No, you don’t need to build a Smart Watch app

No, you don’t need to build a Smart Watch app

It’s been more than 10 years since I wore a watch on my wrist.

The last time I wore a watch was in the army where time is crucial and you would probably be punished if you don’t complete a task in time or you are late to a training, in those cases a watch is a necessity.
Personally, I can’t stand watches, they are plain uncomfortable and even the expensive watch I got as a gift for my wedding rest in peace in my drawer. When I think of it, after the army, I never wore a watch again, until today.

Here come the Apple Watch

When I watched Tim Cook present the Apple Watch couple months ago I knew that this is what I was waiting for. A regular watch just doesn’t cut it and doesn’t worth the discomfort I need to pay in order to know the time.
I’m always near my phone or my computer and knowing the time is just a glance away.
At that time, I still wasn’t sure that I could go back to wear something on my wrist so I waited carefully until my company bought the Apple Watch to our gorgeous mobile device lab and took it for a spin.
Well, it is worth it.

It’s not about the watch

A lot was said about the Apple Watch and during the time I used it I had a few “Small moments of joy״ with it but I also had my share of frustration.
I don’t want to talk about the watch itself because it will probably get better in the future, I want to talk about the medium.

The first thing I noticed when I started to use my watch is that I already have more apps than I will ever use.
Apps like Instagram, Fancy, and even my kid’s car racing game had a watch app. I thought to myself, ok, this is probably the gold-rush phenomenon. Every time a new medium is created, everyone wants to share and they just dive in.

This time, it’s different, the medium is different and the experience should be more precise and personal but most important in the right context.
I would never want a discovery experience on my watch, it’s just too damn small! Do you really think that I would want to browse my Instagram or fancy feed in my watch?
Or why would I ever want to manage my car racing game preferences from my watch? Do you really think that your users are that lazy that they would not open their game on their phone (that is probably couple meters away or else the watch wouldn’t work in the first place…)

When browsing the AppStore, I found dozens of more apps that just doesn’t make sense to have a real presence on the watch, and the chances that anyone will ever use it on his wrist is practically nil.

The fact that you have an iPhone app (or Android app for that matter) doesn’t mean that you automatically need to create a watch app, a lot of the time it will probably be a waste of resources.

It’s all about the context

Content was dethroned by Context. Context is now the new king.
When you build a product you need to think about the context in which your product will be used and then adjust your experience to that context.

The context of the smart watch is not the online world, it’s the physical world, it’s the time and place that you are using it that matters.

Here are a few examples:

  • I will not use my watch in my bed to browse the latest images from Instagram but I will do it on my phone or mac.
  • I will not use my watch to update my grocery shopping list (although I could) but I will do it on my iPhone or mac.
    I will use the watch when I actually shop to update what I already put in my cart, my iPhone will probably be in my pocket playing music at that time.
  • Notifications are much more noticeable on a watch. When combining them with location there is a real potential to catch a user in the right time, offers like products on sale in a store or free coupon will probably make my day.

All those examples are taking the context into consideration and making the right experience to the right context.
I think that it’s too early for me to tell what is a good experience on this medium, but I do know to spot a bad one when I see it. (hint — a copy & paste experience from your iPhone app isn’t considered as a good experience).

So do I need to build a watch app?

You do, but only if it make sense for your product, and only if you know how to take this new context and adjust your experience to this new medium.
I think that only companies that will know how to do exactly that will really nail the experience on this medium.

And yes, I’m probably going to buy my own watch, I’m excited to see how developers out there will take advantage of this new medium.

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