Apple Watch Ad Philosophy

Three new Apple Watch ads are hitting today and they stray far from the ascetic materials-oriented introduction spot. All three focus on showing the Watch integrating into regular human life rather than floating on an endless sea of white. These spots emphasize things I’ve noticed about the Watch so far, namely that it’s going to work best when it organically insinuates itself into your life, rather than when you ‘force’ yourself to play with apps.

This is something that the traditional ‘gadget blog’ reviews of the Watch appear to have missed in their first go ’round. It’s not what you can ‘do with it’ it’s what it lets you do instead. That may seem like a fine difference, but it’s a fairly major philosophical break with the way that the iPhone has worked for years. Notifications, which are known to be a nuisance, are about the only way that an iPhone can proactively tell you that it can facilitate something for you.

The Watch on your wrist occupies a completely different space, and the ways in which it lets you know it’s being useful are more subtle. A tap on the wrist, vs a loud ring or coarse vibration. And those moments are just that — small slices of time in which whatever the Watch can do for you is relevant. An iPhone grabs and holds your attention for long periods of time, a Watch facilitates and then removes itself.

There are three spots available, but Rise, above, is my favorite as it demonstrates this kind of passively tuned device usage. It’s going to be a learning curve for people talking about the Watch and for those using it. But I have a sneaking suspicion that it may actually be easier for ‘regular folks’ to understand how it might work for them, rather than someone whose job it is to poke and prod every nook and cranny of the interface. That kind of explicit nerdery doesn’t jibe well with the Watch’s more facilitative and immediate nature.

When a device’s entire design is geared towards it making itself useful to you in the moment, you have to wait for the moment, it can’t be forced.