Just about everyone on earth is writing about wearables right now from the Fitbits of old to the Pebbles of ten minutes ago to the Android Wears of today and the Apple Watch of tomorrow. I have an observation to make about the need for notifications on our wrists.
I hear a lot of people talking about how the LAST thing they want is to have notifications popping up on their wrist constantly distracting them from whatever they’re doing. I was in this camp thinking that my ADD is bad enough, why would I want to make it worse. But I’ve been listening carefully to people who’ve been wearing these devices and I’ve noticed a thread of brilliance coming through.
The people who have worn the Android Wear watches, like Andy Ihnatko with the Moto 360, and Chris Ashley with the Microsoft Band have noted one really huge thing about notifications. It’s not that you get notifications and act on them, it’s that you can tell the ones you DON’T have to act on. Let’s say you get 20 notifications in an hour. 19 of those don’t require your attention, so 19 times out of 20 you flick your wrist and then look away. If you had gotten those same 19 notifications on your phone or tablet or computer, you would have looked at them, and then realized something good was happening on Twitter, or seen an interesting article to read on Reddit, or felt like you were being productive by cleaning out your inbox. You would have been distracted, where on your wrist, you can’t be distracted unless it actually is an interesting notification.
I walk for about an hour every afternoon and while I’m listening to podcasts and enjoying the scenery, I’m constantly hearing dings and bells coming over my headphones. 99% of these are Google Plus, or direct tweets, but once in a while it might be Steve or one of my kids really needing my attention. I would love to not have to pull my iPhone out of my Spi-belt just to see that I don’t need to respond.
Next time you think about notifications on your wrist, think about the ones you DON’T have to respond to and how much more productive you would be if you could confirm they’re not important with the flick of your wrist.