TIME Innovation

I Dish Out the Food Your Supermarket Can’t Use

Opening of specialty grocer Trader Joe's
Milk lines the shelves at Trader Joe's, located on Colorado Blvd. and East 8th Avenue in Denver, for the grand opening of specialty grocer, February, 14 2014. RJ Sangosti—Denver Post via Getty Images

Linda Hess is the President and Founder of Urban Harvester a non-profit 501c-3 organization. www.urbanharvester.org.

My neighbors were going hungry, so I got my local Trader Joe’s to donate carloads of groceries

In the spring of 2009, my teenage daughter and I attended a memorial service in Pasadena, California, followed by a family-style luncheon. The retired clergyman who officiated the service was holding a plate in one hand and arranging the leftovers onto it. The plate was teetering on the edge of the very full table; I walked over and asked if I could help.

I assumed he was preparing food for the family to eat later in the day. Instead, he told me the sandwiches were going to nearby apartments of elder adults who had very limited access to food. He said this would likely be their meal for the day.

I asked if I could visit the seniors he was helping, maybe bring a casserole or some flowers to cheer up their day. And so the following Monday morning, my friend Marie and I brought little tuna casseroles and cupcakes, and joined the clergyman on visits to three apartments within three miles of my house.

Each stop went from bad to worse. The first apartment, a block from the Rose Parade route, was home to a lovely woman whose hands were crippled by arthritis and whose back was curled over. She could only push buttons on her microwave and use pop-top cans. The second apartment wasn’t much better. The third apartment stank of stagnant air and animal feces. A very thin woman with extremely swollen ankles the size of baseball bats and large eyeglasses sat on a bare daybed mattress with no sheets or blankets. Her closet door was open, and only one dress was hanging in it. She offered us water—apologizing for having nothing else to share—and said that the glasses were in the cupboard. We found just one glass and nothing else but cans of cat food. Her fridge was empty.

We chatted about the weather and the TV show she’d had on, but my head was spinning, and I couldn’t focus. It felt like hours had passed, but it was only minutes. I’d walked by this building a hundred times, coffee and cell phone in hand—often on my way to or from a meal.

As I stood with my hand on the door, I felt I had to make a decision right then and there. Do I do nothing and let this be someone else’s problem — and feel pain and intense guilt when this woman dies from neglect? Or do I get involved?

An hour later I dashed into Trader Joe’s in South Pasadena and shared my shock at what I’d just seen and experienced. A wonderful man named Joe – not the Trader Joe– told me to come back on Wednesday. He would help me get some items the people I’d just visited could eat and easily open.

Joe was as good as his word. He helped fold down the seats of my Prius and loaded dolly after dolly of fruits and boxed vegetables. He explained that this food was excess, and the store donated it to make room for newer shipments. (I would learn later that other grocery stores – but not all – do this and more) There was so much food I could only make left turns because I couldn’t see out the other window.

I soon learned more about the 52 million Americans—one in six of us—who are unsure of where their next meal will come from. I also learned that grocery stores and many food-derived businesses discard their excess unexpired food daily instead of donating it: Up to 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. is wasted. My big question was: Where did this discarded food go, and how could we get it to struggling people like those I had met in my neighborhood?

For the next two and a half years, I made weekly pick-ups at Trader Joe’s and delivered food to organizations in the Pasadena area, including the AIDS Service Center, the Union Station Homeless Services Pasadena, and Holy Family – The Giving Bank. Meanwhile, I learned everything I could about food waste.

In spring 2010, I attended a convention in San Diego on organics recycling and sustainability to gain an overview of the waste industry. I wanted to be able to have a respectable conversation if a food supplier chose to not donate edible food. For three days, I was a human sponge, absorbing information about sustainability, composting, and renewable energy. They didn’t particularly care about feeding people, but I gained an enormous amount of respect for their passion and commitment to efficiency and reducing waste. They cared as much about preserving the same pristine organic food I was interested in, just for different reasons.

