"A small-screen iPod, an Internet Communicator, and a Phone" →

Horace Dediu on the possibility of the Apple Watch standing on its own one day:

I think this too is inevitable. The technology trajectories are easy enough to plot. Apple has invested enormously in the silicon that goes inside the Watch and has taken it to new levels of connectivity with LTE, 85% faster WiFi, and a 70% faster processor; all with 50% better power efficiency.

These enable independent voice entry, Siri everywhere, Find My Friends, Maps, music streaming. These breakthroughs are only possible with a new W2 processor which is more powerful than the first iPhone processors.

This comparison is apt: the Watch is effectively stealing usage from the iPhone. At first it took alerts, timekeeping, and basic messaging away. Now it’s taking basic phone calls and music and maybe maps.

It’s fitting therefore to remember how the iPhone was launched; as a tentpole troika: A wide-screen iPod, an Internet Communicator and a Phone. Today the new Watch is a small-screen iPod, an Internet Communicator and a Phone.

So not only is the Series 3 Watch more powerful than the original iPhone but it is also poetically capable of the same tentpole jobs. But it’s not just a miniature iPhone. It has a new, completely orthogonal attack on non-consumption and market creation: fitness and health. This is a key point. The iPhone was born a phone but grew up to be something completely unprecedented, unforeseen by its creators and, frankly, undescribable in the language of 2007.

The Watch was born a timepiece but it is traversing through the early iPhone and pulling in a new direction all of its own. The fact that we are talking about “Resting Rate”, “Arrhythmia” and “Atrial fibrillation” at a timekeeping launch event indicates that new behaviors will follow and so will the language we’ll use to describe this child-like product once it grows up.

Finally upgraded my first-gen Apple Watch to the new Series 3 with LTE and holy shit, Siri is instantaneous. It even launches third-party apps quickly!

This totally changes the way I think about my Apple Watch. It's no longer just a fitness tracker and notifications hub for my iPhone; it's becoming a voice assistant and computer on the wrist.

Workflow App: The Future of Wearable and Voice-First Apps

Kyle Russell of TechCrunch theorizes that Workflow, an app for iOS power users that was recently acquired by Apple, is a hint at the future of Apple Watch apps:

Instead of providing an interface with options to pick from a menu or icons representing actions, Workflow on the Apple Watch has been stripped down to verbs. I want an Uber home, or to the next meeting in my calendar. I’m walking home and want to send an ETA to my roommates. Maybe I’m on BART and it’s just too tightly packed to read on my phone — no worries, I can pick a Pocket article to be read over the headphones plugged into the iPhone in my back pocket.

There are no gestures to remember or content to download to fill a feed. It’s the perfect application for the WatchKit app paradigm, with a single tap executing multiple instructions on the phone. And if, say, a destination or article needs to be picked, the pre-made workflows in the app’s gallery will serve up a few options that users are likely to choose.

Over the coming months, most developers will figure out that the best question to ask themselves when designing smart watch apps is, “What can I help users do with a single tap?” With cameras, LTE, GPS, screen size, and battery life keeping the smartphone relevant for the foreseeable future, developers should assume that users will always have a phone on them for any action that takes longer than raising your wrist, swiping once or twice, and tapping a button or two.

Another supporting argument for Apple breaking down traditional apps into its smallest, simplest actions to make more things possible on the wrist and with your voice.

Why watchOS 2 Was So Slow →

Jason Snell:

You may not remember this, but before the Apple Watch came out, there were many rumors that it wasn’t able to get through a day without a charge. It’s clear that Apple made battery life a top priority, perhaps even the top priority: This thing better last all day. And so everyone was incredibly conservative with power and memory.

The result: They overshot. Most of the people I know now report that they end their day with their Apple Watches reporting 40 or 50 percent of remaining battery life. Fegerighi admitted that there was a lot of extra memory and battery life available to them when building watchOS 3, because they overshot so much. And that’s why watchOS seems almost impossibly better than watchOS 2, given that it’s running on the same hardware.

