Farhad Manjoo’s Week With The Apple Watch

Farhad Manjoo writing for NYTimes.com:

This idea is nice, but to get it to work, you’ve got to decide which notifications you want to get on your watch, and which you don’t. When you first set it up, the watch generally mirrors the notifications you’ve set for your phone: If you now get an iPhone alert when a friend changes her Facebook profile photo, you’ll get one on your Apple Watch. (The system is smart enough to alert you in just one place — it doesn’t buzz your watch if you’re looking at your phone.) But because the phone and the watch are such different devices, mirroring notifications between them often makes little sense.

For instance, since there’s isn’t (yet) a Facebook app for the Apple Watch, notifications for Facebook on the watch are essentially useless — your wrist buzzes with a note that your friend has changed her profile photo, but when you tap the Facebook notification, nothing happens.

So unless 3rd party developers enable Watch support for their apps, then receiving notifications is glanceable only – I did wonder about that. Also, it will be a good idea to tweak which notifications you currently receive for all apps on your iPhone currently – in preparation for the Watch you may or may not be ordering.

There is something magical about having a computer that no one notices right there on your wrist. I first experienced this magic while at lunch with a colleague. I’m usually a wreck at such meetings, because while I try to refrain from looking at my phone, my mind is constantly jonesing for the next digital hit.

Lunch today is different. My iPhone remains hidden deep in my pocket, and to all the world I am the picture of the predigital man. It is the middle of the workday, the busiest time for digital communication. Yet with the Apple Watch on my wrist, my mind remains calm, my compulsion to check the phone suddenly at bay. After spending the last few days customizing my notification settings, my watch is a hornet’s nest of activity. It buzzes every few minutes to indicate incoming email and texts, tweets or Slack messages.

The buzzes aren’t annoying. They go completely unnoticed by my colleague, while to an addict like me they’re little hits of methadone — just enough contact with the digital world to whet my appetite, but not nearly as immersive, and socially disruptive, as reaching for my phone and eyeing its screen. I not only register the watch’s buzzes, but several times while we’re chatting, I surreptitiously check its screen. I scan some incoming messages and tweets, and even flag a couple of emails for later.

At the end of the meal, I ask my colleague if she’s noticed me checking my watch. She is surprised; she hasn’t seen it.

I love, not only the concept of glancing at your wrist instead of pulling the iPhone out of your pocket but notifications only you can see, hear and feel.