So as some of you may well know, I harbour something resembling an intense hatred of wearable technology. Some of this stems from a stubborn predisposition against watches, and some of it comes from a logical examination of the concept of wearable technology. To summarise my feelings on the latter, I would argue that current smartwatches aren’t capable enough to make using phones more convenient, rather they are merely a needless “middle-man” device that serves no real, justified purpose and is essentially useless, like an inflatable dart board or glow-in-the-dark sunglasses.
That being said, the rumors of iWatch production and preparation continue to flow at an ever-increasing pace, and so through time and therapy, I’m slowly preparing myself to face the inevitability of an iWatch release. But Apple can’t just stick a strap on an iPod, throw it on your wrist and demand $200 (probably more) in the process. The iWatch needs to be good, really good. Unlike the iPhone and the iPod, the iWatch is entering a pre-established market with successful products already seeing success. This is not Apple’s brainchild, and it’s not a revolutionary product launch, which means the iWatch needs to be extra special. What does it need to succeed? A few things I believe, first up, a change of name.
What’s in a name?
“iWatch”, whilst the most logical Apple-centric moniker to be applied to the concept, doesn’t sound at all enticing. The name “iWatch” still hits me like nails on a chalkboard. I am quite certain such a device wouldn’t carry the name “iWatch”, it sounds too cheesy, too obvious, I just can’t see it. The iWat… argh… Apple’s smartwatch needs to have a good name, a product’s name holds tremendous weight, more-so perhaps than people often realise.
The iPhone 5c highlighted a more concerted push from Apple towards devices that reflect people’s personality a little more closely. It was a small step, but progress nonetheless. Watches are as much items of fashion as they are functionality. I have no doubt that an Apple smartwatch will represent the cutting edge of mobile device design, but I’m certain it won’t float everyone’s boat. In the same way that cases on an iPhone open up a world of customisation, so too must an Apple smartwatch allow as for the aesthetic tastes of as many people as possible. This can be achieved not only through customisable displays, but also different colors, straps and housings.
Apple’s new Health app, launched with iOS 8, and its developer equivalent tool HealthKit, has opened up a world of health-monitoring possibilities in Apple’s new mobile software. If an Apple smartwatch is to succeed, then it must take full advantage of this new horizon, with a very active focus on monitoring exercise, sleep and perhaps even more important functions like heart-rate or blood pressure. Of course, synchronisation with other iOS devices could ensure that an Apple smartwatch becomes an integral part of a healthy lifestyle in the future. The success of Nike’s Fuelband is certainly a testament to the market for such a focus.
If I have to take this wretched thing off more than once every five days to charge it, then something’s wrong. I also reckon that plugging in a watch might become a little tiresome, so perhaps inductive or wireless charging could be a massive bonus.
A notification system worth using
Notifications are my biggest smartwatch reservation. If your smartwatch tells me I’ve received a text, but then I need my phone to reply, then I might as well have gone straight to my phone. An Apple smartwatch needs to really push the boundaries of quick reply, as well as accessibility when it comes to viewing content on a small display. On that latter point I’m talking mostly about emails, often rich in images, media and attachments. Can Apple produce a system that lets me view emails with ease without sacrificing the quality of content or important information? If an Apple smartwatch doesn’t make it more convenient to go to my wrist, rather than to my phone when a notification needs attention, then the whole jig is up. Here I believe lies the true key to the success of wearable tech.
What do you think that the iWatch needs to succeed? Leave your thoughts and comments below!