13 April 2015

The New York Times: “Apple Watch Review: Bliss, but Only After a Steep Learning Curve”

What’s more, unlike previous breakthrough Apple products, the Watch’s software requires a learning curve that may deter some people. There’s a good chance it will not work perfectly for most consumers right out of the box, because it is best after you fiddle with various software settings to personalize use. Indeed, to a degree unusual for a new Apple device, the Watch is not suited for tech novices. It is designed for people who are inundated with notifications coming in through their phones, and for those who care to think about, and want to try to manage, the way the digital world intrudes on their lives.

Finding nirvana with the watch involves adjusting your notification settings on your phone so that your wrist does not constantly buzz with information that doesn’t make sense on the Watch — like Facebook status updates, messages from Snapchat, or every single email about brownies in the office kitchen. Apple’s notification settings have long been unduly laborious; battling them while your hand is buzzing off the hook is an extra level of discomfort.

Farhad Manjoo

So the Watch’s main selling point is that it will force people to adjust their notification settings, to not be overwhelmed by the constant buzzing on the wrist? What an indispensable device!

The technology columnist Farhad Manjoo asks whether the Apple Watch’s new “taptic engine” will give us an alternative to constantly checking our phones.

By Farhad Manjoo and Rebekah Fergusson on April 8, 2015

Personally, I have long ago disabled most sound notifications on my , leaving only communication apps (from phone to Messages to WhatsApp) enabled. The majority of apps, including and , are set to show notifications on the lock screen, but without sound or vibrations, while some are permitted only after unlocking the phone. I also frequently enable ‘Do Not Disturb’, for example while charging the device at work, to prevent it from disturbing my colleagues. The tools to manage notifications overload have long been there, but many have simply neglected them. Add another device for communication and it’s likely people will end up with more notifications, not less.

The promise of the Apple Watch is to make it more convenient to send & receive notifications and quick messages, although many of the reviews make it clear that Apple hasn’t entirely succeeded in this. In the entire history of the world, if you make it easier for people to do something compelling, people don't do that thing less: they’ll do it more. If you give people more food, they eat it. If you make it easier to get credit, people will use it. If you add another two lanes to a traffic-clogged highway, you get a larger traffic-clogged highway. And if you put a device on their wrist that makes it easier to communicate with friends, guess what? They're going to use the shit out of it, potentially way more than they ever used their phones.

Jason Kottke

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