This Week's Sponsor:


If a device isn’t secure it can’t access your apps. Device Trust for Okta. Watch the demo today!

A Watch That Makes You Wait

It’s hard for me to disagree with the premise of Nilay Patel’s piece on Circuit Breaker about the Apple Watch: it’s slow.

If Apple believes the Watch is indeed destined to become that computer, it needs to radically increase the raw power of the Watch’s processor, while maintaining its just-almost-acceptable battery life. And it needs to do that while all of the other computers around us keep getting faster themselves.

I know what you’re thinking – you’re using the Apple Watch primarily for notifications and workouts, and it works well. I get that. But when something is presented as the next major app platform for developers and then every single app I try takes seconds to load (if it loads at all), you can understand why enthusiasm is not high on my list of Apple Watch feelings.

I didn’t buy the Watch for notifications. I bought it with the belief that in the future we’re going to have computers on our wrist. Patel is right here: the slowness of the Apple Watch is undeniable and it dampens the excitement for the Watch as the next big Apple platform.

I disagree, however, with his idea for another “choice” for Apple:

The other choice is to pare the Watch down, to reduce its ambitions, and make it less of a computer and more of a clever extension of your phone. Most of the people I see with smartwatches use them as a convenient way to get notifications and perhaps some health tracking, not for anything else. (And health tracking is pretty specialized; Fitbit seems to be doing just fine serving a devoted customer base.)

I’ve seen similar comments elsewhere lately. Even with the flaws of the first model, I think you’d be seriously misguided to think Apple would backtrack and decide to make the Apple Watch 2 a fancier Fitbit.

I still believe that, a few years from now, a tiny computer on our wrist will be the primary device we use to quickly interact with the outside world, stay in touch, glance at information, and stay active. All of these aspects are negatively impacted by the Watch 1.0’s hardware today. Looking ahead, though, what’s more likely – that Apple shipped a product a bit too early and then iterated on it, or that the entire idea of the Apple Watch is flawed and Apple should have made a dumber fitness tracker instead?

If anything, Apple’s only choice is to continue to iterate on the original Watch idea: your most personal device. Faster, more sensors, faster apps, smarter apps, a lot more customization options. Gradually and then suddenly, we’ll realize the change has been dramatic.

That, of course, doesn’t soften my disappointment for the state of the Apple Watch as an app platform today. But knowing how Apple rolls, it makes me optimistic for its future.

Unlock More with Club MacStories

Founded in 2015, Club MacStories has delivered exclusive content every week for over six years.

In that time, members have enjoyed nearly 400 weekly and monthly newsletters packed with more of your favorite MacStories writing as well as Club-only podcasts, eBooks, discounts on apps, icons, and services. Join today, and you’ll get everything new that we publish every week, plus access to our entire archive of back issues and downloadable perks.

The Club expanded in 2021 with Club MacStories+ and Club Premier. Club MacStories+ members enjoy even more exclusive stories, a vibrant Discord community, a rotating roster of app discounts, and more. And, with Club Premier, you get everything we offer at every Club level plus an extended, ad-free version of our podcast AppStories that is delivered early each week in high-bitrate audio.

Choose the Club plan that’s right for you:

  • Club MacStories: Weekly and monthly newsletters via email and the web that are brimming with app collections, tips, automation workflows, longform writing, a Club-only podcast, periodic giveaways, and more;
  • Club MacStories+: Everything that Club MacStories offers, plus exclusive content like Federico’s Automation Academy and John’s Macintosh Desktop Experience, a powerful web app for searching and exploring over 6 years of content and creating custom RSS feeds of Club content, an active Discord community, and a rotating collection of discounts, and more;
  • Club Premier: Everything in from our other plans and AppStories+, an extended version of our flagship podcast that’s delivered early, ad-free, and in high-bitrate audio.