The modern smart watch category that began with Android Wear started out as slightly modified phone interfaces shrunk to watch-like sizes. It’s disappointing that Apple Watch doesn’t seem to be much better.
What Apple has always excelled at is taking an existing category and re-inventing the hell out of it. Mp3 players, phones, tablets, and even PCs were all markets that existed before Apple decided to join them. When they did, each category was changed forever. What Apple announced on Tuesday was a $350 accessory to a $200* device. A smartphone shrunk down to watch proportions. As Ben Thompson points out, Tim Cook never made the case why the Apple Watch exists.
What this market needs is something different. It needs a weeks worth of battery life, not a day.** We need less inputs on the face. Part of what made the iPod so magical is that the UI was more simple because it wasn’t trying to do everything; even though its core functions could stand on their own. The Apple Watch appears to be the opposite. It requires an iPhone, yet lets you pan around a maps app like it’s a phone.
I think there is a market for a smart watch. But everyone is missing the point of what that should be.
If I’m wearing my watch, how about I don’t get notifications on every single device that I have a meeting in 15 minutes? If I’m wearing a watch and I’m running, how about the running app just starts. If I send directions to my phone, how about you just start navigation? Why do we have a home screen? Our home screen should be the watch face and nothing more. Managing apps should not be happening on a device that is roughly an inch and a half big. I should not be sending text messages or dick pics with my watch. It’s the equivalent of those Casio calculator watches in the 90s.
Maybe I just don’t get it, but I think Apple Watch misses the mark. A device should be better than what we currently have. In the case of the Apple Watch, what they gave us was a faster horse.
*The iPhone subsidized price is what most humans think the iPhone costs
**Apple hasn’t really given an official battery life estimate, just a casual mention of ‘a days worth’.