iWatch dreams: What iMore would like to see in a wearable iOS device from Apple
2007 wasn't the introduction of the iPhone. It was the introduction of iOS. Apple didn't so much re-invent the phone as they did the idea of computing That's why the iPod touch was "just" an iPhone without a phone, and the iPad was "just" a big iPhone, and the Apple TV "just" iPad guts in a box. The instances can and will change and multiply, but for the foreseeable future, it will be iOS that drives them.
Enter the "iWatch". While iMore and others have heard Apple is going ahead with their wearable iOS device project, the crux here is that they're also continuing to push the future of mobile. Of what's next. Trying to predict what or how exactly that will manifest is difficult, just like trying to predict the iPhone before January 2007. You get iPods with click-wheel dialers. The iWatch could be to existing watches what the iPhone was to existing phones, and the iPad was to existing tablets. Just like Steve Jobs took the stage and made the case as to why the iPhone was better, and where the iPad fit, Tim Cook or Phil Schiller will prove the iWatch deserves a place in our lives.
Or, instead of a product, the iWatch could be an extension. Instead of an iPhone or iPad, it could be an Apple TV. It could be a hobby meant to expand the overall value of the Apple ecosystem, rather than a new business meant to further expand Apple's mainstream market.
Given Apple's recent work on Siri, Notification Center, Passbook, and other secondary interfaces to Springboard, and telephony like iMessage and FaceTime, it's easy to see why projecting those things from iPhone or iPad to iWatch is so tempting, as is the idea of Apple continuing the fitness-related partnership they began with Nike.
Mostly, however, an iWatch might just be a glimpse at what's next for iOS. There are very few phones in sci-fi, after all, and Apple's just exactly the kind of company that likes the will the future into the present.
To round out the discussion and get some idea of what the current expectations are, to delve into more diverse flights of fancy, I asked the iMore and Mobile Nations community just what exactly they want in an iWatch.
Here are their answers...
Georgia, senior editor, iMore
I want an iWatch with Siri built in. I want Notification Center on it. I want to be able to answer my phone with it, like it was a Bluetooth speaker. I want to be able to read/hear messages and dictate/reply back. I want videos and music to stream and play on it. That would be awesome. I want GPS and maps, and Reminders with location. I want it to be insanely great.
James Falconer, community manager, Mobile Nations
When I think of an iWatch, a few things come to mind. The ability to make and take phone calls would be a must. Seems super-convenient to me to tap on my watch to answer or initiate calls. Built-in GPS as well. Having a GPS strapped to your wrist would be the ultimate in portable navigation solutions. I like to explore on bike and foot a lot, so this would be handy.
An exercise-friendly iWatch would be great too. I do a lot of running, and having the ability to run the Nike Running app, or other fitness tracking apps while out on a long run would be amazing.
Killer battery life. Needs to have… best… battery… life… evar. I don't want to add another device to my charging 'pile'.
As for style… I'm honestly not too sure how I'd like to see the thing look… I would like to see multiple styles available for purchase. I'm not talking colors here. Perhaps a men's collection, a lady's collection and a smaller collection for kids.
Anthony, videographer, iMore
Since Tim Cook took the helm at Apple, people have questioned their ability to innovate. If Apple goes ahead with an iWatch, they'll need to show they can dent even a post Steve Jobs universe. It would have to be more than a simple Bluetooth interface to your existing devices. As much as the original iPhone made even the original Star Trek communicators seem sated, an iWatch would have to make the Next Generation ones look last gen.
Given the current size of radio chips and the current capacities of batteries, I'll understand if the first iWatch is severely limited. More of a companion device. But it'll have to be evident that one day, and one day soon, it could become a self-contained iPhone replacement.
I'd like to see complete Siri messaging/email interaction. Reading, listening to,and creating messages via your watch. Complete phone interaction as well, answering, calling, and talking to people through the iWatch has to be an option. This means a decent speaker as well. Also, it will need easy to switch from the iWatch to the iPhone and back, as needed. Native apps are the end goal, but a good beginning would be second-screen functionality. Apps on the iPhone or iPad should just be able to use it to show extra information or as an extra, extended interface. All that would require some hefty batter life as well, and in a small package, that won't be easy. But, we already need to charge our phones almost daily, adding another device would be annoying. The dream would be 1 month per charge, but the reality is they'd probably need to overcome low battery capacity with high convenience. A wireless charging solution for all Apple devices would be ideal. And, of course, an SDK so third-party apps could run on, and use the iWatch and enhance the feature set.
If the iWatch can aspire towards these goals, I think it will be a slam dunk.
Ally Kazmucha, how-to editor, iMore
I've always got a phone or another device in my vicinity that shows the time. In order for an iWatch to sway me, it'd need to be able to add some kind of value I don't already have in the devices I currently use. I wear a Nike+ FuelBand on a regular basis to track steps and calories. It also doubles as a watch. The iWatch would have to do at least those things.
I'd probably have to see more than step counting and calories, however. If it pairs with my devices and provides me information in a more meaningful way than what I already use on a regular basis, I'd consider it. If it's just a watch with some additional features with an Apple logo, I'd probably pass.
Chris Oldroyd, news editor, iMore
I never wear a normal watch. My iPhone is always with me wherever I go so it would be surplus to requirements. Added to that, my wrists seem to be allergic to every imaginable watch strap material ever used so the prospect of an iWatch is not something that excites me at all to be honest.
