Apple Watch

Following Apple’s latest press event, seemingly everyone has come out with a mock-up for what their Apple Watch app will look like

One of the latest is Flipboard, a digital magazine app that collects articles and sets them into a “smartphone magazine” of sorts. According to TechCrunch, the developer doesn’t plan to release a full-fledged version for Apple’s wearable, but instead plans to offer a stripped-down variation befitting a tiny display. 

See also: Why Phone Notifications Don’t Belong On Your Wrist

The approach makes sense for Flipboard, given what it does. But it makes less sense for Watch users, for whom the wrist may not be the ideal place to catch up on the news or any other sort of non-essential information. Consider this the early wave preceding a flood of pointless Watch apps that will soon vie for your arm. 

Have You Flipped?

Flipboard knows it has a slim chance of convincing Apple Watch users to scroll through whole articles on the itty bitty screens strapped to their wrists. 

The Watch’s size and shape—smaller and squarer proportionally than most smartphones—might pose design challenges for some smartphone app developers. Flipboard’s solution involved distilling those stories into smaller summaries or previews that fit on those compact screens. When users see a snippet that interests them, they tap on it to send the entire article to their smartphone, so they can read the full story there. 

Of course, if users want to read Flipboard articles, they would likely do it directly on their phones from the beginning, eliminating the middle man of the Apple Watch. That would then preserve the space on their arms for the most urgent data, such as texts, calls, to-do lists, emails or other important notifications. 

Arguably, that is the smartwatch’s main reason for being—to send (and sometimes, in Apple’s case, even “tap” you) when important matters come up. Even in the news domain, Flipboard has never been about urgency. It offers a “long reads” experience, whereas Yahoo News Digest and The New York Times focus on breaking news. 

Granted, until smart watches become a mainstream hit, no one can be certain about how most consumers will use them. But for now, Flipboard looks like a trifling app, one of the first of many eyebrow-raising approaches that are sure to follow. 

Lead photo via Apple; Mock-up by Flipboard via TechCrunch