Revolutionary User Interfaces, Part 2

In 2011 I wrote:

My hypothesis is that The Primary Cause for the shift of profits from Incumbents to Entrants has been the disruptive impact of a new input method.

It was a description of what I considered to be the “disruptive technology” which caused incumbents which had a “front-row seat” to the future of their industry to be completely displaced and marginalized by an entrant[1] with no discernible right to do what they did.

I illustrated what underpinned the sea change in the phone business via the slide that Steve Jobs used in the iPhone launch event:



I added the years when each input method was introduced and the  platform/ecosystems created as a result. These new ecosystems were the primary cause for dramatic industry-sized shifts in profits.

Not coincidentally, during the 2014 Apple Watch launch, the presentation began[2] with a re-telling of the “mouse, click wheel and Multi-Touch” story.

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 10.07.55 AM

Seven years later, the difference is that there is a new object added to the story. It answers the question that has been on my mind since that first post on revolutionary user interfaces was written: what will come next.

Now that we have an answer, the next step is to understand the new platform, its ecosystem; which industry will be affected and which incumbents will be displaced and to what degree will value be created beyond that which will be displaced.

Piece of cake.

  1. later more than one []
  2. Begins one hour into the 2 hour downloadable video []
  • Pappu

    do you still think that apple can use the word “revolutionary”. yesterday they were quite “evolutionary” (they were appearing like Microsoft) . nothing was “revolutionary”

    • You and I have very different views of Microsoft’s “evolutionary” approach. Mine looks like this:

      • Nevermind. Guess the image button doesn’t work.
        Edit: Reverse that. Seeing the image now.

    • Revolution is when the old guard is changed. Evolution is when the old guard is reformed. The determination of which occurs is going to be made in a few years after it happens and we can measure the change. The skilled analyst is able to anticipated the change without the availability of data.

      • Andrew F

        I think Apple Watch has to prove itself in the market before we can assume disruption. There isn’t yet a reason for mass adoption. Maybe we’ll get the reason in another keynote before release (which I suspect will happen).

      • Sacto_Joe

        It’s slowly dawned on me that, even more than the iPad, the AppleWatch is going to have a very, very long replacement phase. I can see people buying one and still using the same one a decade later. Now, apart from basically mandating a sapphire screen, that means that proving itself a “disruptor” is could also take a much longer time. Hence, “prove itself in the marketplace” may end up being quite different from “prove itself to be disruptive”.

      • Tatil_S

        I doubt the replacement cycle will be any longer than iPad. They will get thinner, more sensors will be added (is it possible to make a bloodless glucose meter?), battery life will get longer, OS updates will cut off support… Don’t buy one if you do not feel comfortable with being a repeat customer every three years due to costs, because you will start resenting the obsolete version on your wrist at that point.

      • Sacto_Joe

        As I said to handleym below, I have a second generation iPad and a 2009 27″ iMac. I feel fully supported on both. Yes, they are “candidates” for passing on to family members when upgrades come along. But they are so classy right now that I expect the resale value will remain very high. And owning a gold AppleWatch V1 may be the equivalent of owning a classic car one day….

      • Tatil_S

        There is a big difference. When potential customers contemplate buying a Swiss watch, they don’t imagine themselves handing it over to their kid because they buy a better one a couple years later. They think of passing it on to the next generation, as a rite of passage, similar to how an heirloom engagement ring or wedding dress might be passed on. (I have no idea whether that actually works out so well in real life, but that is the marketing angle.) It is nothing like handing off a 5 year old desktop computer, the step before dropping it off at an eWaste collection point.

      • Sacto_Joe

        That’s not the point. The point is, the watch will have a value proposition a decade from now. It may not have as much a value proposition, but for some it’ll have enough to NOT sell it or pass it on. And BTW, that’s the big difference between Apple products and everyone else: Apple builds products that have vastly longer value propositions. Indeed, that’s why it takes so long to design them in the first place; Apple tries mightily to build in that value from the get-go.

