An Apple 'Smart Watch' is a dumb idea

An Apple 'Smart Watch' is a dumb idea

Summary: Fanboys want Apple to transform the iPod nano into a wrist-top computer, but that's a tiny market that the Cupertino giant is unlikely to want to bother with.

TOPICS: Apple, Hardware, iOS, iPhone, iPad

The Apple rumor mill continues to churn, and this time the rumor relates to the upcoming iOS 6 platform, due to be released this fall.

According to the scuttlebutt, iOS 6 contains an as-yet-undisclosed feature that allows Bluetooth 4.0 capable devices -- Apple has the the iPhone 4S, iPad 3 and a selection of Macs that are Bluetooth 4.0 ready -- to communicate using the wireless technology. Bluetooth 4.0 is interesting and opens up a whole raft of possibilities. It's power consumption is low and pairing is almost instantaneous.

OK, this could be interesting.

"The feature would enable," writes Jeremy Horwitz of iLounge, "say, a future iPod nano to display iMessages received by an iPhone, record voice memos that could be shared via the iPhone, and even initiate phone calls through its own headphones".

OK, this is where the whole thing gets silly.

There are a range of straps and accessories available that allow you to convert an iPod nano into a watch. Since these devices started hitting the market -- which happened within days of the diminutive media player hitting the market -- it has been the dream of fanboys that Apple take the tiny media player and transform it into a fully-functioning wrist-top computer.

The fantasy of wrist-top computers has been around for as long as I can remember -- I'm not that old! -- but so far no one has managed to take a device and make it mass market. People just don't seem to want to replace a wristwatch with a computer.

While I have no doubt that if there's any company on the planet that could make wrist-top computers popular, then that company is Apple, the iPod nano is not the right platform. It's too small and at best would be little more than an awkward augment for an iPhone or an iPad. Having it display iMessage or text messages -- but not be able to respond to them -- or make calls seems rather lame at best.

Apple is a company that squarely -- and with unnerving precision -- targets the mainstream market nowadays, and it keeps features to an absolute minimum to keep costs down. Adding Bluetooth 4 to the iPad nano so a few people can view iMessages doesn't seem like something that Apple would do. Adding more functionality would probably mean making the iPod nano larger, and it's already a big wristwatch as far as many people are concerned.

A more likely use for a Bluetooth bridging technology would be to allow users to have a quick and easy way to connect their iDevices direct to Macs, no cable required. That makes a lot more sense than some dumb 'Smart Watch.'

Image source: iWatchz, Lunatik/Apple.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, iOS, iPhone, iPad

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  • Not so smart watch.

    I do see a market for a watch that doubles as a microphone with Bluetooth for messages. You could answer text messages with SIRI without taking your phone out. Set up meetings, weather warnings, calendar changes, GPS info such as speed, distance, estimated time of arrival and some route information etc....
    FaceTime would be nice but that would require a built in camera and need more power than a watch could have in a comfortable size. So not a computer watch exactly, but
  • Geeky Reader

    I have one of those Casio Data Bank watches. SWMBO refers to it as my "geek watch."
    Robert Hahn
  • Sony Smartwatch

    I have a Sony Smartwatch that I got about a month ago, and have grown to love.

    A discreet vibration on my wrist tells me I have a text or email, or an incoming call. An equally discreet tap of the watch face tells me what it is about, and if it needs my attention. 9 times out of 10 it is something that can be ignored. The phone (Samsung S2) stays in my bag, and saves power by not having to turn on its massive display to show me the subject of an email.

    It controls the music that is on my phone, and with a bluetooth headset lets you make or take a call easily.

    There are other apps for it, but they are gimmicky, because if I want to look at a Map or play a game, I will get my phone out of my pocket.

    I hope Sony have patented some of this! Although the fact that its a Sony device that works with lots of different manufacturers phones, makes it something that Apple will never (want to) achieve.
  • I personally could see the uses of a "smart dumb watch"

    provided it could sync between 2 devices at once such as an iPhone and Android device... the tech is there. I could see it used as a means to quickly check a text or email without taking out one's phone or check work tickets provided one's employer uses an online work order system. I recall a kickstarter project that did the above with the exception of syncing to both devices at once unfortunately time got away from me and I wasn't able to help fund it in time.
  • You missed an obvious way to interact AKH

    SIRI. Voice commands (both Google's and Apple's) have gotten good enough to stand in for a keyboard for something small like this. Hell, it also gives it that vintage spy watch feel. Whether it would sell or not is another matter entirely, but meaningful user input on something as small as the nano isn't unfeasible anymore.
  • Ya gotta love people that right in-depth analyses

    of rumors as if they are shipping products. Unreal.
  • SPOT will be MS's Newton

    In fact, I am proclaiming right now that the Nano was inspired by MS SPOT.
  • Brilliant idea.

    If they could put full 'phone functionality into the iPad and then the nano wristwatch thingy could then be the bluetooth headset function ... wow! I always have a watch ... I like listening to music but don't want to carry around a dedicated player ... I like making phone calls but I find the screen useless for productivity so I carry an iPad around too ... how much better would it be if I could just get rid of all the useless rubbish and just have a watch that controlled the iPad in my bag!!!!