The Not-so-Obvious Design Feature of Apple Watch That Everyone is Missing

Image credit: Apple

When a revolutionary new product is launched, the first instinct is to understand it by relating its most obvious features to what we already know. In time, it becomes apparent that the analogies we formed, to understand the device, failed to properly inform us of the new way of doing things invited by the product.


Nowhere is this more obvious than with the Apple Watch. To understand it as a wristwatch that has some fancy features is to miss the relationship it has with the iPhone. The proper, elegant partitioning of tasks is one key area that is lost on the casual observer.

For example, one of the interesting aspects of the Apple Watch is that you're saved from constantly fiddling with your iPhone. As Ben Bajarin puts it, in "My Week Without Apple Watch:

... having to respond to your phone or pull it out of your pocket or bag for each phone call or text message turns out to be fairly disruptive.

I believe it depends on the nature of your lifestyle and technical work, but for me, I have to agree. I have found from my own experience that busy people focus on certain kinds of tasks, and when the iPhone disrupts, it's a pain. The Apple Watch can be a friendly and discreet first line of defense. Mr. Bajarin concludes, and I concur:

Of course I can get by without it but, given the number of conveniences I’ve been able to quantify in the flow of my daily life, I can no longer imagine life without it.

The lesson is this. The Apple Watch is designed for people who need to manage the flow of information into their brains in a task oriented, perhaps stressful, but always information rich environment. If that doesn't apply, then the Apple Watch can be dismissed as an expensive, glorified timepiece.

On the other hand, as Mr. Bajarin describes his experience, once a productive person is exposed to the smart partitioning and filtering of tasks, the old way of fussing with an iPhone during every "information experience" just won't do. It's possible to theorize that watchOS 2.0 is designed to drive that point home even more clearly.

The design of the Apple Watch probably explains why some people dismiss it as unnecessary while others love it and can't live without it.

Next page: the tech news debris for the week of July 6.

Page 2 - The Tech News Debris for the Week of July 6


The Apple community's sense that iTunes needs to be re-thought, factored, and made more resilient has reached a crescendo in recent months. But Apple ignored the pleas and then made it even more complex by adding Apple Music. This article at Engadget suggests: "iTunes 12.2: New version a missed opportunity for Apple Music."

Perhaps one byproduct of the bloat is that there are pockets of things that just don't go well in Apple Music. For example, Kirk McElhearn notes that "Apple Music Doesn’t Get Classical Music Right." Mr. McElhearn concludes:

You’ll find a lot of classical music on Apple Music, and, if you’re searching for a specific work by a given composer, there’s a good chance you’ll find one or more versions. But don’t expect Apple Music to give you the information you need to use this service efficiently to listen to classical music.

In another Apple Music treatise, Yoni Heisler at BGR has some heartburn moments. "Apple Music on iTunes is an embarrassing and confusing mess."

Moving on...

In 2013, Apple caught the rest of the smartphone industry seriously off guard when it transitioned to the 64-bit A7 CPU for the iPhone and then iPad. Andrew Cunningham at ars technica takes a look at: "The state of the 64-bit transition in iOS, and what’s left to be done." This is a great article.

Here's a nice slide show. "These 10 amazing watchOS 2 features will make Apple Watch worth buying."

Wired concludes that "It’s Official: Microsoft Concedes the Smartphone War." The massive layoffs at Microsoft related mostly to those who came on board as part of the Nokia acquisition symbolizes:

"...a swift and stunning admission by Nadella that if Microsoft can’t compete with the big dogs like Apple and Samsung in the smartphone wars, it’s better off bowing out."

This is yet another stellar example of the new, crisper thinking of Microsoft and its CEO Satya Nadella. You don't copy Apple. You don't slavishly follow agenda into oblivion. Instead, you make great products that serve people well on all platforms. It's a breath of fresh air.

Contrast that thinking to the decision made under Steve Ballmer to acquire Nokia in the first place. Take at look at the chart in this article, "By the time Microsoft bought Nokia, it was way too late."and then try to understand Ballmer's thinking in 2013.


One of the things I've noticed about the latest cars is that the emphasis on computerized information and controls leads to an excessive amount of eyeballs inside when, more than ever, drivers need to have their vision outside the car when in motion.

If a car maker overdoes dashboard complexity, it's considered okay, but if a driver opts to spend too many seconds looking at a smartphone, eyeballs inside, disaster can ensue. Then it's not okay.

One way to deal with this is for car makers to be a lot smarter about how the information drivers need is presented and how drivers can spend minimal time fussing with dashboard controls while in motion. Because car makers aren't doing such a good job, Apple has some ideas. This is fleshed out here: "With CarPlay, Apple Looks to Upend Tradition." The added benefit, suggested in this article, it seems to me, is that car-centric apps run in the protected, secure and private environment of the iPhone.

Several other important issues are discussed, and this is a very thought provoking article. A must read.

Electronic technology is constantly changing, but what can't be overlooked is the effect that change has on habits and culture. Sometimes technology doesn't just get better, faster and cheaper. Sometimes it fundamentally changes the way a whole generation does things. Looking at the wayback machine: automobiles spawned drive-in movie theaters in the 1950s. Then bigger, color TVs in the 1960-70s killed them off. And so on.

Here are two articles I found that document some current cultural changes related to entertainment viewing.

And so when Apple makes certain decisions about building and marketing products, it's not just about the technology. It's all about where the flash points of the mainstream culture are. That's a good thing to remember about Apple.


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro's observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed by a discussion of articles that didn't make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.