        Will the AppleWatch V1 become “obsolete”? Of course! That’s not my point.

        Look. Nobody else is even close to building an AppleWatch competitor. That means that even V1 is going to be in demand for a long, long time.

      • art hackett

        You know how repairs are being done in Apple stores now? Could this be prep for servicing Apple Watches, and by servicing, I mean replacing the guts? You know, the computer on a chip. How much would they charge? $150, $200? What would make it worthwhile for the customer and Apple?

      • stefnagel

        Agree. Which suggests that the Mayo Clinic or Blue Cross will subsidize our watches, just as telcos do our phones.

      • Sacto_Joe

        Good point!

      • stefnagel

        Spot on. Mass adoption requires a new mass media delivered.

    • “do you still think that apple can use the word “revolutionary””

      The Apple Watch’s infrared and visible-light LEDs and photodiodes and the Taptic Engine complicate the answer to your question. I lean toward, Yes.

  • Fran_Kostella

    I think you have zeroed in on the most interesting and important development from the announcements. It is interesting to see this evolution of devices as it becomes more intimate with our skin, as the sequence of photos show. I’ve been waiting to see which haptic interfaces would go mainstream first and I was impressed with Apple’s choices, here. A watch is the perfect point of leverage as it is a well known object and therefore will permit some subtle changes to the form to begin the process of a more direct integration with the body. I think this was the problem with Glass, it was the opposite of subtle and evolutionary.

    I think Apple has a winner here, and I can’t wait to see the price point for the gold version. Out of my league, no doubt, but it looks like a tidy profit source for them.

    • handleym

      Gold Apple watches don’t really fit into a world of electronics that we expect to update every two years or so. I’ve no idea how this will play out, but the concept seems very strange to me.
      Is the plan that Apple will swap out the electronic guts but retain the frame when the Apple Watch 2017 arrives? Is the plan that Apple will simply accept a bunch of pissed off users complaining “I paid $xxxx for this thing in 2015 now you’re telling me that iOS 2019 won’t support it??!!”

      I have to admit that I think this whole “let’s pretend a piece of consumer electronics is a piece of jewelry” strikes me as insane and utterly misguided — the product of too much listening to the idiot fringe on the internet, and too little confidence in the value of the item as a piece of electronics. It’s like if the first people selling bluetooth headsets had decided they had to make them look like tiaras and crowns (made of real gold) because otherwise no-one would wear a piece of electronics on their head.

      • Tatil_S

        18K gold is not that *valuable*. I am sure you’ll get over it. 🙂

        People buying expensive mechanical watches may justify the price tag by arguing that they can gift it to their kids in two decades while they stay as functional as they are now. I’d be surprised if most don’t get bored of wearing the same watch and buy another in a few years. Yet, this may be the only Apple product whose resale value of the competitors are higher.

      • Sacto_Joe

        I think you’ve got it completely backwards. This product will have MORE resale value than most of its own products!

        It’s competitors? What competitors? Nobody else come close to measuring up.

      • Tatil_S

        I meant high-end mechanical “Swiss watches” as its competitors. Don’t you think they would retain more of their value after two years?

      • Sacto_Joe

        That’s an important clarification! And an interesting question. I don’t know how well, percentage-wise, AppleWatch will hold its relative value, but the world is littered with “high end watches” that didn’t keep their value much beyond the gold or precious metals that went into them.

      • Sacto_Joe

        I have a second generation iPad and a 2009 27″ iMac. I feel fully supported on both.

        As I said above, I think Apple, in its AppleWatch, has BY DESIGN made a product that they expect to be owned, and treasured, for a decade or more.

    • Sacto_Joe

      I think the “gold AppleWatch” is a key to the market that Apple is aiming at with this product. As handleym says below, “[gold] watches don’t really fit into a world of electronics that we expect to update every two years or so”. And as I said to Andrew F above, “…even more than the iPad, the AppleWatch is going to have a very, very long replacement phase. I can see people buying one and still using the same one a decade later.”

