I got my Apple Watch back in June. On Father’s Day to be precise.

It was a bit of a whim really. Well, let’s say, an increasing professional interest crescendoing in an impulse purchase (egged on by my gadget-loving kids).

My limbic system craved the shiny new Apple thing.

My prefrontal cortex persuaded me that it was necessary for work (which is partly true, as I am hosting a session on Wearables for the Content Marketing Association so, you know, I need one).

I was intrigued by the post on Mashable this morning, where Marc Newson is reported responding to critics of the Watch who say it’s been a fail on Apple’s part:

As far as I’m aware, it’s been enormously successful however you gauge it. The point is, it’s the beginning of something. I think people, consumers or analysts, whoever, are so impatient. Everyone wants immediate, instant recognition, instant understanding.

He’s right. It’s far too early days for people to writing off an entire product category. It may not be the instant success that the iPod, iPhone or iPad created, but my experience with the watch has shown me that the wearables category has huge potential.

Here’s an unstructured brain blurt on what I’ve found so far being an Apple Watch user. (Note of caution – I am an Apple fanboy, but I’ve really tried to be objective here).

1. It’s not (yet) a must-have

I got an iPod in 2002 and told everyone and anyone that would listen that they needed an iPod.

I got an iPhone 2009 and told everyone I could that they needed an iPhone.

I got an iPad in 2010 and told everyone they needed an iPad.

This is the first Apple device that I’m not hell-bent on recommending. I mean, I like it, a lot. But it’s not a gotta-have-one-coz-it-will-change-your-life type of device. Not yet anyway.

Having said that, I did persuade two of my friends to buy one. To be fair, they didn’t need much persuading, as they both work in media and technology. It was a nudge not a shove. (I’m still waiting for my commission from Apple).

2. It has changed my behaviour

I find myself spending increasingly less time with my phone and more time with my watch.

This is especially true for light interactions, such as glances and notifications. I had to set these up, as I don’t want notifications for everything (it can  be overwhelming), but the most useful nudges include:

  • Text messages
  • WhatsApp alerts (myself and my pals at the tennis club use this to inform each other of who’s playing on what evening)
  • Activity prompts (exercise, standing, etc)
  • Sports news and results (Wimbledon app, Bleacher Report app)
  • Social media direct messages (Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin)
  • Alerts for TV shows (On Air app)

This may seem trivial, but it’s enhanced my life. Who knows, it may signal the end of the mobile device’s affront on our natural conversation.

3. It’s not (yet) a content device

I guess this is a no-brainer, considering the size of the screen. I have only experimented with a few content applications, such as the BBC News app and Flipboard, but it is really only useful for giving you a headline.

That said, it does a good job of handing you back to the iPhone for the full article if you want to read more after the headline and intro. I’m excited to see what content producers do for this kind of wearable device (and we’ll be learning more about that at the CMA Digital Breakfast next week – tickets are still available).

4. Battery life is okay

It’s not that bad having to charge your watch overnight. And it easily lasts a full day – sometimes a day and a half.

The bigger issue is the drain on the iPhone battery, as the bluetooth connection puts a strain on that. But after intensive use for the first few weeks I’ve now managed to settle into regular usage and I get a full day’s battery life for both devices.

5. Apple Music is awesome

This came together really well for me. The new Apple Music service launched soon after, and although I have a few UX grumbles, I really like the curated content, recommendations and playlists on there.

The watch allows you to play any of the playlists on your iPhone (and sync one playlist if you want to go out for a run without your phone) and so I bought some bluetooth headphones and I have to say this is just great.

It may not sound like much, but controlling your pause, play and shuffle modes from your watch is so much easier than getting the phone out each time.

6. Siri has got better

I use Siri occasionally on my iPhone, but I’m using it all the time on the watch. Because screen space is limited, typing is difficult, it makes perfect sense to speak into it to compose texts and so on.

Add to that the fact that Siri has improved by a remarkable degree, in both speed, responsiveness and accuracy.

I thought this might be just me but another UK user I know has had the exact same experience. Clearly Apple have planned this as a crucial aspect of the Apple Watch experience and have done some serious upgrading to the Siri service.


Here’s the thing that iPhones taught us – a smart thing is better than a non-smart thing. The idea of going back to a Nokia brick just makes me shudder (we gave one to my 11-year-old daughter as a first phone, and it’s reminded me what a miserable experience pre-smart phones were).

I didn’t wear a watch for years until now, but now I’ve worn a smart watch, the idea of a dumb one seems absurd. Seriously, why wear a watch that only tells the time, when a smart watch can give you so much more?

The Apple Watch seems to be the far and away market leader in terms of sales, so I feel I’ve made the right decision. And even if it wasn’t the market leader, it fits so well into my Apple ecosystem of music, messages, and so on, that it’s the natural choice for me.

