My Most Important Apple Watch Feature could be its Killer App

Last week, I wrote a piece in Tech.pinions entitled “Are Smartphones Making us all Infomaniac’s?” and talked about a condition called Nomophobia — the fear of not having your smartphone with you or, in a broader sense, being unable to be connected all of the time.

In the column I admitted I had borderline severe nomophobia but what I did not point out is my Apple Watch has also contributed to this condition. I am conflicted about this since it is my job to stay connected and be up on what is going on in tech and email is a lifeline to the various customers we work with here at Creative Strategies. One of the things we strive for is to be extremely responsive to our customers and try and reply to them very quickly when they send an inquiry or need us for meetings, consultations, etc.

At the same time, I am aware one can be too connected. My staff has an ongoing bet that I cannot go offline for three days — no phone, no computer and completely disconnected while away. My goal is to find a balance and learn to be connected when I need to be and disconnected as much as possible the rest of the time.

In my case, the Apple Watch has also become a part of my connected lifestyle. And, while I like a lot of the apps, especially ones that help me deal with my type 2 Diabetes issues, the one app that has become indispensable to me is notifications. In fact it has, for all intents and purposes, become the killer app for me.

If you read many of the reviews on the Apple Watch, notifications kept coming up as a key feature for many. Now that I have spent a couple of months using the Apple Watch, I can see why.

I have my notifications set for email, Facebook and key news sites like CNN, ABC News, and USA Today. I also get text and messaging notifications but only from my family and staff. These add the dimension of ease-of-use to my connected experience since I am not always having to pull out my iPhone to check these alerts or notifications. This may sound a bit simplistic but seeing these notifications on the Apple Watch and being able to judge whether I need to respond or deal with them quickly actually streamlines my work day. I have found I am using my time much more efficiently. I suppose you have to use an Apple Watch to understand how useful notifications really are.

However, it is the overall concept of notifications I see as being the more significant app and an actual platform. The day the Apple Watch came out, I wrote here in Tech.pinons an article titled “Notifications are becoming a platform”. Here is a key point from Anish Acharya, CEO of Snowball, that is important to this discussion:

Our engagement is now defined by push-driven notifications rather than the traditional pull-driven experience. We’re “hunting and pecking” through our app grid a lot less; the apps that notify us (without over-notifying to the point of uninstall) are rewarded with our engagement (and our dollars). Based on this data, our fundamental belief is that notifications represent the future access and discovery point for mobile services — that notifications will be the starting point (or “front door”) for all of the interactions on your phone.

Now that I have used push notifications on the Apple Watch, the Mac and the iPhone for some time, what Mr. Acharya wrote in this piece rings truer than ever for me. But I am surprised most companies have not really optimized their apps around notifications as a platform. Sure, there have been many iPhone apps that ask if they can send you alerts or updates but it is very few compared to the total number of apps available for iOS. While I don’t want ads pushed to me, content that is important to managing my personal and work activities and gives me information, on demand, based on preferences is highly desirable. The simple notification that it is time to stand up is ridiculously useful for those who sit for long stretches such as writers, data processors, programmers, etc. In my particular case, I have an app that prompts me to take an insulin shot prior to eating, something that is very important to me. The fact these alerts or notifications come to me via a computer on my wrist makes it all the more handy.

We are starting to do more research on this idea of notifications as a platform and will share details with as we get more data. But I am more convinced than ever that the role notifications plays in people’s lives will become much more important to those who buy Apple Watches or similar products and, if thought of as a platform, we could see some really innovative apps created for all types of PCs, tablets, and mobile devices in the near future.

Published by

Tim Bajarin

Tim Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc. He is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin has been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others.

3 thoughts on “My Most Important Apple Watch Feature could be its Killer App”

  1. Thanks Tim! About how many notifications per day (say, in bands of 25-50) do you think you average a day? Or, put another another way, about how many per *hour*?

    1. I probably get about 30 during the entire day. I have it pretty controlled..but the ones I do get are important and if necessary can take action on the. I too like the Outlook link and to see when a phone call is coming in to see who it is from and if I should take it.

  2. I fully agree that notifications is the best use for the Apple Watch. I find the Outlook app especially useful. I can easily read emails on my Watch since the resolution is so high. Meeting notifications are very useful. Microsoft has really gotten it right.
    The integration with iMaps is very useful also.

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