The Apple Watch — any good for DJs?

Apple Watch DJ

You knew it was coming — not the Apple Watch (not iWatch), but the story about the Apple Watch. Like a lot of you, I just sort of watched (did you try?) the big announcement. It’s clear that Apple’s security really does need tightening up as just about everything in the keynote was more or less on the rumour sites. But the actual physical form and function of the watch was missing. But now it’s out there, and despite the lack of concrete info, it is at least interesting. But could a DJ make use of one?

Wearables aren’t new, and generally control a small amount of features via MIDI. But the Apple Watch is explicitly linked to your iPhone, and has a screen too. So right away you have visual feedback, and being voice activated too, there is potential for talking to your DJ software to make things happen. The screen also features the new pressure-sensitive Force Touch, which offers potential for expressive performance. And with movement tracking, there’s also scope for controlling software just with motion. And let’s not forget the physical feedback that the Apple watch offers too.

There is a lot of theoretical chat here, as the live stream was less than stable and only happened two hours ago. It was also very light on technical detail, and understandably showed off Apple’s all-new product space in broad strokes. But there is potential for DJ companies to utilise the Apple Watch in some way to compliment performance. So to ideas:

  • A tactile deck showing sticker position or waveforms, and allowing scratching. Imagine one per wrist.
  • Hot cue, sample pads, or effects triggering on your wrist.
  • A small scrollable library window for track selection.
  • Effects features controlled expressively via Force Touch or motion. Wave those hands in the air.
  • An app that transmits requests from the dance floor.

Of course, should all this happen, and I’m quite confident that it will, DJs will be accused not only of checking for emails, but also telling the time instead of DJing. One thing is for sure — DJ companies will be looking at the technology and seeing if there’s a valid use for it. I really can’t see anyone cramming a complete experience into the Apple Watch, but I’m sure Mixvibes and Algoriddim will be furiously scribbling on notepads right now trying though.

There’s time for companies to work it out though. The Apple Watch will be out “early next year” and will start at $349, a price that’s not for casual purchases.

Over To You

Obviously fanboys will be queuing from tomorrow morning, but DJs are a tad more conservative when it comes to technology use. So could the Apple Watch offer enough visual and sensory feedback to make you consider the possibilities? And does this signal the end (like iPad did to Lemur) for existing wearable DJ technology?