When I got home I reached out to local agencies in need of food—homeless shelters, churches, food banks from Long Beach to the Westside, senior centers, children’s homes. I asked them how often they needed donations, and whether they required food to be prepared and pre-packaged or if it could be kitchen-made. Then I approached the health department about food safety regulations. Through these meetings I realized that it wasn’t as simple as taking food that one place didn’t need and delivering it to where it was needed. Donating food, I discovered, had a unique set of rules that were outdated and hadn’t been adapted for today’s state-of-the-art methods of heating and cooling food.

I realized the process could be made much more user-friendly so that more cities and companies would want to participate.

In 2012 I founded Urban Harvester, a Los Angeles-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Our focus is connecting untapped food resources to the nearest shelter, soup kitchen, and pantry. We designed a scalable model that includes education and outreach to bring communities and business together.

We don’t have a fleet of trucks or a facility; our goal is simply to connect the dots. We are like a dating service bringing together the food and the agencies who need it. We are now partnering with 211 LA – an L.A. County network that includes 49,000 city, county, public assistant and nonprofit programs – to try to connect to more agencies for our food work; 211LA is part of a larger national network of programs that serve 93 percent of the country. Today this connection work is done personally and locally, but we have built a database and are using technology to build up a system to connect food and agencies that need food at any hour and across the world.

All types of food suppliers are now involved—not just grocery stores but restaurants, food trucks, Starbucks, the South Pasadena Unified School District, a music festival, a temple, a farmers market (and many wonderful food retailers that prefer to donate food quietly). Just a few weeks ago, we proposed and won unanimous passage from the South Pasadena city council of first resolution: Businesses cannot dispose of edible extra food that is professionally prepared, but instead must make responsible efforts to connect the food to local agencies.

Our goal is to keep taking big steps, albeit one at time, to help people with their basic needs.

Linda Hess is the President and Founder of Urban Harvester a non-profit 501c-3 organization. http://www.urbanharvester.org. She wrote this piece for Zocalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: September 12

1. The long shadow of September 11th haunts our modern defense policy as well as our plan of attack against ISIS.

By Janine Davidson at the Council on Foreign Relations

2. Far from “The End of History:” Recent experience shows that democracy’s defenders have their work cut out for them. We should start by linking democratic values to our humanity.

By Timothy Stanley and Alexander Lee in the Atlantic

3. Climate change could remake agriculture. The world should diversify its crops.

By Sayed Azam-Ali in The Conversation

4. To transition from warfighting to the working world, America’s veterans need support from a broad range of government agencies. And that’s actually happening.

By Charles S. Clark in Government Executive

5. The Apple Watch will make people and computers more intimate.

By Walter Isaacson in Time

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Companies

Facebook Tests Disappearing Posts Feature

A view of and Apple iPhone displaying th
A view of an Apple iPhone displaying the Facebook app's splash screen, May 10, 2012 in Washington. Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images

The option is being offered to a small group of users

Facebook has quietly released a Snapchat-like feature that allows some users to set their posts to expire at a predetermined time.

“We’re running a small pilot of a feature on Facebook for iOS that lets people schedule deletion of their posts in advance,” a spokesperson for the social network told TIME.

The option, which is being offered to a small subset of users, allows them to set posts to delete anytime from 1 hour to 7 days after they are initially published, The Next Web reports. Facebook has released many features to select groups of users in the past before deciding to either roll them out larger or go back to the drawing board.

Though Facebook hasn’t publicly revealed what the tool actually looks like, some users have taken to Twitter to share screenshots.

Last year, the social network reportedly turned down a $3 billion offer to buy Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send photos and videos that disappear within seconds of a recipient opening them. Market valuations from last month estimated Snapchat’s value at $10 billion.

TIME Soccer

Player-Powered Stadium Floodlights Have Been Launched in Rio

Kid plays with soccer ball at a refurbished soccer field at the Mineira slum in Rio de Janeiro
A child plays with soccer ball at a refurbished soccer field at the Mineira slum in Rio de Janeiro September 10, 2014. Ricardo Moraes —Reuters

Tiles on the field capture the kinetic energy of athletes as they run

The world’s first soccer field with floodlights powered by player movement was unveiled in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, but it’s not at the Maracanã.

The never-before-seen technology was in fact launched at Mineira — one of the Brazilian city’s slums, AFP reports.

