Apparently, Apple really is going to follow through on its threat of creating an “iWatch”. By all accounts, it’s throwing a lot of money at creating the ultimate in wearable computing. And it needs to stop wasting its money, because the iWatch is a terrible, terrible idea.
It’s Likely Dorky
The iWatch is a genuinely bizarre misstep coming from Apple. It’s one thing when Google puts out a device that’s pretty much designed to keep you from interacting with people or even looking another human being in the eye. That’s what you get when you give awkward nerds billions of dollars and a research lab.
Apple’s key selling point, for more than a decade, has been that you don’t look like a complete dweeb using their products. It’s easy to forget that before 2007, the market for “smartphones” was limited to business types; the man on the street was rockin’ the Razr. It’s going to be really, really hard for Apple to design something that most people will want to put on their wrists, and keep there.
It’s Likely Useless
To be fair, Apple has some pretty high ambitions: They essentially want to cram iOS 7 and all its functionality, except for phone calls, into a watch. With a long, long battery life to book. Which is, on a tech scale, really cool. That said… why would you want it or need it?
Most of us use our smartphone as our watch, or have a watch as a fashion accessory instead of a tool. One of the problems of wearable technology is that it creates etiquette problems people tend to want to avoid. If you’re wearing this thing, and look at it during a conversation, are you dropping a hint you need to go? Checking your email notifications? What? Many people will probably just decide to keep their phone and avoid the watch.
It’s Likely Going To Be A Trainwreck
It’s not a surprise that Apple is having problems shrinking iOS down to a tiny form factor, because it’s had those problems in the past. Remember the sixth-generation Nano, which had a lot of watchbands? Apple promptly dumped the square form factor for a larger screen with the next generation.
There’s reason for that. If you’ve ever used a sixth-gen Nano, it can be a frustrating user experience, to put it mildly. It’s not difficult to imagine that Apple is finding cramming even more functionality into that form factor to be a lot harder than it looks.
Can Apple lick these problems? Maybe. But right now, it seems unlikely that the reward is going to be worth the effort. Instead of building a smartwatch, perhaps Apple could build something else. How about a game console? Or a Terminator? There’s probably a big market for the iDroid.
Base image courtesy Takeshi Kawai