The Core Dump

Lower your shields and surrender your ships

[By Nic Lindh on Sunday, 07 December 2014]

The glanceable wrist in your future

Nic loves his Pebble and looks forward to the Apple Watch, but realizes he’s in the minority.

I’ve worn a Pebble watch for about a year now, and it’s great for my particular use case, which as you’d expect involves not caring if people around me think I’m a huge nerd. (The Pebble is a large, relentlessly nerdy object to have on your wrist.)

While huge nerds like me will love the Apple Watch, I still think it will be a bridge too far, no matter how “intimate” they make the thing. Getting notifications on your wrist is and will probably remain a nerdy thing and not something normal humans are interested in. (For “interested in” read “recoil in horror from.”)

Apart from the dark horse of what currently secret functionality the Apple Watch will include, the main things that will set it apart from the Pebble will be the integration: Apple can make it do things Pebble just can’t. We don’t know yet what that will be. And whereas the Pebble looks like a nerd gadget, the Apple Watch will be much sleeker.

But will that be enough to get the masses interested? I’m doubtful.

From what I’ve read on the Internet from people who’ve bought Pebbles and Android Wear watches to get a jump on the Apple Watch experience, there are three main schools of thought: 1) Lordie! Having notifications on my wrist is the bomb! (I fall into this category); 2) My wrist keeps buzzing and this is so annoying kill it with fire; and 3) Meh. I don’t really need this—taking my phone out of my pocket isn’t exactly arduous.

Note that most of the discussion centers around notifications, since that’s the most obvious thing the Pebble and Android Wear watches do.

And I do like the notifications my wrist and don’t find them oppressive since I turned off a lot of notifications on my phone before getting the Pebble. To me having the phone buzz in my pocket means I need to know what it’s saying, so most notifications are off.

This probably counts as a life hack/tip: Turn off all notifications that aren’t crucial. Everywhere. You’re welcome.

But the Pebble does more than just notifications. For my use case, it’s a watch, a timer and a music controller. I do a lot of physical therapy to alleviate my IT band syndrome, and having a timer set for 40 seconds right there on my wrist is huge. And I mean huge in the same way that a remote control is huge: When I first heard about remote controls for TVs I thought it was the silliest thing I’d ever heard. What kind of lazy bastard can’t get off the couch to switch the station?

Well, me, as I learned five minutes after using a remote control for the first time.

Same thing with having timer functionality right there on my wrist instead of using a separate device.

But I’m a professional alpha nerd and the kind of person who buys a Pebble or Android Wear watch in order to write about it on their blog or talk about it on their podcast is also a huge nerd, so what the normal humans will think when the Apple Watch hits the street will be very interesting indeed.

For myself, having an Apple-quality color screen on my wrist will sure be nice. But much love for Pebble who were the first to show that a wrist computer is a useful thing.

Though I still can’t wrap my head around how millions and millions of people will agree.

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