Worn Out

Microsoft Band, Apple Watch, and the Moto 360.
Microsoft Band, Apple Watch, and the Moto 360.

My Apple Watch arrived on Thursday, and my unswervable sense of duty forced me to just shove it aside and keep working on something that was already going to post later than I would have liked. But! It was duly unboxed and set up Friday night and I’ve been wearing it ever since.

…As well as Microsoft Band, which I’ve been testing for a few weeks.

…Which leaves me wondering what I’m going to do with my Moto 360, a wearable that I like enough that it’s been my daily wear since October.

…And then there’s also my Swiss Railway Watch, which I still like a lot and wish I wore more.

Well, I do have two ankles that aren’t contributing anything to my digital lifestyle.

My immediate plans for the Apple Watch include a quick first-look for the Sun-Times and then (yeeks) at least three weeks of daily wear before I even consider writing up my formal take on it. It’s important to get a lot of serious “deep soak” experience with a device as fresh as this one. I’m a bit suspicious of reviews that land so quickly after the unboxing. Both the Moto and the Band seemed almost laughable as sneak-peek promotional videos and they even made weak first impressions on me. By the end of the first week, though, they had totally earned my respect.

I’m actually grateful for this time with Band. It wasn’t the first thingamabob I’ve tested that captures sleep data, but it’s the first one that presented that feature in such a way that I actually use it. I wake up, click a button on my wrist, and get my “score.” I wish it could go into sleep-tracking mode without pushing a button, but even that limitation seems like a feature: the Band is the final screen I switch off before going to sleep, and it gives the process a formal sense of ceremony. It’s like a formal command to my brain to (please, for pity’s sake) just give up and switch off.

That’s why the first one that made me realize that (holy mother of God) I need to address my sleep deficit. “Deficit”? No, it’s practically a sleep disability. Last night, I felt my usual impulse (reinforced by decades of behavior) to just keep right on working until three or four AM. But the memories of my pitiful sleep score from the night before were still fresh, so instead, I found myself turning off all of the lights and screens and sources of noise, and then hopping into bed at 1. Like some sort of farmer!

Which illustrates the special role that wearables play. Desktop computers are the things that you move to and sit down in front of. Mobile devices are devices that follow you wherever you go (even into the can). Wearables are different from both: they’re devices that do things for you even when you’re not interacting with them at all. It’s taken forty years, but we finally have computers that have a totally servile relationship with their users.

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