      Ergo, the market Apple is aiming at is hugely different from the “replaceable” market of cheap electronics. It is a market that values products that are finely built and will last.

  • I see four key elements for the new device user interface:
    1) voice, so long keyboard, text will be voice based
    2) crown, scrolling and zooming
    3) touch, choices and swipes
    4) push, a third dimension

    This is the first apple device that requires voice as part of the interface, there is no other way to insert text.
    A device always with you that can accept voice commands and has a quick way to input gesture commands and a quick way to give feedback with vibrations (I have to try that to understand it). With the appropriate software it will disrupt phones themselves.

    • Don’t forget Taptic engine. Though that is more of an output, it couples nicely with push detection.

      • stefnagel

        Isn’t the sensor array the new factor as input or interface? One more step toward our, us, becoming the input device?

        Aren’t all those bn of connections as much about fingers as about brains?

        I think Apple sees it this way: Ive made a big deal of it in his presentation. And Cook similarly harped on the fitness and health uses.

      • I called it vibration since I don’t understand how it works. You have tried it, how does it feels? It can give different vibrations or it can make you feel touched in different places?

      • jinglesthula

        Another is ‘mobile’ input. That is, you can hot-swap which device you provide input to from Watch to phone (and back?) for the same input stream (at least for IM/email/voice calls).

        There is a richness of input method synthesis in this device (set) that is worth pondering. I/O, actually, as you note. I think it’s more than just nice – it’s positively innovative.

      • jinglesthula

        Another is use of Watch to input information into other devices (Apple Pay). I suppose this also describes Handoff between Watch and iPhone.

        So rich and varied – it’s still sinking in. I can’t wait to see the apps in 2 years.

      • jinglesthula

        I should say I can’t wait to see how the Watch app catalog develops over the next couple years – not that there’ll be nothing of note for 2 years.

        Another incumbent that will likely be somewhat disrupted: existing apps.

  • r.d

    One of those interfaces is no longer on sale.
    but then again TrackPad is way better than mouse.

    Funny that Watch can’t be worn to sleep because
    it needs recharging so
    how are you suppose to monitor your sleep?

    Do you really want your phone to be in your pocket
    at full power frying your balls while you play with your watch?
    Is that a good design.

    • handleym

      Depends on how long it takes to charge.
      I’ve considered that perhaps the most appropriate daily routine for it is to take it off before showering, have it charge rather than getting wet, and it’s ideally available after the shower.
      It also means that it can track sleeping which has value, at least for some people.

      This fits in with the claim made by Pogue that while it’s water resistant it’s not so waterproof that you’d want to shower with it. (This strikes me as a terrible mistake, along with the iPhone6’s STILL not getting waterproofing, but it is what it is. Hopefully pressure from the Android world will get Apple to up their game in this department.)

      • Walt French

        Some time ago, I advocated for a water-resistant or -proof iPhone. Then I did a SWAG cost/benefit on it.
        Suppose that special gaskets, seals and clever electronic sensors that shut off exposed connectors’ electrical circuits, together cost $10 in parts+assembly. (Seems a bit high; bear with me.) Further, that there were insignificant weight or design compromises.
        And suppose that 10% of the population (also, seems high) saved $90 because their phones didn’t have to be repaired after dropping them in a lake or washbasin (which I’ve done, though both times I repaired with only a couple days’ delay and zero outlay).
        Then, for every 10 people, 9 are paying $90 total, so that 1 saves $90. Apple has 9 unhappier customers (although some of us are quite happy to buy fire insurance that we don’t collect on), and one who *should* be happier but probably isn’t.
        I think my math is pessimistic about water-proofing, but also that no waterproofing is perfect, and people whose phones are damaged *despite* being “water resistant” would regard Apple dimly, and that, since no system is perfect, there’d be those people. Point is, Apple’s design decisions are clues to intended treatment and usage, with trade-offs.
        Maybe once we get a highly impact-resistant iPhone we’ll also have a waterproof one. I sure thought the 5C signaled a knockabout or sports line for iPhones.

