Matt Gemmell:

The problem with notifications is that they occupy the junction of several unhealthy human characteristics: social pressure of timely response, a need for diversion, and our constant thirst for novelty. Mobile devices exacerbate that issue by letting us succumb to all of those at any moment. That’s not a good thing. I’m constantly horrified that much of Microsoft’s advertising seems to presuppose that working twenty-four hours per day is mankind’s long-sought nirvana.

With the Watch, we’ll be waiting for a long time.

For one thing, notifications are mostly read-only. Most iPhone apps don’t have corresponding Watch apps yet, so you’re simply seeing a notification without the means to respond. Even those notifications that can be handled on the device are inherently constrained by the available screen space, and input methods. For example, responses to messages are limited to assorted emoticons, dictated text, or an audio clip.

The Watch’s size, and the need to raise your wrist, discourages prolonged reading, which automatically makes you filter what you deal with. On the iPhone, or any of its ancestors further up the three, the default mode of response is now. On the Watch, it’s later.

Okay…. but then, why not just wait until “later” to check your iPhone? Why not just keep the iPhone in the other room, or in your pocket with the notifications turned off? (The latter is what I do: the only notifications I get on my phone are for calls and texts from my loved ones.)


  1. "but then, why not just wait until 'later' to check your iPhone?"

    I think Gemmell offers an answer to that question in the first sentence of the extract you quote.

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