When there is a task to accomplish, we subconsciously ask ourselves this simple question: What tool is going to make this task easy and allow me to perform the task well (or well enough)?
When it comes to digital devices as tools to complete a task, that scenario can play out dozens of times a day; for example, something as simple as receiving a text message can see you automatically reaching for your phone.
When it comes to consuming digital communications, Apple believes there is room for another device in my already saturated WiFi and Bluetooth environment. So what is the driver going to be for me to switch from reaching for a phone to wearing a device on my wrist?
I think the answer lies in the ‘gateway’ to communication. After using the Apple Watch for a week, I found that I was starting my passive interactions (reading) on the watch and then transferring to my phone or larger for active interactions: writing, searching etc.
The Apple Watch is designed to cannibalise the iPhones digital interactions that are under 10 seconds.
The Apple Watch is a device that is very much dependent on the iPhone. Because being limited in size, there are some inherent restrictions for a device of that size:
- It doesn’t have a keyboard, physical or otherwise
- There are no advanced gestures like pinch, zoom or rotate
- It is a one finger device
- There isn’t much screen real estate (obvious but true)
- The is no search (other than voice search using Siri)
The designed restrictions of the device mean that it is much harder to develop monolithic bloated apps for such a device. The Apple Watch as a companion device really excels as an easy gateway for simple interactions with users.
So the question is: how important are these simple micro interactions/glances to us as users?
When you start to look at how often smartphone users are ‘checking’ their phones you can see the merit of wearing a specific device for these short sharp interactions. A 2013 Internet trends study by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers stated that the average user checks their phone 150 times per day. The simple task of checking the time, is the third most popular action on a smartphone and accounts for ~18 interactions each day.
Having the ability to turn your wrist to see notifications, messages, check the time or pause a song, will start to eat away at a decent chunk of those 150 phone interactions. Paired together with a host of other tasks and apps the Apple Watch could become the first point of contact with users.
The design outcomes
Short interactions are a real part of a lot of user behaviour, and the Apple Watch provides companies with the opportunity to have another go at simplifying their core service offering to bring user benefits in under 10 seconds.
Think of your Apple Watch as the elevator pitch of your products. Giving users all the relevant information they need as quickly as possible. Internally we are designing apps for the Apple Watch that users can interact with while waiting for the little man to turn green at a pedestrian crossing.
An intentionally targeted device is not a bad thing. Apple’s new Watch only wants 10 seconds of your time (200 times a day).