      • Tatil_S

        Water proofing is not just for avoiding accidental damage. When I am kayaking, I’d love to be able to carry my phone, take pictures (and post them to my photo stream later) or call my friends in the other kayak why they are headed in another direction (emergencies?). Waterproofing would also make it sand proof. As I have suffered from “a few grains of sand blocking the home button press” issue already once, I try to be careful at the beach, too. It would also make it sweat proof, so I would not have to worry about it when I am skiing. (A RAZR died on me when I was skiing some years back. I don’t know whether the two events were related for sure, but it seems the humidity in my pocket was not high enough to turn the color of the indicator dot to change color, but enough to kill the phone.)

        In other words, the 9 people who never had accidental water damage will also be happier as they can enjoy their devices in more environments without worrying about damage or without worrying about theft as they “had to” leave them behind in their cars or hotel rooms.

        I don’t know what kind of the design compromises waterproofing requires. I just wish Apple made those trade-offs instead of shaving off another 0.2mm of thickness. Hey, maybe that could allow optical image stabilizer in the smaller bigger iPhone, too. 🙂

      • tmay

        You might want to look at the two majors in photography and the difference in the pro camera build and the prosumer builds. Weather/dust/water sealing is a significant added cost.

        That said, I expect Apple to have a watch meeting IP68 ratings to 20 meter or something in the future. An IP one with an iP65 rating for short immersion would be possible, but still expensive (the coatings on the electronics make repairs difficult).

        Fortunately, there are reasonably priced sealable sleeves that work well at low pressures, and these are a fair tradeoff for a waterspout such as kayaking.

      • Tatil_S

        $30 purchase to protect a $700 may make sense on paper, but I cannot trust waterproof cases, for situations where I know I will get wet. If the case does not do its job properly, neither the case maker nor phone manufacturer will compensate me for the damage.

      • Walt French

        Good point. Maybe, since Mr. Cook thinks that Apple should be so pro-fitness, and since fitness often involves going into rainclouds, surging rivers and seas, water-resistance or -proofing should move up the priority list, putting their engineering where their mouth is.

      • Jerry Leichter

        Interesting timing on this discussion: An Apple patent for a new method of making water-resistant devices was published in the last couple of days. (Rather than sealing the device completely, you coat the sides that come together with a hydrophobic substance.)

        There are a bunch of technologies for water resistance/water proofing and the patent proves that Apple is looking at the problem. But this is, after all, Apple we’re talking about: They won’t make a waterproof product until they can make one that really does the job without significant side-effects – and is clearly the *best* solution.

        — Jerry

      • stefnagel

        Apple chose a different path from the minimalistic sensory device I hoped for, which would be water sealed.

        It’s stuck to its guns: Do a computer. Just smaller, simpler, funner yet. Price to profit. Or higher yet. Leverage the extant tech to the hilt.

        In five years, the tech and its costs will allow Apple to create a device it and I are both happy to own.

  • Walter Milliken

    While I don’t see the surface of the AppleWatch presentation as showing a new input method, exactly, there may be one hiding in plain sight. The obvious input methods here are things we already have: touchscreen, scroll wheel, and voice. The logistics of using them are a little different, but voice has the same issue I mentioned in long-ago posts here: it’s not particularly scalable in a non-private environment. Great for a car, maybe useful at home, but in a meeting room at work, totally a problem.

    What I find much more interesting about the watch presentation is that Apple seems to be positioning it as a private/quiet communicator. That deprecates voice. A lot of time was spent on the private messaging aspect using simple drawings on the screen. That may have interesting applications by itself (I suspect the tween/teen messaging crowd will love it), but I think it’s a symptom of something bigger here. Note that the *output* of the watch is quiet, including the haptic output.

    Based on an excerpt at MG Siegler’s blog (, I’m now wondering about using the accelerometer and combining it with haptic feedback as a new input method. Wave your hand and feel the invisible buttons in the air, perhaps. A new pointer technology but with haptic feedback. You still need some other input to “push” buttons, though. Longer term, I have to wonder about myoelectric sensors in the back of the watch (i.e. sense when you curl your finger, maybe). Near-term, probably tap the watch face, or maybe rotate your wrist.

