My Six Takeaways From Apple’s Watch Keynote

FullSizeRender (2)Yesterday, Apple unveiled Apple Watch. I followed along via Twitter, read some blogs, and also had a bit of an idea of what was going to be released. But then, late last night, when everyone had gone to bed, I watched the Watch portion of the keynote address by Tim Cook and Kevin Lynch, and putting on my mobile operator and product marketing hat, here’s what stuck out to me as a sentimental watch geek — I’ve saved my old watches (above) and can’t wait to get Apple Watch:

  • Patience with v1 Speeds: This is very much v1. It took a while to load, not just WiFi enabled, but for core apps which wouldn’t need to access the network. We have to remember how slow the first iPhone would feel now. The issue here is the potential mismatch in compute speed for my 6+ vs the v1 Watch. For certain things, it may “feel” slow and, as a result, I may go for my phone out of habit and a need for speed.
  • Gestures Too Deep?: I’m sure this will be fixed eventually, but I noticed it took Kevin Lynch a long time to “heart” a photo on Instagram. So many taps and swipes. Instagram is such a beautiful app, I’d rather just go to my phone. Contrast that with the face itself, just being notified about the next meeting, and those are the types of quick glances I want — I don’t want to go to deep into nested settings or interaction flows on the Watch.
  • Can’t wait for third party apps: Again, the team at Instagram can write blazing fast mobile-native software. We are going to have to experience some core apps from Cupertino and wait for the platform to iron out kinks, but when the 3rd party folks are ready, it will be a great moment. Right now, I’d love to have apps on my phone be location aware and send me pictures of faces and places around me….however, I love the friends dial on the Watch, it’s like the “favorites” in Contacts, but done in a much more intuitive, easy to access manner.
  • Status symbol, fashion, luxury: Much has been written about this, but one thought which occurred to me — with the decline of car ownership rates as the new generation comes into their own, Watch could fill that space as a status symbol, like fine-crafted jewelry, which sits on our wrist (whereas it’s polite to keep our phones away during coffee or dinner). When we wave our hands, or call for a waiter, or give a presentation — it will be right there, all different colors, different faces, out in public. “Oh, Sally has the Watch Edition, 18k gold — she must be doing really well.”
  • Siri needs to step up its game: I want to just talk into my phone and say “Uber,” and have the Uber come. I don’t want to scroll through the tiny Watch face to go 3-4 gestures deep. On my 6+, Siri is just not good. Apple needs to figure this out, I hope they do. (More on how Watch can increase lift for on-demand services, like Uber.) Watch as a passive consumption or data collection device makes sense, but as an input device,
  • The initial killer app is two-factor authentication: The biggest thing Watch pessimists and Android fans are missing is the unique ability of Apple, within its iOS ecosystem, to provide two-factor authentication for users to pay or verify identity or a check-in with a very natural gesture. People can say Apple Pay isn’t that great, credit cards work fine — but now just move your wrist past the payment terminal, the Watch communicates with your phone, and you don’t have to grab the credit card from your wallet or grab the phone. Checking into a bar, restaurant (hello, beacons?), or for your flight. When people start seeing this work while waiting in line at Starbucks or boarding their next flight, over and over again, they’ll want that interaction — and it’s an interaction which won’t be available on Android, that’s for sure, as it requires the thoughtful, patient integration of TouchID, Passbook, Apple Pay and Watch. This will be the killer use case for v1. Developers will build the next killer app, no doubt.

Haystack is written by Semil Shah, and is published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. Copyright © 2018 Semil Shah.

“I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other.”— Epicurus