Judging by the early reviews my first impressions from the Apple Watch keynote were spot on. Complaints of slow apps, poor battery life and a general unfocused nature seem to be a common theme. (These are often caveated by reassurances that the Apple Watch is the best smart watch out there and the chalking up failures to first model issues that will be resolved.) I’m sure many of the issues will be resolved in version 2 but I thought I would outline the Apple Watch that I wanted to see.
Round Watch Face
I have never found square watch faces attractive so that may colour my opinion, but I think going square was a huge failure. If they had come out with a round face and a revolutionary UI, suited to a round display, they would have accomplished exactly what I think they were trying to do. Make the Apple Watch a personal device that felt comfortable, and not like strapping a mini phone display to your wrist. The Moto 360 got it right and Apple got it wrong. The problem is that Motorola is limited by Google because they make the software. Apple could have done something really special.
A Colour E-Ink Display
Apple could have pushed the boundaries of technology by creating a colour E-Ink display with a high refresh rate. This would have allowed them to keep the display on all the time and use far less battery. I also think it would look much better, though crisp whites would be necessary. I am not a fan of the current black theme the Apple Watch software has. It looks “techy” and outdated.
If they had to go for a digital display why wouldn’t they choose AMOLED so they could choose which pixels to light up? This could have made always on watch faces possible.
What Would My Apple Watch Do?
It would do 5 things:
- Tell The Time
Using tasteful displays you would have a beautiful watch to wear. (There are no dancing Mickeys or 90’s cell phone butterfly backgrounds here.)
- Interact With Your Life
My version of the Apple Watch would put HomeKit, Uber, Maps, checking in, and much more all available from your wrist. (Theirs does too.) They show up when you need them, the goal is to not have to launch an app. Start to leave work? It asks if it should call an Uber. Ask Siri for directions to a coffee shop? It shows them on your wrist. Turn on my light when I walk in my bedroom. Etc
- Display Notifications
It should show important notifications and I like the quick reply options they have but I think it should be limited to 2 text parsed answers and Siri. No scrolling through a list as long as your arm.
Your personal assistant that is just a “Hey Siri” away. Imagine that you are running and just ask “Hey Siri, what’s my heartbeat?” Or “Hey Siri, can you call me an Uber?” Or “Hey Siri tell my sister I will be home late tonight.” Even if they had to invest most of the battery life into an always listening processor, I think it would be worth it.
- Monitor Your Health
I don’t really have any complaints with what Apple did here other than it should have a GPS chip so you don’t need to take your iPhone on runs. (This will come in the future.)
That’s it. No browsing your Twitter feed, no reading emails, no looking at your photos. It is a focused experience with tangible benefits.
What about 3rd party apps?
I definitely think there is a place for third party apps on my version of the Apple Watch. They would be reviewed to make sure they aren’t breaking the rules above but the rules could be a little loose for cool “outside the box” apps.
I have seen exactly one picture of the Apple Watch that I thought, “Wow that looks good.” I understand why they chose to go with the the “millions” of combinations of faces, cases and bands. They were trying to appeal to a wide group of people and fashion is different than computers. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to people fashion tastes. I think they missed the mark here from a fashion taste standpoint. None of the bands appeal to me. I would have much rather they went for a classics and modern motif. Each model has 2 options, classic beauty and modern marvel. (Along with a “Sport” band for exercising but not for daily use.)
I Would Have Launche It Beside A Heavy HomeKit Push
To make the Watch a truly indispensable part of a persons life they should have launched a concentrated effort to build up HomeKit before they ever announced the Watch. Then show how you can control your world from your wrist. Imagine if your watch took your temperature and asked if it should turn up the heat. This was a missed opportunity.
I am complaining about something I have never tried, but the current Apple Watch just isn’t what I want. It’s unfocused and ugly. It’s version 1, so it will improve by leaps and bounds but I don’t see them switching to a round face or an all new display technology anytime soon. I’ll wait to make my final judgement until I try one, but I am thoroughly unimpressed so far. (And I am not a day one Apple hater as many on the internet like to be.) I just see missed opportunities.