(By Mani) Wearable computing seems a natural evolution for Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) with numerous recent media reports discussing a potential iWatch, which could coordinate with other Apple devices and provide new functions, such as eliminating entering passwords, finding your phone, supporting e- payments, and enabling apps as another iOS platform.
Media speculation is heating up that Apple may be working on a watch type of device (iWatch) with a reported 100 designers assigned to the project. Wearable computing seems like a natural evolution for Apple; although, the benefits of such devices are unclear.
Innovation is the key factor that has worked big time in favor of Apple. Reader should note that Apple isn't first to market any new product, but is first to mind in defining new products, often through ease of use breakthroughs based on new interface technologies like wheel, touchscreen, voice recognition.
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Even Tim Cook, the CEO, agrees:
"The boldness, ambition, belief there aren't limits, a desire to make the very best products in the world. (The culture of innovation) is the strongest ever. It's in the DNA of the company," Cook said in a recent technology conference.
The speculated iWatch could be the next big thing for Apple in terms of innovation and tapping a new market as the existing market for iPhone, its biggest product, appears to be saturating.
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Bruce Tognazzini, former Human Interface Evangelist at Apple considers how the iWatch might work on his blog.
He points out that the traditional smartwatch's extra functions divide into those he doesn't need and can't find. He doesn't expect Apple to be first to market (the Pebble and Cookoo watches are available) but to redefine the category when it enters.
The first tasks are to remove drawbacks: (1) charging, which could be accomplished wirelessly, (2) poor design—Apple is likely to use curved glass, and (3) buttons, which may be eliminated in favor of Siri.
He argues that the role of iWatch will be an office manager, coordinating the use of other Apple devices while the iPhone likely will remain the decision-making executive. What might the iWatch do? Here is a partial list:
* Eliminate passwords, which he considers the most important feature
* Help find things, such as your iPhone or keys, and warn you if you are leaving them behind
* Alert you to phone calls, which you may send to your phone with a gesture if you want to answer; the battery likely wouldn't provide adequate talk time to use the watch as a phone
* Use near field communications (NFC) for payment, which is easier than fishing for your phone
Apple produces magic at most every few years—the iPod was introduced four years after Jobs rejoined Apple followed by the iPhone seven years later and the iPad three years later. Tognazzini says that Jobs' true legacy is his method of product design, which he hopes lives in multiple Apple design groups today, accelerating product introductions.
Of course, the reason Apple has been so successful is that it is credited with creating and often dominating new product categories – the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.
"The real magic happens at the intersection of (hardware, software, and services), and Apple has the ability of all three of these spheres to innovate like crazy and really cause magic," Jobs said.
Only time will tell, whether iWatch can recreate the magic of other Apple products. But, in the paper, the device looks really impressive.