There Is Nothing Open About The Apple Watch

Is there a place for open technologies on your wrist?

After pointing out that there is no Safari on Apple Watch (and hence, no web), I realized that another classic seems to be on the chopping block: Mail.

Unbundling email

Email is an outdated tool, kept alive mostly due to its ubiquity. It was originally a way to transmit text-only messages electronically. Now, we’ve forced it to do all sorts of fancy things modern humans with modern Internet connections desire, like sending photos, files, etc.

There is a growing movement to replace email with more moderns tools, and it seems not so much with a singular new solution, but instead with many specialized ones. It’s the “unbundling” of email.

Here’s a breakdown of what has started to replace the various use cases of email, for me personally:

I know other people use Facebook Messenger, along with many other text messaging apps (WeChat, Line, Kik, etc.). Instagram now has a DM feature for privately sharing photos. The point is, there are many alternatives, and many of them are better than email at their specific task. We built Lynx to fill the “links” vertical, and I haven’t emailed a URL since.

My life without email

Despite all this, Apple does not generally play to the techy early adopters who might be trying to escape email. So why ship Mail on Apple Watch in this stripped down state? Here are some theories:

No typing

“Who would want to email without a keyboard?” I don’t buy it. Same could be said for texting. I even dictate emails on my iPhone quite often, so why not on my Watch?

The screen is too small

So don’t write long emails! Most of my emails are super short, even if I’m writing on my computer. Again, it just doesn’t seem like a legitimate reason.

Apple didn’t finish it in time

There is a ton of polish on the other Apple Watch software. I don’t believe for one second that this was an oversight. It’s not like Mail is a BS app that no one would notice.

So then why?

Obviously, I don’t know the actual answer. But if I were to speculate, I would say that this is a breadcrumb from the future about where Apple sees email playing into their longer term strategy. Email is an open protocol, just like the web, and I think that the Apple Watch is a perfect way for Apple to experiment with cutting off these relics in a forgiving environment.

There is nothing open about the Apple Watch.