apple watch

Apple shared a few more details about how the Apple Watch will work — see this excellent Verge article for a good summary. The most interesting part is Apple’s intention next year to enable fully native apps on the watch. This does not necessarily mean the Apple Watch will work without an iPhone, but it certainly makes that a possibility. The question though is…why?

The way Android Wear and Apple Watch (in year 1 at least) generally works is that the phone does most of the heavy lifting while the watch is merely a display that also receives inputs. It’s not unlike thin client computing, where the cloud does the work and the thin client handles output and input. This arrangement makes sense, because then the watch doesn’t need powerful chips or enormous batteries to get a good experience. This controls costs too.

The weakness in cloud computing is that a fast, consistent connection is required. Fortunately, because the phone is usually always with you alongside the watch, and because connectivity is via Bluetooth, smartwatches don’t have that issue.

So why would Apple move to a future where watch apps are standalone? Is technology progressing so rapidly that streamed computing is unnecessary? That can’t be right. Smartphones haven’t yet crossed a threshold where performance gains are unnecessary, and smartwatches are way behind smartphones.

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According to Forbes, Microsoft will launch its wearable device in the coming weeks in time for the holiday season. It’s a health focused device and will work with Android, iPhone and of course Windows Phone.

I had written my concerns about the viability of a Microsoft wearable device before, and now that I’ve used the Moto 360 daily the last few weeks and the Pebble before that for over a year, my skepticism has only increased.

Let’s first examine the upside. Assuming Microsoft can pull off a great product and generate lots of interest and sales, it could undercut Android Wear and Apple Watch. Why develop (hardware and/or software) for a restricted platform, when there’s a successful multiplatform-platform available?

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We’re talking Android Wear this week, and back to our regularly scheduled program after a brief diversion with Windows 10.

Today I’d like to compare Google’s Android Wear with the Apple Watch. Of course, we don’t have complete information on the latter, and Apple will definitely change a few things from now until release — but we’ve seen enough to come to some conclusions.

Google’s fundamental philosophy for the smartwatch diverges greatly from Apple’s. Google wants you to use voice to perform actions whenever you can — when you tap on an Android Wear watch face, the only prompt you get is Google’s command to “Speak now.” The list of actions and apps you can scroll through after is a secondary option.

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Yesterday, we reviewed the Moto 360. Please check it out if you haven’t already. Today, we take a closer look at the operating system.

The future of the smartwatch is to be the primary entry point for your digital life. The device you scan first to get an update on what’s happening, and the preferred device for quick interactions like messaging a friend. You’ll want to use your voice; when it works, it’s the most elegant way to control this small interface.

This is the future that Google has presented with Android Wear. It’s an exciting one — even more exciting than Apple’s vision — but realization remains in the horizon. Android Wear may change the future tomorrow, but today it only provides a promise for it.

Android Wear is that pimply teenager. You can see the potential, but the teenager just too annoying to be taken seriously yet.

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TechCrunch reported earlier that the Apple Watch’s Edition — made of 18K solid gold — might cost up to $1,200. That sounds reasonable.

Then respected Apple insider John Gruber of Daring Fireball predicted the following prices:

  • Sport (aluminum/glass): $350
  • Standard (stainless steel/sapphire): $1,000
  • Edition (18-karat gold/sapphire): $5,000

In fact, he thinks there’s a decent chance the Edition edition will retail for $10,000!

That’s just…frikkin crazy. Here’s why: 1) it doesn’t matter how much gold there is, people will view Apple Watch as a piece of electronics and not as haute horlogerie; 2) electronics depreciate fast; 3) it’s not even a good looking watch.

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If anyone can bring mobile payments to the mainstream, it’s Apple. Sort of. Apple will lead the way, but given Android was 85% of phones shipped last quarter, Google must follow suit for mobile payments to be truly mainstream. Fortunately, if Apple’s execution works, it will be a simple matter for Google to clone.

The basics of Apple Pay: you scan your credit cards into the iPhone 6 — the phone encrypts the card’s data so nobody can obtain its details — and you then pay via NFC with the phone or Apple Watch at merchants. Touch ID is used to authenticate. This will work at all standard NFC terminals, which is slowly becoming more prevalent.

As you can see, Apple is an enabler, not a disruptor. Apple Pay makes it easier to use the credit cards you already have. This keeps the banks and credit card companies happy because they remain front and center, as opposed to say, Square, which cuts banks out of the value chain.

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This is the final post of a three part series on why the Apple Watch revealed earlier this week wouldn’t have been the one Steve Jobs made. Jobs would disapprove two buttons on the Apple Watch and he certainly would have made the software beautiful and cohesive.

Fortunately, it’s not all negative. Tim Cook and Jony Ive did do something right that Jobs probably wouldn’t have done: the seemingly endless amount of customization possible for the Apple Watch.

In this case, going against a Jobsian philosophy is a good thing.

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