At the weekend there was a lot of tech chitter-chatter about Apple testing smartwatch designs. From one side of the development partnership, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) heard from “people briefed on the effort” at Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., (Foxconn). On the other side of the Pacific, in its headquarters, Apple is experimenting with wrist worn devices made of curved glass according to “people familiar with the company’s explorations” speaking to the New York Times (NYT).
The “iWatch” would run iOS according to the NYT sources. The newspaper went on to speculate about which iOS apps would be usable on a very small watch screen and if Siri would play a big part in its functionality.
A more interesting and thorough probe of the future possibilities of an iWatch was given by ex-Apple designer, Bruce Tognazzini, upon his blog last week. He introduced his post by saying “The iWatch will fill a gaping hole in the Apple ecosystem. It will facilitate and coordinate not only the activities of all the other computers and devices we use, but a wide array of devices to come. Like other breakthrough Apple products, its value will be underestimated at launch, then grow to have a profound impact on our lives and Apple’s fortunes.” However his blog post is “not based on insider information but a solid understanding of Apple, its products, the problem, and the opportunity”.
Tognazzini looked at the recent entrants to the smartwatch market and their respective strengths and weaknesses. This analysis gives Apple some design targets especially addressing; charging, clunky design and the interface. He also suggests some “killer apps” that would get people to think that smartwatches are actually something useful to own. Among these applications are; passcode elimination, find iPhone, phone call facilitation, extra sensors to be used in other iOS apps, NFC payments and music/media control.
Markets and analysts
With Apple’s shares experiencing engine trouble in recent months a whole new untapped market opening up would be appealing to investors. Watches can also traditionally be priced to appeal to the prestige market but, being smaller than Apple’s current range of devices, should be cheaper to build.
Various analysts were quoted in the NYT piece saying that “Apple’s certainly made a lot of hiring” in wearable technology and “Over the long term wearable computing is inevitable for Apple.” So it looks like an Apple iWatch will happen, and one is in testing but no one knows when we will see the first example. All the pictures in this article were made as concepts and examples by design enthusiasts.