Will business users love the Apple Watch?
Friday 10th April 2015
Well, today is the day you can finally pre-order the Apple Watch in the UK. First unveiled over 6 months ago as ‘one more thing’ at Apple’s iPhone 6 reveal event, the April 24th launch date is almost here. As the first reviews start to hit, the question everyone is asking is ‘is there a reason to buy one?’. The answer seems to be a resounding maybe.
As far as the watch itself is concerned, it has all of the usual polish and finesse you’d expect from Apple, both in terms of the hardware design and UI. As with any fashion accessory, design is incredibly subjective and while Apple have done a good job in thinking through the body finishes, straps, watch faces and size options, you will never please everyone. I’ve heard the Apple Watch called ugly, beautiful and everything in between. Personally, I like the design and fully expect Apple’s watch to become the first watch I’ve ever worn on a regular basis.
In particular I’m a fan of the Digital Crown. As useful and flexible as touch screens can be, there’s something special about the tactile response you get from fiddling with a physical button or dial. The Taptic engine for discreet notifications is also appealing to someone who is not a fan of the vibrating buzz of smartphones.
So, who is it for?
If the jury is out as far as consumer use of the watch goes, what about business users? As an app developer that specialises in apps for businesses, we naturally consider the possibilities from a business perspective. As with any new product category in tech, wearables is taking its time to find its feet. Whether it’s Google’s now defunct ‘explorer’ programme for Glass or Android Wear’s somewhat limited first and second generations of products, no-one quite knows where the ‘killer app’ is going to come from.
In our approach to apps, we try never to force an idea or create a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Notifications seem to have become the ‘natural’ fit for wearables due to the ease of access and small nature of the display. Working as a companion to a smart phone makes sense, but is that what we really want or need? If anything I’m over notified whenever an email, message or social media alert is triggered. Between an iPhone, iPad and iMac, my desk lights up like it’s Christmas. Responsibility is with the app developers to design intelligent alerts and smart notifications.
We’re always speaking to clients about their business pains and our goal is to think of creative solutions. When Apple announced the watch’s “Taptic Engine” I immediately thought of our Sign In app and a request we’d had for a notification when important visitors sign in to the building.
When it was first discussed, I had concerns over whether an email or phone alert could be too easily missed. A discrete tap on the wrist when your visitor arrives could be just the solution to that problem.
WatchKit allows developers like us to build lightweight apps and notifications for Apple’s watch, in much the same way we do for iPad and iPhone. Although the first version of WatchKit was released to developers last year, having the watch finally available in retail will help designers craft the best experiences for users.
It’s always exciting when a tech giant releases a new product, let alone an entry into a whole new product category. Apple will certainly cause a stir and it will be interesting to see how the wider market (and business community) reacts. I won’t be expecting it to be a run away hit, as both the iPhone and iPad were relatively slow starters until the second or third generation hardware was released, but personally I can’t wait to get my hands on one and release our first app for it.