Apple: I want a buttonless Apple Watch 2.0

There’s been speculation online for a while that Apple will soon roll-out a second generation design of the Apple Watch. People have mentioned that they want better battery life, a slimmer profile design, less dependency on the iPhone – all of which I agree with and hope for as well. But, from my perspective, the best thing Apple can do for the second generation Apple Watch is to remove all buttons…

I know…crazy, right? Hear me out.

I’ve had the Apple Watch for about a week-and-a-half. I was a late bloomer, initially holding off because it seemed like an unnecessary expense. I have been a Fitbit user for several years, having recently purchased a Charge band which I generally liked.

The main gap in my workflow was that while the Fitbit does a good job of tracking activity, and you can set alarms, it doesn’t provide the sort of on-the-go reminders that I really wanted to have within arms reach [anyone else who has ADD tendencies will relate].

photo of Apple Watch on someone's wristSo, I took the dive and got myself a sports model (taking advantage of Apple’s recent price drop). I must say, in general that I’m really liking it, and so far it is helping to fill that gap – providing me with the reminders I need on my wrist through its Taptic Engine.

Based on suggestions out in the World Wide Web, I’ve taken to wearing it upside down; the digital crown is just simply easier to access and push on a regular basis with my thumb, and being right-handed having it on the inside of my wrist makes it easier (this is perhaps the epitome of geekdom – that even the most minute adjustment or detail which cuts fractions of a second off of a task is somehow attractive).

But, the more I use it, the more I keep wondering: are the buttons necessary? The watch has a wonderful display with Force Touch.

The Digital Crown’s capability could be, near as I can tell, totally replaced by simply using a long press to turn the watch on (for people like me that do not use the “wake on raise” feature in order to save battery life; note, this is already a function), a single tap to go to the Home Screen, and double tap for moving back-and-forth between home screen and most recent app. And, of course one can already scroll through content using your finger on the display, so the another aspect of the Crown’s functionality is, essentially, superfluous.

The Side Button, could be completely eliminated; it’s only primary function is for Contacts which, as far as I’m concerned could be relegated to a right swipe from the main watch face. The only additional functionality is a double-press to invoke Apple Pay, which again could be replaced by swiping left from the watch face.

I’m not an expert on small electronics, but I’d wager eliminating the Side Button and Digital Crown would be a major stride toward making the casing much thinner overall.

But, the biggest benefit is that in Apple’s continued mission to remove barriers between user and content, it would turn the watch into completely touch-based device; and, as we have seen with previous design and interface evolution across Apple products, lessons learned from one device can be applied to another.

I’m looking at you, iPhone.

the ‘Pad

Yep, I did it. I bit the bullet. I became an early adopter. I got an iPad.

Early this morning (well, early for a Saturday), I got up, went out to East Towne, walked in to Best Buy and – after cradling one in my hands for the better part of twenty minutes – I plunked down my hard earned do-re-mi (along with a BB gift card left over from Xmas which I had yet to use).

I was very good. I managed to put off the un-boxing for most of the day, opting first to do the adult thing and take care of other errands and food shopping (true, I did leave my MacBook Pro to the task of downloading a necessary iTunes upgrade, but still you have to admire my restraint…).

Thanks to previous experience with the iPod Touch, syncing the ‘Pad was a cinch. My app’s, music, contacts, calendars, bookmarks, and other goodies made the transition to the new device without a hitch. True, I had to do some tweaking of settings in individual apps (such as the WordPress app that I’m currently writing this post in), but otherwise it’s off to the races… or blog post writing, or picture viewing, or video watching, or blasting some tanks away in Battlezone, or anything else I please.

Of course, I don’t really NEED an iPad right now. Even though it’s fun to have a brand new entertainment device around the living room, the real reason for plunking down the dough is the hope that it will prove to be a true productivity device (which it is so far proving to be). Purchase of some other app’s – including iWork, and Omnigraffle, which I hope is right around the corner (or soon as the next paycheck comes) will be the next step. Then the real testing begins…

The fun? That began a couple of hours ago…

File Under “Now I’ve Seen It All” : Vibrating Mascara

Now I’ve seen it all… while munching on my breakfast cereal and catching up on morning email on my PowerBook, my ear caught something coming out of the EyeTV (running on a freebie MacMini that acts as my own private media empire) which caused me to actually look at the screen as the Today Show segued into commercial land (this is usually when I look away from the screen)…

And that’s where, as they say, my life changed…

For until this morning I was totally unaware of the existence of Maybelline’s Pulse Perfection Mascara. See, I don’t pay much attention to make-up generally, especially mascara; maybe it’s because I’m male – though plenty of men do, (and “not that there’s anything wrong with that”) not to mention that as an actor I’ve worn my fare share over the years – or maybe it’s because I have plentiful eyelashes that have been the envy of every woman I’ve ever dated (but that’s another blog post…).

Well, let me tell you, eyelash technology has really improved while I wasn’t looking; now you can purchase mascara with a brush that is powered to oscillate some “7,000 times per stroke” [per their ad campaign; number unverified – ed.].

Really? Does the human race really need this? And I’m not being smarmy – like it’s a news flash that someone made another product to fix a need that arguably doesn’t quite exist; I mean to say “does the planet need this?”

And Maybelline is not alone. Apparently Lancome, and several other competitors, produce these kinds of products. These things are powered, somehow – there’s little info on the web on the exact “technology” behind them, but one has to surmise there’s a small motor and some sort of power source packed into the applicator. And it’s not rechargeable, it’s disposable.

See, if they would make it rechargeable, I’d even start using it; it would be my lefty obligation practically. But, come on, do we really need to take a product that was already wasteful and ad mechanical parts and battery acid to the mix and watch these things pile up in our landfills?

Just for kicks, I Googled “Pulse Perfection Mascara, environmental impact” and most of the hits referred to, I’m not kidding, “creating the right spa environment” and how just a few applications of a certain cream “had a big impact.”

I realize I’m treading that dreaded double-standard line: here I am, a man, complaining about a product that’s geared toward women, all the while typing away on a computer which also has a battery and limited life-span and will eventually wind up in a landfill. Granted, Apple’s recycling program is getting better (and I’m trying to help the situation by continuing to use a five year old computer and get every last drop of usefulness from it), but even first world recycling programs can have tremendous impact on third world cultures and the ecosystem (and if you haven’t seen Frontline’s piece, you simply must); so even us non-make-up-wearing techies need to take a sobering look at our own contribution to the problem.

But there’s a larger problem that I see which the Maybelline commercial touched upon: the mechanization of processes that otherwise need no mechanical apparatus. Powering devices to make them useable by people whose physical abilities are impaired is one thing; adding mechanics and power sources to products used in conditions where said power adds very little other than the illusion of a more efficient, convenient way of doing something that good old “elbow grease” can already do just fine seems downright lame.

Are we really this lazy, America?