I’ve been sporting an iPod nano with a Lunatik Tiktok wrist strap daily for about 18 months. (That’s my stunningly unimpressive wrist shown in the photo above.) People comment often about it in public, mostly amazed to discover it’s simply a touchscreen iPod nano attached to my wrist.
You’ve heard plenty of rumors, anticipated names, and confirmed reports about Apple’s plans for a wrist watch powered by iOS. I needn’t rehash them here.
Instead, here’s what I reasonably anticipate for an upgrade to what’s already on my wrist. I’ll refer to it as Apple Watch.
Measured, yet innovative v1.
Let’s not get carried away with all the things Apple Watch could be. Let the media talk that up all they want. I’ll put my money in a version-one product that is measured in its approach, while innovatively filling a void that I didn’t know existed, as Apple is keen to do.
Apple faces the opposite problem it faced with iPhone, where every phone in the market was painful to use. Just about every analog or digital watch on the market is already extremely easy to use. The challenge facing Apple is one of introducing new complexity, rather than eliminating it.
But the real potential for Apple Watch lies in serving as a vehicle for innovation, rather than the sole provider of it. And a significant portion of that potential lies in apps. Hence…
For the love of Pete, please let me install apps on this thing. I use my nano watch for nothing beyond the watch, and for one reason: The factory-installed apps fail to provide any value for me.
For example, the odds of Apple getting quantified self tracking apps right for all Apple Watch owners are pretty slim. Leave that to the Stravas and Moves of the App Store ecosystem. (I question just how helpful the latter is, and for that matter, the “quantified self” movement in general. But that’s another topic for another article.)
This is a tricky one. Assuming installable apps, how would you sign in to, say, the App Store? And confirm purchases? Entering an email address and password would be laughable at best, downright frustrating at worst. Not unlike trying to punch these in with the Apple Remote on Apple TV. Alternatively, a tethered device such as iPhone could be used for input, same as Apple TV.
A less cumbersome approach would be a 4-digit PIN, or perhaps a digital combination lock with spinning face, which wouldn’t require a keypad.Or something much more innovative than both these approaches.
That watch-as-notification-display thing.
I get the thinking behind Pebble being used as secondary screen to notify you of incoming content without having to retrieve your phone from your pocket. (Ask me sometime about a pen with similar functionality that I saw demoed in a Soriana store in Mexico back in 1996. Yes, ninety-six. And in Mexico.) However, I’m just not qualified to opine on this, and I’m a little skeptical of its utility, to be frank.
Always-on time display.
Lest we forget iPhone is firstly a phone, I expect Apple Watch to be a watch first, other things second.
Accordingly, if Apple wants to hit a home run, they'll find a way to display time at all times. Shaking the wrist and pressing buttons to display time are unnecessary hacks, not unlike using a touchscreen stylus versus gestures with a finger.
Givens, I know. But you forget how important water resistance and durability is until you have a device attached to your forearm that is neither of those. Your wrist becomes a fragile appendage threatened by hand washing, rain, unexpected blows, and so forth.
Boom. That’s what I anticipate Apple Watch to be.