On September 17th, 2014, Apple has announced a new line-up product - a long rumored product which was long waited by large number of people. I, too, waited for Apple watch to be announced and waited for the history of Apple to take place. And when Apple did release their product, I had mixed feelings.
Before I start, I want to say that I love Apple - their philosophy of emphasizing the marriage of liberal arts and technology, the ability to realize the most important thing is making a great products, while everything else is secondry and the way they are changing the world. It is the philosophy that people who take things seriously and who are not just bluffers. I love the culture and philosophy that they created - they know the priority and what really matters.
However, as I first looked at the Apple Watch, I had mixed feelings. Of course, I have not yet tried and interacted with the Apple Watch, hence I can only give review of what I 'saw'. Perhaps, I might change my mind after interacting with it. But the first honest feeling was that I was somehow 'not exciting'.
Honestly, I felt something was incomplete - something was missing to put it more precisely.
Why should I buy the Apple Watch?
We currently have no clue why we should buy a Smart Watch...yet.
When I first saw the Apple Watch I was delighted (and excited as well) and the reason being is because I thought Apple could solve and fix the problem which the current smart watch had - the absence of the reasons why we need a Smart Watch. Unfortunately, Apple didn't quite do that.
The design and the ergonomics of the Watch is, honestly speaking, bewildering and uncomfortable. Square-shaped screen could be suited for declaring that this watch is different from traditional watches, which are rounded shape. However, I think the main problem of this design approach is that other smart watches are square-shaped as well, and it has been convinced to the user that the square-shaped screen for smart watches are not that effective and not aesthetically beautiful (for majority of watches). Therefore following the trails of existing smart watch seems to be bit blinded for Apple in my honest opinion. Perhaps the reason for this could be because I've already seen Moto 360 before Apple Watch - as frankly speaking, the Moto 360 looks much more aesthetic and cool in terms of the exterior shape than any other smart watches (mainly square-shaped). But I did get a weird feeling when I saw the Apple Watch on Tim Cook's wrist - it did look pretty good on a wrist at least.
The Digital Crown
Straight to the point, adding a digital crown the watch seems like Apple is trying to be Blackberry. Would you really want a physical keyboard on your Phone?
When Apple first introduced the Digital Crown, I was very, very confused. Mainly because I don't know I need that on the Watch. Many people became really wild when Steve Jobs first introduced a phone without a keyboard, but with a touch screen. People went nuts. The introduction of touch screen was one of the most innovative approach that Apple made with their phones. And I think the reason why people were so enthusiastic was because the way we could interact with the phone was revolutionary - Steve Jobs allowed us to use the phone in such organic and naturalist manner, it became really personal - it felt as if I was using an analogue material in a digital manner.
I believe allowing the users to use their hands, which is the most effective tool that we are born with, has an effect which enhances the experiences that the user take approach their devices. It allows the user to interact in a very natural manner. Using hands as our interactive method have proved that going back to primitive interactive method is not crude. We love using our hands - we use them to create, to manipulate, to develop, to interact and other creative activities. And for the past millennium, it has proven that our own hands are the best tool we ever had. It is our most fundamental yet intimate interactive method we have and if a device allows the user to interact with them with our best tools, it is obvious that people will experience UI in such high level of intimacy.
Absence of the purpose
As Apple kept explaining their product, I started to feel confused - well actually, unsure of why I should buy this Watch. Looking at the Apple's previous product line-ups, you straight away know why you need that product. Apple have always done a fabulous job in explaining the consumers (including me) why I should buy the product. If you take an iPhone for example, Apple have effectively explained why you should buy the phone - the new touchpad allows you to navigate your phone in a such revolutionary and effective way that the process of navigation has become organic (as if you are scrolling through the paper) and the ability to download and install your own application that you want so that the phone become personal - this becomes a phone that you are comfortable with. When you saw an iPhone you could clearly see and identify the difference between other smartphones that was released at the same time. You knew that this phone is different and you want it. However, it seemed that this time, Apple didn't quite do that.
This absence of the purpose of the product clearly made me dubious on the reasons why I should buy the product. Leading me to ask myself, 'Do I really need this watch?' and 'If I did buy the Watch, what am I suppose to use it for?' This problem seemed to be not only limited to the Apple Watch but to other smart watches as well.
We already have our iPhones to tell us the time
Considering the functionality of the Apple Watch, it is true that we already have our phones (and we are use to using our phones) to check the time. We no longer need additional devices to aid us to see the time wherever we are. Actually, in that case carrying the iPhone is much more efficient. In my personal opinion, I won't even bring my watch outside with me since I already have my phone so that I can check the time and the watch become just a burden to me. Unless, the UI of the clock interface overwhelms the watch time experience.
This ambiguity of why we need to have or at least pay quite a sum of money for an Apple Watch is definitely a big reason stopping stone for us from getting any smart watches in the market. Even if the watch is considered an 'accessories' for a phone, do you seriously want to pay over $300 for an iPhone accessory?
Notifications could be annoying sometimes and I think bombarding them by with our watches as well might not be a good solution. Effective notification has been researched thoroughly by numerous companies. Yet majority of the notification can still become bothersome and annoying even though it have improved dramatically since from the beginning.
Being able to see and interact with the notifications on a watch seems to have 50% chance of being great or bad. Yes, you might not have to bring up your phone to look at the notifications if you have the watch, but judging from the watch demo, the Apple Watch seems to be quite difficult to interact with. Dictations seem to be a huge step forward and if Apple Watch can create an interesting and fun way to interact with the notification, I think that could be a big point for Apple.
I read an article in the Verge that Apple was unfortunate that they were not able to create an advanced Health Tracking device due to limitation of current technology. This implies that Apple's intention for the Apple Watch was to focus the device as a Health Tracking device. This is actually promising in my opinion if they were actually able to achieve the advanced Health Tracking technology by overcoming the technological limitations. Then I might actually have second thought on purchasing the devices, but right now, I might wait for the release of the next Apple Watch series.
In my personal opinion Apple knew these problems as well, hence tried to fix this problem by placing this product behind the curtain named 'Fashion icon'. However, there are clear distinction and difference between the purpose of a Fashion item and an technology device. There is actually a great essay you might be interest about the naïve approach of Tech giants and the distinction between the Tech World and Fashion. I might be wrong, but that was the implication that I got.
Again, since I have not seen the watch and not have interacted with it, I won't make any decisive opinion on Apple Watch. However, judging from the demo, the overall watch experience wasn't that exciting in the first glance. While writing this essay, I had mixed feelings. Because while researching and thinking deeply about the Apple Watch, I actually felt Apple did made a point with or at least tried to make a point with their approach with Apple Watch. Perhaps a watch device is actually are suitable as an accessories not an individual standalone gadgets. The more I think of the Apple Watch, it started to make bit of a sense. However it is also true that the Apple Watch right now does not seem to be perfect either.
I think Apple had a reasonable start with an Apple Watch. It is not bad but nor great. Perhaps due to all the impact they made when they released a new device, this time the impact didn't hit me quite right. There's definitely room for improvements for Apple and they haven't got there yet. Apple can definitely get there. I believe the second Apple Watch will be the game maker for Apple's Watch series.