Rumors are once again swirling about an Apple smart watch, and this time it looks like they’re legit. On the same day, The New York Times reported that Apple was experimenting on wristwatch-like devices made of curved glass and The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was testing a watch-like device that would perform some smartphone functions.
Given that the wearable device market is exploding, it certainly makes sense for Apple to jump into the ring, but what should consumers expect? I have plenty of ideas. Here are the top 10 things I’d like to see from an Apple watch.
I want to be able to leave not just my phone, but my wallet in my pocket, too. How much easier would it be at a convenience store or subway turnstile if all you had to do was swipe your watch over a scanner? Of course, we could see this creating a new breed of pickpockets carrying mobile scanners and bumping into you by accident.
One of the failings of the I’m Watch is that you have to remember to recharge it every day. I want my iWatch to recharge just by me moving my wrist. It’s a technology that’s been around since the 1780s--surely Apple can improve on it. Apple has also been issued a patent for solar cell multitouch panels, so it’s possible that an iWatch could get juice from sunlight or ambient light.
Aside from watches, another popular on-wrist accessory are fitness bands, such as the Nike FuelBand and the Jawbone UP. Apple could dominate this category by including sensors in an iWatch that track movement and other biometric data, and give reminders on how to lead a healthier life.
The smart watches currently on the market can only give you a limited amount of information. The Martian Watch, for example, only shows 40 characters of an email or text, and the I’m Watch shows just a little more. Worse, you can’t respond to messages on either. The iWatch needs to not only display messages of all kinds concisely, but let you respond to them via Siri. (The watch will communicate with your iPhone via Bluetooth.) You’ll also be able to set your alarm, look up sports scores, get directions and more right from your wrist.
No one wants a warmed-over iPod mini with a wristband. With Jony Ive, hardware design has rarely been an issue with Apple products. But it also has to appeal to men and women, so it will have to look as good with a business suit as it does with an evening gown. With bendable glass, the iWatch could not only be adjustable to any wrist, but users could change the band to any color they choose, or even have it change dynamically based on the time of day. The iWatch could even pulsate in sync with the music if you’re at a concert or club. Hey, there could be an app for that.
For Apple to get its mojo back, a smartwatch can’t just do what every other smart watch does, only better. The device must have some feature the public hadn’t even dreamed of. I’d like to see Apple incorporate gesture controls and integrate with the mythical Apple iTV, so you could change the channel with the flick of your wrist.
While other smart watches let you control the camera on your iPhone, an iWatch could go a step further by integrating both a microphone and a camera. These features will let you not only make voice calls from the watch itself, but FaceTime and Skype calls, too, all while keeping your iPhone in your pocket.
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While it doesn’t work perfectly, a neat feature of the Sony SmartWatch and I’m Watch is the ability to customize them with apps of your choosing. Having an app store for an iWatch should be a no-brainer for Apple. The apps would have to be optimized for the small screen and could include not only news readers and weather apps but simple multitouch-enabled games and fitness apps.
Every smart watch on the market requires you to pair it to your phone via Bluetooth, which limits its functionality when your phone isn’t around. However, if the iWatch has Wi-Fi (or even a SIM card for a possible cellular version), you would be able to stay connected anywhere. However, in order for Apple to pull this off it would need to integrate a very low-power Wi-Fi chip and make it very easy to toggle this radio to save juice.
One of the most annoying things about the I’m Watch and Sony SmartWatch is that you had to press a button to check the time after the screen times out. If you can’t glance down to get the time, you lose the essence of a watch’s original purpose. Apple could solve this issue with a hybrid LCD/electronic paper display, a technology the company received a patent for in 2011. The display would be able to automatically switch between e-ink and full-color modes based on the content being viewed. Now that’s a smart watch.