Thinking Differently, Apple Watch Gets Wrist-Top Tech Right

The Apple Watch (née iWatch) was finally announced during Tuesday's September 9th media event. The company's first foray into wearables demonstrates what makes Apple different from its competitors, its ability to engineer a device from the ground up to work in ways no one else has imagined.

A Whole Thing

The most important aspect of the Apple Watch is how it is a whole thing. It was designed to be what it is.

Those two sentences are practically a treatise on why we love Apple products—those products are designed to be what they are and only what they are.

I'm not talking about the ecosystem here, or the fact that the Apple Watch requires an iPhone. I'm talking about the way we interact with the device, the user interface, how it imparts information to its user, the ways it can be used to communicate with others.

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Interface is Different

Apple has approached each of these things in ways that are unique and specific to a wrist-top form factor. I mean, come on. There's a crown. On a digital watch. With a touch display. Why? Because watch crowns have proven effective on watches for centuries and on wristwatches for decades. Apple found a way to make the crown an integral way of interacting with the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch isn't an iPhone writ small, and it's not a watch with extra things bolted on it. Apple Watch is what it is—Apple Watch. And because of that, it's going to be the first wearable computer to receive widespread, mainstream adoption.

Whole Widget

No one else could do what Apple did—to wit, no one did. Apple's whole widget model gives it an incredible advantage when it comes to making devices that are designed from the ground up to work seamlessly within themselves.

For instance, there have been a ton of smartwatches released in the lead up to Apple Watch, but those competing devices are kludgy in comparison. They're from companies who think in terms of taking a mobile interface and shrinking it down to the wrist.

A Crown?

Apple Dares to Use a Crown

Just Say No

There is no doubt that Apple tried and threw out ten times—maybe a hundred times—as many ideas as Samsung, Google, Motorola, LG, Timex, or anyone else tried with their so-called smartwatches. The goal of those other companies was to get something out as fast as possible. Apple's goal was to make something that we'd actually want to use.

Watching Apple demonstrate Apple Watch, the amount of "No" that went into its making became more and more obvious. It piled up behind vice president Kevin Lynch in this invisible, but undeniable mass. No company says "No" like Apple, and that's why only Apple could come up with Apple Watch.

As an example, Dave Hamilton told me he expected Taptic feedback to feel like the vibrator in his iPhone. But when he tried one on in the hand-on area after the event, that's not what he found. Instead, it felt like someone tapping his wrist. That's new, that's different. That's thinking differently.

The result is that Apple Watch looks usable, both for sending and receiving information. Sending and receiving. That's a very big deal.