What is a watch ? My first weeks with an AppleWatch


I am one of these early adopters that are responsible for financing the innovation of products and companies contributing to what we call progress. Therefore, I always believed that our social function should be rewarded somehow, at least with discounts or buy back options for all these products that end up pretty fast in the closet.

Of course, I bought an Apple Watch !! you knew that already, didn’t you?  and I thought it could be a good idea to share with you my thoughts about it. You will probably are going to end up buying one, so it might interest you and besides it, it’s a kind of nice post for summer.

Before we start, please take note that it is a great product for networking ! Maybe because its adoption rate is being slow – no data so far -, maybe because it is not widely known yet, I don’t know … but people ask about it … so networkers of the world, this is your product ! 

One of the most interesting characteristics of Apple is that it attempts to redefine the meaning of existing products and by doing that, they open new markets where they have the monopoly or almost, of the redefined product increasing its margin nicely.

Probably the clearest example of this is the iPhone. Phones used to be devices that we used to talk to somebody, not anymore, now we do with them everything but talking. The meaning of the term smartphone now could be something like a device to connect to the digital world but nothing about making calls.

Therefore, maybe it will be interesting to analyze the AppleWatch from the perspective of meanings and try to find one if and what will be the new meaning of a watch.

Nowadays a watch has two meanings. On on side it is jewelry, an element of identification, not necessarily expensive like the retro Casio line. And on the other it is a device that shows the time, pretty obvious, but let’s take this as our starting point. 

The AppleWatch shows the time and automatically adjusts it when you change time-zones (if the iPhone is connected …). Also you can chose among several watch faces – let’s hope that they make a few more … – Ok ! what else?

Let’s talk about meanings for a moment. Integrate different meanings in our habits, in our daily life is not an easy task neither fast. Kids do it fast because they don’t have to unlearn anything, we do. In initial products such as the AppleWatch this is particularly costly because apps and interfaces are still shaky, not well defined and a lot of experimentation is going on, therefore meanings are not clear. First a warning, the Apple Watch is probably one of these products were maturity is not going to come fast and it will take some time before it stabilizes.

But, what are the new meanings that the AppleWatch brings?

Always connected but in a subtle way

The image of a family having dinner where everybody is looking at the iPhone instead of talking to each other is now a staple and sentences such as “ we don’t have wifi please talk to each other” became a common joke.

The AppleWatch allows us to get our notifications in a less intrusive way, no need to take the phone out of the pocket anymore. We can read and dismiss them in a glance with a turn of the wrist. We have at our disposal alerts and notifications from calendar, linkedin, whatsapp, twitter, Facebook, iMessage, phone calls … mails not yet (please include them) but everything else yes.

This will probably be the most significant redefinition of the meaning of a phone. You will notice that  your iPhone remains in your pocket longer and your interaction with other people becomes more natural, more human and more respectful. Looking at a watch is seen as socially acceptable, looking at the iPhone, we are not there yet …

This is probably the change that you’ll notice and integrate earlier. The feeling of being always connected without disrupting your social interactions is certainly nice and welcome. Being connected is integrated more naturally into our social life.

Information on the run

Have you ever tried to follow a map while you walk? If you did you discovered that not only it doesn’t integrate naturally but it’s pretty difficult to walk and look at the screen at the same time and you end up looking like kind of a zombi …

This is a classic example of conflict between function, situation and device. In general we can find many cases where the information needed is minimal and taking out the iPhone is excessive for having a look at the next calendar appointment  or at the stock market or to a single stock quote.

This is also the case for time management apps such as things, any.do or wunderlist. In these cases the small screen of the Apple watch is more than enough and the device facilitates interaction greatly.

Apple proposes a fast access to this class of apps in what they call glances. Some of these apps are well thought such as maps that vibrates when you have to turn, no need to look at the screen anymore.

A device such as the Apple Watch is better suited to the need that these apps attempt to cover than an iPhone or an iPad. Here is however where we start to observe the limitations of the current implementation. Basically you’ll miss many apps, such as sports, news, …

For additional interaction the Apple Watch uses Siri, it works well, it is the same Siri that you have in the iPhone.

Fitness & Health

If you think of fitness, the Apple Watch looks like a perfect fit ! You have accelerometers, several axis gyroscope, even a hearth rate monitor that works well and is fast with sensors on the back of the watch.

Again, there is a lack of apps in this area. Out of the box you have a hearth rate monitoring app and a fitness app with goal setting, but much more can be done. For example, it is known  that the regularity of your hearth rate is a good predictor for your overall health condition. Also sleep management apps are on the rise promising significant improvements to our health. In addition to that it can be used in remote monitoring of advanced health conditions.

This is an area where with the Apple Watch we are just starting but with immense possibilities.

Social Network

The Apple Watch seeks to make it really easy for you to connect with your social network. In fact one of the two buttons is just devoted to that. You can send messages, call, send special icons or draw whatever you want …

Unfortunately my social network is mostly in whatsapp and not in iMessage or phone … so it doesn’t really work for me. Maybe in the future they will integrate other messenger apps or a combination of them.

Battery, time-to-charge and more …

Besides all that, the battery works well, lasting between one and two days, depending on usage and charges pretty fast. Nice games are mostly missing (there is a memory like and some more … ), full of opportunities for developers, no doubt.

The Watch that will no longer be about showing the time …

Maybe the least interesting feature of the Apple Watch is to show the time. Personally I don’t think that is going to take long to redefine the meaning of a watch in a similar way that we did with the phone. In the future, when we will talk about a watch nobody will think about time anymore but about getting connected and getting in touch.

Here we discussed four of the elements that will reconfigure the meaning of a watch. I am sure that they won’t be the only ones. When Apple thought the iPhone, they didn’t think of apps and have been the apps the ones that defined our understanding of what a smartphone is. Openness in technology allows third parties to co-define products.

However, meanings are social constructs. Companies are not the ones that define them but their customers by adopting and incorporating them in their lives. For the moment a watch is still a watch, if a watch will be tomorrow a smartwatch or will continue being just a watch is something that we will decide.