So far, all my suggestions about what Apple should do to improve Watch and fix a few glaring issues have gone unanswered by CEO Tim Cook. Maybe a carrier pigeon drone isn’t the best way to communicate with a rich and powerful technology executive. They’re cute, though.
Alright, we all know the basics. Apple Watch is a hit. It’s not an iPhone or iPad hit, but it’s set the standard for smartwatches to follow, it’s gobbled up the industry’s revenue and profits, it’s put the Swiss watch industry into a tailspin, and it’s given Samsung and other gadget makers a viable target to copy. Here’s what I want Apple to do with Watch for 2016.
Variations On A Theme
It’s easy to see why Apple chose an elegant, timeless, functional, but obviously rectangular watch design. More data can be displayed on a rectangle than on a circle. But that shouldn’t stop Apple from introducing a thinner circular Watch. I want one.
Apple was very smart, too, to provide multiple designs; aluminum, stainless steel, gold and variations of gold. Smart. Watches are not only timepieces, but they’re also fashion statements and Watch needed to fit in. What’s interesting here is how my watch habits have changed. Instead of changing a watch to match an occasion or activity, I change the watchband. It’s that easy. Kudos and props to Apple for recognizing the fashion requirement in a watch.
I have zero problem with the initial Watch design, including the crown and side button. Simple is better. But that’s where the simplicity and ease of use of Watch ends. Navigating Watch is cumbersome at best and Apple needs to recognize that.
The first notable and highly visual problem with Watch is the app screen. All those little round app icons look inviting until you actually look to try to find an app to open. Who can tell all those icons apart? iPhone and iPad have the app’s name below the app icon which makes navigating easy. Watch? Ugh. Puhleeze. Forget the circles, drop back to rectangular icons and left-to-right swipes to move between pages of icons. That works. Oh, and please, Apple, put a name under each one. Please.
The second notable and highly visual problem with Watch is navigation. There are too many ways. Swipe, tap and hold, pinch, tap, turn the Crown, press the side button, press the Crown, press harder on the screen, swipe in a different direction. Whew. An iPhone is easier to learn to use.
Basic navigation only requires a finger and a swipe (unless you can remember the above list for exceptions). Swipe down to reveal recent Notifications. That’s OK. Swipe up to reveal Watch Glances (which have a limited number, and user control for location, then swipe left or right to view each glance. Glances are horizontal while Notifications are vertical, but the Crown, which scrolls, does not scroll through Glances (only Notifications).
The side button is limited. Press it and you can see– not the Home screen, or apps screen– but the list of speed dial friends and family. I can live with that but it seems like a waste of a good button.
The rest of Watch navigation could be fixed easily and in a way that makes it more usable. Swipe down on the watch face to view Notifications, but instead of navigating up and down as it does now, navigate left and right; the same way as Glances work. Swipe up, then navigate through Glances by swiping left and right as it does now. Good, but maybe vertical is better.
One suggestion I read online says to make the Notifications a swipe-left option and Glances a swipe-right option. Both would then scroll vertically. I like that– as an option. Then, the Crown could be used instead of a swipe (or in addition to) to scroll vertically, which it does already.
Those navigation changes alone would make Watch much easier and more intuitive to, well, you know, navigate.
Finally, complications are a big, almost hidden secret. I thought I would use the classy looking watch faces on Watch and maybe change them out depending on mood and event, but instead I’ve gravitated to using only the modular watch face because it displays the most complications. Watch needs more complications on the screen, and more customizable options.
I’ve just launched another carrier pigeon to One Infinite Way in Cupertino, CA in the hopes that someone will find my list of Watch improvements and pass them along to design honcho Jony Ive or CEO Tim Cook, but I’m not going to hold my breath. I hear the cafeteria at Apple HQ serves pigeon on the menu.