The technology is called Pavegen, and harvests energy from players’ footsteps using tiles made from 80% recycled material that capture kinetic energy, AFP says. Two hundred of the weatherproof tiles have been installed underneath the playing surface, and the energy from them will be supplemented by solar panels installed on the roof of a neighboring samba school.

Brazilian soccer legend Pelé, who was present for the arena’s inauguration, said the innovation represented new frontiers for the country.

“The whole world started looking at Brazil through football,” he said. “I hope that with projects such as this one, the world will start looking at Brazil through its participation in science.”

Although residents approved the project in a public vote, the cost of playing there — $20 an hour — is too steep for most in the favela, as slums are locally known.

“Today, we have to play outside our community as we can’t pay,” Bruno Olivera, a hospital worker, told AFP.

Pavegen’s chairman said the company is trying to find ways to reduce the cost of the technology.


TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: September 11

1. National service is a critical American value that has the power to unite us.

By Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates in Time

2. The challenge for America’s strategy against ISIS isn’t our military might. It’s the will of our partners in Iraq and Syria.

By Jeff Shesol in the New Yorker

3. After a decade of urban violence, blacks in America report PTSD symptoms at the same rate as veterans of our last three wars.

By Lois Beckett in Essence

4. Municipal buses move more than 5 billion people annually. Converting them to electric power would slash carbon emissions dramatically.

By Daniel Gross in Slate

5. To gather valuable health data from the poor, texting survey questions yields impressive results.

By the University of Michigan Health System

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Innovation

Innovation Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom

New meaning to the corporate term “change or die”


This is one of a 10-article series of conversations with transformational leaders who will be storytellers at theBIF10 Collaborative Innovation Summit in Providence, RI, on Sept. 17-18

Leading a team of 700 people through an enterprise-wide change management process on a tight schedule is formidable enough when undertaken in the business world. Imagine, then, the difficulty of doing so in the Afghanistan war zone. Such was the leadership challenge of Col. Matthew Fritz, who just returned to the U.S. last week from a stint as Chief of Staff of a 16-nation coalition.

The coalition has been tasked since 2007 with rebuilding and modernizing the Afghan Air Force, which launched in 1924, but by the mid-2000s had dwindled to less than a dozen planes. Col. Fritz’ leadership term began in an atmosphere of tension created by President Obama’s announcement that the U.S.-led coalition would have to compress its timeline and withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.


Innovating in Afghanistan certainly brings new meaning to the corporate term “change or die”. Over the course of the project, Col. Fritz had to resolve vast technological limitations and overcome cultural and language barriers. Together, he and his team synchronized the activities of 16 nations, spread across six geographical locations within Afghanistan, to build air power capability and ensure security for the country’s future.

The colonel, who in his spare time curates a blog at GeneralLeadership.com and tweets management insight from his(@fritzmt account to 95,000+ Twitter followers insists that lessons gained on the battlefield have many applications in the boardroom.

“People may not see innovation as one of the core competencies that come out of a military career,” Fritz says, “It’s actually the opposite — military leaders deal with change in complex situations every day.”

As a leader, “I am constantly finding ways to make my message connect with my team,” Fritz says. He considers himself a firm believer in “getting feedback and exchanging stories” — perhaps an unusual admission from a colonel who commands such authority.

Expected to deliver change on an incredibly tight schedule, Fritz encouraged his team to engage in conversation with their Afghan counterparts, in the hope of getting valuable feedback. The result: the coalition and their Afghan partners participated in one of the most open exchanges in the history of the mission. As a result, Fritz claims, they were able to “question basic assumptions and together, transform the training process.”

He adds, “Leaders often get wrapped up in the brilliance of their ideas and forget to include their teammates… Americans are used to doing things the ‘American way’; but in this case, what’s important was being Afghan-right.”


In conversation via Skype from Afghanistan a few weeks before his return to the U.S., the square-jawed, direct-speaking Col. Fritz makes it clear that he will not discuss politics (“because I don’t influence that”). He is a man of ideals – “more than just a guy in a uniform,” Fritz says.

One ideal Fritz lives by is that everyone should embrace “service” in their day-to-day lives, “in businesses, teams, churches and communities,” he says. He believes service should not be a concept singularly assigned to the military.

