Ever since 2013, rumours have been around of a future Apple smart watch product. In late 2014 Apple finally confirmed this and officially announced the Apple Watch. With a slightly delayed launch into market coming in March/April 2015, the Apple Watch is finally here. This article will talk about the product line from a more strategic sense, whilst a separate product review will focus on specific product features, the user and purchase experience.
The Apple Watch uses a variant of the iOS operating system known as Watch OS. The dependency on an iPhone creates an interesting multilayered experience such that iTunes on a Mac/PC offers a management user interface for iPhone devices, and then via the iPhone, the Apple Watch app provides the same management UI for the Apple Watch.
The introduction of the Apple Watch challenged Apple in all kinds of ways – product design, operations and user experience. Apple studied the smart watch and watch products meticulously to work out how wearable technology differs from the screen-based product lines of iPhones/iPads/Macbooks. Evolving the touch screen technology to incorporate their patented Force Touch sensor introduced new possibilities for user interaction not to mention the prominence of haptic sensors providing feedback to the user/wearer. A new battery charger to complement the watch form factor was also designed, but limits use of the watch since wearing the device whilst charging is incredibly awkward if not slightly dangerous.
The integration and continuity across Apple devices creates an intriguing environment now for users of Apple technologies – it is technically possible for someone to be using their Macbook, have their iPad & iPhone sitting on the desk unused but all connected to Wi-Fi. In this use case, an incoming phone call would technically trigger ALL four devices to call. Whilst I am personally yet to experience such a phenomenon, I have experienced the following permutations:
- Macbook and iPhone ring together
- iPad and iPhone ring together
- iPhone and Watch ring together
Apple Watch creates new opportunities and use cases for the application of Apple technology. Coupled with AppleTV, there is current talk of the potential for the Apple Watch to provide a more comprehensive remote function for operating an Apple TV. Via the API extensions that Apple provides to developers, the Apple Watch has a clear position within the entire Apple ecosystem to integrate and work with iPads and iPhones. Known industries that Apple is targeting include health (HealthKit), smart homes (HomeKit) and smart cars (CarPlay). In each of these markets, whilst the consumer remains the core target market, business and enterprise increasingly are on the radar of Apple as they look to growing beyond the $1T market capitalisation they hover around.