Communication is central to the Apple Watch experience.
At the moment, you can call and text people right from your wrist, and you can even send taps or your own heartbeat to other people’s Apple Watches. You can also use Siri to help you get your message out.
But the Apple Watch is currently missing one major form of communication: Video chat.
When the first reports of the Apple Watch surfaced in early 2013, it was likened to something Dick Tracy or James Bond would wear: “A watch that double[s] as a computer, two-way radio, mapping device or television.”
The first Apple Watch does a little bit of everything — it’s a communication tool, a health tracker, and a timepiece, of course — but there’s obviously room for improvement. Recent reports also suggested Apple cut many exciting features from the Watch because it couldn’t get them to work consistently, possibly to preserve battery life as well.
But the Apple Watch is most exciting when it’s doing something futuristic and fantastic: For example, paying for coffee or groceries with your wrist is both exceedingly simple — two button taps pulls up your credit card — and profound.
I’d like to see more of these dramatic moments on the Apple Watch. And the only way for that to happen is to include a FaceTime camera.
The ideal device for FaceTime
I rarely like to use FaceTime, but I understand its importance.
Videoconferencing has existed in the corporate world for decades, but it’s only been a staple on personal computers and smartphones for the last five years. Apple introduced FaceTime in 2010, and Google didn’t debut Hangouts until 2013.
But talking to remote people in real-time has always been something of fantasy: Disney imagineers brought the idea to life in the 1980s and 1990s in the Spaceship Earth ride, where you can see a little boy talk to a Japanese-speaking girl through his television.
It helps friends stay in touch. It brings spread-out families closer together. But if you don’t have a desktop computer nearby, it’s still pretty awkward to hold your phone or tablet up to your face for a long period of time.
That’s where the Apple Watch comes in. Having worn this device several times, I feel confident I could hold it in front of my face for much longer than I could my phone. And frankly, I can’t think of anything more futuristic and secret agent-like than talking to a physical person in real-time on your wrist.
Obviously, this would require the next Apple Watch feature a front-facing camera for FaceTime. This could impact battery life on both the Apple Watch and the iPhone, especially since the Watch isn’t really designed to be used for long periods of time.
Still, I think it’s worth it to include this feature in a future Apple Watch. FaceTime would be much more fun on the Apple Watch, and the Watch would be more fun with videoconferencing. Tell me you’ve honestly never wanted to talk to people on your wrist like George Jetson. Maybe Apple will even give us some handy tools so we can even draw on our bosses’ faces while we’re FaceTiming with them.