The presentation of the Apple Watch Series 3 on September 12, which includes an Apple eSIM, an innovation that seems to have gone unnoticed by most journalists, is a milestone in line with the company’s traditional strategy: establish a “moment of truth” without actually having made the technological innovation.
Smartwatches with their own SIM cards have been available for a long time: no one remembers which was the first, and their sales in general have been scarce in a category still considered secondary, but with a healthy annual growth and that Apple radically dominates. Now, with the launch of the third iteration of its smartwatch, the brand has entered new territory: that of a replacement for the smartphone in certain situations.
In a very short time, smartphones have gone from being a simple telephone terminal to becoming a “device for everything” without which we dare not venture out into the world. Last week, I left the house without my smartphone, something that had not happened for a long time: I realized that it lacked a bit of charge, I connected it to a charger on a spare table, I left it there, and did not I realized until I got to the office. The feeling of “nudity”, of missing something all morning was deeply unpleasant, culminating in moments like sending an email from a computer asking someone to call me to a terminal I do not have, not being able to use Apple Pay , realizing that I cannot call Uber, that I could almost not catch my train station because my ticket was in Wallet, or not knowing where my wife was waiting at the station (she had been tasked with bringing my iPhone). All in all, an uncomfortable and rather surreal morning, especially when my Apple Watch, reduced for several hours to providing access to my agenda, suddenly connected to my iPhone even though my wife was out of my sight and allowed me to access my ticket and communicate with her (and then the weird, but not totally inconvenient experience of writing on the watch screen). In short, an experience that showed my total dependence on an electronic device.
A smartwatch’s ability to partially substitute a smartphone is something tens of thousands of joggers will know about: running with a couple of hundred grams in the pocket or strapped to your arm is not comfortable. What’s more, anybody can leave their smartphone behind, but it is unusual to forget something that you wear all day on the wrist. Being able to paddle surf and connect to the world without looking like Dick Tracy is more transcendental than one might at first imagine.
The first Apple Watch didn’t attract my attention much, and my first was a present. In summer, I tend to do without it: I am very fond of the sea and diving. However, I always have my smartphone with, and although I do not take it to the sea, as said, I would find myself uncomfortable without it. As Apple itself says,
Whether users are out for a run, at the pool, or just trying to be active throughout their day, Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular allows them to stay connected, make calls, receive texts, and more, even without iPhone nearby.
Replacing the many functions of a device weighing a couple of hundred grams that we carry in the pocket with a much lighter one that we wear on the wrist may seem a first world problem, but it’s certainly an interesting development. I’m not sure if it’s a replacement as such, or simply a couple of degrees of freedom under certain circumstances. Wearables are also a way of putting pressure on component manufacturers: we want devices that are smaller and smaller, with longer battery life, connectivity and more functions, to the point where we can use them as substitutes for other devices. An anchor for a new ecosystem. Soon we’ll be wearing smartglasses, smartwatches, and our pockets will be… empty?
(En español, aquí)