The iPhone is cool and very capable. But it has created cultural problems that we can do without.
I’ve enjoyed following the buzz around this week’s World Wide Developer’s Conference in San Francisco. This is not Apple’s preferred event for announcing upcoming products. But their new new features within iOS8 and OSX Yosemite prove that Apple is strengthening its product ecosystem, and they just might be paving the way for an iWatch. Something that we all need.
We need an iWatch not because we love gadgets and we have to have yet one more. But because our #1 gadget–the iPhone– isn’t getting it done on its own. We’ve come to accept some daily rituals that are entirely uncool:
- Every date night has a dinner table with two iPhones
- Every business lunch has a table cluttered with even more iPhones.
- People are always grabbing their phones from their pockets or their purses when they hear that ubiquitous ring in a public space. (Is that my phone?) We look slightly crazy all the time.
- Anxiety! Every where all the time! Losing your iPhone gives a jolt of anxiety akin to losing your wallet.
- We’re late! The last-minute run around the house on the way out of the house.
This all has to stop, and we need the iWatch to stop it for us. Let us keep our phones in pockets. With a quick glance at my wrist, I want to see these things:
- Text messages
- Upcoming appointments
- Show incoming calls
- Tell me what time it is, of course.
These are the basics from an iWatch that will keep the iPhone out of sight until we need it. And given the new continuity between devices and voice options in iMessage, these basics are already falling into place for the iWatch. Now let’s just hope we don’t have to talk into our wrists. To make all of this awesomeness happen, Apple needs to get these iWatch features right:
Is this the new iWatch? Hopefully not. We don’t like wearing clunky things, plus an iWatch has to compliment an iPhone, not replace it.
1. The Screen
The screen of the iWatch must be the most rich, awesome screen on the planet. Regardless of how bright it is outside, or how imperfect the angle from which you are viewing, the screen has to be easily understood. This will let designers create hyper-real features that will make the iWatch magical. More on in another blog.
2. Motion Sensing
Nobody wants an iWatch screen that’s on all the time. We will all become paranoid because strangers are reading our iWatches as we reach a cup of coffee. So Apple, find a way to make the screen viewable when we want it. This happens right now on our iPhones–it recognizes a sequence of movement and then responds with a unique action. When the phone gets close to your face, the screen changes. When you pull the phone away from your face, it shows a different screen. There are a couple of basic human motions that allow you to read your watch. The iWatch should sense this motion then flick on accordingly.
3. iWatch SDK
The iWatch will only be as cool as its apps. We forget that the iPad was kinda awkward in its first 12 months on earth. There were hardly any applications, so most people just used it to surf the web in on their couch. There were even whispers that the iPad might be a flop. But through that quiet first year, smart people around the world were using the iPad Software Developers Kit to make some gorgeous, mind-blowing applications that leveraged the unique features of the iPad. The iWatch needs a baller SDK and we’ll get ball iWatch apps.
Put all of this together, and the iWatch will let us act human again. We’ll get enough utility out of our iWatch that we won’t feel compelled to have our iPhone out all the time. We can walk into the coffee shop with our head high, ready to meet a friend or make a new one. With a quick glance, I can read an appointment reminder, and then continue on with a conversation. I no longer will have to dig my phone out of my pant pocket just to turn off the alarm. Sure, it’s a small convenience, but it still matters. The iWatch could be loaded with small upgrades that gets tech out of the way. I’m ready. Are you?
(Also, I want the iWatch to work with Apple’s new Health platform to do some jazzy things with fitness. Make me alert to my health. Save lives too. But that’s for another blog.)