Before I begin, let me state for the record, that I'm not an Apple hater. Apple fans are.. well .. fanatical at the best of times, and I do plan to criticise Apple in this post, but let's face it, Apple are a pretty darn successful company, I doubt anything I can say will cause their share price to tumble, and that's not my intention anyway. For the record I own and use several Apple devices.
I've always loved technology. The higher the tech the happier I am. I'm like a kid in a sweet shop when a new phone with a killer feature comes to market, or a super high spec laptop comes to the forefront.
When it comes to wearable technology, two years ago I was putting my money on Google Glasses. All the talk of smart watches just didn't do anything for me. I couldn't get the proposition really. It made little sense. Basically a smart watch from what I could gather, would just tell you when to take your phone out of your pocket. A text message comes in, I'll take out my phone and respond, a stock price reaches a certain level, I'll pull out my phone and buy some shares, I break a personal best time in the pool... my smart watch blows up because none of the things are waterproof. There's just no killer apps for smart watches, and as a software developer, I have no interest in them because I can't think of a killer app for a watch and there's no app in the market that would inspire me enough to even try and develop a watch app. Throw in an absolutely stupid battery life span and it all just adds up to an extra device to lug around, and keep powered for zero gain. Also it would be nice to be able to wear the watch AND NOT have to lug around a phone, for things like exercising. Basically all these smart watches are just extensions of your phone and cannot be used independently of them which strikes me as ridiculous.
So on March 9th I tuned into the Apple love fest to see how Apple were going to spin the iWatch. I always tune into the Apple events. A part of me buys into the hype. Maybe this time they're going to unveil the next big thing. The last time I got excited over one of these things was over the iPad. I totally bought into that. I could see the logic of a tablet and at the time wrote a blog about how the future would be tablet! To this day the iPad Air is one of my favourite tech devices. So this time, I waited for them to hit the part about the iWatch. I listened to all the general marketing rubbish for about 50 minutes, the Netflix HBO service, (ridiculously priced if you ask me and over hyped), the new Apple TV box, oh no wait, they don't have a new Apple TV, they're cutting the price of the same old one, (which is fine, as it's a good solid piece of kit, but still, it's old tech Apple), and so forth.
When it came to the iWatch the beautiful marketing prose just upped another notch. Tim talked about how gorgeous everything was, how amazing it was. The beautiful design, two excruciatingly painful videos about the materials used in the production (seriously, I don't care about the metals used in these things, like .. seriously). Christy, the super model came on and told the world how fabulous the iWatch was, but again nothing really of substance there, just pictures of her running with a massive iPhone on her arm and a big old iWatch on her wrist.
The application developer who came on to talk about the different apps was the only real interesting talker, and the demo he gave, for me summed up the best parts of the iWatch. The apps ran well on it. The way you could interact with the apps was impressive. He opened a garage door remotely with his watch. All good and nice, but NONE of these things would come close to showing the advantages of doing these things on your watch over doing them on your phone. It was a nice demo, but you still need a beefy iPhone in your pocket so, well, why not just take out the beefy iPhone and save yourself $500 and leave the watch in the store.
I'll be honest here, after about 40 minutes of watching the iWatch demo I tuned out. (Although there were times up to that when Tims sales pitch was really making me want to tune out, e.g. His excitement levels when telling the fans about how the watch would tell people when to stand up. This drives me nuts. I KNOW when to stand up!!!) The whole thing was, as I feared it would be, a damp squid. The watch looks nice, the interface looks interesting, but there's nothing there that would remotely excite me, (sorry Tim even when you got so excited about telling us about the in store display table for the watches, I just couldn't reach your level of enthusiasm. It's a table for Gods sake!). Don't get me wrong, I WANTED to be excited by this presentation I really did, I always do! I consider myself technology agnostic. I go with what I deem to be the best technology gadgets. Which is why I have an Apple tablet, an android phone, and a windows laptop (to name but a few of the gadgets).
Apple have done absolutely nothing original with the smart watch here. It's all been done before. But this is what Apple do, they wait. They look at what others are doing, then when others have opened the door, they step in with a superiorly designed product, and dominate the market. Don't get me wrong, I've absolutely no doubt that the iWatch will sell millions of units. But this is because it's Apple. Apple have a ridiculously loyal fan base, which is to their credit. If Apple sold a brick and put an Apple logo on it it would sell millions. They'll even probably shift a few of the $10,000 watches. The mind boggles.
I said earlier that two years ago I was backing Google Glass as opposed to smart watches. It appears I was wrong on that call, as Google Glass seems to be on it's death bed. I consider this a great pity. For me, I can straight away see at least 3 killer apps that are no brainers that would make the concept of a personal, non intrusive heads up display successful. Using such technology in things like ski googles, or swim goggles would be absolutely amazing. Or cycling apps, or even in car apps. There are tons of applications here that can't be achieved with the same level of usefulness on a phone (or a watch) which makes the concept of Google Glass unique and therefore very marketable. I'd buy one! There are issues with the paradigm though, namely around privacy during use. Maybe this along with Googles crazy long beta test plan, is what will be the reason Google Glass dies a death (if it does). I still reckon though it's only a matter of time before someone brings it successfully to the marketplace, (maybe Apple!). For me it's an extremely exciting wearable piece of tech and something I'd love to write some apps for.
For now, I wont be recommending Sulware clients to start thinking about smart watch apps. I still think it's a tough sale for the tech companies. Maybe if the battery issue is radically resolved, the watches become waterproof, the form factor becomes more desirable, it becomes usable with or without a tethered smart phone and most importantly a few killer watch only apps come to the market place then I'll reconsider, (i.e an app that ONLY makes sense on a watch not a phone!).
Stop making my watch behave like a phone folks, it's a watch!! I don't want to talk into my watch, that's what my phone is for.
Until next time!