The Apple Watch is still a ways out, but my previous musings on the wearable’s various features got me thinking: what might it be like a year after launch? Two years? Five years? What if it becomes a symbiotic part of the iOS framework to the point that it practically comes packaged with the iPhone?
Of course it’s going to be a while until we know for sure whether Apple’s latest piece of hardware will be considered a hit or a miss, but for argument’s sake let’s fast-forward a few years and pretend the Apple Watch was a resounding success. This is how I think it could permanently change the way we mobile.
For starters, I expect that we’ll see a big divide between the types of software available for the Apple Watch versus just the iPhone. The Apple Watch, due to its small screen and the fact that it’s pretty much designed to be interacted with in short busts, will probably have far more apps and far fewer games - I’m thinking weather, message alerts, maps and GPS functions, and all sorts of stuff nobody’s thought of yet. I’m sure there will still be games for it, but apps will serve a much more significant purpose.
Conversely, the iPhone will start to shift towards becoming more of a gaming/entertainment device. Granted there’s going to be lots of software you’ll need to install on the iPhone in order to pair it with the Apple Watch, but the core functionality will be through that tiny wrist screen. Since the iPhone’s screen is sometimes considered too small for some games, I have a hard time picturing an even smaller screen accommodating them; and with the larger screens on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus it’s not very difficult to imagine. The same thing goes for watching movies or even sharing pictures. The convenience of being able to hold up your wrist rather than fish through a pocket for your phone will be there, but that small screen is going to be a major hurdle.
The way we use our devices will inevitably change as well. Since so many people will be sporting the iPhone/Apple Watch combo, we’ll definitely have more cross-functionality options. Sharing information like work files, images, contact info, and so on will be almost disturbingly quick and easy since you’ll be able to use your Apple Watch to transfer whatever you need from your iCloud or Dropbox to a friend’s or coworker’s. I wouldn’t be all that shocked if we start to see something like “point your wrist at the recipient’s wrist and flick the file at their Apple Watch to transfer” in the very near future.
Then there’s Apple Pay. The functionality will be there from the start, but some people still have their reservations about using it. After a few more hardware iterations though, it’ll be far less of a concern. We already have the heart rate monitor in the Apple Watch and Touch ID for the newer iPhones and iPads - give it a another year or two and we’re bound to see biometric sensors that will prevent the watch from being used by anyone but you.
Of course the unfortunate side of all this is that having fancy tech like the Apple Watch attached to your wrist will also mean being a target for theft. However, with all the health-monitoring features in place something like an alarm that automatically goes off if your Apple Watch loses contact with your wrist (in case of mugging, snatch and run, etc) would make a lot of sense. Heck, since it’s already paired with your iPhone there’s no reason you couldn’t set it to automatically contact the police or emergency services the second that connection is broken. All of which could be toggled and tweaked in your settings, naturally.
This is all purely speculation, of course. You could even call it a wish list. But regardless of whether the Apple Watch sets a new standard or ends up being a niche frivolity, it’s going to be interesting to see what the future holds. What do you think we're going to see from the Apple Watch?