Last week Apple officially released the new Apple Watch for pre-order. After all of the hype orchestrated via television commercials, billboard advertisements and unveilings by Tim Cook, the watches fate now is in the hands of its trusty consumer.
The device looks great, and its variety of slick designs will inevitably cater to Apple’s already established fan base; the sports-fanatic, the sophisticated businessman and the modern day celebrity (granted you have a spare £299.99 going!).
Another innovative function is Apple Pay, which has revolutionised contactless payment in the US by allowing users to buy everyday essentials by simply swiping their wrist. All-in-all given the fact that it’s Apple’s first new product in five years, also the first developed since the death of Steve Jobs, it’s certain to engage, entertain and entice.
Yet with all of its positives come the drawbacks, one of them being the issue of notifications. Apple have openly said that one of their main objectives was to prevent people being transfixed to their mobile phones, but will the watch prove be any different?
The watch is designed to cater for the everyday time-seeking and app-addictive individual, wanting to be notified of their daily updates from a number of sources. It has to be taken into consideration that this individual has a lot of apps to run alongside his or her hectic work/social/person life. Mentioning Facebook, Natwest Banking, Gmail and MyFitnessPal to name a few.
What we’re asking ourselves is…are the sheer amount of notifications going to swamp the device and derive it from its original purpose? Is it actually in turn going to make people look at it as much as their phone devices?
The physicality of the current phone notification has been addressed by Apple, as it’s clear to all how frustrating it would be to have your wrist bombarded with constant vibrations.
The system initiating the vibration is something that Apple refers to as the “Taptic Engineer”, which is designed to notify the user with a discreet and gentle tap. It’s evident that Apple have taken the potential annoyance of notification vibrations into account, yet the frequency of these could still potentially prove to be the watches main flaw and direct traffic away from the product all together.
This means that app developers (such as us at Sonin: D) will have to carefully think about a number of factors whilst developing apps for the Apple Watch. It’s imperative that users aren’t driven away from the app/product but rather gently reminded of its benefits during key windows throughout the day…
Firstly it’s important for an app developer to get their frequency of notifications spot on. Not only that notifications are sent in real-time context, but that it also doesn’t frustrate the recipient. For instance if an email account were to be linked to the watch and as a subsequent result the watch were too vibrant every 5 minutes (courtesy of spam etc), this may potentially leads to permanent deletion as a result.
This then leads us on the next point; is the type of content you’re sending going to be well received by the user? Diverting away from the more commonly known apps (Facebook, Twitter etc.), general lifestyle apps should look at more reminding as opposed to informing.
Fitness apps should remind that nutrition details haven’t been logged in the morning, therefore reminding that he or she hasn’t been to the gym. Money saving apps should remind that the would-be cost of buying a packet of cigarettes hasn’t been logged. Betting apps should remind that his or her weekly accumulator hasn’t been submitted. The list goes on and on…
We ask ourselves what preventative measures could be put in place for this, and the answer is a personalised app notification management feature.
As opposed to simply allowing or not allowing push notifications to come through to your device, we feel it would be beneficial for the watch user to customise his or her settings in terms of the above (frequency and content type). This would then therefore lead to a more personalised service which will then eradicate all non-applicable information.
Finally you have to ask yourself whether the app you’re designing is cut for the Apple Watch. You may wish to get it out on as many platforms as possible, yet you have to consider your apps industry and whether it fits in with Apple’s ‘on-the-go’ product.
Still, we can’t wait for ours to arrive!