Classic approach by Apple — starting too restricted but loosen up over time instead of starting too open and tightening up over time.

Huge props to Apple for showing their ability to correct course.

Designing for Apple Watch →

Rocket Insights recently shared the lessons they learned when designing an Apple Watch app for Virgin Pulse:

We created a Watch version of each of the features on the iPhone. We built clickable mockups and tested them. What we learned surprised us. Most features were not useful as Watch features...in fact most were actually harder to use there. […]

We discovered that the only features worth replicating were those that were actually better on the Watch. Not just the same, but easier, faster, or more delightful.

A big misconception for smartwatch doubters is that the smartwatch is supposed to replace the phone. But actual smartwatch owners tell a very different story:

When we asked them what apps they use and like on their Apple Watch the answer was invariably apps that delivered intelligent notifications. This was fascinating...that answer was consistent across the board. People are not using Watch apps as much as they are merely receiving quick notifications about their lives. So Watch software is, in a sense, a notification framework for your iPhone app. The Watch is merely the delivery device for it.

Rocket Insights also sums up perfectly how each Watch UI element should be used:

  • Complications are for frequently changing data.
  • Glances are for data that changes a few times per day.
  • Notifications are for real-time updates.
  • Apps are the very last thing a user interacts with, therefore all of the longer-term, slower-changing data should be left here.

I still see a lot of smartwatch doubters and Apple naysayers proclaiming that the Apple Watch is already a failure. The reality is, smartwatch app design is still in its infancy, and it takes a lot for people to rewire theirs brains and get it right — smartwatch apps are not just shrunken-down smartphone apps.

We're barely in the "fart app" phase of watch apps. But eventually, someone will figure out the next Instagram/Snapchat/Uber for the wrist.

Apple Watch is the new white earphones →

Jay Torres:

Now that I've had my watch for a few weeks, I definitely notice what people are wearing on their wrists. Maybe because I live in the Bay Area, with a lot of tech savvy people, I'm starting to see more people with Apple Watches on their wrists. [...]

The Apple Watch seems to be the iPod of this generation. When the iPod first came out in 2001, people were quick to criticize it. [...]

Soon enough, iPods were the gadget to have. People were sporting the iconic white headphones. An entire ad campaign centered around those ear buds. But in the early days, it was common to give a nod to others with the white ear buds since you knew they had an iPod as well. It's pretty crazy to think that before the iPod, no one else made white ear buds; all you had was standard black.

This reminds of the months leading up to my first iPod, my first Apple product ever. I remember walking around my college campus and just noticing everywhere, people wearing white earphones.

I started out noticing just 4-5 per day. And slowly, over time, I'd notice 4-5 an hour. On students leaving the dorms. On guys waiting for the campus shuttle. On people working out at the gym or eating alone. I distinctly remember those iconic white earphones appearing in the Winter Olympics, on NBA players warming up before marquee games, and the cult classic teen drama, The OC.

Nowadays, it's the Apple Watch that I'm noticing everywhere. On people at fast food restaurants. On shoppers at the mall. On tourists walking the Vegas strip.

And with social media, it's even easier to notice the Apple Watch on celebrities and politicians. Off the top of my head, there's been: Jay Leno, J.J Abrams, Kevin Durant, Santana, Bloomberg anchors, Larry King, Jeb Bush, and the Russian Prime Minister.

Sure, we're still early in the adoption cycle and more and more competing watches are coming onto the scene. But only one comes in that iconic rounded rectangle that is just so easy to spot from a distance.

This is how brand awareness begins.

Apple Watch Saves Heart Patient →


Virginia resident Ken Robson, 64, had been visiting his son in the San Diego area in mid-June. “I had been noticing that I had been feeling weak and lightheaded,” he said. He also noticed severe drops in his heart rate. “Your heart rate doesn’t go into the 30s and 40s unless you’re an Olympic athlete,” Robson said. He knew something was wrong, so he went online and self-diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia known as sick sinus syndrome.

