Et tu, Apple?!?

I’m in love with the fruit, I’ll admit it. So much so that I’ve counted the sleeps till I received my Apple Watch. Yes, one of “those people”. I may have even been less eager to schedule meetings Friday afternoon so that I am home when the delivery was announced. I know, sad.

Yes, partly it was because I wanted my new shinny gadget, but partly because to me, Apple Watch is the first notifications device and notifications are the heart of context and context (when relevant) is to my mind, the sum total of our digital experience going forward. My farm is bet on how our kids will conduct 90% of their digital experience on whatever device it will be through what we would today call a Notifications Center or Feed and it’s there that we have to meaningfully fit Money Moments TM and other Emotional Facts of Life to really make Banking Invisible.

Having spent an avid 24 hours with the Notifications Device let me just come out and say it outright – it’s £&*^@. And yes, I need to quantify that with “for now”.

So far, the most delightful bit of the experience and the most impressed with quality I have been, was when I opened the box. This must be why “unboxing” is a thing. It was a work of design and functionality genius but that can’t be said about the actual Watch. It’s beautiful alright. And the ever changing butterflies do amuse my 4 year old. It also tells time and acts like a smarter FitBit. What it doesn’t do is anything else of the things I normally want to do on my phone.

FullSizeRender (2)Ah but it isn’t meant to help me “do” things I hear you object, but help me “know” things. Fair point, so I won’t dissect what seems like dry humour on Apple’s part when the Watch will allow me to set a reminder I’ll dictate to my wrist but will close with “Ok, I’ll remind you” leaving me silently scream in frustration “WHEN will you?!?” or even “WHERE will you?!?”.

Neither will I spend time philosophising about how ironic its main use to date has been – I spent more time with my husband on the phone while driving than ever in the last month simply because it was so much more han….no, wristy (sic). Lastly, I won’t even complain how it feels like the Andriod Store cca 2002 – empty and useless in terms of apps. Here’s my real qualm with it – it hasn’t thought notifications through.

Not all notifications are created equal. Most just announce you something happened but some need to be actionable. Now “actionable notifications” has a bit of contradiction in terms ring to it so maybe it’s worth renaming them to “Facts” or “Happenings” but whatever term we use, sometimes we need to do something about them and the provided “Dismiss” button is not it. I’m not talking about fancy “Ok transfer to that savings account that just raised its APR” sophisticated functionality, we are likely 10 years away from that but how about a “Reply on phone/Macbook” button to at least open the email I am reading on another device? Is that too much to ask?

I got almost giddy when I notice an action other than “Dismiss” being offered when I was notified of a new Twitter follower – “Follow”. Great, I could click on something that would do something other but in the absence of any browser to display information to see who it is I am following I could make no use of it!

images (1)Another distinction I think we need and we need it soon is figuring out if the notification is part of an interaction such as a conversation. If it is and yet the Watch serves it to me empty, on its own, with zero context to what was said before by myself or others makes it even worse than simply serving Mel or Tom a “You’ve got mail” message nearly 20 years ago. “You have one Twitter reply in the DM FTM thread” and a button “Launch full conversation on the Phone” beats an out of context @brettking: “OMG this!!!” that would only fill me with curiosity (and/or dread).

I’m feeling a little let down, yes. Is it deeply upsetting and consumerly-off-putting? No. My irrational brand loyalty to Apple extends to where I’ll fondly remember the materials and the box opening while waiting for the new apps but I absolutely need us all to get serious about Notifications. Are they actionable or not, do they need some context or not, do they augment our lives at all or not. If we don’t, we’ll never reach the Context nirvana my farm rides on and the EX will shift from delighted and in love to frustrated and heavily annoyed.

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