Apple’s small big thing


Over at the Time site, I have a short commentary on the Apple Watch. It begins:

Many of us already feel as if we’re handcuffed to our computers. With its new smart watch, unveiled today in California, Apple is hoping to turn that figure of speech into a literal truth.

Apple has a lot riding on the diminutive gadget. It’s the first major piece of hardware the company has rolled out since the iPad made its debut four years ago. It’s the first new product to be designed under the purview of fledgling CEO Tim Cook. And, when it goes on sale early next year, it will be Apple’s first entry in a much-hyped product category — wearable computers — that has so far fallen short of expectations. Jocks and geeks seem eager to strap computers onto their bodies. The rest of us have yet to be convinced. …

Read on.

(Apple’s live stream of its event today was, by the way, a true comedy of errors. It seemed like the company was methodically going down a checklist of all the possible ways you can screw up a stream, from running audio feeds in different languages simultaneously to bouncing around in time in a way that would have made Billy Pilgrim dizzy.)

Image: Darren Birgenheier.

4 thoughts on “Apple’s small big thing

  1. Henry Beer

    Great post, Nick. There’s another factor at work here and it’s somehow related to Google Glass’s sketchy reception. The “Glasshole” epithet says it all.
    There’s little question that we are increasingly reliant on our devices. However for most of us there’s a point past which that reliance becomes a visibly obsessive tic and Google Glass crosses that line and the digital wrist device may do so as well.
    Like the friend who obsessively whips out their iPhone to fact-check the most inconsequential crumb, the need for data “at eye’s length” or at one’s wrist is intensely unattractive to others. GG backlash is just the beginning.

  2. Daniel C.

    I suppose iWatch was just too easy to riff on.

    I’m expecting diminishing returns for Apple at this point, but I should probably hunker down as the marketing wave rolls over. After all, they move a new line of iphones every year with virtually no significant improvement.

  3. Charles

    You’re assuming it’s a wristwatch. It’s not. It’s a “Ubicomp Tab.” It’s a portable device you carry to signal your physical position in a Ubiquitous Computing environment, and carry your context with you.

    The Apple Watch wasn’t announced yet when they announced the iOS8/OS X feature called Continuity, but I believe this will eventually become its primary function. Continuity and Handoff OS features are as close as anyone has ever come to a mass market implementation of Ubiquitous Computing, and it will develop further as people figure out what it’s good for. But an iPhone is a much better Ubicomp Tab device. And the ubiquitous environment isn’t well developed yet.

  4. Andrew Francis

    @Henry Beer

    A passage from a recent Global and Mail article:

    <blockquote cite="; Every time wunderkind Pebble Technology Corp. chief executive officer Eric Migicovsky glances at his watch I get a little more irritated and nervous. I’m halfway through an interview with the wearable-tech pioneer and I am worried he’s getting bored, or that he’s going to cut short our time.

    We’re socially programmed to think somebody constantly checking the time is being rude, even dismissive. But Mr. Migicovsky is checking his Pebble smartwatch whenever it notifies him of an incoming e-mail, text, or calendar event. Even though he never loses the flow of what we’re talking about, the body language is disconcerting (though having someone stare at their phone while you talk to them is obviously much worse).

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