lynch says. “People are carrying their phones with them and looking at the screen so much.” They’ve glared down their noses at those who bury themselves in their phones at the dinner table and then absentmindedly thrust hands into their own pockets at every ding or buzz. “People want that level of engagement,” Lynch says. “But how do we provide it in a way that’s a little more human, a little more in the moment when you’re with somebody?”

This makes zero sense to me. If your phone is indeed ruining your life, how is adding another tiny, finnicky screen on your wrist going to help? All it does is add another step between seeing a notification and acting upon it. Instead of staring at just your phone’s screen, you’ll be staring at both your phone’s and your watch’s screen. The watch will invariably suck for acting upon notifications (tiny screen, low battery, voice recognition will fail), forcing you to take out your much more usable phone anyway… At which point you might as well take care of everything while on your phone. You’ll be back at square one.

There are still interesting use cases for a smartwatch, but saving you from notification overload is not one of them.


The goal was to free people from their phones, so it is perhaps ironic that the first working Watch prototype was an iPhone rigged with a Velcro strap. “A very nicely designed Velcro strap,” Lynch is careful to add.

From the very beginning, I said that the Apple Watch looked a lot like a tiny iPhone strapped to your wrist – unlike Android Wear, which was designed from the ground-up for the wrist (not to a lot of success, might I add, but still). The fact that the Apple Watch literally started out as an iPhone strapped to your wrist is telling, and explains why the device seems to be so convoluted and complex.

Apple has a far better track record making stuff people want, so there’s a considerable chance this is exactly what people want, but not once while using my Moto 360 I thought to myself “if only this thing was even more complicated and convoluted, than I would not want to ditch this thing in a drawer!”.


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