But that’s what I thought about the iPhone, too.
The first time I saw an iPhone in 2007, I marveled at the engineering that went into the glass touchscreen and the thought behind the adaptive on-screen keyboard.
I also thought there was absolutely no reason to buy one.
I had a Motorola Flip phone that worked fine for calls. I had a laptop for everything else. If my boss really needed to reach me, he could call me and tell me to turn on my computer. If I wanted to watch a YouTube video, I’d turn on the computer. If I wanted to watch a movie, I’d turn on my TV. That was just the way things were done then.
But then the use cases started creeping in. My wife mentioned that it would be great if we could use an iPhone in the car to help find our way to a friend’s house way out in the Seattle suburbs. I ran out of space on my iPod, and wouldn’t it be nice to have music on my phone so I didn’t have to carry two little gadgets everywhere? All my friends were starting to send texts, which wasn’t very fun on the Flip phone.
So, like almost half a billion other people, I finally bought an iPhone. Now I can’t imagine what life was like before it.
I was at the Apple event where Tim Cook introduced the Apple Watch. I’ve read through the developer documentation. None of the scenarios shown are interesting to me. I can check the time, read email, and use apps on my phone. I’m not interested in tracking my minute-to-minute activity — I go to the gym, eat well enough, and walk around a lot when I’m not at work, so I feel fine about my health. The thing where you send your heartbeat to a loved one seems like a cute gimmick, not something that will change my life.
So I sat down today and really thought about it. The iPhone was basically a pocket computer. Over time, the perfect use cases for a computer that size revealed themselves.
So what would be useful about an even smaller computer that’s on my wrist all the time? Just brainstorming off the top of my head:
- An app that connects to little beacons attached to my keys, the TV remote, and other stuff I lose all the time, so I could walk right to them.
- A universal remote control for my TV, stereo, computer, the lights in my house, and other gadgets.
- A way to unlock my car without touching the keys.
- Turn-by-turn walking directions, with different vibrations to send me left and right.
- A little vibration that indicates when one of my friends is nearby, or at the same huge party I just walked into.
- A metronome and tuner for when I play music.
- An app that guides me to the nearest open parking space, based on information collected from other Apple Watch and iPhone users nearby.
- Summon a server at a restaurant so you can change your kid’s order from a cheeseburger to a hamburger. Or order food without a server at all.
- Pay for drinks as you pick them up from the bar, rather than fiddling with cash or giving the bartender your credit card.
- Speaking of which: Apple Pay. It’s easy to swipe your card on an NFC reader. What about swiping your watch on a similar kind of reader? Or using it to scan barcodes as you pick a bunch of items up in the store, then simply automatically charging you as you walk out the door.
- Maybe QR codes would finally be reasonable to use instead of totally annoying.
- Identify landmarks by holding the watch up in front of them; it wouldn’t need a camera, it could just use your position and body position to figure out what you were looking at.
Maybe some of these things are totally unrealistic. And there are probably plenty of great ideas that you could come up with that are more relevant to your life.
But that’s the point. It’s impossible to predict whether the Apple Watch will be a flop because the best use cases for it haven’t been invented yet.