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Also posted on: Accessibility
The Apple Watch is a new paradigm for interacting with mobile technology. Describing the features of the watch does not enable me to explain the benefits that it can provide. So instead I have written a diary of a typical day with my Apple Watch. I hope by the end I will persuade you to try it.
Good morning, watch on my wrist and I am ready for the day.
Weighed myself; click the side bar and scroll through the dock to the Monitor Your Weight application, roll the Digital Crown up a bit from yesterdays weight, good dinner last night.
What is on the agenda today scroll left through the dock, I keep my diary at the far left of the dock so I can find it. Lunch meeting with Alastair and then a show in the evening. Press firmly on Alastair’s meeting and choose directions it will take about an hour, OK I do not have to leave until 11:00.
Have my breakfast and run out of milk, ask Siri to open Reminders on the watch, choose the shopping list, press TouchForce to show all the completed items, which includes regulars such as milk, tap on milk and it goes back into the active shopping list.
A tap on the wrist and the watch shows me the reminder to take my morning medication, I will get further taps on the wrist 10:00, 12:00, 19:00 and 22:00, so I spread my medication through the day. I tap the reminder to say I have taken the medication if I do not the notification will remain on my wrist, which helps if I cannot take them immediately.
Time to go to my Mac and kill a few emails, the Mac recognises my Watch and automatically logs me in without me having to put in my password. The same idea let me open my hotel room last night without needing a key.
Another tap on the wrist and it is a text from my son ‘Can we have lunch together tomorrow?’, that would be nice so turn the crown and find the standard reply ‘Sure!’.
Another text from my son ‘Where and when do you want to meet?’ I cannot use a standard reply for that, I could use Siri to dictate a reply but I am in a public noisy place so instead I use Scribble, which is not a drawing application as I originally thought from its name, but a handwriting recognition system, it is remarkably quick to draw individual letters, ideal for short text replies.
Another tap on the wrist ‘Time to stand up’, this is part of the activity app and encourages me to stand up and move around for a minute each hour. This is not normally a problem for me as my day is not sitting at a desk, however I can see how it will help the 9-5 desk based worker. In fact it is time for me to get up and get ready for my lunch date.
Time to go to Alastair’s, in my car, look at the diary entry on the watch and tap the address in to the car’s sat nav. I keep my phone in my trouser pocket so it is a pain trying to get it out when I am sitting in the driving seat. One day I hope a future watch and the car sat nav will communicate so that I will be able to open the diary entry and pass the address to the car’s sat nav. I could use the watch to give me directions but the heads-up display on the car is more convenient and safer.
Arrive at Alastair and he say “just got to finish a couple of emails, can you boil some eggs to go with lunch”, I boil the water then say “Hey Siri, set timer for three minutes” perfect eggs.
Tap on the wrist and I see breaking news about the on-going Trump saga, which provides a short diversion from the main discussion over lunch.
On my way home and I pass the supermarket, go in and buy all the things on my shopping list, including the milk. Time to pay, double click the side bar to initiate Apple Pay, hold my watch against the contactless payment terminal (this is still new so a little ‘wow’ from the shop attendant) and I am gone. ApplePay is a great improvement over using a credit card for contactless payment, it is more secure as it only works on my iPhone and with my fingerprint. With the Apple watch it will only work when it is being worn and has been logged in. If I lose my card anyone can use it a few times, if I lose my watch it cannot be used for contactless payments, as soon as it comes off my wrist it stops working.
Back at home and ready to go to the show at a local theatre, I should walk there, just check the weather by looking at my Watch and on the face is a complication that shows that it is cloudy but dry and 6 degrees, fine to walk. Open the diary entry on the watch and press hard to see the options that include directions, unfortunately that only shows you driving directions, I hope a later release will have options for walking and public transport. I look at the route and it seems that driving and walking routes will be the same so I just press go. The work around would be to use the iPhone Maps app and set up a walking route, this will then appear on the watch, press go and all the instructions will appear on the watch. When walking the taptic engine will tap you on the wrist 30 yards before a turn, da-da-da means turn right, deda-deda-deda means turn left. So I do not even have to look at the watch.
Arrive at the show, which I booked through Eventbrite, open my wallet on the watch find the ticket scrolled to the QR code and show it to the QR reader and I am in.
