It was an intriguing sensation the first time an Apple Watch tapped me on the wrist. This “Taptic” touch was between me and it alone; a private whisper rather than all the public dinging and ringing of a phone.
Asked to test drive the Watch for the company (tough, I know) I found my body had become part of its operating system as its sensors measured my calories and heart rate and counted how often I stood up. Responding to the Watch’s prompting required a mere flick of the wrist and a subtle glance that made all this clumsy fumbling with an over-sized smartphone feel dated and tedious.
For years digital technology has become more and more intrusive and we’ve tapped at the screens regardless. For some the Watch is an intrusion too far, but I think Apple has pulled off a clever trick: by tapping us back the Watch makes digital technology feel intimate.
As a result this is not a product for the influential selfie-obsessed over-sharers, although no doubt plenty will own one. The reality is that no-one is going to heart your brand’s latest Instagram photo from their wrist. This is not about marketing. This is about utility, where the communication is delivered at the speed of a glance and at exactly the right moment.
The Watch is also about novelty and a bit of geek status. Like the iPhone and iPad before it there will no doubt be some news value in being the first brand to do X with the Watch. I’ve had numerous conversations with strangers who are curious about the latest magic from Cupertino. “What’s the Watch like?”, “What does the Watch do?”. The killer question though is: “Would you buy one yourself?”
The Watch is definitely useful. On busy days when I’ve been on the move a lot it’s helped me get from place to place and stay on top of the critical calls, emails and messages as I go. The ability to remotely control your iPhone camera is neat and fun, and after years of not wearing any kind of watch it’s surprisingly useful to be able to check the time at a glance (granted though that a £9.99 watch from Argos would do that job).
As colleagues circle to have their turn with the Watch I do feel a little sad at letting it go. Maybe they will make the most of its health tracking or Apple Pay – the potential killer app – but for me the Watch, for all its intriguing intimacy, is not essential yet.