'iWatch': Keeping it real

'iWatch': Keeping it real

Summary: I don't know if Apple is working on an iWatch or not, but what I do know is that any smartwatch--Apple or otherwise--is going to have to operate within certain parameters.

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TOPICS: Apple
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Over the past few days I've read an awful lot of speculation about Apple's latest unicorn product—the iWatch. However, much of it seems to be pie-in-the-sky thinking that's not grounded in any form of reality.

I don't know if Apple is working on an iWatch or not, but what I do know is that any smartwatch—Apple or otherwise—is going to have to operate within certain parameters. Let's take a look at some of these constraints.

  • It has to fit on every wrist.
    This might seem like a no-brainer, but consider that we are talking about a device that will be equally at home on the dainty arm of a petite girl as it would be on my 8-inch wrist. This consideration alone rules out giant Angry Birds-capable displays.
  • It has to have decent battery life.
    No one is going to be happy charging up their iWatch as often as they charge up their iPhone or iPad. But tiny button cells, not massive lithium-ion battery packs are the norm for powering wristwatches. This means that the device has to sip at, as opposed to guzzle from, the battery.
    Fitting a solar panel to the iWatch would help, but not as much as you think, because unless iWatch owners are willing to walk around with ISS-style panels, we're dealing with tiny amounts of power measure in microwatts.
    Battery life will need to be measured in days, not hours.
  • Think Siri, not buttons.
    Forget about the idea of buttons and apps, and instead think of simple controls and Siri. Remember how much people complained that the 3.5-inch screen on the iPhone 4S was cramped before the iPhone 5? Do you want to walk around with an iPhone 4S strapped to your wrist?
  • Forget cellular.
    I've come across several pundits who speculate that the iWatch could take over from the iPhone by having an integrated cellular connection. These people obviously don't know how much power this required.
    Any iWatch will undoubtedly future wireless, but this will take the form of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Cellular is just too much of a battery guzzler.
  • E-ink makes sense.
    While it's nice to dream about having a high-resolution retina display fixed to my wrist, the truth is that these screens put far too much pressure on the battery. E-ink is the perfect solution. It's not as sexy as a high-density backlit LCD display, but it means you don't have to be attached to a giant battery.
  • Think apps, but not iOS apps.
    Sure, a smartwatch needs apps, but let's be serious here, we're talking apps specifically designed for a low-power device with a small screen. Simple stuff, not Angry Birds and word processors.
  • Rugged and waterproof.
    Apple is renowned for making beautiful devices, but they're not the most robust of devices. A smartwatch is going to need to waterproof and tough enough to put up with daily knocks and scrapes. You might be able to stick your iPhone or iPad in a case, but your iWatch is going to have to survive naked on your wrist.
  • Price, price, price.
    The Pebble smartwatch retails for $150. Apple's luxury brand status means that it could probably ask around $200 to $250 for the iWatch, but at a 30 percent profit margin, this doesn't leave wriggle room for laser beams and 3D holographic projectors. We're talking a device here based on existing technology, not stuff recovered from the Roswell crash site.

Want an idea what the iWatch might look like, take a look at Pebble

Topic: Apple

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13 comments
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  • Fewer and fewer wear watches

    I haven't worn a watch in over a decade. I have zero interest in ANY type of watch. Spending money to develop a smart watch when nobody is wearing watches is a massive waste of resources with little chance of return. People stopped wearing watches for a variety of reasons having nothing to do with not being "smart." I had a smart watch 20 years ago that held my contacts, notes, and unlimited alarms among other things. I have all of that plus vastly more in my phone now, so why carry both? This is another solution looking for a problem which doesn't exist. Has creativity died completely at Apple?
    BillDem
    • No it hasn't died

      They keep finding creative ways to get the faithful to buy their new products.

      I read where someone purchased the iPhone, and iPad, then upgraded 2 years later to the new iPhone and the new iPad.

      So if you're going to scrap perfectly fine items like an iPad after a year or two, to get the latest and greatest, then they'll be happy to run out and get an innovative product like the iWatch no matter what.

      (though I had to laugh as a user here also complained that Surface RT was getting 4 years support, so buyers are screwed after 4 years (ha ha), Then goes on to show that's not important as we should just happily upgrade every 2 years)
      William Farrel
    • Wow the iWatch!

      When can I expect the iAbacus, the iEightTrack and the iCassette? ;-)
      Tony_McS
      • Why is it people only get interested when it's apple?

        This article is really about an "iPebble" ... Just order a pebble. Want more apps, colour display and a more smartphone like capability, order a Sony smart watch.

        However the assumption that a wearable device is a thing of the past due to smartphones having replaced watches is largely presumptive. With smartphones now over 5 years old, we are seeing their form factor expand massively from the traditional iPhone size, to the tablet-with calls function note. Supposing that the future of mobile devices is with standard phones is pretty short sighted.

