The iWatch: What’s it all about?

Continuous Band – iWatch U.S. Patent by Apple

Apple has a history of trailblazing: the successes of the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad speak for themselves. But the criticism drawn against the Cupertino giant recently has centred around a perceived “lack of innovation” in the company. Recent offerings have been a bit dry; yes, we’ve had the iPad mini and Retina MacBook Pros, remarkable products in their own right. But since the introduction of the iPad, there hasn’t really been a new Apple product that has shaken the world.

Perhaps it’s a little too early to expect something radical. Innovation takes time. And maybe the exponential increase in the pace of technology has made us expect too much from Apple, too soon. But despite that, rumours have been trickling in over the past few months of a device that could just be the “next big thing” from 1 Infinite Loop. No, it has nothing to do with an Apple television set. In fact, it’s a product we take for granted: time pieces.Bendable segment – iWatch U.S. Apple patentDubbed the “iWatch”, the device is expected to augment the iOS experience. The fundamental idea is that it becomes an extension of the iPhone; a “glanceable” notification device. It gets interesting when we look at the patents (pictures at top and alongside), showing the bendable nature of the strap, and the fact that the entire strap is the display. The device would be intelligent enough to figure out where the strap ends when a user wears it and adjusts the band to their wrist, and only the visible part of the band will be active.

But does the iWatch qualify for the amount of hype that surrounded rumours of the iPhone or iPad? After all, it’s just an accessory; it will augment an already powerful ecosystem. I think that’s where the strength of this product lies, if it is even real. You see, in order for Apple to remain relevant, it needs to solidify its current offering. And in this case, its current, strongest offering is undoubtedly the iOS ecosystem, consisting of iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, iPad mini – all bound together by iCloud. So yes, it does deserve to have a certain degree of hype surrounding it; anyway, isn’t wearable tech one of those “Star Trek”–like dreams of the future science fiction has been preaching to us for so many years about?

I’ll admit that the concept is enticing. Being able to access my messages and get the latest info about my world from my wrist, without even taking my phone out of my pocket, is a cool idea. But it also lends itself to the conundrum: the current software design of iOS makes it very easy to access data. Notification Centre is a powerful “central hub” (to borrow from the BlackBerry 10 phrasing) that allows us to access info quickly. Is there any need for an iWatch, then?

This is all speculation, though. After all, the device still exists as a series of patent drawings for the moment, and we don’t know for sure if Apple (with a legacy for keeping deathly quiet on new products) will even make this thing real. However, with certain reports from Samsung about keen interest in developing a “connected” watch device, and Google’s continuous efforts at developing wearable tech in the guise of Google Glass, it could just be a matter of time before Apple enters the next great foray in the tech sphere: wearable technology.

What’s your take on this device? I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments.

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