Robson had a doctor’s appointment for shortly after he was to return home, but a day before he was scheduled to depart San Diego, he went to the emergency room at Scripps Mercy Hospital. “I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’ on the airplane” who caused an unscheduled landing due to a medical emergency, or worse, who died in flight.

When he got to the hospital, Robson told staff that he had been tracking his heart rate on the watch, and had two weeks of back data. “Going in with the data certainly reduced my stay by a couple of days,” he told MedCity News. It also assured that he could have the operation nearly immediately.

Because the hospital could check his Apple Watch data, Robson did not have to wear a heart monitor for a week before the medical team at Scripps Mercy could confirm the diagnosis of sick sinus syndrome.

"Health Tracking" isn't exactly the sexiest feature that'll get airtime on TV commercials.

Often times, instead of making you go "WOW," the biggest innovations are the ones that you take for granted and make a difference when you need them most.

Apple Watch 42mm Stainless Steel

My First Month with Apple Watch

After two years of speculating and writing about it, the Apple Watch is finally here! It’s been over a month since I chased down my UPS guy for my missed package, and now I have enough personal experience to share my thoughts on it.

A Little Background

In the past few years, I’ve made a conscious effort to use my phone less. Specifically, to stop texting while driving, and stop fiddling with my phone when I’m out with friends. That means less documenting my life on social media and simply living more in the moment.

Did you know the average smartphone user checks their phone 150 times per day? That means two things:

  1. People waste time throughout the day just reaching into their pockets/bags, pulling out their phones, checking notifications, and then putting them back into their pockets/bags.

  2. People obsessively hold their phones in their hands (or at least keep within arms reach) at all times throughout the day.

Just look at Facebook and count how many photos include people holding their phones. People holding their phones at the dinner table. On the dance floor. While drinking with friends. At the swimming pool. Out camping. All because we’ve trained ourselves to disconnect from the moment just so we can stay “connected” to everyone else in the world over text and social media.

My First Smartwatch

Someone once said:

The desktop is meant to be used hours at a time. Phones for minutes at a time. Watches for seconds at a time.

That just made a ton of sense to me. I realized if I could just relieve my phone of push notification duties, all of a sudden I could drastically cut down my phone usage and just keep my phone in my pocket.

So last year, for my birthday, I went ahead and bought a Pebble smartwatch.

Why I Loved My Pebble Smartwatch

  • I could stay on top of notifications while shooting hoops in my backyard.
  • I could control the music on my phone speakers while showering.
  • I could read push notifications while stuck in traffic more easily.
  • When I woke up from a nap and couldn’t find my iPhone, I could hit the play button to make my phone play music.
  • When I walked my dog, I could control my music while keeping my phone in my pocket.

Dislikes About Pebble Smartwatch

  • It was ugly. As much as I loved the utility, I hated the way it looked, especially how it clashed with everything when I dressed up. It just screamed “computer nerd” to anyone who saw it.
  • While getting notifications on my wrist was extremely helpful, I still needed to grab my phone to act on those notifications.
  • It was fucking ugly.

Enter Apple Watch

Even before I got my Pebble, I knew the Apple Watch was coming. I knew it was going to look like a watch, not a fitness band, because of all the executives/creatives they were recruiting from the fashion industry. I knew it was going to offer tighter integration with the iPhone (and the entire Apple ecosystem), better than any other third-party smartwatch/fitness band will ever offer, because that’s just how Apple rolls.

For the first time ever, even before the product was announced, I knew I was going to get one.

I’ve always dreamed of having a Dick Tracy/Power Rangers watch as a kid. I’ve always loved the craftsmanship of timepieces ever since high school. I’ve always respected the simplicity and elegance of Apple’s industrial design since my first iPod.

