Which is the most awaited Apple iOS device this year?
Is it the next generation iPhone?
Is it the new iPad or the TV?
No, it is the iWatch.
Apple is probably at it again, telling us this time that we need a iWatch. As details emerge in this report from Bloomberg yesterday, it is becoming evident that Apple is poised to tap into the $60 billion watch industry. That is not surprising, as Apple’s previous Nano was already watch-sized. The wrist band accessory for the previous Nano in fact converted it into a usable wrist watch. However, it looks like Apple this time may be working on a totally new iOS device as a watch, rather than building upon the Nano. Let’s discuss why, and a few expectations from this future device.
There are rumors floating all around the net on the various specifications about this device. Whether it would be iPhone-like, combining computing features along with the core time keeping function? Maybe we beam our images through an inbuilt projector. Maybe we can mimic James Bond and open the car, and control many things in our life. The rumors are endless, but instead of analyzing any of these, I would rather focus on the usability of this device.
The iWatch (or whatever it is to be called), needs to primarily show time. So first and foremost, we should expect that this device is able to show time to us instantly, whenever we need it on a daily basis. It is expected that this device will run iOS. Hence, we should hope that Apple is able to have the right hardware offering a great battery life, so that users do not run out of charge with the device on the wrist.
According to sources from The Verge, Apple’s prototype watch hardware is currently getting only a couple of days out of its battery, and the company is targeting at least four to five (around what the Pebble gets) before ramping up for a public release. We may get Apple to rework on the OS and hardware to achieve this. As the Verge mentions:
Obviously Apple has time to resolve these issues; just as it had to when it reworked OS X to work on the iPhone instead of building up the iPod’s operating system in the late 2000s.
If the reports are accurate, Apple is making the right move in pushing for better battery life. The value of a watch-based computer depends largely on its ability to operate inconspicuously: the reason wearable computing is attractive to begin with is that it promises to be less conspicuous, and easier to integrate into your everyday life than smartphones or tablets. An iWatch that needs to hit the charger every day loses a lot of that value.
What Apple has in front of them is a formidable design challenge. In order to follow the company’s proven template, the iWatch would need to be a singular product with a limited number of options. As mentioned in this article from Forbes:
Unlike the rest of the luxury watch industry that can make all kinds of custom lines for people with different tastes and different sized wrists, Apple will need to make a fairly neutral canvas upon which customizations can be applied with software. And it will need to adjust to the size of a wide variety of wrists in an elegant and non-clunky manner.
Looking at other competitors, Pebble has already demonstrated consumer interest in a watch that tethers to a smartphone, and Google Glass has staked claim to the leading edge on wearables. Hence, it seems that Apple will stick to the middle ground where it has lived all these years. It is not first and it is not bleeding edge. Apple has been getting its iOS technology right for such a device to be launched, with features like the Siri and the iCloud.
We’ll just need to wait and see, what Apple wants us to wear on our wrists this time.