I sold my Apple Watch … because Apple gave me what I wanted

Well, sort of. I have to admit that I really wanted to love the Apple Watch. It must have been the most anticipated Apple product since the original iPhone. The rumor web sites did an amazing job of creating massive hype, and the Apple Watch unveiling over a year ago was an awe-inspiring presentation by Tim Cook. The sensors. The bands. The Apps.

One of my favorite quotes from Steve Jobs:

“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
— BusinessWeek, May 25 1998

Apple gave us what we wanted. They knew people wanted apps. And they probably spent countless months, probably years designing the Watch. The user interface looked good… so good.. at the unveiling in September 2014. But it turned out to be terrible. Circular icons on a tiny screen (even the 42mm screen) were confusing and some of the app icons looked the same. I also disliked not being able to remove Apple’s pre-loaded apps. Even with no third-party apps the screen was cluttered. It became more annoying to use apps.

Revolutionary products don’t happen often, but when they do, they really are revolutionary. The trouble is, they are made BY revolutionaries. Steve was the revolutionary, and now he is gone.

The next iteration of Apple’s wearable has to solve a problem that people don’t know they have. That’s what will make or break it for Apple. I’m not oversimplifying it because it’s incredibly difficult. But that’s the expectation that Apple has set themselves up for.

Apps..

There’s not one person on earth who doubted that apps would be part of an Apple wearable product. It’s what I wanted. It’s what everyone wanted. No one else, other than Android of course, has a massive app ecosystem. And sadly, apps just don’t cut it. As cool as it was to control a presentations on the PowerPoint Watch app or control my Apple TV from the watch it was simply just that.. cool. It wore off after a while.

The truth is the apps were not exciting. For example, why would I fumble with the Uber app on my Watch when I can quickly do the same thing on the iPhone. The United app sounded cool, but it didn’t add any value (really, just the flight status)? Swarm check-ins?  Too slow.

Always being tethered to an iPhone was annoying too. Without an iPhone what can the Watch do, tell time? Play music … files .. on my watch? Really? I was hoping to leave my iPhone at home and go for a run. But that didn’t happen.

Exercise Maven or Nuisance?

I left my watch in my car several times when arriving at the gym. Contrary to Apple’s wishes, the Watch is simply annoying to wear at the gym. It doesn’t provide any material benefit and is mostly in the way when lifting weights. After a few days of wondering of where my watch was I realized I really didn’t miss it.

Using the Watch with a golf club? Only in marketing land. It was uncomfortable during golf so forget all the golf apps.

Running? Oh, c’mon Christy Turlington. Did you actually touch the Watch with a sweaty finger? Probably not, because the screen doesn’t respond to sweat.

My watch also spent a few weeks in the kitchen drawer. I knew it was there. And I didn’t miss it. I went road biking a few times and thought about taking the watch. But for what? What other benefit did it provide that my iPhone didn’t already have..heart rate?. Eh, not enough value to endure the discomfort of the Watch squeezing the top of my wrist.

The Activity Tracker? Umm.. I don’t need to stand up if I’m in a meeting. I think the Watch should be able to know by my calendar that I’m in a meeting and not send me alerts to .. stand up.. when I’m in a meeting.

Too much

“It comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much.”
— BusinessWeek Online, Oct. 12, 2004 – Steve Jobs

Apple Pay… I was so excited about it. And it wasn’t a game changer. It creates a slicker checkout at Whole Foods and Trader Joes, but I still have to confirm the amount and sign the archaic touch-screen credit card terminal with a plastic pen.

Some features were just poorly executed – like sending a heartbeat to a friend. Every time I tried this there was no way to know the heartbeat was actually sent. And the Doodle? Also couldn’t figure out what to do with it and if I sent it I didn’t know if the other party received it.

Siri? If I don’t use it on iPhone I sure as heck don’t use it on the Watch. It just doesn’t understand me (I won’t take it personally).

I’ve asked others who own the watch and they have the same general feeling. It doesn’t change their day. It doesn’t move the needle. And personally, I can’t remember the last time I wore a watch daily.

“Did you ever take a look at the Apple Watch?” -Elon Musk