Future Tense

Wow, This Nike Apple Watch Looks Like a Dystopian Nagging Machine

“Are we running today?”  “Are we running today?”  “Are we running today?”  “Are we running today?”  “Are we running today?”  “Are we running today?”  “Are we running today?”  “Are we running today?”  “Are we running today?”

Screenshot via Apple.com

At its Wednesday event, Apple worked hard to make a case for its Apple Watch product line. To some extent, that meant suggesting it would be partially unshackling the wearables from paired iPhones, on which they previously relied for much of their functionality. Accordingly, the company announced it would be incorporating independent GPS into new models, making it easier to weave hiking apps, mapping tools, and, inevitably, Pokémon Go into the device. But even as it separated watch and phone, it sought to wrap the watch itself even more tightly around owners’ wrists, nowhere more so than in its collaboration with Nike.

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The clumsily named Apple Watch Nike+ has apparently been designed with runners in mind. Fittingly, then, it has a unusual look, with a band that resembles a pair of sneakers more than anything that’s emerged from the austere mind of Jony Ive in recent decades. If the images Apple showed onstage are to be believed, the device’s display also differs from the company’s other products, beaming out at users in radioactive shades that bring to mind the screen of the classic Apple IIe.

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It’s possible that these peculiar design choices will appeal to some consumers, but it’s hard to imagine why anyone would embrace the device’s most prominent features. Arguably the pushiest wearable of all time, the Apple’s Nike watch takes everything that irritates you about every other naggy app on your phone and glues it to your wrist. As Apple and Nike representatives explained onstage, the collaboration watch prods users with a steady stream of inducements to exercise. “Are we running today?” the sample watches on screen asked again and again and again, reminding runners how long it’s been since they made it out last.

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What’s more, thanks to its integration with Nike’s Run Club service, the device has other ways to shame its owners, including telling them just how much farther their friends have run than them. And, because there’s apparently no such thing as a day off in Nike and Apple’s universe, it bugs wearers even more on Sundays, apparently on the assumption that people who exercise on Sundays are more likely to get outside the rest of the week.

Thanks for the nightmares, Apple. But if we wanted a glimpse of a dystopian hellscape, we’ll just check the latest election news.

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