Apple, Please Amaze Me Next Week

I’m a believer in wearable tech. I love these devices (and wear them), but very few manage to deliver anything close to my hopes and dreams. The smartwatch segment in particular has dashed my hopes every time. The products still do not wow me. Why? Because the smartwatch doesn’t add any real value: it doesn’t do anything that my smartphone doesn’t already handle with ease. Rather, it’s just another gadget (and a rather bulky one at that) that I need to remember to charge at night.

So instead, I wear the watches for a couple of days to try them out and then revert back to my trusty activity tracker. The tracker, on the other hand, has slowly become a must have part of my regime. What started as a simple step counter has quickly expanded to track more of my life. It connects to my cycling app (Strava) to include those journeys (and burned calories), as well as my car (less emphasis on potential calorie burn there), and links to my scales to validate any burn vs. calorie intake that I may choose to claim. With the exception of the calorie input, they whole thing is seamless and rather motivating.

So what is the smartwatch of the future (or at least of next week) supposed to do? Yes, it needs to be elegant and that’s Apple’s forte for sure. The first iPhone was the ultimate smartphone fashion statement – it screamed elegance compared to the brick that came before. No doubt the anticipated watch will invoke the same gasp of approval from the audience, and groan and gnashing of teeth from competitions. But it’s not enough.

Yes, people will wear it with pride, but they need to be able to answer the key question from envious friends and family: “but what does it do.” And the answer cannot be the banal. It cannot be email, or messages, or even calls. Thanks Dick Tracy but you can keep that crazy watch thing from the past-future. These days, the watch needs to become more than an extension of the phone (or worse, replicate the phone). No, it needs to pull in more context and communication with more devices around us.

When we look back to Apple’s recent initiatives, two stand out: HealthKit and HomeKit. HealthKit is the obvious one. Yes, any watch worth its battery needs to track health “stuff”. But HomeKit is where the wow factor could come in. If the anticipated watch can start to communicate with more devices around me, then it starts to add more value and gives the audience something to really get excited about.