Good Reads for April, 2016

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a handful of carefully-considered, if slightly longer, reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Sometimes, these will be a look back at how a product is doing, one year on, and other times, a deep-dive into why Apple didn’t invent some new-fangled thing you see every day on the web. Bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • Before we get into some pieces discussing the Apple Watch one year after its release, I want to point out that Apple did not invent emoji. Emoji are everywhere on the web these days, and Apple and other smartphone manufacturers are adding new emoji with almost every point release of their operating systems. But not all emoji are created equal, and what you see on one platform may end up being (very) different on another.

Granted, the iPhone did have a 20-month head start at exposing the English-speaking world to emoji. Plus there’s that whole thing where Apple features are mysteriously assumed to be the first of their kind. I’m not entirely surprised that Apple’s font is treated as canonical; I just have some objections.

  • April marks one year of the Apple Watch, and even though there’s now Apple Watch bands that cost more than an Apple Watch, the reception to Apple’s wearable has come down on either side of the fence. A re-review of the Apple Watch from Ars Technica looks at what still works, and what doesn’t and/or needs improvement — notifications are great, but the slowness and especially the slowness inconsistency hinder the overall experience.

After a full year of wearing the Apple Watch every single day, it’s time to revisit the hardware, software, and some things I looked at in our original review to see where the platform is and where I think it ought to go in the next year or two.

  • An article over at Gizmodo proves to be a hard read if you’re a fan of the Apple Watch, mostly because it points out the glaring flaws of a device that some feel quite attached to. Casey Chan writes that interaction with the watch is never comfortable, charging even once every night is charging too often, and worse still, there are very few compelling reasons for anyone to buy an Apple Watch.

If you do manage to figure out how to do something with it and find a comfortable way to use it, there’s actually nothing worthwhile to do with the Apple Watch that you can’t do just as easily with an iPhone. Okay fine, that’s not all the way true but it’s not too much of an exaggeration. Most Watch apps just end up being a shell of the iPhone app.

  • So, what is the Apple Watch good for? An piece from MartianCraft’s Richard Turton over at Medium tells us that the best experiences with the Apple Watch are the ones where interactions are kept to a minimum. A tap here. A glance there. Or better yet, raising your wrist and asking your personal assistant to add an item to your shopping list, start a timer, or send a quick message to someone special.

The watch is not just a small-screened iPhone, in the same way that an iPhone is not just a small-screened Mac. The usage patterns, interactions and user intentions are completely different. No matter how great the watch hardware becomes, users are never going to want to interact with it for more than a few seconds.

  • Apps are awful, notifications are great, but here’s the thing: the Apple Watch turned one year old last month. Apple CEO Tim Cook describes sales as “meeting expectations”, and whatever that means, it’s still probably too early to tell if the Apple Watch is a success or a failure. MG Siegler says that there’s a good chance it won’t be as popular as the iPhone (it’s hard to think of anything that is as popular as the iPhone), but without any kind of hardware revision, it’s impossible to tell, and the only thing we can do is wait and see.

The point here isn’t to compare the two devices — an Apple Watch is just about as comparable to a watch as an iPhone is to a phone. But it does provide an interesting context for Apple’s fledgling business — a new product category which has come under a lot of scrutiny since its launch a year ago. Many have called it a “flop,” which, again, is interesting in context.

Notable Replies

  1. I personally find Emjoi annoying and counter productive, where in days gone by a simple ASCII smiley face :- ) or wink ;- ) would have sufficed we now have an over abundance of pointless and time wasting items to put in to messages which IMHO yet again reduces the overall clarity and quality of conversation.

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