Apple Watch: Bliss or bling? Glanceable moments will decide

App designers and developers must master a new kind of mobile moment.

Forrester's 2014 Consumer Technographics survey of 4,575 North American consumers reveals that 40 percent of smartphone owners are "tired of pulling my phone out of my pocket." No wonder. Smartphones have become an extension of our psyches -- our confidence and our strength, our entertainer and our assistant. We look at them sometimes hundreds of times a day in our mobile moments of need. How many of those moments can shrink down to wrist size?

We're about to find out. Apple is shipping its Apple Watch today. Millions of people will buy them. But will it be bliss or bling? Will people will still be wearing an Apple Watch six months from now? And will word spread so it shows up in the holiday gift list of millions more consumers?


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I believe that Apple Watch can succeed and even has a chance to make geeky watches cool. But only if app designers and developers master a new kind of mobile moment we called glanceable moments --or micro moments.

Here's a rule of thumb: people will stare at a desktop screen for 3 minutes. They will spend 30 seconds on their smartphone. But they will spend only 3 seconds with a watch app. That's a glanceable moment: 3 seconds to communicate vital information, deliver a service, or help someone take action.

How can app builders deliver something useful in 3 seconds? Not by taking a "small phone" approach. Instead, designers and developers will have to go far beyond a smartphone frame of reference to understand the full context of someone glancing at their wrist: their location, preferences, likely next action, history, and so on. Here's a checklist that we published some months ago on how to develop glanceable moments:

  1. Throw your mobile web best practices out the window -- they will just confuse you. (Yes, that includes responsive web design.)
  2. Master the full context of your customer: Observe them closely! Journey maps will help.
  3. Start with the single best feature -- then iteratively improve the app as you learn what works (see Rule 7).
  4. Use intelligent notifications that anticipate someone's next most likely action.
  5. Aim for two-button experiences -- their ain't much screen real estate for a walking thumb.
  6. Forget the web architecture -- use the four-tier engagement platform.
  7. Build analytics into the engagement platform so you're not flying blind.
  8. Use the cloud -- it's the only way to integrate across devices and applications.
  9. Adopt progressive profiling and predictive analytics to steadily improve the experience in the moment.
  10. Forget the watch is a device -- it's the glanceable part of a personal experience ecosystem.

Apple is giving excellent guidance in this video. Watch it as a team. Let's do this one right so consumers get the best experience in the tiny moments of their day.

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