Apple is widely expected to release a smartwatch this fall, but that device will need to be more than just a display on your wrist to be successful in the consumer market, according to Apple pundit John Gruber, who discussed the iWatch in his latest Daring Fireball podcast with Quartz tech editor Dan Frommer.
Gruber notes that Apple fans have been able to create a do-it-yourself smartwatch for some time now, thanks to accessories like the Tik Tok watch band that clipped into the previous version of the iPod Nano.
The Tik Tok began as a Kickstarter project, but was so successful that Apple ultimately began selling it in their stores, a surefire sign of success. That Kickstarter had a goal of $US15,000 but raised nearly a million bucks.
“I’ve said to people before that when I see these Android Wear devices come out that if they don’t look better than the iPod Nano combined with the Tik Tok — which is a device that wasn’t even designed to be a watch — then that’s a problem,” Gruber said on the podcast.
Frommer noted that the Tik Tok is four years old, which is ancient tech by today’s standards.
Android Wear is Google’s new wearable computing software. It runs on new watches from Samsung and LG. But Android Wear watches look and act like shrunken-down smartphones and don’t do enough to justify buying one. The iWatch will have to look better and figure out how to enhance the smartphone experience, not mimic it.
Gruber also said whatever display Apple’s wearable has will probably be square, not round. The iWatch will likely run some form of iOS, which is built for rectangular displays. Introducing a round display would cause major headaches for developers throughout the Apple ecosystem.
“Laying out text in a circle is incredibly inefficient,” said Gruber.
Motorola’s upcoming Android Wear watch, the Moto 360, has a round display. But there’s a missing chunk at the bottom of the screen because Android Wear can’t fill in the entire circle.
These insights seem to put Apple between a rock and a hard place. Either release a smartwatch akin to some of the what we’ve already seen — and it fails to replicate the iPhone’s success — or risk it with a design we haven’t seen coming that shocks the marketplace entirely.
You might think that if anyone could shock the marketplace with a new device, it’s Apple.
Apple’s strength in recent years has been revolutionizing products already in the market, not breaking out entirely new product categories (think iPod, iPhone, iPad). No one should expect the iWatch to look or function much like today’s smartwatches.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.