    Seems like a perfect sort of thing for the Apple TV at least(and Tim Cook even mentioned using the watch to control his), and probably for a lot of HomeKit applications as well. Point at the light, rotate your wrist to turn it on. Or walk up to your car, twist your wrist to unlock it when you feel the haptic tap when it notices you nearby.

    Hand-in-air gestures are tiring for long-term input, but seem to be ideal for quick, casual interactions, like virtually all remote-control applications. I’d love to never have to pick up a remote again.

    • stefnagel

      See note on the sensor array as the new input method, below.

      • Walter Milliken

        Right now the sensor array seems to only sense things that are involuntary (or at least indirect) inputs, which makes it useful as a health/fitness device, but not particularly useful for interactions.

        I’d view the backside sensors as data inputs, not control inputs.

        One thing I’m really wondering is if the watch has a magnetometer in it like the iPhone. That would make free pointing a lot more useful as an input than just using the accelerometer, since it gives a decent sense of absolute direction, and not just relative movement and rotational position. Combined with positional information taken from the iPhone, and Apple’s interest in indoor mapping tech, there would be a *lot* of interesting possibilities. Hmmm.. wonder if the aWatch can see iBeacons.

      • stefnagel

        Spot on. I pegged my comment wrongly.

        As I added to the comment below, it’s the data inputs, cheap and plentiful, that will launch the watch. As was the case of the iPod, with tunes. And the iPhone, with apps and voice and such.

        Horace is talking about the control inputs of course. Which puts me into clear disagreement with him. So I will just leave the question:

        What launched these devices: the cool new controls or cheap and popular media?

  • Accent_Sweden

    So lets talk about industries and incumbents that are facing disruption. Before being specific, we could ask whether incumbents can see the disruption coming with the concept firmly established in popular business discourse? Or will they be as blind as their predecessors?

    Industries primed for disruption:
    1. Health care? Doubtful. Apple isn’t going to start providing health care. But the means of providing health care can be disrupted. Medical equipment makers better watch out. But more likely the AppleWatch will integrate with new equipment to increase its value and become essential. The user experience of receiving health care can be disrupted (improved) so that users are happier and willing to pay for that happiness.
    2. Exercise equipment? Perhaps, but again the AppleWatch seems more complementary than revolutionary for exercise devices.
    3. Payments? Definitely. Has Apple cast the same spell on the card companies that the music industry fell under? Are they going to be circumvented at a later date?
    4. Banking? Clearly lots of possibilities.
    5. The mobile industry? Apple likes to disrupt itself. This could definitely be skating to where the puck is going to be in the coming years. Moving to wearables before others do. The better experience. More tightly integrated with everything else.
    6. Computing? Will it usurp the mouse? Or just make us all more comfortable with a voice interface, leading us to more actively adopt it for other computing devices? Will it make us more comfortable with not seeing our computers, but always having them with us, changing how we view computing.

    Please help fill in other possibilities.

    • Walt French

      Here’s another take on “health care.”
      I’ve been in the information business my entire life (econ. consulting, database services, investment advice/management). Information, both the production of it, and getting it to the right person at the right time, is valuable. (Ask Horace–it’s his gig, too.)
      A huge amount of health care is just that. Lab tests just to check blood levels etc, a glance at the mole on the arm, asking the right questions in the ER for somebody with chest pains, getting an MRI view of a patient’s arteries, etc. Yes, there are certainly necessary procedures to repair broken bones, to remove tumors and to administer drugs, but I’ll go out on a limb and guess they’re actually only about a quarter of medicine/health care.
      Tops. The rest is collecting, analyzing, and processing data into information that can be used to determine what’s needed. For most of us, not needing surgery or anything beyond the seasonal flu vaccine, a whole slug of the data –> information process can be automated. And will be.