I guess the major issue is the price. I swallowed the £350-odd I spent on it, but that was because I (persuaded myself) it was necessary for my work.

It’s not going to hit the mainstream, though, until it comes down significantly from that price level.

And when it gets that inevitable killer app, just watch it fly.


StylehaulThis week I hosted the March Digital Breakfast for the Content Marketing Association. The theme was Bloggers, Vloggers and social media personalities.

It was a packed house at TCO London in Shoreditch. For the first time we had standing room at the back to accommodate all who wanted to attend.

This shows a high level of interest right now in the phenomenon of self-starting YouTubers and other social media stars who have built their own audiences. Many have deeply engaged subscribers in their thousands and even millions.

Online video is huge and growing huger

Clearly video is already a massive medium online. As Siobhan Freegard, Founder of Netmums and Channel Mum, pointed out, there’s over 500 years of video watched on Facebook every day (gasp). And what’s more startling is that 79% of internet traffic is forecast to be video content by 2018.

So-called millennials love the medium, and many turn to YouTube first for their information and inspiration. James Stafford VP of Europe at Stylehaul believes that a big part of this is about ‘super-serving the under-served’. How many great fashion shows do you see on TV? On YouTube there is a lot of great content in this and many other niches, from people with a passion for their subject.

Personal connections rule


A big part of the appeal for audiences is not aspiration but the personal connection.

Nic Yeeles, previously Brand Director at Simon Cowells’ You Generation (The UK’s largest YouTube channel) and now founder of, says that the platforms in this world are not the traditional ‘media channels’, but the personalities themselves. He advised any brands that want to work with vloggers to avoid trying to dictate to them, and instead approach them as collaborators.

One of the things that came through most clearly was that people often think in terms of reach, but in this world it’s relevance and engagement that’s more important. Nic Yeeles advises focusing less on subscriber numbers and more on consistency of video views when looking at vloggers to work with.

For more snippets, check out the hashtag #cmadigital on Twitter.

Next month we’ll be looking at the state of search engine marketing and where it’s going next. If you’re interested in attending, please download the booking form at the bottom of this page: CMA Digital Breakfasts.


The Week magazine on desktop and ipad

As part of my role with the Content Marketing Association I organise and host the monthly Digital Breakfasts. It’s one of the highlights of my month, as I get to talk to some of the most experienced and inspirational minds in the UK’s creative industries.

This month we led on the theme of ‘User Centred Design and Content’, with presentations from:

* Jonny Kaldor, Co-Founder at Kaldor Product Development Group
* Andy Budd, Founder and Managing Director, Clearleft
* Alex Watson, Director of Product, Tablet and Apps, Dennis Publishing

What is a magazine?

Alex Watson, Dennis Publishing Alex Watson, speaking at the CMA Digital Breakfast June 2013.


Having come from a background in magazine journalism,  I’ve seen the impact that digital has has had on this industry first-hand. As Alex Watson said in his presentation, the publishing industry been forced to ask itself: ‘What is a magazine?’ and ‘What does our product do for its users?’

That’s not an easy question to answer, and will vary from title to title. In fact, as Alex showed, a magazine is many things across its lifespan – it’s an advert, some relevant content, a reference tool, a souvenir, and more.

User centred design and content

All three speakers argued that the key to providing value in digital media is to put the end user at the heart of the design process.

Andy Budd highlighted another important tenet – failure is a core part of the product development process and a pre-requisite for success (adapted from the ‘lean start-up’ movement).

In reviewing the process of launching Dennis Publishing’s The Week magazine on iPad, Andy referenced the classic architect’s mistake of designing for a fictitious user behaviour that only existed in the designers’ heads.

This is how print magazines are often developed, and publishers invariably adopt the same approach when it comes to digital launches.

For digital designers and creatives, it’s important to evaluate the product design in context. That means testing your product early enough in the process, and often enough to identify any problems.

Andy was bold enough to share some of the details of the failure of the first prototype for the Week. What’s important is that those insights informed the finished design, which went on to become a great success for the app with readers and subscribers.

Take a look at Andy’s full presentation, and check out this book for more on UX for Lean Startups.


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Why Instapaper 3.0 and Pinboard are my new favourite things

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Since I last outlined my information workflow back in January 2010 things hadn’t changed much during the past 12 months. But with the launch of Instapaper 3.0 I’ve finally been moved to ditch Read it Later and adopt Instapaper as my main tool for saving articles to read at a more convenient time. Why? These […]

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One story per day gets 80% of audience engagement

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Traditional digital publishing wisdom has it that content frequency and volume are the keys to success online. A recently leaked content strategy document from AOL is based on this strategy, which is principally aimed at capitalising on search engine traffic by flooding Google’s index with keyword-rich content. But a study by Yuri Lifshit for Yahoo […]

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