Mike Parsons
innovation. storytelling. lifehacking. music

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The Magic of the Apple Watch and where it fails.

 

I know the engineering for wearable tech is hard, but the fact the Apple Watch is not an independent stand alone device harms its potential value.

OK, so it’s just an extension of your iPhone. That means deep cuts in functionality. The result: a watch that’s not going to solve a big problem in my life, but there’s some hope. Having a fitness tracker is cool. But it’s got to do more than fitness to be worth at least a cool $400.

Keeping my iPhone in my pocket and out of my hand is not a big problem. Small to medium, perhaps. Worth $400? Not sure.

Pulling my iPhone out of my pocket disconnects me from my environment. I’m often head down, staring at the screen. It means I’m ignoring my local environment and context. It also increases my chance of walking into stuff, tripping, etc.

When I use my Apple Watch on the way to meetings, the watch works well. When I’ve quickly answered an iMessage via my Apple Watch, it feels neat. A little magical even. Someone texted me “where r u?” I just hit the auto-response “on my way.” It’s a neat little micro interaction.

And that’s when I realized there’s hope for the Apple Watch as an extension of my iPhone. And it's not just messaging, another area I find the micro interactions of the watch handy is with music. I’m often wondering “Who is this artist?”. Just a double tap of the side button and switch to Spotify window. Artist name and more is displayed.

The biggest problem for the Apple Watch is apps freeze, crash or don’t sync with the iPhone.

I’ve had a lot of crash problems with Microsoft Outlook. I’ve had to reinstall a few times, and it works well for a limited period. When it loads, the app is excellent. Uber has never successfully loaded. Can you believe it?

This failure bothers me because it’s two prominent tech companies not getting the job done with the user experience. What gets me more upset is the Apple apps that don’t work.

Sadly, its Apple Maps for the Apple Watch that is broken. One of the most important use cases for the watch is navigation. And it struggles to find your location.

The search function on Maps for the watch is so bad and buggy, I have to preload the destination from the iPhone. Oh no! I was trying not to pull out the iPhone. Oh well, at least the location will load on my watch if I add it as a favorite on my iPhone. Right? No. This morning I added a destination as a favorite on my iPhone, and it still doesn’t show on watch at 2.53pm.

Given its limited features, the Apple Watch needed to do its limited features perfectly. Without fault. 100% of the time. And it falls short of this by some margin.