    • Jeff G

      Over a period of years, it could definitely become disruptive to the watch industry. Remember, this is the WORST watch Apple will every produce. Just like the iPhone and iPad have continually seen hardware, software and design and upgrades with each itteration, so will the Apple Watch.

      I will definitely buy one, cuz I love gadgets and I want to explore the possibilities for myself. I remember in Summer 2011 when I bought my iPad 2, I googled, “Can you write a book on iPad” every search result agreed writing a book on ipad was somewhere between difficult and impossible. So, I decided to write mine on there and see for myself. When I later got the 4S and that added the ability to use vocal interface, and they backed up and synched to each other via iCloud, it was a no brainor, and I will write all my books this way from now on (here was the result:

      So, anyway, I’m less concerned with what this watch will do when I first buy it, (although I think it will add some efficiencies for sure) and I’m more concerned with what it will do later with software upgrades and then as the 2, 3, 4 etc are released.

      Lots of people spend $349+ for a watch. I have to think that not only will 20%+ of Apple owners buy

      • Jeff G

        but, eventually the watch will become stand alone and so why not get a watch from a company with a great reputation that can do a lot more than tell time. Those that don’t think Apple is thinking ahead about this, might be a little looney, in my view.

        Apple Pay, pass off, future improvements, I could easily see 100 million of these sold in 3-4 years. And really, by the very nature of disruption, its hard/impossible to predict. So, it might be something yet to be discussed or anticipated, even by Apple.

        I’m going to get one for my dog too:)

      • charly

        Those $349 watches are not obsolete in a few years. Though you could argue that mechanical watches have been obsolete for 30 years

  • ChuckO

    I could see this being especially popular with woman as they tend to have pant pockets that can’t handle a smartphone. Many keep them in a bag and miss calls, messages. You also see a lot of 20 something woman with cracked screens because they use them a lot and are always carrying them.

  • poke

    I’ll have to wait until I can use one, but it appeared to be perfect Apple framing without the Apple product to back it up. The introduction of the “digital crown” was perfect (and what I expected for the UI, since they had to solve the problem of manipulating a small touch screen) and they said all the right things about it. Then they demoed the watch and the guy barely touched the digital crown, instead fiddling with the tiny touch screen, which appears to be necessary to do anything of significance.

    Moreover, this new UI paradigm had to do with using a tiny display and not with the fact that the product is wearable. Tim Cook’s assertion that you can’t simply shrink down a smartphone and put it on your wrist was contradicted by the product they introduced, which was exactly that: a small, wrist-mounted display that you manipulate. The most damning thing I can say about it is that Google and Samsung will have watched the keynote and sighed in relief, since it’s so similar to Android Wear.

    • Tatil_S

      I agree. I did not feel like it was going to be a run away success, either as a product (iPhone) or as the first of a new array of computing devices utilizing a new UI paradigm (iPad). Some of the watch demos looked really out of place, such as viewing your pictures or checking maps. They are far more suitable for a phone screen. Maybe, they felt they needed to demonstrate its computational capabilities. Taptic feedback, using it as a very personal communication tool with a small number of friends and family or becoming another take on iPod nano or shuffle for exercising sounded much more fun. Those who wear clothing without pockets, but still want to carry some subset of smartphone functionality with them, such as exercise monitoring, identification (replacing house keys) or payments (no cards or cash to carry) may find it fairly useful as is. Marrying that package to a well crafted high end fashion accessory, which are normally even less functional, may make it appealing to many, even if they are a little underwhelmed by what it can do or how it does it.

      It seems Apple is happy to let users figure out why they need one on their own at this point. It did not give us reasons to buy. Maybe they merely want us to desire one first, based on the look and feel, and come up with an excuse to purchase later.

    • def4

      He used the touchscreen more than the crown because the demo watch had to be laid flat on the table to allow the screen to be mirrored to the projector.
      It’s much easier to use the crown when the watch is on the wrist.
      During the demo he only used the crown for zooming but when on the wrist I expect that scrolling will also feel better with the crown.