Fritz traces this ideal back to his grandfather, a shopkeeper in small-town Arthur, Illinois, who also served as the town’s mayor. Grandfather modeled for grandson the behavior of the ideal citizen — committed, engaged, proactive. “He used to say, “If it’s to be, it has to be me.’ That’s something I grew up with. Especially in a small town, you’re expected to participate in church, community and school; otherwise it just isn’t going to work.”

As a first step, Fritz recommends that we slow down and be more intentional. Talk to people, listen to them, see what they know, he says, just as his grandfather did while sweeping the sidewalk in front of his store.

Matthew Fritz looks forward to sharing his story this month at the BIF10 Collaborative Innovation Summit, a storytelling jam featuring transformation leaders, hosted annually by the nonprofit Business Innovation Factory (BIF) in Providence, RI.

How he helped to bring the Afghan Air Force to self-sufficiency is a tale about how to drive complex change management simply, a tale Col. Fritz is hopeful will resonate with the BIF10 community, a group he began to engage with via Twitter from Afghanistan.

He adds, “I hope to share a perspective into the military that might be a little bit different, and engage in the conversation.” He is “beyond excited” to be participating in his first BIF Summit. “I’m nervous,” he confesses. “I have worked with congressmen and ambassadors, but the folks at BIF10 are real movers and shakers. People whose work I’ve read and learned from, now I get to meet in person!”

The BIF Collaborative Innovation Summit combines 30 brilliant storytellers with more than 400 innovation junkies in a two-day storytelling jam, featuring tales of personal discovery and transformation that spark real connection and “random collisions of unusual suspects.”

Saul Kaplan is the author of The Business Model Innovation Factory. He is the founder and chief catalyst of the Business Innovation Factory (BIF) in Providence and blogs regularly at It’s Saul Connected. Follow him on Twitter at @skap5. Nicha Ratana is a senior pursuing a degree in English Nonfiction Writing at Brown University and an intern at The Business Innovation Factory. Follow her on Twitter at @nicharatana.

TIME Innovation

Apple Watch Marks Apple’s Transformation Into a Luxury Fashion Retailer

Apple Unveils iPhone 6
Apple Watch are displayed during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. The Asahi Shimbun—Getty Images

The entire shopping experience will change radically

LinkedIn Influencer Charlene Li published this post originally on LinkedIn. Follow Charlene on LinkedIn.

While most of the tech and business press focused on the functionality of the Apple Watch (digital crown, battery life, taptic engine, yadda yadda…) discreetly milling around the event were the fashion press, invited by Apple’s new fashion and design team. The fact that Apple Watch comes in three distinct collections — Apple Watch, Sport, and Apple Watch Edition — mirrors how fashion targets different demographics and tastes with separate lines.

To date, merely owning an Apple iPhone or iPad says something about who you are. With only a few choices on colors (black, white, neon, etc.), the only way you could customize Apple products to suit your style was to entomb their beauty with covers and cases. These items lived in the back of the store, hung up as general merchandise and an add-on to the core experience of the products.

But with Apple Watch, Apple now has to change the shopping experience as well — and not just sell a luxury product but also create a luxury fashion experience. When Apple Watch launches next year, look for former CEO Angela Ahrendts to make her mark as the new head of Apple Store. Here’s the challenge — Apple Watch will launch with 3 collections, 2 sizes, and 6 bands styles in 18 colors, 2 sizes = 108 permutations of Apple Watch. An entire section of the store will be dedicated to people not just looking at the watches, but also looking at it on themselves. New salespeople will have to be hired — people who understand both technology and fashion. If you get a chance, go visit a Burberry store and marvel at the level of attention and discretion that is paid to you as you shop. Part of the fashion buying experience is knowing when to step forward and help — and also when to step back and wait.

The breakthrough of Apple Watch isn’t in its form or function — but the fact that wearable technology for the first time is truly being treated as a fashion item. I’ve been buying alternative holders and bracelets for my FitBit on Etsy, in a desperate attempt to marry my fitness and fashion goals — and left wholly unsatisfied with the experience. I’m looking forward to buying the Apple Watch — the actual act of buying it as I would an expensive purse or pair of shoes. When would I wear it? What image do I want to be sending when I’m wearing the watch — or not wearing it?

