Apple will soon be commanding the attention of millions to introduce a lineup of things from Yosemite to the iPhone 6. But there’s something else we’ve all been anticipating: Apple’s first wearable device.
For Your Wrist
Instead of speculating, I’ll describe a wearable device that I’d buy from Apple. Imagine a band in the style of the iPhone that’s sleek, minimal, and doesn’t call much attention to itself. I already have a watch, and I love it. I’m not looking to replace it, but I wouldn’t mind accessorizing with a simple wristband. A wristband who’s form-factor is the screen.
An example that comes to mind is the Nike FuelBand. The point of this band is to display information about the wearer’s fitness level when needed and, although always running in the background, to seemingly lie dormant when not.
The focus was set on the band itself. Nike had to account for things like the sweat of the wearer (water resistant), environmental light levels (auto-adjusting ambient light sensors), and practical usability (battery life of up to four days). However, companies early to the “watch face-off” have put their time and energy into the face. And don’t get me wrong, these watch-face’s are beautiful and crisp, but must they be the primary focus? What would happen if a company chose to remove the face?
There are two things you can focus on when it comes to a wearable for the wrist. The watch-face’s aesthetic and the band’s technology. Most have focused on the former, trying their best to make devices fashionable enough to attract mainstream consumers. But it’d be nostalgic and interesting to see Apple focus on the latter.
The Apple of 2007
It was a wild day on January 9, 2007 when Steve Jobs took the stage to announce the iPhone at the Macworld convention. There was a particular shock that arose when he showed it this:
A smartphone – without a keyboard.
Up until that point, the term “smartphone” meant a device with a QWERTY keyboard forced into its shell. But Apple opted for seeing things a little different. In their opinion, a physical keyboard was something for the desktop. And your phone wasn’t your desktop. Apple felt like they’d made the best physical keyboard. So they put their phone’s keyboard in its screen. Apple then made the best screen, so hopefully they’ll put their wearable’s screen in its band.
When discussing this topic with a friend of mine, he had this to say:
“I think Apple was laughing before the iPhone launch when everyone else was trying to put a computer interface on the phone. I think they’re laughing again as everyone else tries to put a phone interface on your wrist.
I would be surprised if Apple put a traditional screen on their watch or band. The best screen is already in our pockets. Instead, the band should house all of the technology they’ve spent years developing. Gestures, payments, health, security, location, voice and so much more can be done well without a screen.
This would result in incredible battery life, much lower cost than the competition, and accessorizing. Imagine you want to attach a traditional watch face on your band or buy a few different colors. I think this could be Apple’s first step into design that truly gets out of the way while everyone else tries to put another screen in your face.”
In other words, it’d be amazing to see Apple take a “band-first” approach:
- focus on the band’s functionalities (gestures, HealthKit, NFC, payments, security)
- take into account how it’ll interact with the wearer’s phone, tablet, and computer
- the band could be worn in addition to the wearer’s current watch
- instead of a heavy watch-face, go for a flexible full-band display
- Similar to how Google Glass partnered with Luxottica to bring the style to their frames, Apple could offload the band’s attachable “watch-face” via partnerships with brands like Braun, Fossil, and Rolex for those actually looking to replace their watch
And the Name?
Although quite possible, I’d be surprised to see Apple call their wearable “iWatch.” The word “watch” is quite limiting for a device that will probably be used for a clock as many times as we make calls on our phones. When asked about how they names its products, Jony Ive, Apple’s VP of Design, had this to say during a 2013 interview on BBC’s Blue Peter:
Overall, this is just a thought on something that would mirror the 2007 announcement of the iPhone. An approach that throws away all predefined paradigms of what makes an accessory for you wrist.
Nevertheless, I’m eager to see what Apple has in stored for the wearable world. What would you put on your wrist?