I am really looking forward to the release of the Apple Watch, but not for the reason you might expect. For me, the Apple Watch is all about freeing myself from the "tether" of technology. That might seem like a strange thing for someone like me to say, being the hopeless tech geek that I am. So what do I mean by freeing myself from the tether of technology?
I'll admit, I might have a bit of a technology problem. Whenever the next shiny new tech gadget comes out I just have to have it. But I also realize that because I have so many different responsibilities in my life I am trying to balance that I don't always have time to play with everything I want to play with. In fact, these tech gadgets go beyond just being fun they have to be functional as well. I depend on many of these gadgets I own in order to get done what I need to get done day after day. Unfortunately that means that I keep myself pretty busy, even on evenings and weekends. I am able to pursue all of these things I am interested in because technology gives me the flexibility to stay connected and be productive on the go. But there is a price you pay for this mobility. The devices end up "tagging along" with you everywhere you go. After a while it easy to see your phone, tablet or laptop as more of an electronic leash than something that gives you freedom. With a wife and 3 kids I am always either going somewhere or expected to be providing transportation to someone in the very near future. My iPhone has become an indispensable communication tool.
I started thinking more about just how personally connected I am to my devices after hearing a couple of recent news stories. Just a few days ago there was a story about a student who attacked his teacher after his teacher took away his phone. People do violent things for stupid reasons all the time, so maybe this was just one of those times. But another story in Forbes talks about a study at the University of Missouri that found when iPhone users were separated from their iPhones they did worse on puzzles than those who were allowed to keep their iPhones in their possession. Maybe there is something to this. Just the other day I realized that I had left my iPhone at work, not my primary iPhone of course but my 2nd work provided iPhone. Yes, I have two iPhones. I talked about why I have to carry two iPhones on Mac Power Users Episode 228 if you want the full story. Suffice it to say, it is a work requirement for me to have two phones. So the other night I couldn't find my work phone and thought I had left it in one of conference rooms at work. I was a little shocked about this. I have owned an iPhone since the the very first day the iPhone came out (yes, I was in line) and I can count on one hand (actually one finger) how many times I have left my iPhone somewhere. It turns out my work iPhone was not at work. It was in the back of my car after falling out of the pouch in my bag where I always have my work phone (my daughter got something out of my bag while in the car and it fell out). This made me realize that if I have gone 7 1/2 years and only left my iPhone behind once that I must be really attached to it. It has now literally become something that is attached to me at all times.
So coming back to the Apple Watch...why am I looking forward to the Apple Watch severing my leash to my iPhone? It's not that the Apple Watch is going to allow me to stop carrying my phone. My phone is still going to have to be near me for my watch to be the functional utility that my phone is to me today. But the Apple Watch will allow me to physically keep from having to take the time and focus away from what I am doing right then and there and pull it out of my pocket when it rings, plays a song, flashes or vibrates. I will instead be able to rely on my watch to notify me. A simple flick of the wrist and I am able to continue on with what I was doing (note this only works if you set it up to be notified of really important things and not absolutely EVERYTHING). I am already starting to see strands of the iPhone tether being broken by the new features that were added into OS X Yosemite. When I am at home and I get a text or phone call they show up on all of my idevices. No need to fumble around for my phone if its not in my pocket (and much of the weekend it is not in my pocket). I see the Apple Watch as a very big step toward the ultimate goal of what technology needs to be, which is invisible. It needs to be so integrated and transparent to us that it is literally something we don't even think about anymore. I don't think we are too far away from a future where we will look back at the iPhone anxiety study I talked about earlier and laugh at how we used to have to carry our technology around with us as a separate object. How quaint...