The Apple Watch is still in its 1.0 origins and it has a long way to go before it becomes a beautiful, desired item. And that’s a good thing, because Apple will need time to transform itself into the truly luxury fashion retailer and brand that it wants to be. At stake is Apple’s business model — Android will always be the low-cost leader so Apple has to continually deliver a premium experience to deserve the premium price it demands. I look forward to parting with a serious chunk of cash next year — but only if Apple Watch matches my new spring wardrobe.

Charlene Li is the Founder and CEO of Altimeter Group.

TIME Innovation

Public Space, Meet Cyberspace

Social Media Life
Lucia Lambriex—flickr Editorial/Getty Images

The rise of digital technology has changed the way we use public squares, parks and the streets

Public squares and parks are the sites of some of history’s most memorable moments: the beheading of Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution at the Place de la Concorde (then known as the Place de la Révolution) in Paris in 1793; the March on Washington in 1963, where a crowd filling the National Mall heard Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech; the pro-democracy protests in 1989 in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, bringing us the indelible vision of the single man standing in front of a line of tanks. These public spaces have also traditionally hosted markets, outdoor concerts, and cafés.

Enter the Digital Age, where every kind of information can be translated into bits and transmitted to mobile phones, computers, and TV screens. We can catch up on the news, buy goods, listen to music, watch webcams, and sign petitions – all without meeting in person. What is to become of these storied public spaces? In advance of the Zócalo/Getty “Open Art” event, “Is the Digital Age Killing Public Space?”, Zócalo asked experts: How has the rise of digital technology changed the way we use public space?

1. Losing One Kind of Entertainment, But Gaining Another

Yi-Fu Tuan

I was drinking tea at a sidewalk café when three young women, no doubt University of Wisconsin-Madison students, walked in. I immediately looked forward to eavesdropping on them when they sat down, for that’s how I learn about student interests and life. But no such luck, for the three women immediately took out their iPhones and started texting. How curious, I thought. On the one hand, there was physical intimacy, for I could see that their kneecaps touched under the table. On the other, they ignored one another in favor of someone in another part of town or out of town altogether.

Were the three women philosophy students, I wondered? After all, Jean-Paul Sartre said that real conversation is impossible in a group of three and can only occur between two individuals in private space. But weren’t the women conversing one-on-one in private space when they texted? My answer is no, if only because text messages are more likely to be factual than discursive, and yet texting does have a moral plus in its favor: it encourages people to be honest—honest as machines are honest. If the three women chatted instead, the content of their chatting might still contain facts, but the facts will be qualified and even undermined by the tone with which they are delivered—that is, by body language.

Public space is body-language space, and as such provides endless entertainment. People watching, we say. Everyone is part of the show—the baby soundly asleep in her stroller no less than the mother feeding the pigeons, and as supporting extras the pedestrians parading back and forth. If more and more people are locked into the private worlds of their earphones and iPhones, will that not diminish—or kill—public space, which is space that justifies itself by, among other things, its power to entertain?

But the digital age can enliven and promote public space and do so without radical change in social habits and tradition. Think of Chicago’s Millennial Park, which draws a large crowd by means of the projection of the faces of ordinary citizens on giant screens. Or think of how this essay, so ineffectual when read in the private space of the library carrel, can woo an audience in an auditorium when it is supplemented by electronically projected images, even one of me—a feeble-voiced, octogenarian American-Chinese.

Yi-Fu Tuan is a philosopher, author, and emeritus professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

2. Public Squares Are More Vital Than Ever as Our Public Conversation Expands

Setha Low

Many social scientists predicted that, with the Internet, public spaces would stop being used. Instead, we are finding that the Internet (and especially Twitter and Facebook, which allows for rapid communication) can produce very large audiences involved and concerned about an issue, and they are showing up in public spaces. The Internet has expanded the public sphere—the political realm of ideas and conversation that is outside of the control of the domestic and “private” spheres of home and business. Many more people than ever before are included in the public sphere because they can comment on and even direct political conversations in ways that previous generations were not able to do except through newsprint, television, and book writing. It’s hard to keep this kind of energy constrained only to the virtual sphere of cyberspace.

