As wearable connected technology continues to invade everyday life, it isn't entirely clear yet whether the technology will become a must-have in the same way that smartphones have, or simply an additional unnecessary convenience (or distraction). But if any company is going to make a concrete case for wearing a connected device on your wrist, it's going to be Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). Unfortunately, however, Apple has mostly left us hanging.
TechCrunch journalist Matthew Panzarino says there is a reason, though Apple has "a hard time articulating" it. How does Apple tell its customers the real reason for the Apple Watch is to free them from the tyranny of their iPhones?
Apple Watch: Minimizing or maximizing distraction?
"It's our most personal device yet," Apple CEO Tim Cook said when he first unveiled the Apple Watch. And Apple Watch marketing continues to echo his declaration. But what, exactly, does this mean? Personal technology? Isn't our phone already woven deeply enough into our lives? Don't we already spend enough time with our face in front of a screen? How is personal technology actually a good thing?
While Apple Watch does do new things the iPhone didn't, such as monitor your heart rate, tell you when you've been sitting too long, alert you with a discreet tap, and provide a holistic measurement of physical activity, it will mostly serve the same functions as an iPhone, though on a much smaller screen. Given the lack of room to interact with apps and consume content, it could be argued that the Apple Watch is a step backwards.
But Panzarino says there is a concrete value proposition for the Apple Watch.
After speaking with some people who "have spent extended time" with the Apple Watch, Panzarino put words to the device's biggest benefit: "by far, the biggest recurring theme is how little you use your iPhone once you have one."
People that have worn the Watch say that they take their phones out of their pockets far, far less than they used to. A simple tap to reply or glance on the wrist or dictation is a massively different interaction model than pulling out an iPhone, unlocking it and being pulled into its merciless vortex of attention suck.
Panzarino argues this is a compelling reason for customers to buy and enjoy the Apple Watch.
"If you argue the Watch isn't going to sell or do well, it's worth pointing out that there are very, very, very few products that allow you to hand someone cash and be given back TIME," Panzarino explained.
Of course, as Panzarino acknowledged, it's possible the smartwatch could backfire and end up amplifying distractions. Asserting that the Apple Watch will help customers use their iPhones less is easier said than done. Could the vast majority of Apple Watch wearers end up too connected and less engaged than ever?
Apple Watch owners who want to use the device to be more engaged with those around them will want to be diligent about which notifications come through, how they let them come through, and what they do with those notifications.
Apple finally says it straight
In a new video released by Apple in a series that teaches customers about the watch, called Guided Tours, Apple got closer than ever to saying that one of the key selling points of Apple Watch is that it lets you use your phone less.
"It lets you quickly do things you're used to doing on your phone, but in a more convenient, less obtrusive way," Apple said in the first video of its Guided Tour series.
What do you think? Will the Apple Watch help filter our connected life with the reality in front of us in a way that enables people to be more engaged in the present, or will it simply add another layer of distraction?