The Problem With Smart Watch Wearables

The Friday, April 8, 2016 online edition of the New York Times includes a story written by Kit Eaton, “What the Apple Watch Does, One Year Later”. Kit Eaton contends “The Apple Watch’s uses, of course, partly depend on the apps available for it”.

I commend Kit Eaton for including the caveat “partly” in the above sentence. BUT readers should still carefully consider the implications of just what it means when the use of smart devices is limited by the processes (apps) already on the market for them. The feeling I get when I write this is one of constriction; the Apple Watch as a wearable should have such potential, but the apps available do little to help users capitalize on it. Darn it.

Reading further in Kit Eaton’s story, each of the apps spotlighted sound much more like a process for a smart phone than processes designed for the Apple Watch as a wearable set of sensors, computing power and a small, innocuous user interface. So much can be done with this collection of features, but, sorry to say, so little is actually being done.

Of all the apps Kit Eaton presents, Facer is the favorite. What does this app do? “It puts a different background image on the screen of your watch every time you raise it to see the time.” Sorry, not interested.

The missing component in how ISVs have approached app design for the Apple Watch looks to be an abandonment of functional design. Rather than writing apps for the device as a smart wearable, existing apps targeted for mobile devices (smart phones, tablets, phablets, etc) have been ported over to the watch. Does anyone remember the Bauhaus and the dawn of functional design?

So much can be done with a device like the Apple Watch. Too bad so little is being done with it. Wake up Apple.