Today’s the big day, well in the U.S. it is. April 24 is the day that the Apple Watch is officially released. Up here in Canada hopeful owners might have to wait until June for their shipment to come. I think that’s great. The Apple Watch just might be worth waiting longer for. As we wait longer for the Apple Watch we get to sit and ask a very important question: is the Apple Watch actually good?
Of course, looking at the specifications of the device the answer to the question appears to be “yes” but technology is more than simply processors, plastics and Wi-Fi capabilities. Technology changes our lives. Consider the smartphone or private automobile. These devices offer us varying amounts of value and our lives adapt to them. Personal cars have literally changed the landscape of cities and smartphones are changing our posture, our etiquette and our relationships.
It should be noted that the Apple Watch isn’t the first smartwatch to be released; there’ve been a wide selection of Android watches available for some time now. However, when Apple releases a device it’s not the first of its kind, it’s simply the first really mainstream version of its kind (yes, even iPods were preceded by other mp3 players).
The Apple Watch is poised to have a dramatic effect on mass culture as many will want the device. In fact, the predicted number of pre-orders is in the millions. As this happens we need to consider how the Apple Watch might affect our own lives. Technology is usually fairly benign on its own but how we design it and use it can be beneficial or harmful to how we live.
If you take a look at the Apple Watch review by The Verge, you’ll get an idea of how the design of Apple’s new device needs some re-tooling by Apple’s designers and some critical use by the user. In a simulation of what life with the Watch would be like The Verge Editor-in-chief Nilay Patel shows how invasive this new device could be. The Watch notifies you about everything without the option to select what notifications you want to get in different situations. Patel perfectly sums up the effect of this design on the user: “I’m more aware of how many people I’m ignoring than ever before.” Instead of his attention being on the colleague or loved one he should be paying attention to the Watch is diverting that focus.
Because the device results in this type of effect on the relationships it’s supposed to support then perhaps the answer to the question is “no, the Apple Watch is not good.” But that’s too simple of an answer. We live in a world of revisions to released products and endless and ubiquitous software updates. Apple is certainly working on software patches. I’m positive that Apple will look into the design of the Watch’s operating system to allow for customised notifications. Not having profiles is a clear design flaw and should be fixed. It might be worth waiting for that fix before investing in an Apple Watch and while you wait consider if it is something you actually want.
So is the Apple Watch good? Not yet, it’s just not ripe enough.