Is the User Experience of the Apple Watch Sufficient for the Enterprise?

Consumer-grade wearable devices such as smartwatches and connected eyewear are beginning to penetrate the enterprise space, with business users looking for even further productivity improvements and opportunities to work in a mobile setting.

One of the more popular examples of this, thus far, has been the Apple Watch. Many mobile apps have already been released on the wearable device specifically for enterprise use cases, giving mobile workers yet another channel through which they can interact with corporate information and professional content away from their desks.

However, a new evaluation undertaken by the Mobile Device UX (MDX) group at Strategy Analytics has concluded that while the Apple Watch is designed to look good on the wrist and is sturdy yet comfortable to wear, inconsistencies in the UI and a lack of truly differentiated experiences will affect the performance of the device.

The Apple Watch delivers several UX highlights, including simplified device pairing between an iPhone and Apple Watch using the iPhone camera, haptic feedback which taps the user's skin for discreet notifications removing the need for traditional vibrating alerts; and watch face 'glances' which present information quickly without waiting for apps to load.

Despite this, the UI of the Apple Watch has been found by Strategy Analytics to be unnecessarily complicated in some places. Analyst Mathew Alton, commented, "While much hype has been generated around the release of the Apple Watch, the UI was found to be inconsistent in some places, with too many options available to perform certain tasks. Also many interactions are necessary to navigate some areas of the UI, so the end user is forced to stop and think too much about what they are doing."

"The 'glances' and other innovations of the Apple Watch make the device useful by minimising the amount of time that the end user needs to refer to their smartphone screen," said Kevin Nolan, Vice President of UX Innovation Research. "However, our research with lead adopters of smartwatches suggests that, to drive smartwatches into mass-market adoption, manufacturers must go beyond current use cases and produce something which delivers tangible benefits that are clearly differentiated from a smartphone. We see limited evidence from the first generation Apple Watch to suggest that the manufacturer has delivered such a killer device".

If this negative user experience is genuine, this could impact the justification, and the adoption, of the Apple Watch in the enterprise market even more significantly than in the consumer space. The value of devices such as smartwatches in a working environment is based around the ease of access to important information, and a seamless connected experience across all devices and applications. If the Apple Watch presents difficulties in achieving this, it may begin to lose momentum as a professional working tool.