Dear Apple,

apple_watch_sportI have been using my Apple Watch, for about a month now and have concluded the following:

The Apple Watch will live and die by the quality of the apps (and upgrades).” {♺ Tweet this!}

As a result, I implore you to check out the best use cases and help encourage better third-party apps. Many of the apps in this first round are quite rudimentary, not to say useless. App developers will need to be particularly human-centric in their understanding of how people use the Watch.

What I love…

What I love about the Watch so far:

  • Apple Watch faceIt’s truly personal. The Watch, much like the iPhone, is a strictly personal affair. For now, Apple gives you 10 face options, and each can be tailored in terms of additional information. The fact that the Watch really only works well when it’s on your wrist makes it feel just that much more personal. There is one face where you can actually input your own initials (see right).
  • Independence. The Watch has noticeably diminished how often I look at or for my iPhone. I wish I could say that I were much less dependent on the iPhone, but the fact is the Watch relies on the Phone for much functionality. One neat little feature: when I can’t locate my Phone, the Watch comes with a handy “find iPhone” button.
  • Comfort. The Watch and band (I have the light blue plastic sports band) are very comfortable.
  • Launch. I also think you did a stellar job by launching this product to be bought online only and then delivering it home in a beautiful box, earlier than expected. The initialisation process is even rather sexy (and painless).

What I like less…

  • Siri is a shadow of herself on my iPhone. Not only is she mute, she rarely understands me, unless I am in total quiet.
  • Phone. Talking to my wrist like Captain Kirk is nifty, in principle, but not overly effective.
  • Off Wrist. When I take the Watch off my wrist for greater comfort to read, I constantly have to type in my passcode. The same is true when it is sitting on the charger. Not optimal CX.

Watching the Apple Watch

The way we use the Apple Watch is what it’s all about. {♺!The longer I wear it, the more profound my understanding becomes of the myriad ways a smartwatch could be a value-added and valuable accoutrement. Here are seven things that I have observed about the 1st Watch “experiment”

  1. Travel assistant. Call this a bit of early adopter fun, but each time I have checked in with boarding pass on my Watch’s Passbook, it has been an eye-popping experience (novelty) for the airline personnel. However, I note that none of the boarding passes (specifically, I’ve seen this with BA and Eurostar) actually accommodates the real-life need to have the PNR located below the bar code. The other lovely use case during travel is for when you are on board. The Captain then announces that phones must now be turned to Flight Mode… but you left your phone in your jacket which has been stored. Thanks to the handy settings, you can flick your phone to flight mode remotely.
  2. Apple Watch boarding passSubtle reminder. The haptic (perceptible vibration) is a gem of a reminder. The idea of being reminded of the time without having a phone vibrate (or worse, sound off) on a table is absolutely divine. If the haptic is not too obtrusive in itself, the key is to limit the number of notifications you allow. As true is this is for the smartwatch, it is even more true for the Watch, since the ability to act upon the notifications are distinctly limited.
  3. Social. As we all know, people tend to check their Facebook messages a lot. At this point, Facebook does not have an app for the Watch. On balance, that’s probably a good thing when you see how Twitter’s stream is rather poor. If FB is to mobilize itself, I would suggest to have to create an alert for FB Messenger.
  4. At night. I recommend not to recharge your Watch at night. Instead I suggest wearing it to bed and recharging it during meals (when you should not be surfing, anyway…)*. There are two reasons for this, in my opinion: (a) It will charge too much, which surely will impact battery lifespan; and (b) you will miss the vibrate alarm that wakes just you and not your partner (great use case). As @PPC suggested to me, it would be even better if it could arouse you in between sleep cycles (à la Fitbit or Garmin band). As a reminder: make sure to calibrate carefully the Do Not Disturb hours (on the iPhone app for the Watch).
  5. Remote control. While you can’t take photos with the Watch, once you set your phone, you take photographs remotely. The 3-second delay will allow you to take the photo without your eyes fixed on the screen on your wrist, which is smart. If you hold down the 3″ button, you can actually do a burst (10 photos in quick succession). The ability to also control the music center from my wrist has also come in handy in the shower (where I often play my podcasts/music through a bluetooth speaker).
  6. Health. The fact that the Watch reminds me to stand up hourly has definitely had an impact on the way I sit through meetings. Aside from anything else, maybe this will encourage meetings to be shorter too? I think the heart rate monitor is an unobtrusive way to track my health, even though it may not be totally accurate.
  7. Weather. Now that the weather is available on the home screen, I must say that I have become more dependent on the weather app. (This now features in my “glances” section, which is where you put the “GO TO” apps you use most frequently.

The future of the Apple Watch

Dear Apple, if you may have read numerous criticisms of your Watch, I declare that I am bullish on your offer. However, as I said at the outset of this post, the future of the Apple Watch will emphatically depend on the apps. Here is why I am optimistic, and I do hope you will pay attention here. Some of the points below are rather minor. Others are more substantial. Apple, here go:

  1. Apps. The apps don’t depend solely on Apple. Just as the apps on the iPhone have made it the smartphone of repute, the same will be true for the smartwatch. Third party developers will need to find ways to create value-added, billable apps. Hopefully, the elaborate — if not belaboured — Apple approval process will not scare aware talented developers.
    2013_tesla update apple watch
  2. Updates. Make your updates to the Watch iOS as exciting as Tesla does for its cars.{♺!} Just imagine this: with the click of a button, my watch could become even better (i.e. updates should not just be about getting bugs fixed!). If you can find a way to upgrade the Watch I’m wearing as opposed to putting all the new good stuff in a new watch (a la iPhone 5 to 5S), that would be just too cool.
  3. Anterior. Allow for the Watch to be worn on the anterior side of the wrist (i.e. palm side) makes for more comfortable protracted reading. There has been plenty of discussion in forums about this point, and Apple seems to hold the line that the Watch won’t work as well on the inside. So, Apple, please make sure that in v2 (or in an upgrade) that there is a setting that accommodates this, where the Watch will adjust to the reading rotation, read the pulse and not overtax the battery unnecessarily.
  4. Dimmer. For those who might wear the Watch to bed, please create an automatic dimmer in dark conditions. It’s a little disconcerting to have the watch turn on when you rollover in bed.
  5. Terminology. The Apple Watch is paving new paths, no doubt. As such it is bringing with it new terms. However, do we have to have a Taptic Engine and a Haptic feedback. That’s confusing. Let’s simplify it and just use the word that refers to the customer experience as opposed to the technology (i.e. haptic).

Yours sincerely, an avowed Apple fan, looking out for your back! Minter

So, are you bullish or bearish on the Apple Watch? I’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions!


*Battery maintenance: Apple’s official specs say that you can charge the Watch to 80% in just 1.5 hours, and a full charge in 2.5 hours. N.B. The 42mm will experience better battery life than the 38mm.

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