Why I'm still saying no to the Apple Watch

Apple's finally revealed the Apple Watch. I said before that I wasn't really interested in an Apple Watch. I haven't changed my mind, but I am more interested. Here's why.

In 2001, Apple introduced the PowerBook G4. With it came an entirely new design language - gone were the bulbous, organic shapes of the old PowerBook. In its place was a lighter, much thinner laptop crafted from titanium. And the day I got my PowerBook G4, not coincidentally, is the day I stopped wearing a wristwatch.

I realized the second I laid hands on it that I'd have to take my wristwatch off — it was uncomfortable, but I also ran the risk of scratching up the beautiful metal top case of the PowerBook. Somewhere shortly thereafter I got my first personal cell phone, and stopped wearing a watch all together. After all, the phone had a clock on it (so did my Mac), so I didn't really need one. I haven't worn a watch since.

A few years ago I noticed people getting these wearable wristbands that help them track fitness telemetry. Devices that measured how long they slept, how long they exercised, how much they moved. That definitely wasn't for me — it just seemed like another thing to get distracted by, another thing to lose, another thing to break, and I wasn't up for that. The Pebble, Samsung Gear and other smartwatches have slowly been populating the landscape, as well.

Ever since rumors first emerged that Apple was working on a watch, I've been asked if I would get one, and I've said no. My answer has been qualified by a lack of understanding, or more precisely, a lack of imagination, about what it would do. I certainly didn't want Apple to recreate either the Pebble or the Fitbit.

The Apple Watch is fundamentally a different device than we've seen before. It's certainly gorgeously designed; available in a variety of styles to suit different tastes; and capable of doing much, much more thanks to a clever user interface. I'm sure developers are going to hop on board and produce thousands of apps that will run on it, so I won't even venture a guess about what people will be doing with them a year or two after it's launched in 2015.

Apple talked during its demonstration today about how the Apple Watch reduces the barrier to communication — you can quickly respond to texts with snippets, dictated text, emoji, drawings and heartbeats. That's great if you're one of those people who spends a lot of time with their face buried in their phone. But if you're not, that quicker access to communication has limited utility.

Having an infinitely reconfigurable watch face certainly has appeal to some gadget fans, but if I want to know the phase of the moon, I can just look outside, and the relative position of the planets in the solar system is, quite frankly, of trivial importance to me, at best. Of course, I'm minimizing what the watch can do. But I'm still unsatisfied that it will do anything that I absolutely need. Something that I can't possibly do another way.

My first reaction on seeing the Apple Watch was that familiar feeling of anticipation and longing for a new gadget. Sure, I could envision myself wearing it. It'd be cool, especially if my wife and I both got them. But the more I've been thinking about it, the more ambivalent I am about the watch. Sure, it looks cool, but do I really need one? The answer is no.

The bottom line is that I'm still not satisfied that Apple is delivering something with the Apple Watch that is really going to make my life better, to the tune of $350 or more. At least not on day one. But then again, day one is still at least a few months away, so I reserve the right to change my mind. But until then, the answer is still no.

Peter Cohen