White smart watch and smart phone

By Greg Wester, CMO

For years, we’ve been preaching about the limited utility of merely finding the last app used when we first open our smartphones. We also recently predicted that Apple will change our phones into device-centric content discovery agents that make it easier than ever before to find and enjoy the media we love. Well, in a bit of serendipity, while messing around with my Apple Watch, I recently noticed that Apple has a setting that only re-affirms they are looking at better and smarter ways to serve users by dynamically changing when the last app used is kept so that it appears on wake.

Apple Watch’s Smarter Wake Screen

The Apple Watch, unlike the iPhone, gives you the ability to change when the first thing you see is (and isn’t) the last thing you used.

Now obviously if you are still using the app (think in the middle of reading a text message) having the last app show up can be helpful. But the vast majority of the time, when you first look at your Watch face, you want to find out the time – which would make needing to close out of the last app annoying and unnecessary friction.

On our phones, meanwhile, the most common frame of mind when opening our phones these days is “App-nostic” – or, rather, we don’t have any app in mind and are looking for our phones to find something to entertain us.

Considering this, finding the last app on waking up your phone is useful only a small portion of the time. Since Apple is actively allowing us to change this setting on the Watch, it wouldn’t be too hard to allow us to do this on our phones as well. But the larger revelation is that a major player in the wireless industry has looked at and considered the logic of when and how to replace displaying the last app used with something that delivers more value.

It isn’t a big leap of faith to see Apple, a major media player, go the extra mile and show something on the wake screen that is more useful to subscribers. While device-centric discovery solutions go beyond just the wake screen, there still is a major opportunity for smartphone innovators to better the smartphone by simply trying to better what customers first see. Apple almost certainly will in the near future and we wouldn’t be surprised to see other market leaders follow suit.