Unwinding the iWatch: here’s what to expect

concept image of the iWatch

concept image of the iWatch

On some levels I’ve never heard of anything quite as ridiculous as an iWatch. I also totally want one and I’m not even entirely sure why. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me give you a quick rundown. Earlier this year it was leaked that Apple was developing a smartwatch, the key component of which is flexible glass that allows it to be curved to fit your wrist. Apparently known as “Willow Glass”, this is a material currently in development by Corning Display Technologies, (maker of Gorilla Glass) but, typically, nothing has been confirmed at this stage. In fact, the manufacturer has issued a statement saying that the Willow Glass product wouldn’t be ready for market for another three years or so.

There are rumours that a team of about 100 people are working on the project, and although there are no projected release dates or indeed even confirmation of its development, the internet is rife with speculation about the specs and functionality of Apple’s potential foray into wearable tech fueled of course by the fact that Apple has filed around 79 patents that use the word “wrist” (this includes a patent for a device with a flexible screen).

iOS, battery life and more

There is also currently debate as to whether or not the iWatch will run a full version of iOS, or a limited version such as the iPod Nano, and that battery life is the major challenge in its development.

Battery life, seriously? Okay, that for me would be the first warning sign. I already have to charge my phone every night, as well as my tablet, now I must charge my watch nightly as well? A standard two-pin double adapter just won’t do under these circumstances and even though I’m already in the habit, it is an irritation. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The iWatch certainly wouldn’t be the first and only smartwatch on the market.

The more the merrier

In fact, there are already a number of these devices in circulation, including the Kickstarter funded Pebble E-Paper Watch, the Sony Smartwatch and the WIMM One among others.

Kickstarter goodness created the Pebble

The concept of the iWatch isn’t exactly new and innovative then is it? But if it does indeed run a full version of iOS that interfaces seamlessly with your phone, would it break new ground? I guess that all depends on the answers to some quite straightforward questions.

First, will it only work with an iPhone? If you can indeed receive texts and calls to your iWatch as it connects seamlessly via Bluetooth with your iPhone, we must assume that it will function at its optimal level with a likewise Apple product. A fair and acceptable assumption I think. After all, most companies want us to buy into the idea of a seamless experience, but as is the case with so many products that claim to work across operating systems, can we anticipate some glitches and bugs in getting it to work quite as well with an Android system for example? Should we even begin to argue about the compatibility between the iWatch and BlackBerry?

Next, the actual purpose of this device. You’re unlikely to be speaking into this watch like Dick Tracy, no matter how appealing it seems in our heads. If that is the case, then the iWatch surely is only a peripheral accessory, as the novelty of using a full operating system to do… “what exactly?” on your small watch screen will surely wear off pretty quickly. Unless I’m very much mistaken, this is the first device of Apple’s that qualifies as a “wearable”, and it really seems to occupy the space of a novelty more than anything else.

After all, what exactly are you going to do with it? Be notified of texts and missed calls? Play music? I have other devices already that can do this, and if it’s merely combining this functionality, will that justify enough people forking out hundreds of dollars to make it viable financially for Apple?

It probably will

Let me return briefly to the issue of charging the iWatch. Being required to plug in your watch every night, quite simply, doesn’t seem necessary. Perhaps the iWatch does drain batteries very quickly (we only have to look at the iPhone to get a sense of battery life), and I’m sure nobody expects Apple to use anything as primitive as an ordinary watch battery, but there are already kinetic watches such as Seiko’s Kinetic, that don’t require a battery and which charges itself via the kinetic motion generated by the movement of the wearer’s body. Even if this energy is not sufficient to power a smartwatch, if this technology is available, surely this could be a viable option?

The functionality that potentially interests me the most is the biometric application of a device such as this. A heart rate monitor, pedometer, sleep patterns and so on. All these things coupled with the ability to download and update existing apps, could take the wearable potential of the iWatch to a whole new level, enabling wearers to be continuously aware of their health and wellness.

Of course, as yet there is no confirmation or denial from Apple regarding the development of the iWatch, nor a release date so we can speculate all we like, but the close-lipped corporation as yet has not deigned to provide us with more concrete information.

Is the iWatch a slick idea? I can’t deny that is it.

Is it also kind of silly? Yes, I think so.

Do I want one? Hell yes, I do.

Image: Pebble watch via Kickstarter.com

Image: iWatch Concept via Thetechblock.com



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