Fairly quickly after Apple started offering in-store try-ons for the Apple Watch, I decided to go in and check them out so that I could write a blog post about the watch's potential in the marketplace, but more-over, how it could change the way we communicate with one another. As some of you may know, I work on a principal of interpersonal connection, meaning that I want technology to integrate into our lives in a way that allows us to work better with one another. Read more about that philosophy here.
As I was trying on the Apple Watch, I started to think of how great this would be for the world of communication, and how it could break down the walls we've set up with our phone screens. So, I decided I wanted one, and I got one. I've been trying to write this post for a while now, and I just haven't really figured out a way to say what I want to say, but I think I've finally got it...
The Apple Watch is a great tool, but it's all about how you use it.
You know when you're in a conversation, and you feel your phone vibrate and you completely stop thinking about the conversation your in and either pull out your phone to check the message, or you try to be polite but you're secretly just waiting for them to stop talking so you can see who the message is from?
I thought the Apple Watch would change that. A simple glance to the wrist, and you've got all the information you need. If it's someone important, you know you can step away, and if it's not, you can immediately reengage with the conversation.
I WAS WRONG.
Without the proper training, and I mean self-training, the Apple Watch is actually WAY WORSE than pulling your phone out in a conversation. If the person talking to you doesn't know you're wearing a smart watch, they likely think your an asshole because you can't stop staring at your watch while they're talking. And, if they do, they probably think you're a douche because you're using your watch to read text messages while you could just pull your phone out of your pocket.
So, why do I like the Apple Watch?
Because, when used properly, the Apple Watch CAN be a powerful tool. It's about knowing when to use it, and how to use it.
The Watch packs a whole host of features that if you use, you're most likely full of yourself. But, the simple features of the watch can do exactly what I thought it would.
Glances are literally the only thing you should use your watch for. Anything that takes more than a glance - take our your phone. For messages, turn off the setting that pulls up the full message, and just have the watch simply display the sender's name. Then, when your wrist buzzes, you just take a quick glance at your watch, read the name, and decide whether or not you need to take your phone out to read the message.
The glances are also very helpful for Calendar reminders, Weather, and of course, checking the time. Using just those four simple glances, you're able to completely revolutionize the way you use your phone, without being the ass who's constantly staring at their watch while someone's trying to talk to you.
If set up properly, to achieve this goal of enhanced interpersonal interaction, the interaction between the watch and the person should be fairly unilateral. The watch will alert you when you need to leave for your next meeting, the watch will know when you're about to leave the house, and send you a *buzz* with the weather app, and lastly, when you receive a text, simply display the name. With this, you can go days without even touching the watch face, and instead, letting the watch dictate how you use it, will actually yield a seamless interaction between you and the world around you.
Lastly, knowing when to take off the watch and leave it in the car is probably the easiest, most influential way to not be a total jerk, but it really does take some time to learn. If you're on the way to pick up that cute girl, just take the watch off. If you're about to have a serious conversation with your friends, either take it off, or resist the urge to look at it when it buzzes. And lastly, when you get home, take the watch off: it's liberating to be disconnected, and the watch has a way of hindering your ability to get away from the outside world.
I truly think that devices like this one could have a way to actually enhance the way we communicate with the people we care about, but in order to make that big of a splash, we need to learn how to maximize their abilities while minimizing the way they interrupt our lives. So help me God, if I see one more person using the phone feature of the watch in public.