Apple watch, sacred tablets, and the law of diminishing returns


I have a reputation of being a “gadget guy” due to being an early adopter of new technologies. My excuse has been that my gadget addiction contributes to my career as a technology educator. How can I teach students about technology’s impact on lives unless I experience it myself?

I’ve also been a big fan of Apple products since I bought my first macbook around the turn of the millennium, leaving behind a few decades of Windows use and never looking back. I bought the first five generations of iPhones, and three generations of iPads the day each was released.

In recent years, my enthusiasm for Apple as a corporation has begun to wither. I’ve been using an Android phone for the past year, and have begun checking out some of the higher-end Chrome books. Blasphemy in the eyes of the Apple faithful.

Part of my recent disinclination towards Apple are its overhyped “media events” for new products. Sure, these are beautifully engineered gadgets, but they are not the sacred tablets carried down from Mt. Sanai. They will not transport humanity to a higher existential plane. The scripted faux-heartfelt drama performed by the mere mortals that make up Apple’s highest ranks, does nothing for me but cheapen my perception of the product. If the product is as good as they make it out to be, they should simply release it and let people use it. Kind of like the Beatle’s White album. Let the product speak for itself.

The other reason I’ve lost my faith, is that Apple wants you to use only Apple gadgets and software and forces this agenda by locking down its technologies. The problem is, much of their software sucks! Apple doesn’t do social, doesn’t do productivity, doesn’t do personal information management. At least it doesn’t do these things well. So I find myself using Apple products but Google apps. That makes no sense. So I’ve switched to Android for my mobile devices.

So what do I think of the new Apple Watch? I’m doing a lot of soul searching. I already own the Samsung Gear Live smartwatch that I rather like. The Apple Watch is much more elegant with more applications, but I wonder if we need all of those applications? Like Todd Wasserman writes, “it could make my life worse … and wreak havok on what’s left of my concentration.” When I asked my students what they thought of Apple’s Watch one student said, my phone already tells time, why do I need a watch?

These comments make me wonder if we have not perhaps reached the point of diminishing returns. The point where adding more technology actually makes life more complicated and less productive rather than the desired opposite outcome.

I appreciate being able to glance at my swartwatch to see incoming messages. I also see real benefits in health applications. Beyond that, there are few apps I can think of that are easier accomplished on a watch than on a phone. Especially when considering phones connect effortlessly with car systems to provide handsfree phoning, messaging, and navigation. Perhaps smartwatches should be marketed as phone accessories – extending the interface to the wrist, rather than marketing them as independent devices.

So no, I won’t be purchasing an Apple Watch. Apologies to my friends that count on me for showing them the latest and greatest. When gadgets begin simplifying life, I’ll be happy to jump back on the band wagon. I wonder what that gadget will be?



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