How the Apple Watch Cured My iPhone Addiction

The Apple Watch has one magical, ill-advertised feature: it doesn’t just show you the time, it can reclaim a lot of your time.

(Originally published on Medium)

When I first saw the Watch announcement during last year’s Apple keynote, I nearly teared up. Another device that would litter my mind with notifications, buzzing, and a constant need for attention, I thought. I had been struggling to break my iPhone dependency for months and nothing was working. The last thing I needed was a mini-iPhone on my wrist.

I wasn’t always an iPhone addict. Before the year 2000, I didn’t have a computer at home. My childhood and early adolescence were spent playing with friends, inventing and building my own games, and spending time outdoors. I loved to read and I loved to draw. My first desktop computer introduced me to a new form of magic: having every color I could ever imagine in Photoshop 5 (I know!). At that time, I was allotted one hour of ‘Internet Time’ on Friday afternoons. A year later, I was building websites in HTML (using tables!). Two years later, I landed my first design client through the family grapevine. Five years later, I was working part-time as a freelance visual designer (using my first Macbook Pro). Twelve years later, I got hired as a full-time UX designer. The day I started that job, I got my first iPhone.

Things deteriorated quickly. I was using my phone before bed, while waking up, while in the toilet, while cooking, during dinners, and during intimate conversations. Eventually, there was one loud argument (slash intervention) by my best friend and my boyfriend in a Vietnamese restaurant. I was angry. It’s not that I was addicted, per se. I just spent a lot of time using my phone. But the app Moment, which I installed on my phone to prove I didn’t have a problem, told me that my average total daily iPhone use added up over two hours.

On my worst day, I spent 7 hours and 41 minutes on my iPhone.

As a UX designer and qualitative researcher, this was not only alarming but also fascinating. I wanted to know what it was that kept hooked on my phone. I researched mobile phone addiction (it sounded dramatic), I tried a 30-day-off-Facebook challenge (but still clocked considerable time on my phone). I also spoke with others. It appeared that many felt equally drawn to their smartphones but no one quite understood why.

Then came the Watch.

Everything changed when I got my Apple Watch. Within twenty-four hours of wearing it, I forgot where my iPhone was for the first time. A week into owning it, I now leave my phone plugged into my music player when I get home and keep it in my bag while outside.

So what changed? And, more importantly, why?


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By Evgenia (Jenny) Grinblo

Evgenia (Jenny) Grinblo is a user experience practitioner at London-based mobile agency, Future Workshops. A native Russian-Israeli, she approaches her practice with a sociological mind and a passion for facilitating team work. When away from her iMac, she is a foosball apprentice and an occasional speaker on empathy in design. Follow Jenny on Twitter @grinblo.