One more thing
Like toddlers, our iPhones can easily become tiny tyrants, interrupting events and stomping their feet
Kurt Vonnegut wrote that many people “need desperately” to receive a message: “I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.”
It isn’t always easy to get that message across, or to receive it. Our devices are increasingly toddlerish, demanding all of our attention RIGHT NOW at the top of their lungs. A junk text from your phone provider has the same priority as an iMessage from a loved one, an important email the same weight as endless offers from firms you bought something from years ago, the news that somebody’s tagged you in a Facebook photo arriving with the urgency of news that might actually matter.
Like toddlers, our iPhones can easily become tiny tyrants, interrupting events, stomping their feet and shunting your train of thought down dead-end tracks. It’s said that the best way to simulate having kids is to have somebody yell at you every 17 seconds. Most iPhones do that by default. The Apple Watch could change that. I say “could” rather than “will”, because right now it doesn’t. Like iOS there’s an awful lot of messing about to be done if you want to differentiate messages from different sources, to ensure that the notifications you receive are only about things you actually care about, to prevent a bone-headed marketing message waking you up at 3am. Early reviews are unanimous: the Apple Watch is far from friendly and takes a lot of fiddling. But in the long term, it could tame the tiny iPhone tyrant, keeping it quiet in purse or pocket.
I’m fascinated by the Apple Watch’s haptic feedback, the heartbeats and pulses and gentle taps it delivers. Of all the Watch’s many wonders, I think that might just be the most wondrous of all. Imagine a gentle squeeze from a proud parent as you enter an exam room, your loved one’s heartbeat when you’re far away, a thinking-of-you touch when you’re going through hard times.
If you see the Watch as a small iPhone, a computer on your wrist, then you’re going to be disappointed – but if you see it as a way to separate out what matters, to share a simple touch over distances great or small, then I think you’ll be as excited by the possibilities as I am. Vonnegut again, this time quoting his son Mark: “We’re here to help get each other through this thing, whatever it is.” With the Apple Watch, there could be an app for that.