"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.

Apple Mini Computers →

Sam Gerstenzang talks about Apple's underrated release of mini computers, like the Pencil, AirPods, Apple Watch, and Touch Bar:

Apple is quietly getting very good at shipping very small computers that charge very rapidly, and thus can be unanchored ––unlike Google Home or Amazon Echo. Over time, as power and size requirements decrease, a direct internet connection might add value. But for now, Bluetooth allows a connection to your phone (which is still quite obviously and self-consciously a computer) and that’s enough. […]

Apple is unleashing its fourth revolution in typical Apple fashion but it is atypically quiet about it. Like with the Apple I, the Mac, and the iPhone, Apple has started with shipping a great product by creating technological innovation in service of a better product, and an entire industry learns.

Apple’s very small computers will unlock a supply chain revolution that will enable a whole wave of others to create their own very small computers, too. It won’t be called the Internet of Things. Just very small computers making very great Things.

Because Apple owns all of the important technologies in its products, Apple has a huge advantage over its competitors when it comes to the miniaturization of computers.

"Apple is No Longer Innovating" →

I think this DJPlayz' opinions are superficial and short-sighted. The whole reason why he argues Apple isn't innovating is because he's focused too narrowly on the iPhone.

First thing's first: how do you define "innovation"? Is innovation about ideas that are cool and exciting? Is it about shipping to market first? Is it about one-upping the competition with better specs each year? Is it about pushing the status quo forward?

I'd argue that innovation is about completely challenging the status quo.

I personally define innovation as: altering the behavior of hundreds of millions of consumers and/or disrupting the way existing companies do business.

With that definition, I'd argue Apple is innovating. A lot. They just do it quietly, either behind-the-scenes, or in such small, incremental steps that the mainstream consumer doesn't pick up on it. Here are a bunch of examples:

  • iPhone 7 Plus dual camera — Apple's first public steps into 3D mapping for Augmented Reality and self-driving cars.
  • iOS Widgets — With iOS 10, we see Apple breaking down traditional apps into small actionable widgets to not only make interactions with the phone quicker, but make more things possible on a watch. (Yes, Android came out with "widgets" first...but Android Wear has so far failed to get mainstream traction.)
  • AirPod's new W1 chip — building on bluetooth technology for longer battery life, quicker connections, improved reliability, and adding the ability to connect one accessory (e.g. AirPods) to multiple devices at the same time.
  • AirPods + Siri — laying down the groundwork for a mobile world that doesn't require smartphones. The vision is, someday, people may walk around with a smartwatch & wireless ear buds, and only pull out their smartphones when they really need a screen.
  • iOS Health app — In Steve Jobs' final years, he realized how inefficient the health industry is, especially at moving medical records between doctors and facilities. Since he passed away, Apple has hired a team of health industry experts to standardize medical data and transform the whole process.
  • Apple Watch — Apple is adding more health sensors to eventually track body vitals 24/7, which is a lot more insightful to doctors than measuring vitals that one day of the year you go in for your check-up. Apple's under-appreciated innovation here is their wide variety of stylish watch straps. When it comes to wearing stuff on the body, real people don't care about tech specs, they care about how it compliments their personal style. It's no coincidence that Android Wear has struggled with female consumers while Fitbit and Apple Watch are succeeding.
  • A-series Computer Chips — Apple's most underrated department. Because Apple has full control its own hardware, software, and silicon — in contrast to Android vendors using the same off-the-shelf parts — Apple is in much better position to pack more power into smaller devices. There's a reason why the Apple Watch is the only full-featured smartwatch competing in the 38-millimeter class.
  • Apple Watch Edition in ceramic white — Smartphones these days are either made of glass or aluminum casing. Apple is heavily investing in ceramics and material science to make something lighter yet stronger than steel, more radio-friendly, and more luxurious. The new Apple Watch Edition is their first product to use ceramic, which they will use as a learning experience to possibly build hundreds of millions of ceramic-cased iPhones.
  • Gold, Rose Gold, Jet Black — Apple is pushing the consumer electronics industry to be more fashionable. Sounds superficial, but there was a time when automobiles all looked like horse carriages. At some point they became personal fashion statements and status symbols. Try picturing the target demographic for people who drive a BMW vs. Cadillac vs. Porsche vs. Prius. We're at that point where consumer electronics is a fashionable expression of how we see ourselves, and I'd argue it's Apple leading that trend.

All of these things are innovations Apple has currently in development. Augmented reality, self-driving cars, revamping the health industry, fashion-forward electronics, building a post-smartphone world…all of these are world-changing ideas that will change the way people live and disrupt the way companies do business.

But these things take time.

So when people say "Apple isn't innovating anymore," I'd argue they're simply focusing too closely on the wrong details, not seeing the big picture, and have the unrealistic expectation that world-changing revolutions happen every 12 months.

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.