While very beautiful, the image above is not what I want a wearable from Apple (or any other manufacturer) to be, and I very much doubt Apple would produce it, not because they couldn’t, but because it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t serve any additional purpose, users already have an iPhone in their pocket, why would anyone slap another one on their wrist?
I haven’t worn a watch for at least 10 years, my mobile is good enough for me when I’m mobile, and the menu bar on my Mac is a glance away when I’m at work, so a watch is redundant for me, if I’m about to put something on my wrist it needs to add functionality, not simply replicate another device (or look worth mugging me for).
I know Apple have started trademarking the name iWatch around the globe, but I suspect that’s either Brand Protecting whatever they do produce from copycats, or it’s putting the rest of the market off the scent of what they’re really working on… who knows, maybe iWatch is a trademark to cover something they’re working on for the Apple TV, referring to what customers view and has nothing to do with time keeping?
I have friends with Pebble watches, but they all tell me not to bother, why? Because they sound great on paper, but in reality they don’t actually add any real purpose or benefit to their daily routine. Example they’ve all said, you receive an SMS, your phone vibrates or goes ping, you start to reach for your phone in your pocket and then the Pebble on your wrist goes ping and vibrates, mmmmm… is that worth $150? There are plenty of others in the market, Sony, Samsung, Google Glass, but personally I don’t want to walk around looking like an extra from Star Trek, at least Google Glass is waterproof! So it has to look like something people would want to wear regardless of it’s function!
Apple have an amazing eco system they can monitor, they monitor how & where users are using their iOS devices, what apps they’re downloading, utilising, erasing, that’s a goldmine of UX. Their partnerships with the likes of Nike have been carefully orchestrated and even more carefully monitored, they now employ a former Nike Fuel Band consultant. They’ve purchased sensor development companies, notably in the medical monitoring and healthcare sectors.
But let’s look at the practicalities… the real world have hard surfaces, technology doesn’t like being smacked around and nobody likes scratching their shiny new bit of tech, why else would their be a multi-billion dollar industry in protective cases. And that’s for something that sits a large amount of it’s time on your desk, in your pocket, or bag… something on your wrist is going to get a lot more abuse, you move your arms around a lot more. And let’s no forget, we’re organic, we sweat, we have bacteria living on our skin, we get wet, we wash, we take showers, we wash our hands, we swim, snowboard, ride bikes, mountain climb, go running etc any device spending the majority of its time on our wrist or any other part of our body, needs to stand up to all of that. Something made of shiny white plastic and glass wouldn’t last long. Plus, with a reasonable size screen power becomes an issue, and with extra batteries comes extra weight.
So rather than a glorified wrist watch that offers a limited and lacklustre phone experience (which in itself is contrary to Apple’s raison d’être), I envisage an elegantly simple looking, non-descript, screenless, virtually seamless device that we forget we even have on our wrist until it reminds us with a little vibration, ping, or illumination. Something water proof, that monitors our biometrics (heart rate, temp, glucose levels, unique ECG pattern, sleeping patterns), our movement, elevation, velocity, has a fingerprint scanner for ID confirmation, handles NFC payments (Ski passes, transportation, Oyster), handles security (opens doors Locitron), connects to other devices around it (BLE & iBeacons), is voice controlled (Siri), has a battery that lasts days, not hours and costs no more than $200-250. If there is a version with a screen, then something with only limited functionality, i.e. SMS, email notifications, alarms, calendar events, media playback control (pause, stop, next, previous, volume etc)… and of course, the time! An always on screen would kill battery life of course, but a screen that only activates when prompted should be ok.
I could go on, but you get the idea, it adds functionality and usability where a mobile phone can’t (or it wouldn’t be practicable). That’s a wearable I’d wear.
The above image is taken from an Apple patent for a wearable device, akin to a reflective snap on a cyclist would wear.
UPDATE (Jan 2014):
Wow just stubbled across this concept by Thomas Bogner, he must be a kindred spirit!