The wearables market has been interesting for a few years, although not THAT interesting… You can read my previous blog about when why one 2014 smartwatch WAS finally practical, but unfortunately times have changed already, and with the demise of pebble, many people are left scratching their heads about what practical piece of technology they *might* consider wearing. Apple watch? maybe. maybe not.
2016 and 2017 saw some interesting new players. One of the most interesting (albeit expensive) is Tag Hauer’s smartwatch. Hefty brand, hefty price tag too. (missed opportunity for a play on “Tag”, but it just wasn’t THAT funny…).
So all of us are left wanting a smartwatch that LOOKS good, has any kind of reasonable battery life, and has a future. All our hopes were in Pebble, but now that Fitbit owns the tech, I don’t have much hope. I won’t wear a silly rubber band fitness tracker thing for work. Just won’t do it. I still wear my pebble steel, which still gets the job done for a little while. A new update lets us continue to have a working pebble watch even after Fitbit shuts down the pebble services. Also, a community of people spun up Rebble.io to keep the dream alive. Nice, but obviously no notable hardware improvements or future of the platform. #sigh (or #haiz — if you are in Asia)
We know that Fitbit is focused on competing with Apple watch, and Apple certainly has a decent-enough market position right now. Apple’s focus seems to be on improving battery life with its next iteration (hurrah!). Maybe they can sort-of catch up with Pebble’s track record of battery life from (cough… cough) 2012! Pebble set the bar high, Apple needs to get a lot closer, because recharging your watch every day is a deal-breaker for a lot of people. Still, I am thrilled to see that they care most about battery life this time around. If they do well, I might consider getting one.
Other interesting features they are considering (rumors): a camera built-in to the watch and a sim card slot for sort-of detached functionality from your iphone.
First the sim card: This might be an ok idea. Apple is so weird about supporting other tech. Why, oh why, doesn’t Apple watch work with Android ? that is just plain silly. Others think so too. Having the Apple watch with its own sim card might be a creative way to side-step this criticism, and let the watch work more independently.
Conclusion: sounds smart, unless Apple decides to handcuff the functionality again to iDevices only, you know, like only Apple would, could, and will likely do.
And on to the camera: Maybe I will eat my own words later, but what a crazy (stupid) idea. Lets take an already privacy-scared world, and put cameras on everybody’s wrists. Phones and laptops generally get put away during most of life (except for texting walkers), but the watch is out in the open all the time. Why bad? because hackers are getting smarter, and if you are connected, you can be vulnerable. Think this is science fiction? Think again: Hackers Control Jeep Steering. Privacy goes to a whole new level of paranoia with this feature. Do you remember to take off your watch (or put it in “bathroom mode”) before trying on new clothes ? or using the restroom? What about stealing information from screen grabs of your computer screen or marker boards in meetings? What about pictures of your kids at the park or in school? I can’t even honestly think of how or why I would WANT to have a camera on my watch, even if security were not an issue. Anything the watch camera can do, my phone can do better, and I won’t be eliminating my phone any time soon.
Conclusion: Nope. The only way I will ever wear a connected watch with a camera on it, is if I can physically disable the camera (remove, disconnect or break it). Software disable won’t be good enough for me.
What do you think about these features? Would you pay another monthly fee for sim-card driven connectivity for an apple watch? How important is battery life? How would a camera on your watch improve your life ? Leave commments below, or send me a tweet at @aschwabe