Much has been made of the Apple Watch not being fast enough. It’s too slow for full iPhone-like apps, of course, but that doesn’t bother me because I think the watch is pretty great at its core features. But I’ve noticed that it’s slow even for some of the simple stuff, and I don’t think this can be blamed on hardware alone.
Take notifications, for example. There are several distinct steps to notifications after you receive one:
- Tapping a notification.
- Waiting for it to load, which is an animated transition.
- Optionally scrolling to the bottom to read it all.
- Actually tapping Dismiss to get rid of it.
There’s a tiny lag between all of these. I frequently can’t scroll right away, as if it’s not responsive until the animation completes. The Dismiss button also doesn’t seem to be enabled immediately, requiring a 2nd tap before it “clicks”.
I bet these are solvable with a software update. Shorter animated transitions or pre-loading notification text might go a long way to improve the experience.
Stephen Hackett posted an Apple Watch follow-up recently. He has mostly stopped wearing it:
“The Apple Watch can do a lot of neat things, and I miss its fitness tracking, but so much of it just doesn’t fit my lifestyle anymore. It’s not super useful for work, apps are still miserably slow and at times, its an additional distraction.”
The Apple Watch is a very personal device. It’s okay that it’s not for everyone. There’s no network effect; the watch isn’t better or worse if other people don’t use it. And it’s even okay if most of the apps are too slow to bother with. Fitness tracking, notifications, the time — for me, those 3 simple features are enough.
Casey Liss also writes that notifications have been one of the most important features, letting him keep his iPhone ringer off:
“The Apple Watch has allowed my iPhone to transition from being a personal device to being a private one. That’s a really profound change. More so than I expected.”
Once every couple of months, I leave the house in a hurry and forget to put my Apple Watch on. I survive without it, of course, but I do miss it. After not wearing a watch for most of my life, it’s weird now if I don’t have the Apple Watch with me. I expect to use it for years to come.
David Smith says to not bother the user with alerts on first launch:
“I have just sorted through the App Store and settled on trying out your app. I open it up and you immediately ask if you can send me Push Notifications? I have no context about what these are going to be used for or why they might be useful to me.”
I agree. For Sunlit, we only prompt to enable push notifications after you’ve chosen to enable sharing for a story. While it might be useful to have push notifications for everyone, by waiting until we really need it, most users are never bothered with the alert. And it forced us to focus on specific and valuable uses of notifications, such as sending a push notification when someone subscribes to your shared story.