It remains unclear whether Apple will introduce a wrist band type device any time soon —the Apple TV has been a subject of intense interest for the past six years— but since the introduction of the Samsung Galaxy Gear we have a pretty good idea what it won’t be like1.
Then what could be the function of such a device, if Apple were to design it? I think a good bet might be that it’s at least about sensors2.
Do you remember the Nymi bracelet from a few days back? It’s this wrist band that reads your heartbeat and turns it into a signature that some other nearby device, like a smartphone, can use to uniquely identify you. In theory, this would render our dependence on passwords a horribly clumsy thing of the past. We don’t know if it’s real and if it works as advertised, but the idea has the simplicity and elegance of something that Apple would come up with. Then again, as far as the rumors go, Apple seems to have included a fingerprint reader in the new iPhone, that could serve a similar purpose. The list of possible sensors for specific purposes is long.
But the key question remains, what good is a display on wrist band, when a much larger and better one is right there in your pocket? Besides it being a display-less sensory device for identification, or for collecting sports or health data, I can think of at least one other purpose.
A problem I have with the iPhone is that I don’t notice when it vibrates or makes a sound as a result of a notification, when it’s safely inside my jeans pocket, or when it’s laying silenced on my desk at work. A wrist band that makes a sound or that vibrates might be able to fix that too. It can do that easily without requiring a display.
Since this device would obviously be an iPhone accessory, wouldn’t it belong on an iPhone event, like the one scheduled for September 10th? Maybe it won’t start out as a big thing, but rather as another hobby. Over time it could grow into something bigger, or not. Why? Because everyone was carrying a phone in their pocket back in 2007, but almost nobody’s wearing a watch or wrist band in 2013.
- “So this is the Apple iWrist, isn’t it cool?”
- “It comes in 5 colors, it’s priced at €149, and it ships on September 27th.”
But maybe I’m not thinking big enough.
UPDATE: Jean-Louis Gassée is thinking in the same direction, but a lot further: No screen, disappears on your wrist, so you’ll wear it all the time, sensors, sensors, and foremost an accessory to the current line of devices.
Still, why did Apple pull the iPad-Nano-as-a-watch concept after only a single generation? Granted it was the only generation that lasted two years. Did they change their minds about the merits of such a device? Or were they testing the waters? ↩
Sensors is something the Galaxy Gear is not really into. As far as we know, it only contains a pedometer. ↩