  • jinglesthula

    “which industry will be affected and which incumbents will be displaced”

    My hunch is social media. Apple Watch allows more personal/personable interactions than mini (FB) and micro (twitter) blog aggregation services.

    Rumor has it Apple is eyeing Path, and a watch software update that incorporates the useful pieces from such an acquisition would make sense. Apple would have the only social media platform with full OS privilege on the only smart watch people will want (my biased guess).

  • Wmjcollins

    Has anyone commented on the other new interface announced yesterday, apple pay. I think that will gain traction faster than the watch and could prove to be more profitable.

  • DeadParrot

    A very good reaction to the Apple Watch from the point of view of a lover of fine mechanical watches (e.g. Swiss) is available at

  • Childermass

    Input devices, and inputs. Given HD’s fondness for wordplay I suspect his title is more than just a reference to the newness of the Digital Crown but also to the fact it revolves. It may be, however, that the haptic features and the sensors under the watch will be the bigger revolution.

    Up until now we have interacted with the device. This is the first device that interacts with us. The others required human activity, these work with our passivity.

    As a p.s. the fact that this watch also has NFC means I can now use the Underground by simply holding my wrist to the sensor. No fiddling with anything. America is well behind with this, as with chip and pin, but all over Europe and the Far East folk are going: oh!

  • Walt French

    Just to tickle the dialectic function here a bit: might we just as easily define the revolution not by what the interface is, as by where it resides?

    I.e., computer center/cards&tapes, office desktop/keyboard, home&individual/mouse&windows, Starbucks/trackpad&wifi, backpack/iPad&glasskeys, pocket/pinch, and now wrist/haptic&gestures.

    Yes,when/if Glass takes off, it’ll be because there’s a rich enough UX to accompany it. But that UX will be defined by the fact that Glass lives where it can see your eyes, hear your voice and speak to you sotto voce.

    The signaling function of the watch, its raison d’être or at least anchor function, doesn’t depend on its UX, but rather its location. Ditto, as the iPhone has matured we use pinch/zoom/twist multitouch gestures a lot less than direct taps and scrolling; what we use it for is defined by its location in our pocket, not that we can rotate a picture or the whole phone to reflow the display.

    UX is necessary, but eventually the job to be done depends on where our devices park.

    • jinglesthula

      When I read the article I was hesitant to agree that Watch uses novel inputs. I thought “it’s just multitouch and a tiny clickwheel on the side.” But after mulling, I agree. Force touch, bio sensors, continuous (and very personal) gyro, barometer (via the required ‘accessory’, again constant and personal) all represent novel input methods.

      Horace said The Primary Cause. I posit The Close Second is instant-on + form factor/location (iPhone), and Taptic + form factor/location (for Watch).

      For the sake of dialectic 🙂
      UX !== input method. Also, you compare form factor/location to two tasks accomplished by the input methods, rather than to the input methods themselves. I have a ‘dumb’ watch that can park on my wrist, but it’s never dreamed of doing jobs that Apple Watch will. (now, it parks in my sock drawer with the charger for my RAZR V3). Other slate computers resided in the same locations as current tablets. I wear corrective glasses that do nothing else for me. Location is important, but not (by itself) revolutionary.

    • Fran_Kostella

      Technology also locates in the social realm and this location may also have a social signaling function that is worth considering. I posit that one reason Glass isn’t catching on is that it is located near the eyes, which has a very negative signal. In movies a monster or dangerous character will often have something strange attached to the eyes. I’m guessing that Google is working on a contact lens version to get around this stigma. From this perspective, the wrist is probably a safe place to attach technology to the body as it signals control, power, and prestige, but I’m concerned that making broad arm gestures in public will send a negative social signal.

      I’m most intrigued by the possible subtle communications enabled by a device that rests on the skin and which can tap the skin in patterns. I wonder if it is possible to mentally control some typically autonomic process that the device is recording such that one can send messages? This opens the possibility of silent communication.