Social movements and political uprisings belie arguments that public space and the public sphere have ever been separated. The centrality of a public square, park, or street as a place to come together to struggle, celebrate, grieve, and collaborate remains as vital as ever. Think of how people take to the streets or a square to express their rights to participate and be represented in the public sphere. The Arab Spring and the global Occupy movements drew inspiration from the jubilant atmosphere and contagious energy emanating from the crowds, from the urban design and siting of the public spaces where they occurred, and from the digital technologies that connected people through mobile phones and websites that alerted people to what was happening and where.

The end result is that digital technologies and the Internet are making dissent particularly visible and widening the political realm of ideas to include diverse publics and counter-publics.

Setha Low is director of the Public Space Research Group at The Graduate Center, City University of New York. Recent books include Politics of Public Space; Rethinking Urban Parks: Public Space and Cultural Diversity; On the Plaza: The Politics of Public Space and Culture; and Behind the Gates: Life, Security and the Pursuit of Happiness in Fortress America.

3. If Cyberspace Were Enough, Why Would I See People Fishing, Picnicking, and Stealing Kisses at the Park?

Steve Hymon

A few days ago, I rode the Metro Gold Line to the park next to the East L.A. Civic Center.

The park is one of those L.A. places most people probably have never visited unless their car broke down nearby or they served jury duty in the adjacent courthouse. It’s a neighborhood place, featuring a nice (albeit manmade) fishing lake, a small amphitheater and inviting green lawns and shade trees.

On this beautiful August evening — I was at the park for work purposes — there was no shortage of people. Sure, some stared blankly into Vader-black rectangles glued to their palms. But most park-goers, to my eye, were doing the kind of things people have always been doing in parks: picnicking, playing games, snoozing under a tree, stealing a kiss from the girlfriend. A young guy caught a smallmouth bass, then made his buddy remove the hook. The height of masculinity it was not. But it wasn’t a video game. It was man versus beast.

The so-called Digital Age may be in the process of unrepentantly swallowing whole newspapers, bookstores, libraries, and attention spans. But public space and all that goes with it seems quite immune to digital’s charms. On any given day, I can take a bus or train to a variety of plazas, squares, parks, beaches, piers, esplanades, walking paths — whatever you want to call them — and find plenty of people using public space as they always have.

If anything, the existence of cyberspace, which isn’t really space at all, makes most of us eager to see, touch, and feel anything that isn’t a 1 or 0. I don’t see that changing except for one thing: smartphones guarantee a future with more pics of people using public space.

Steve Hymon is a former journalist and the editor of Metro’s blog, The Source.

TIME Innovation

Apple Hasn’t Solved the Smart Watch Dilemma

Apple Unveils iPhone 6
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Smart watches use up far more energy than dumb watches, and there’s nowhere to store that much energy in something the size of a watch

LinkedIn Influencer Felix Salmon published this post originally on LinkedIn. Follow Felix on LinkedIn.

There’s a decent rule of thumb, when it comes to anything Apple: When it introduces something brand new, don’t buy version 1.o. Wait until the second or third version instead, you’ll be much better off.

Does anybody remember OS 10.0? It was a disaster, and even people who installed it spent 90% of their time in OS 9 instead. The very first MacBook Air? An underpowered exercise in frustration. The original iPad? Heavy and clunky. The original iPod? Was not only heavy and clunky and expensive, it was also tied to the Macintosh, and didn’t work either alone or with a PC.

The best-case scenario for the Apple Watch is that the product we saw announced Tuesday will eventually iterate into something really great. Because anybody who’s ever worn a watch will tell you: this thing has serious problems.

For one thing, Apple has been worryingly silent on the subject of battery life, but there’s no indication that this thing will last even 24 hours. A watch’s battery should last for months; even watches which don’t have batteries will last for a couple of days, if you have to wind them manually, or indefinitely, if they’re automatic and all you have to do is wear them.

Watches might be complicated on the inside, but they’re simple on the outside, and they should never come with a charging cable. (To make matters worse, even though the Apple Watch only works if you have an iPhone, the iPhone charging cable will not charge the Apple Watch; you need a different charging cable entirely.)

