The Apple Watch: you can’t please all of the people all the time

Enrique Dans
Aug 22, 2016 · 3 min read

Word seems to be that Apple is running into problems in implementing changes to its Apple Watch 2.0 that would make it less dependent on the iPhone, which for the moment is what provides its connectivity and other features.

Providing independent connectivity for a device as small as a smartwatch is, to say the least, a technological challenge: the current generation of cellular connectivity chipsets use too much energy, meaning short battery life. In response, Apple has focused on developing low-consumption cellular chipsets, as well as putting a GPS in its watches. Apple’s idea seems to be to eliminate the need to connect the two devices, allowing them to function independently.

Some people seem to have made their mind up about the Smartwatch: I had my doubts, thinking that I would alternate use with other timepieces or smartwatches; until I tried one, and I now find that I feel a bit lost without it. Receiving email warnings and being able to check them instantly, deciding whether to bother getting my smartphone out when I receive a call, seeing news alerts and other functions have turned me into a loyal user. But each of us has our own ideas and preferences, and I’m not going to try to convince anybody.

My doubts concern whether an independent smartwatch is really bringing much to the party. My main problem with the Apple Watch isn’t that it depends on the iPhone, because I always have my iPhone with me. Most of the demands for an independent Apple Watch are from people who want to go running or practice other sports without having to take their iPhone with them; which isn’t my case. The only time I wouldn’t have my iPhone with me, or my Apple Watch for that matter, is when I am diving. Each to their own, but are the needs of a runner or a diver really a reason to separate the two devices from each other?

When I’m diving, aside from being water resistant, what I want from my watch is very specific information, and for that reason I use a diving watch. When I go out for a walk, connectivity isn’t really what I need, so much as being able to monitor my heart rate at a glance. Do I need these things on a watch I wear all the time?

In my opinion, certain situations and activities require certain devices: trying to create an uberwatch that can meet everybody’s needs is a losing game. I would prefer a smartwatch with a longer-lasting battery, one that I wear at night and that charges quickly, say while I’m showering, and one that has cellular connectivity: the rare occasions I have taken a call Dick Tracy style are few and infrequent, if not to say embarrassing.

Apple works on the premise that people don’t know what they want until they see it, and that it has the responsibility of showing us this through outdated designs. Is it right in this case, and will we end up wearing smartwatches at all times? Or will we, as I believe, opt for specialist devices for runners, divers or other athletes, leaving out main timepiece at home?

Is it really worth launching a crusade to separate smartwatches from smartphones, given that in this day and age, just about everybody already carries one about their person?

(En español, aquí)

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at since 2003)

Enrique Dans

Written by

Professor of Innovation at IE Business School and blogger at

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at since 2003)

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