Talking tech since 2003

This past Tuesday, we caught our first real glimpse of Apple in its post-Steve era.

Pulling out the classic “One more thing” line that Jobs made so famous, Tim Cook unveiled the Apple Watch to a packed house at the Flint Center in Cupertino. It was a big moment for Apple; the wearable everyone knew was coming had finally arrived, Apple had entered its first new product category in years, and Tim Cook had seemingly put his stamp on the company he’d inherited less than three years ago.

applewatch-closeupAnd I really wanted to be blown away by Apple’s take on the wearable, but I have to be honest — I’m not sold on the Apple Watch.

Here’s why.

Over the years, we’ve come to expect a number of traits from Apple products. These are present in just about any Apple device you pick up.

  • Ease of use — being able to pick up a device and learn how to use it.
  • Great feature implementation — launching a feature when the company has the best implementation, even if it means not being first.
  • Simplicity — knowing where and when to trim the fat.

Steve Jobs had a heavy hand in plotting the company’s future before his death. He mapped out a course for both Apple and its products. And since Tim Cook took control, Apple has mostly stuck to the script. New products have been more derivative than not, and nothing the company has released could be classified as “groundbreaking.”

The Apple Watch is, reportedly, Tim Cook’s baby. It’s the first product that he oversaw from start to finish, without The Ghost of Steve hovering over his shoulder. But without the inspiration of prior products from Apple’s late co-founder and CEO, the Apple Watch already seems to be violating the three above product traits.

Ease of use? There are multiple ways to control the watch, and from what I’ve seen, it’s not all that apparent which control method you’re to employ and when. There is a touch screen, which I suppose can be swiped. The screen can also be tapped. To add another layer of confusion, there is a “more forceful” tap that is different than a regular tap. Oh, and there is a “digital crown” that acts as a home button and a knob that can be turned in order to let users zoom in and out, or turn things up and down. And there’s ANOTHER button that simply exists for a single communications app.

Features? Simplicity? Apple had to do a bit more than a Pebble to charge $349, but the Apple Watch seems absolutely flooded with apps and features that, in my mind, are extraneous.

Is it really necessary to have photo viewing on a watch? Do we need to see maps on our wrists when our phones are right there in our pockets? And do our watches really need the ability to send our heartbeats and emojis to our friends?

I absolutely see the value of getting things like notifications, and Apple’s support for fitness-related apps and features. And I even like the idea of using the Apple Watch in conjunction with an iPhone to use Apple Pay. But it seems like there’s a whole lot of fat here; features that are wholly unnecessary and will actually make the Apple Watch more complicated to use and to understand.

Of course, I could be totally wrong. I’m not sure any company has a history of predicting what consumers want as well as Apple. Maybe sending our heartbeat patterns will become the next big thing, and I’ll look foolish for calling the feature a waste of space.

Then again, maybe it won’t. Maybe that feature, along with many others on the watch, will prove to have been too much. Maybe users won’t find the interface as friendly and as easy to use as their iPhones and iPads. Maybe the strange new buttons will confuse them. And maybe all the hype surrounding the Apple Watch will deflate when people realize it’s not the wearable revolution everyone thought it was.

But we’re still months out. Apple has between now and the day the Watch releases in early 2015 to prove that it’s worth owning.

Right now, I’m someone that needs to be convinced.

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