Fun show and joined up with some friends and going back to their place for a coffee. A little too far to walk but there is a bus that goes most of the way. Open up Bus Times app on the watch, next bus is five minutes so we can relax.
Stay longer than I expected and I now need a lift home, open the Uber app on the watch and it tells me a car can be with me in 5 minutes press request and it knows where I am by GPS, shows me where the car is and also shows the car registration and a picture of the driver.
Whilst sitting in the car I check my activity for the days, without really trying I have hit all three targets. I have stood up for at least a minute in twelve different hours, I have done 32 minutes of exercise (target is 30), mainly through the brisk walk to the show, and I have burned off more than 400 calories by moving around. This is interesting to me but not why I use the watch, other people see the activity tracking as a key reason for having a watch.
So I have found the watch really useful during the day.
The tap on the wrist is silent, so does not impact on those around me, but it does attract my attention and just with a quick flick of the wrist I can see what it is telling me: a reminder, some news, incoming text, VIP emails, incoming call, etc. I now have my phone set to vibrate on silent and leave it on silent all the time I am wearing my watch. This means an incoming call will tap me on the wrist and vibrate my phone so I am sure to notice it but it is not heard by anyone around me, thus calls are private to me and do not annoy my neighbours.
Being on my wrist means it is always available. No struggling to get the phone out of a pocket, or out of a bag, or having to find where I left it on my desk. It is there at all times to read information, instigate applications and input small amounts of information.
It does not replace the phone, with its larger screen and more complex input interactions, but complements the phone as a more convenient and easier to use device for many interactions.
I have been watching how I use the watch and phone; each time I take the phone out I ask could I have done that on the watch. Gradually I have found ways of doing more using the watch but I have also come up with a list of ideas and improvements that would enable me to use the watch more. Two improvements I would like to see are: scribble, which is only available for text messages, should be extended to other applications such as reminders; the phone application should include a number pad so I can dial numbers directly but also so I can so I can interact with voicemail (press 3 to delete) and similar systems.
For People with Disabilities
Would I recommend it to my friends and colleagues with disabilities?
To anyone who is deaf or hard of hearing the tap on the wrist will be a boon. They will benefit from everything I have described above.
For someone with one working hand and some part of the other arm where they can wear the watch it creates an input/output device that is more usable for many tasks than the phone.
The watch comes with features to help people with vision impairments including zoom, font adjustment, greyscale, Voiceover, extra large numbers on the watch face. These features make the watch usable by a wider group of people and if this makes the watch usable then all the benefits of the watch flow from it.
People who are blind can use VoiceOver and access all the feature of the watch. The tap on the wrist and the convenience of an input device being easily available makes it an interesting option for a blind person. However, the advantage of a quick glance at the watch does not apply so the benefit is less. Some blind technophiles will love the watch but I suspect others will find the extra learning curve and accommodating the new technology will outweigh the advantages.
Wheelchair users often carry a lot around on their wheelchair so getting to the phone can be a bigger issue than for me, so immediate access to the Watch is a major benefit. ApplePay is a killer app for them. The Activity app includes special workouts for wheelchair users and a ‘time to roll’ tap on the wrist as the equivalent as the ‘time to stand’ for me.
There are a growing number of people living on their own, with medical issues and some memory loss. The Watch could provide support in a variety of ways. I use the Reminder app for my medication, it works well for me but there are some more sophisticated and user friendly app specifically for medication reminders that would work better for this group. Other possible support are panic buttons, direct me home, call friends and family, and appointment reminders.
Designers of applications on the iPhone need to think carefully about the interface on the Watch. What information will a user want to see on the Watch, how do you make that information readable at a glance, what information is available as a complication. What actions can you initiate from the watch and how do you make the input of information easy, what should ForceTouch enable. If all of this is intuitive and correct it will greatly enhance the application. The only way to test this is through user testing, is it easy to use, when has a user opened the iPhone app, could this be avoided, are there functions that are not used, should they be removed, are the complications useful.
The Apple Watch is a new paradigm and it takes some time to discover and explore the benefits. After several weeks of wearing the watch and discovering how it can be used I am sold on its benefits in terms of usability, convenience, and a more private interface. I would recommend that anyone tries it, some will find the new paradigm does not fit their lifestyle, but I think most people will be sold on the benefits. Apps are beginning to exploit this new interface and they will make the watch even more attractive.