And now, the Apple Watch is in my life. With over a month of hands-on time under my belt, here’s everything I learned:

Early Observations

  • It is NOT a smartphone. It’s a dashboard and remote for your phone. Once I realized that, it became easier to manage expectations.
  • It is not something you play with. It’s something you set and forget.
  • It takes weeks to find the right balance of notification settings.
  • It is best used in short bursts. Holding up my arm for longer than 5 seconds is not only uncomfortable, but really awkward in public.
  • Taptic feedback is nice step up from standard vibration. It literally feels like it’s tapping you. Plus, Apple did a brilliant job complimenting taps with the right sounds. An alert that sounds like a bell ringing also feels like a bell ringing on my wrist.
  • Battery life is much better than expected. I always have about 40% of battery to spare when I go to bed.
  • Switching watch straps has a profound affect on the personality of the watch. I already own two sport straps (black and white) and plan on ordering a custom leather strap for formal occasions.
  • I feel so naked without it now. There are those awkward moments in the morning when I look at my wrist to check weather and realize I haven’t put on my watch yet.
  • My first Apple Watch sighting in the wild: a woman in her mid-40s. As a nurse, she bought the watch for notifications and messaging while she works.
  • It’s showerproof! After watching videos of divers jumping off a high dive with their Apple Watches, I shower with my watch after working out with it.
  • Having an accurate health tracker with a screen that displays graphs is much more motivating than a small Fitbit screen that only displays numbers.
  • Battery life on my iPhone has improved noticeably since the screen no longer lights up for each incoming notification.

How I Use My Apple Watch

  • I use the Workout app to track my heart rate and physical activity while doing basketball drills. I don’t stop until I at least fill the Exercise Ring.
  • I’ve responded to texts using dictation while shooting hoops in the backyard. No more using my shirt to wipe dirt off my hands and touching my phone to respond. My watch gets a nice rinse when I shower anyway.
  • I’ve answered a quick phone call on my watch in the middle of giving my dog a bath. No rushing to dry my hands since it’s showerproof.
  • I thoroughly enjoy the freedom of walking around the house in my undies while my phone is charging. No pockets? No problem. Phone calls and iMessages get forwarded as long as I’m on the same WiFi network.
  • I check into Foursquare with just a couple swipes and a tap.
  • Every morning I get into my car, I start my podcast player, Overcast, from my watch.
  • I control my Apple TV with my watch. No more searching the couch cushions for the Apple Remote.
  • Because it’s power efficient and charges reasonably fast, I now sleep with my Apple Watch. When I wake up, I charge it for 20-30 minutes in bed while I catch up on social media and news feeds on my phone. By the time I’m done, I’ll have about 80% battery life, which has been plenty. At night I give it another 20-30 minutes of charging.
  • When I’m out with friends, I keep sound notifications on to make it clear to others that I’m checking my notifications, not bored of their company. When I’m at work, I put it on silent and rely on the haptic feedback.
  • Unlike a smartphone, I’ve found that the fewer apps, the better.
  • The best workflow I’ve found for managing notifications: have all phone notifications forward to the watch but only have time-sensitive ones tap your wrist. When a notification comes in, swipe down to dismiss it. Otherwise, use Notification Center on the watch to catch up on any you missed and Force Touch to Clear All.

Minor 1.0 Annoyances

  • 98% of third-party apps for Apple Watch suck…for now. But that’s understandable because no developers had an actual watch to test with. Now that developers have watches, they will move quickly to build apps that make sense on a wrist.
  • It’s hard to auto-activate the screen when lying down (so I’ve learned to touch the screen instead).
  • Back-swiping to go back a screen is very inconsistent across apps. On a screen this small, all apps should embrace gestures more instead of fully relying on tiny-ass buttons.
  • Am I using a Glance or an app? Sometimes I think I’m using a Glance and swipe down to close it, but it’s actually an app and swiping down does nothing.
  • When my phone is outside of Bluetooth range but still on WiFi range, I can still still receive iMessages and phone calls on my watch. Unfortunately, no other notifications relay the same way.
  • While receiving heartbeats via Digital Touch are in real-time, receiving taps are not.
  • I occasionally find myself swiping down to access Notification Center, but that gesture only works in Watchface mode.
  • The side button really should be customizable. Right now it is used to open the Friends app, but for such a personal device, each person should be able to assign it to their most-used app.

