Having followed and used Apple and Google products for a while now, the generalisation seems to be that Google is the risk taking young tearaway, often coming up with awesome ideas, but implementing them in a slightly haphazard manner and Apple takes these ideas, refines them like a wise old hand and releases something that works pretty flawlessly. Take the classic Android vs iPhone. Many of the features that Android has have been around ages before Apple implemented them on the iPhone. For example, Android implemented face unlock a while back, which was fun, not that secure and was more hassle than putting in a PIN. Apple refined that idea of using a part of your body to unlock your device with Touch ID, which by all accounts works pretty flawlessly. Fingerprint ID, is of course nothing new, it’s just no one had implemented it in such a refined way until the iPhone 5s. Other people come up with the ideas, Apple converts them into something the everyday consumer can find useful.
This is how I’m feeling about the upcoming iWatch (assuming the rumours are true, and I’ll call it iWatch for the duration of the article). Tech on your wrist is nothing new. Dick Tracy started it, Pebble took it to the next level, Samsung took it back a few steps with Gear, Android Wear seems interesting but underwhelming currently (although Google asserting control over the OS is a positive thing). This all makes the iWatch an interesting prospect because I’d like to think that if Apple do release such a product, they will do so without compromise in it’s function.
So, this is what I would love to see in a possible iWatch device, in no particular order:
1 – The main emphasis on fitness.
There is talk that the device will have up to 10 sensors which will monitor a variety of things during your day and night. Apple’s trump card for this would surely be firstly, accurate sensing, and secondly some kind of sensor that is completely different to anything else out there. Maybe something that would provide analyses of your sweat – or even urine? OK, maybe I wouldn’t want to take that step, especially if the device is expensive. I wonder if you can get insurance for that sort of thing….
2 – Excellent battery life.
I’d really like to see Apple push this and maybe look for at least a 2 day battery life. I’m interested in Google’s Project Volta for Android L, which looks like a promising way of getting more juice out of existing batteries. If Apple can do something similar, as they did with the iPad battery, and make it best in class then it would be a very compelling prospect.
3 – Notifications.
I’m not too worried about writing a document, or even composing an email on my watch, but it is of course useful to see email, texts, tweets and other notifications come through. I would assume that Apple would take the ‘Handoff’ feature into the iWatch in that if you have an email ping up on your wrist, by the time you take your iPad out to answer it, the email is ready for you to compose. I actually like the idea coming out of Microsoft where the watch is worn on the inside of the wrist to make sure notifications are kept private from others. Simple and effective.
4 – Biometric unlock.
No one wants to be fiddling around with a lock screen on a small device and we want instant access to our stuff if we are wearing it. The iWatch would need some kind of biometric lock/unlock in that if it is away from your person, no one could access the data on it.
5 – Flawless Siri integration.
It would be a bit embarrassing talking to your wrist (although we pretty much do that anyway when we use a phone), but a flawless Siri experience with active listening on a device like the iWatch is a must, due to the assumed lack of a keyboard. Google look to have done great things with voice recognition on Glass, but even that system is far from perfect.
6 – Location aware
Clearly the idea with a watch is that you are wearing it all the time. Apple have certainly been dabbling with location aware software in the recent past and it would be logical to see this expanded to an iWatch. It could be programmed to turn on lights, TV’s, game consoles, computers and heating as you walk through the door after work. Using an ITTT (if this, then that) style app could allow you to program your iWatch to do certain things when you reach home or work depending on where you are geographically.
What I would not like to see:
1 – Playing fast and loose with fitness and health related statistics.
We’ve seen this sort of thing in movies where people are profiled for what may or may not happen in the future. I’d hate to see data generated from my iWatch, sent on to my HealthKit, shared with my Doctor and insurance company who turn round and say “sorry, we’re not insuring you as you have a 78.2% risk of developing type 2 diabetes”. I’d like to think Apple are above all of this, but how many times have large companies bungle with our data?
2 – Apps optimised for iWatch.
The nearest comparison I can see with this is when you have an iPhone app running on an iPad. The experience is pretty terrible. I’m sure it would never happen, but I hope Apple doesn’t let developers squeeze their apps down to iWatch size. I would expect specifically designed apps to run in that environment. Who wants to be running a spreadsheet on their wrist?
3 – Dodgy build quality.
This is not something you associate with Apple, and I hope they make the iWatch tough due to the fact that if it is on your wrist 24/7 it will need to be.
My guess is that the iWatch will either be a raving success or a poor seller. I don’t think it will be a ‘meh’ product. Apple will have to do something amazing with it as it could be the first product to really set the wearables sector going, much like it did with the app development industry when it released the iPhone and iPad. If they screw it up, the eyes of the everyday consumer might turn away from the idea of having a wearable in your everyday life. Personally, I hope it will be a massive success, as it will force other companies to innovate and implement, which ultimately is a great thing for us.