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Seconds at a time

Bernard Desarnauts
Nov 25, 2015 · 6 min read

Wristly Apple Watch Insider’s Report #30

November 24 , 2015

Glance into the future

Over the last seven months, your amazing participation has helped establish Wristly as THE independent voice of Apple Watch. In turn, we are now contributing our domain expertise and the arsenal of data and insights collected to power and bring to life the first business event focused on the Watch as a platform.

Is Apple Watch a disruption? How? Why?

These are the key questions we will be looking to answer, and there is no one more appropriate than Horace Dediu of Asymco to lead this conversation.

As many of you know Horace is both a noted disciple of Clay Christensen and one of the top tech thinkers of our time. He joins me and Ben Bajarin to bring you Glance in San Francisco on December 10.

During a full day dedicated to demystifying this new platform, Glance will feature some of the brightest minds on Apple and Apple Watch, including a “not-to-be-missed” discussion between Jean-Louis Gassee, Apple’s former VP of Engineering, and Tim Bajarin.

Members of the Wristly panel get a 30% discount using “WR10” as the coupon code. You can find out more here on the conference and our speakers.

We thank you in advance for forwarding the information to colleagues or friends who might be interested.


Using it 4 to 5 times hourly

Much has been said over the last few years about how smartphones have disrupted the PC. When one looks at it through the job to be done filter, we understand that the PC is defined by activities and tasks that are measured in hours such as writing an article, building a financial model, playing an online game, etc. The smartphone on the other hand, has been defined by many interruptions throughout the day and the concept of “snackable” moments, each lasting only a few minutes at a time. Now with Apple Watch, usage interactions are measured in a few seconds and we have the data to show it.

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The calculated average shows owners using their Apple Watches between 4 and 5 times for each hour the watch is worn. Assuming owners wear their Watches 14 to 18 hours each day, they are interacting with their Watches on average 60 to 80 times per day. While these numbers seem reasonable to us, to the best of our knowledge, there is no easy or Apple-authorized way to passively monitor the actual usage on Apple Watch that would help us confirm the accuracy of these reported findings.

Checking the time and complications

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Checking the watch face either to check the time or to glance at a complication is by far the most frequent interaction reported by our panel. This confirms the findings of an in-depth and in-vivo Apple Watch study conducted by Professor Barry Brown, from Mobile Life, a research center based at University of Stockholm. Professor Brown calculated time/complication glances represented half of all Apple Watch interactions and had an average length of 3.9 seconds. I highly recommend reading the complete research findings available for download here.

Not so much Dick Tracy nor time travelling

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On the less frequently used functions of the Watch, note the low incidence of making/receiving phone calls and also the low usage of the watchOS 2.0 time travel feature. I guess Apple Watch is rooted in the present more than the sci-fi future!

All about productivity, health and convenience — not games

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When looking at the specific usage question we asked our panelists, the feedback is very clear and consistent. Apple Watch shines at convenience and productivity type applications.

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For now, the Watch is not used for gaming. Regarding Apple Pay, if we filter out the responses from the members of the research project who live in markets where Apple Pay is not yet available, the percentage of respondents who state using it “Less often, or Never” falls below 10%.

Finally, we can state that the new watchOS 2.0 has failed thus far to improve the usage of third party apps with Apple Watch. Close to 80% of the panel reports not using any on a daily basis.

Cold and rain have an impact on wrist computers

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One of our panelists suggested this great question based on his own experience with Apple Watch. And indeed, a sizable 20% of Apple Watch owners who live in regions where winter brings lots of rain and cold will adapt/change their usage patterns as a result. They state it is too hard/inconvenient to pull back long sleeves and multiple layers to frequently check their Watches, defeating for some the value and convenience of Apple Watch.

Tilting in social environment

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Another panelist asked us to begin assessing if/when an Apple Watch owner might feel uncomfortable tilting their Watch while in the presence of others. While 72% of respondents said it didn’t create a particular problem for them, 9% stated they didn’t do it because they thought it was rude, and the balance of 19% has some level of anxiety about it.

Reading through the write-in comments on this question, the divide is most noticeable based on the intimacy and size of the party or group around.

Here are a few chosen comments from the panel:

New social phenomena here I’m guessing, although similar to when the iPhone became ubiquitous, I hear a ping and wait until I’m not in conversation to check, although sometimes I explain that I’m not in a hurry, just checking a notification.

My wife thinks it is more intrusion than me checking my iPhone.

I may wait a minute or two before looking at the Watch to see what the notification was about. Also, when at a place where silence is expected (a meeting, church service, movie theater, symphony concert), I’ll put my Watch in silent mode. For something where talking is the norm like a party or wine tasting, I’ll leave sound turned on.

It’s usually fine, but even before smartwatches, checking your watch was a cue that could easily be interpreted as you losing interest, or not being engaged. Checking your phone can of course be like that, as well, but it would be interesting to know how people interpret a quick glance at a phone vs. a quick glance at a smartwatch.

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