        This article highlights the problem; it goes on about what technologies should make up a smartwatch, not what it should do. Tere is no reason that your ipad shouldn't be able to take a simcard that can make calls amd send texts as well as data; I can buy a £7 phone that does that. Sure you wouldn't walk down the street with any 10" tablet pressed against your head, but you may be working on it and want to place a call from a headset, or check your text messages; especially as these become unlimited in price plans.

        Devices need to work together; the two mentioned smart watches link to your android or iOS device and act as remote control interfaces to them; you don't get your expensive apple or bulky Samsung out of your bag/pocket, or you can use them at the beach with the device safely out of harms way.

        This is what apple missed with the nano; the last generation they expected people to wear it like a watch, but only provided a standalone device. It came with standard apple wired headphones, so really they were asking you to sync another device with your computer and maintain it, and have a cable going from your arm to your ear which jut gets in the way, and offered no additional features other than FM radio. They designed a product to fit into a product "hole" they made and so limited it. No one wore that as a watch.

        You can see this limited sight in the current nano... It has Bluetooth to play music to speaker docks, but no wifi. Arguably wifi is of more use as it allows streaming, wifi docks and apples own iTunes Match services.

        We don't wear watches anymore (except for jewlery) because they offer no benefit; the time is on your smartphone and you'll take that out of your pocket often enough to have a good idea what that time is/see other information as you check the time. Devices such as these will gain traction if they are correctly priced and designed with features to integrate not stand alone; I don't want to skip forward and backwards from an I watch; my headphones can do that, I want to browse the music library on my iPod or iPhone and select a song without taking it out of my pocket, or ... And here's the reach; browse spotify.

        For now that kind of capability seems to be more like to come from the competition such as Sony. I would not rule out wearable tech.... Rather a watch than glasses; for anyone yet to reach e ge where you get glasses; it's annoying. Necessary, but annoying.
        MarknWill
    • Fewer and fewer wear watches

      "Spending money to develop a smart watch when nobody is wearing watches is a massive waste of resources with little chance of return."

      Not sure if this Apple rumor is true or not, but if it was, isn't this the type market Apple excels at? They look for a market that's neglected or underserved and in need of a reinvention/revolution. The fact that people stopped wearing watches is probably music to Apple's ears.

      I also stopped wearing a watch years ago, mainly because my phones gives me everything I need (plus the time). But do you really think Apple will release a smart watch that mainly focuses on telling the time? That would surely be a waste of time and resources (pun not intended). Instead what I see them doing is creating some much cooler that ties into their ecosystem and communicates with their other devices. Maybe a Siri watch where Dick Tracy reality finally comes to life. A twitter watch for those social addicts that cant go a second without the service. iMessage watch that keeps you in constant communication at a glance without always having to pull out your phone. Or something that's a communication of all three plus more.
      dave95.
  • Not geek chic enough

    Who would it impress? People who are looking for non-geek status will be looking for something like a used Rolex or at least a lower-priced name brand *watch*.

    Techno-geeks won't be impressed by a $200-$250 watch even from Apple.

    At most it would impress a handful of wannabe techno-geeks who don't really know much about tech but think the fact alone that it's Apple makes it cool. But realistically, how many people know more than 1-2 wannabe techno-geeks? It couldn't be someone at a tech company, because the *real* techno-geeks would make it clear immediately that it was a waste of money. And the wannabes aren't going to dispute the actuals.
    Rick_R
  • iWatch

    Just about as "cool" as Google Goggles and bluetooth headsets.

    I can't wait to be wearing all this junk day in and day out
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • Vea Digital Out Of France

    has a couple of nice units as well!

    http://www.veadigital.com/
    Mujibahr
  • iWatch is iFuture

    The last watch I wore was the iPod Nano (previous Gen). It works great.
    TimeForAChangeToBetter
  • Most of these watches are doomed!

    Most of these watches are doomed for failure. It doesn't matter how elegant the OS is, or how responsive the touchscreen is, or even how vibrant the display is. Each time you touch the screen you black out a huge portion of display. Can you imagine if you have an oversized hand. Guess what most men do. The only solution would be a mini mouse like that of the older blackberrys. How else will they do it?
    Agustin Tony Nolasco
  • .esroh eht erofeb trac eht gnittuP

    With absolutely no discussion of the purpose of an iWatch, Kingley-Hughes lays down the technology constraints that it must adhere to.

    This is a classic case of putting the cart before the horse.

    But in Kingsley-Hughes' case, a journalist who sets him self up a some sort of technology guru, it clearly labels him as an fraud.

    No real technologist would put down constraints for a product without knowing the purpose of the product.
    Henry 3 Dogg
  • Price

    That is the only one that really matters on your list, because no one is going to give up what they carry in their pockets for less that they wear on their wrist. I doubt that even a companion device will really work, because....why carry two to do the job of one?

    It must offer some value that the phone in your pocket doesn't....or it must do the same job in a smaller package that you wear on your wrist.

    I see only those two scenarios as being reasonable.
    AudeKhatru
  • Yawn

    I don't wear a watch- I never have... I don't see the point in smart watches at all. I'm a mac fan and I have no idea why any company would make a smart phone... I mean whats the point????

    Apart from making a company richer?
    mizieya@...