  • stefnagel

    The Apple Olympics: smaller, thinner, brighter, lighter … funner.

    Can a ring for the rest of us be far behind?

  • stefnagel

    Formally known as watch? Like Swatch. But with a glyph. Like Prince. Formerly.

    “Get us out of this, Joni! “

    • Walt French

      Or else we’d better get the glyph added to the standard Unicode table.

      Seems that neither Windows nor Android devices recognize it. (Shock!)

      Swapping a tweet this weekend, I found over a dozen honest-to-God characters that a new Moto (X?) either silently dropped, or else garbled. Some fraction of Sᴍᴀʟʟ Cᴀᴘɪᴛᴀʟs disappeared. S̶t̶r̶i̶k̶e̶t̶h̶r̶u̶ presented as plaintext. ʇxǝ⊥ pǝddılℲ (which is a bit ugly in my html views although some of the cool kids make it work fine in Teh Twitter) mangled. Ⓑⓤⓑⓑⓛⓔ Ⓣⓔⓧⓣ ⒶⒷⒸ with occasional dropped letters. A collection of punctuation, math symbols etc all either mangled or silently dropped.

      I suspect MANY devices fail to present these Unicode characters correctly and we should fallback to a more modest superset of ASCII.

  • sne

    Something that bothered me in the keynote is that the Digital Touch function – where Kevin Lynch was sending that sketch of a fish – seemed gimmicky and forced, which is not typical of Apple. The sophistication of the graphics points to a good deal of design thought and time invested in it, though. And the quick access from a button marks it as an important function.

    Most of the assessment of the Apple Watch I’ve seen is based on how it looks to the US consumer. To me, that mode mostly has novelty appeal. It seems like a natural way to send a quick message using a couple of Chinese characters, though.

    Add to that the product introduction is timed to early 2015, after Christmas season, but potentially in time for Chinese New Year (Feb 19). And that the mix of jewelry and tech (like the gold iPhone) is potentially more appealing in that market than in the US or Europe.

    Is it possible that the Watch is designed to become the standard way short messages are exchanged in China? And, from a business perspective, to make the watch coupled with the iPhone – which is still the franchise – overwhelmingly preferable to the Android alternatives there?

    Just integrating fitness and phone accessory functions in an elegant device is hard enough, but a new interface like that, even if it had limited use for English speakers, that would be worthy of Apple. (I don’t have any experience with Chinese character input methods, so it might not be as natural to do that on the watch surface as I’m imagining.)

    • Walt French

      Neat idea. Many Chinese characters have fewer than 6 strokes (especially, common words), and the order in which the strokes are drawn is more important than the sharp positioning, for computers to recognize characters. A translator could be done, or , since the stroke order seems to be communicated, the existing / demonstrated tech should work.

    • jinglesthula

      You say digital touch drawings are something not typical of Apple. You might also lump this with the solar system ‘watch face’, the send-your-heartbeat DT feature, and even the roller coaster green screen in photo booth Apple dedicated keynote time to.

      I think part of the reason they added digital touch and a solar system view with little practical value was to make two points:
      – the device is capable: it CAN do anything
      – the possibilities are limited only by creativity: the device can do ANYTHING

      But the fact that the middle of the three areas of focus (the others being timepiece and health/fitness) was connecting/communicating tells me Apple has more in mind for Apple Watch as a social tool than just as a ‘demo gimmick’.

      Face it – Facebook sis not a very natural extension of organic social interaction modalities. It’s a glorified mashup of blogs, email, and presorted mail. I think Apple wants to make an innovative social medium.

  • GaryD

    If kids put in a little effort to revive Morse Code, teachers will have to collect all Apple Watches before exams! 🙂

  • Jon

    The multi-touch interface is awful. I have been avoiding it for years. My fingers are very sensitive. Rubbing things cause significant pain in my fingers. After fifteen or twenty seconds, I’m done for the day. I’m hoping the next UI breakthrough has some sort of buttons on it so that I can start interacting with the modern world again.