Of course, the Apple Watch is more than just a watch. But it’s also less than just a watch, which is a problem. It probably isn’t waterproof, for instance — don’t take it swimming, or use it during any other watersport. Its battery life means that you can’t take it camping, and that you’re going to have to remember yet another charging cable any time you leave the house for more than about 18 hours. (And yes, if you end up unexpectedly spending the night somewhere, your watch will be a brick in the morning.)

Behind all the shiny options (sport! gold! different straps!) the watch itself is always pretty much the same: thick, clunky, a computer strapped to your wrist. Which is great, I suppose, if you’re the kind of person who likes to strap a computer to your wrist.

Here’s my main beef with the Apple Watch: Apple has always been the company which makes products for real people, rather than gadgets for geeks. It’s the Less Is More company, yet the Apple Watch is overloaded with features. It pays for things! It measures your heartbeat! It controls your TV! It stores your airline boarding pass! It can show you a picture of where you are on the planet, in glorious high-def Retina resolution! Etc, etc.

Any one of these sounds quite clever: I like the idea, for instance, of being able to take a photo from my phone remotely. Useful for group selfies. But we’ve had watches which do lots of things for decades, and I can tell you that almost nobody actually uses those functions. By allowing thousands of different apps on its watch, Apple is buying into the More Is More mindset: make sure that the watch offers something for everybody. And in order to get there, it has had to create a whole system of twiddles and taps and swipes which you’re going to have to learn before you can really start using the watch. Put it this way: no one who only has one wrist is going to be wearing an Apple Watch.

Apple’s website is now full of language saying things like “to pay with Apple Watch, just double-click the button under the Digital Crown and hold your wrist up to the contactless reader,” or “Swipe up from the watch face for Glances that quickly show you information you care about, such as your current location, stocks or your next meeting.” This isn’t easy: if you need to swipe with your opposite hand, what you’re doing is much more than a Glance. Indeed, we need to take it on trust that you’ll be able to simply tell the time just by looking at your watch. To save battery life, Apple has engineered the watch so that it’s off by default, and only turns on when you turn your wrist a certain way.

In other words, Apple hasn’t solved the basic smartwatch dilemma, which is that smart watches use up far more energy than dumb watches, and that there’s nowhere to store that much energy in something the size of a watch. Indeed, Apple has made the problem worse, by combining a powerful computer with a very bright, ultra-high-resolution, full-color display. Either of those things would require a lot of energy; both together require a very thick watch and a limited battery life.

It’s possible that in an iteration or two, Apple will have solved this problem. It’s possible — but, I’m not holding my breath. The problem has been around a very long time, and no one seems to have come close to solving it yet. So my best hope is for some kind of NanoWatch: a thinner, less fully-featured version of the Apple Watch, with a much less versatile display.

If Apple manages to come up with a thin, waterproof watch which I can wear comfortably under a shirt cuff, one where I can tell the time just by looking at it, without having to recharge it twice a day, then I’ll be interested. I’d want it to measure my activity like the Apple Watch does, but I’d be happy with the visual feedback to come from my iPhone. Similarly, if my watch vibrates to alert me of something, I’d be OK with checking my phone to see what exactly it was. But what I don’t want is to start having to deal with as many watch charging cables as I have iPhone charging cables. Because that would drive me bonkers.

Felix Salmon is a senior editor at Fusion.

TIME Innovation

Early Apple Designer: Apple Is Now a Marketing-Driven Company

Apple Unveils iPhone 6
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

The company is moving into the fashion-minded luxury market to protect its profits

As expected, Apple’s upgraded iPhones – finally rounded again for nice touch – and the Apple Watch are meticulously designed and continue Apple’s design strategy of elegant simplicity and fine materials. The software user interface of both product lines provides logical interaction and is visually appealing. And as expected, Apple makes things and solutions like wellness monitoring or wireless payment better, even when invented by others.

However, the absence of fundamental innovation also shows that Apple is becoming a marketing-driven company, which now has to follow market pressures. As even the most advanced technology in the wireless space Steve Jobs pioneered is becoming a commodity within the shortest period of time, the company is moving into the fashion-minded luxury market to protect its profits. The money and the talent for this strategic shift is there, however Steve Jobs probably would have preferred the Apple Watch in stainless steel — the authentic material real watches are made of.

Hartmut Esslinger is the founder of Frog design. His book is Keep it Simple: The Early Design Years of Apple.

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