I have toyed with the idea of getting one of those fitness bands that can record your movements and sleep patterns; so if the iWatch included some of this technology it may make it slightly more appealing to me. Having said that, I just can't see how looking at your watch to read a text message or email is much easier than looking at your phone. It would just be another thing that needed charging and another expensive item that you need to look after.
As it stands today with the rumors that we have heard, the iWatch wouldn't be something that I would want or need for that matter. Of course Apple has a great knack of releasing a product and soon enough you realize you just have to have it and can't find a reason not too. If Apple wants to produce that level of want again, it will need to offer something a bit different than a wrist mounted notification system and audio controls for your iPhone.
Kevin Michaluk, founder, CrackBerry
I love watches. Always have. Always will. It actually kind of annoys me how smartphones have for many people replaced wearing a wristwatch. Watches have always meant so much more to me than just telling the time. For men especially, we don't have a lot of jewellery we can wear, so a nice watch is a must! I have several watches - I like to change them up based on my mood or the occasion. Like most watch aficionados, these days I'm a fan of Swiss-made mechanical timepieces. I love that the brands I wear are in some cases from companies that have been around since before the automobile was invented. That said, I'm not a watch snob - I embrace all watches - cheap or expensive, mechanical or digital. A cool watch is a cool watch.
I do love the fact that the watches I typically wear don't have a battery -- there's something I don't like about the notion of wearing acid on my wrist. And when it comes to the automatic self-winding mechanical watches I wear, I like that they are powered by my movements. I don't need to worry about changing batteries or charging them once I'm wearing one on a regular basis.
And this is what I want to see Apple address in an iWatch. I'm sure whatever Apple comes up with will be cool on the software and functionality front and will have a trendy design as we'd expect from Jony Ive. Where I really want to see innovation though is on the hardware / power supply front. Can they build a smart watch that I don't have to plug in and charge up every day or week? If I need to charge it up on a regular basis, it's still less of a watch and more of a gadget in my eyes. Either way, I'll definitely buy one and give it a solid go!
Derek Kessler, editor-in-chief, webOS Nation
I've worn an analog wristwatch every day for the past fifteen years. It's both a way to tell time and something of a fashion statement. I like to think of the analog nature of my watch as keeping my tech side grounded. Plus, analog watches by their very nature just look better than digital. Any iWatch will have to not just be useful, but it will need to be visually clean, simple, and unobtrusive. In short, if I'm wearing an iWatch I don't want it to be obvious that I am.
Apart from that, an iWatch has to be useful. It needs to show me all of my notifications, it has to let me read texts and emails and tweets, control music playback, and -- most importantly -- show me the time at a glance without constantly glowing in my face. Throw in a slim profile, conservative design, a classy watch band or the option to swap out my own, multi-day battery life, and easy, rapid recharging and Apple just might end up on my wrist. Until then, that spot is occupied by Skagen and Nike.
Ashley Esqueda, host, Monday Brief and Techfoolery
Unlike Derek, I've actually never owned a watch I've wanted on my wrist for longer than a couple of hours -- I have small wrists and get annoyed by a watch's tendency to loosely flop around my carpal bones as the day drags on. At the present moment, it's definitely more of a hassle than a boon to wear a watch. So what would Apple need to do to get me to buy an iWatch? Well, it would probably have to be E-Paper, for one. I know that's sacrilege in some areas of techdom, but after seeing how Pebble looks in bright daylight, it feels like Apple will either need to adopt similar screen technology, or create something similar to provide a matte, easily viewable screen.
Notifications are key with an iWatch, but I think I'd want ones designed specifically for the device as opposed to just "here are your phone's notifications, go read them." Heart rate notifications, a pedometer, reminders, and VIP texts (all set by an iOS app with a full docket of choices) would be the kind of things I'd want to know on my iWatch. Basically, I want the iWatch to tell me the things my phone can't (or can, but with more granular control over it). The at-a-glance nature of a watch is what Apple should keep in mind while designing it, and if Apple can do that with the iWatch, it might have a place on my wrist.
Joe Keller, writer, iMore
I’m still skeptical about an iWatch because I don’t really understand its purpose. I don’t find taking my iPhone out of my pocket to be a hassle. But if I were to use it, it would have to provide more than just notifications and music playback controls. What I’d like to see is something that would replace my iPhone for things that need to be done quickly: a text message, a short email, sending a tweet, that sort of thing. Navigation would be nice. Siri is a must. Again, I don’t know if I would actually use this device, but with these features, I’ll definitely consider it.
Leanna Lofte, app editor, iMore
In today's world, where we carry a smartphone with us at all times, I've always viewed wristwatches as a fashion accessory, not an necessary one. Because of this, if Apple were to make a watch, it would need to be more than a simple fashion statement to be desirable.
To appeal to me, an iWatch would need to be a companion to an iPhone and look amazing at the same time. The biggest thing I want is for it to send me color-coded notifications and even snippets of text from Messages and Email. As a mom who carries around a huge purse with her everywhere, it would be nice to be able to leave my iPhone in my purse as I go about my day without the fear of missing an important call or text message. With an iWatch, it would simply vibrate to let me know that there is activity on my phone. And if I have a bluetooth headset, I want to be able to answer the phone with my watch so that my phone can continue to remain in my purse.
Sure, other features like being a pedometer would also be nice, but to be a compelling buy for me, an Apple iWatch needs to improve the experience of my already existent iPhone that I would grow to be unable to live without.
We've had our say, now it's your turn. What do you want to see in an iWatch-type device? What would make it compelling enough for you to add it to your digital life?