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Why the Apple Watch actually is my most personal Apple device

Michael Simon | July 21, 2015
Having affection for an Apple product isn't usually an unpopular opinion. From the earliest days of the Mac to the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, people have forged deep connections with the devices Apple makes, quickly declaring that they could never again live without this or that gadget.

Apple Watch is a conduit, not just to my iPhone, but to the world around me. While I haven't used Digital Touch much (mostly due to the fact that I haven't been able to convince my wife to buy one yet), the concept is central to what Apple is trying to achieve with Apple Watch. It's not about replacing your phone or even leaving it in your pocket--it's about using technology to stay more connected, not just through simple or multimedia messages, but through real digital contact. And that concept seems to be lost on many.

Close encounters 

When Steve Jobs unveiled the original iPad, he sold us on the full-screen-only mode by describing using Safari as "holding the internet in your hands." It's an overblown, hyperbolic description, yet it's still totally apt: no other screen lets us interact with our browsers in such a way, and as such, the iPad elevates the web experience simply through its presentation.

The Apple Watch does something similar. While there are plenty of things it doesn't do well and likely never will--such as reading lengthy emails or swiping through voluminous photo albums--its unique form factor allows for a deeper visceral reaction to tasks I had grown accustomed to on my iPhone. The best example of this is when I receive a picture: getting tapped on my wrist to notify me that I have an incoming message and lifting my wrist to see a photo of my son appear is such a joyous interaction, it makes me linger a few seconds longer than I do when a text comes through on my phone. And I'm much more inclined to share it with the person I'm with, something I never did when my face was buried in my iPhone. 

Getting a notification on my Apple Watch allows me to stay connected to both people near and apart from me: it's hard to quantify to someone who hasn't used one, but getting a message from someone on my watch makes it feel like they're with me. Much like the iPad put the Internet in our hands, the intimate, personal nature of my Apple Watch adds closeness to messages that my iPhone doesn't. 

Personal touch

When I first heard Apple describe its new watch as its most personal device yet, I naturally assumed it was referring to the fashion aspect--with so many band and body options, there's literally an Apple Watch to fit any personal taste, from the bright and bold to the decadently lavish. But once I started using it, I understood the deeper meaning of the marketing tag. 

Technology generally brings us closer together by pushing us apart--every time a new device enters our lives it sucks a little more time from them. My wife and I bought the original iPhone for each other as a his-and-her wedding presents, but nothing about them brought us closer together. We may have been able to stay in constant contact with each other, but what we gained in long-distance closeness we eventually lost in actual closeness. While we can certainly point to areas where our iPhone have enriched our relationship (particularly with things like near-instant video recording and FaceTime), rare is the time when one of our iPhones isn't at arm's length, commanding at least part of our attention.

 

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