The good news is, all of these annoyances can be fixed over time with software updates. Remember, once upon a time, the first iPhone didn’t support picture messages or even copy/paste.

Now that I have my observations out of the way, here are the most typical reactions I hear:

“I don’t want all my notifications on my wrist! I’ll be even more distracted!”

Some notifications are worthy tapping your wrist for your immediate attention (i.e. phone calls and emails from your boss). Other notifications definitely aren’t. There are plenty of notification settings to help you prioritize the important ones.

The great thing about having notifications on your wrist is it’s much more convenient to glance at than reaching into your pocket, checking your phone, and putting it back into your pocket.

Remember, the average person checks their phone 150 times per day. Seconds add up.

“Android’s had that for years!”

Smartwatches in general have been around for over a decade. The problem is, each and every one of them have been too clunky and/or too geeky to get any sort of mass market appeal.

All but one Android Wear device measure in at 46mm (with the lone exception being 42mm). Apple Watch comes in 38mm and 42mm and include a wide range of meticulously-crafted official straps that even luxury watch enthusiasts are applauding.

Good luck convincing millions of non-techie men and women that a one-size-fits-all 46mm chunk of metal is fashionable.

In the real world, when it comes to smartwatches, looks matter more than specs and features. Just look at #AndroidWear vs. #AppleWatch on Instagram and compare the demographics of each platform.

“It’s going to be obsolete in two years.”

A totally valid concern. The general assumption is the Apple Watch will be updated every year and redesigned every two years, just like the iPhone. But that is only an assumption.

Another possibility is the Apple Watch will be updated more like the MacBooks. Every year, the internals are updated but the actual device gets a full redesign every 3-5 years.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

“Should I get one?”


If you are a techie, Apple enthusiast, mobile app developer, or early adopter with the disposable cash, definitely get one! I’d recommend the low-end Sport editions, just in case Apple launches a much better v2.0 next year and you’ll want to upgrade immediately.

To everyone else, I will give a more conservative answer — hold off for now. Wait until a really great watch app emerges from the App Store. There is no rush. The iPhone didn’t become a mainstream success until the iPhone 4.

If the Apple Watch is something that you have to save up for, save for v2.0. Historically, 2.0 Apple devices have been huge upgrades over the original models.

(If Christmas comes around and your girlfriend already has an iPhone and iPad, then sure, get a pair of Apple Watches for yourselves.)

As for me, I am one happy customer. This is a nice upgrade over my old Fitbit, a huge feature upgrade over my Pebble smartwatch, and I get an early glimpse of Apple’s vision of the future. Every time a big company launches a watch app, or a big chain adds support for Apple Pay, or a home appliance company adds support for Apple HomeKit, the Apple Watch becomes more valuable.

Consider this:

Back in 2008, when the iTunes App Store first launched, nobody had any idea we’d end up with phenomenons like Instagram, Snapchat, and Uber. What killer apps will the Apple Watch bring in 5 years?

I can’t wait to find out.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying putting my phone down, focusing more on the world around me, and living more in the moment with my dog, my family, and my friends.

Apple Watch 1.0 →

Mark D. Mill:

Can Apple Watch do everything now? No. Can it replace your phone? No. Is it bug-free? No. Is there room for improvement? Yes. Are any of those expectations appropriate for the first generation of any product? Of course not. Apple Watch is not a perfect product, but many people are forgetting that neither was the first iPod, the first iPhone, or the first iPad. Rather than evaluating whether the product is already mature, a better question is to ask whether Apple has laid a foundation on which Apple Watch can grow. The answer, I believe, is a resounding yes.

Kids React to Apple Watch →

This perfectly encapsulates the entire range of first impressions that the Apple Watch is getting.

By far the most common complaint was how the Apple Watch requires an iPhone. Totally valid complaint. But once upon a time, the iPod needed a Mac. And eventually it grew into the iPhone.

Also, kudos to the kids who understand we don't need smartwatches, the same way we don't need a smartphone or a TV; we just want it the luxury because it delights us and makes our lives easier.