Smart Watch Hype Check


I read a couple of posts today that got me excited again about smart watches. They contained one simple idea: mobile apps could disappear.

Think about it for a second…with your phone safely stored in your pocket or bag or purse, notifications on your watch could take on a whole new dimension. At the flick of your finger or a press on a UI button you could instantly take an action within a mobile game, utility, music service, productivity app, location service, social network…the list goes on! No more having to take out your phone, just look at your wrist and take instant action within a notification.

M.G. Siegler puts it better than me:

On the Watch, the push notification will be far more important than with the phone. With the phone, they mainly serve to get you back into the app. Yes, it’s slightly more convenient to use rich actions in the notification, but they’re limited. The app is just a click away. Why not just open it?

With the Watch, getting to the app means pulling out your phone, unlocking it, and waitng for the app to load. Apple Watch allows you a way to seamlessly do this, but it will be so much faster and better not to have to pull out your phone.

So notifications are about to get elevated, big time. And developers will have to be both smart and cautious about how they wield such power. Spam someone’s wrist and your app is as good as deleted.

Or, create a new kind of app that early adopters can’t live without. An app that may actually disappear.

Now that is exciting. However this leads me nicely onto…

The Rude Watch

I really really really want a smart watch.

This feels like the next awesome gadget that I “need” in my life. But there is a very obvious social problem with them which leads off of the points above about notifications; when someone is talking to you looking at your watch is considered extremely rude. Perhaps even ruder than looking at your phone when you are mid conversation. The implication that you want to know what the time is as you have something better to do is a social no no that has existed for a very long time. So when my watch buzzes or pings me a notification from an app, lets say Clash of Clans, and I look at it to see that AngryNeeson52 has attacked me, any friends or family are going to think I am being incredibly rude.

This is a problem and a similar seemingly small issue that Google Glass had which eventually caused serious problems for that device. People outside of the crowd that love a new device think what you are wearing is intrusive and rude. This little issue could well be the thing that forces me to hold off buying a smart watch for a year or two as people iron out these social issues. Developers you really need to make sure you don’t spam people’s wrists with notifications.

Lets not get started on the battery life. £400+ for a blank screen on your wrist after a long journey doesn’t sound like an ideal situation.

However despite these issues I’m still excited to see how quickly they develop after Apple releases their watch.