Imagine if you could wrap Snapchat around your wrist, listen in on someone’s heartbeat, or send a customised expression or drawing.
This is what Apple’s new “Real Touch” messaging is capable of, and the key to it all is the Apple Watch.
A bit like Snapchat on steroids, Real Touch messaging is Apple’s way of bringing intimacy and something a bit “other” to its new smartwatch, and it looks promising.
Inside the Apple Watch is a “Taptic Engine,” which is responsible for the watch’s ability to tap you on the wrist. Basically, it lets you feel messages, and this opens up yet another form of conversation.
Snapchat may have started out as an easy way to slap a self-destruct mechanism on your sexting habits, but people connected with Snapchat because of the way it changed how they messaged their friends. Picture messaging became conversational, and people connected with the idea of having a less pristine and more realistic window into their friends’ lives.
Real Touch messaging has the potential to take that connection one step further, and Apple seems to be trying to strip conversation down, encouraging a simplified shorthand.
Here’s how it works.
Say you want to contact someone. Instead of sending a text, the Apple Watch lets you tap a finger against the watch face, creating a customised touch message that the other person will feel.
Think of it like tapping someone on the shoulder, or giving someone’s hand a squeeze. It will depend on your relationship with the person, but it’s easy to see how being able to digitally reach out someone’s wrist and make them feel a specific touch could be extremely powerful.
By pressing two fingers to the screen, the Apple Watch’s heart rate sensor will record your beating heart and send it along.
Now combine that with the power of the Apple Watch’s screen, which lets you quickly sketch out a design or drawing to message back.
It’s a lot like Snapchat’s sketching ability, only it looks a lot more polished and the colours look vibrant. On the receiving end, your friend will watch your drawing animate.
If you want to hear from a person, but don’t want to call, the walkie-talkie feature lets you send bite-size voice messages quickly.
If emojis are your thing, the Apple Watch allows for some impressive real-time customisation, letting you tweak, pull, and mould the emoji’s expression to fit your feeling.
If you think about it, these are all forms of communications that take a lot less time than typing out a message.
You can still send traditional messages, but Apple is expanding the spectrum of conversation, filling in and populating the space between intimate, casual, and formal communication.
It means more options so you can tailor your communication to the appropriate tone of the moment, and it will likely be the Apple Watch’s biggest draw for teens and those interested in exploring new forms of conversation.
You won’t be able to get your hands on an Apple Watch until early 2015, but you can check out more of the watch’s features over here.