Apple’s iWatch is coming, eventually, but will it actually be what you want?

BY Evan Selleck

Published 21 Aug 2014

iwatch notifications

A lot has been said about the iWatch, or iBand, or whatever other name is being bandied about right now. Unfortunately, the rumored name of the device tells us everything we need to know about Apple’s wearable right now: we don’t know anything at all.

Every single time a new iWatch rumor crops up, I get a little bit excited. I’m one of those people that just loves new technology, and even if it’s not necessarily going to change the landscape of technology as we know it, I get inherently excited to try it out. It’s one of the reasons why I get so excited for the “s” variants of iPhones. I don’t care that it’s just an iteration from the previous year’s device. It’s new, so I want to use it.

But, as we inch ever closer to the September 9 announcement date for Apple’s next gadgets, it’s becoming clear to me that I’m going to have to check my expectations for the event. I’ve noted in the past that I’m basically only really looking forward to the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, and that’s still true. No matter what Apple announces this year, as long as the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 makes its debut, I’m good. This could be in part because I just don’t believe that the iWatch is coming in 2014. Sure, it could be announced in October, or even November, and see a launch right there in the middle of the holiday shopping season, but I just don’t see it happening. I’ve pretty much checked out on the idea that I’ll be wearing an iWatch in 2014.

iwatch concept round

And while it might have to do with that in part, I think it might have more to do with the fact that I’m not sure if Apple can actually fix the issues I have with any and all smartwatches available in the market right now.

I’ve tried several different models, ranging from the Pebble to other, lesser-known brands and options. I’ve tried out Android Wear, Google’s direct answer to the smartwatch market (and not Apple’s unannounced wearable). Each time I do, I have the device wrapped around my wrist for a few days, maybe even a week, and then I take it off and I don’t think about it again. In fact, I always replace it with my decidedly not smartwatch.

iWatch concept

My dad got me into watches when I was in high school, or maybe a little bit before that, and I’m a pretty big fan of them. And, simply put, there’s not a single smartwatch on the market right now that I’m all that interested in, based entirely on their designs and feature sets. Simply put, the devices on the market right now either look unappealing (to me, keep this in mind) and offer great features, or look almost good enough and don’t offer everything that I want. I’m still waiting for the device that strikes that happy balance.

And the iWatch could be that device, I think. What I’ve learned from Apple over the years is that this company aims to fix apparent problems. (The argument of whether or not this trend continues is one we can have later.) Right now, the apparent problems that I can see (and I’m sure there are more based on who you ask) include battery life, display technology, feature sets/functionality and aesthetics. That’s quite the laundry list of things that, I think, most people would agree need to be directly addressed in any smart wearable that gets any kind of release.

We’ve seen companies release products that don’t fit the bill, and almost immediately replace them in the market. Samsung’s done this with their own Galaxy Gear/Gear lineup. LG released their G Watch earlier this year, and now there’s word that it will get replaced with a newer, “better” model as early as September. This is an attempt just to get “something out there,” and then to improve on the things that people complain about. Which, honestly, should work. You can’t know what to fix until the people you’re trying to sell a product to tell you what’s broken. And small test groups can only tell you so much.

iwatch concept nike fuelband

Right here is why I think Apple has a chance at making the smartwatch, in general, better. Essentially, disrupt the market. And they can make it happen if they continue to wait. The longer they wait, the more other companies are going to release their own wearables, like ASUS and HP and whoever else, and we’re going to get more specific use cases of what people want — and don’t want. Apple’s obviously been working on this a long time, and if they’re still working on it (and I’m sure they are), they’re taking in everything they hear, and putting it into use with what they’re creating.

Hopefully that means that the functionality between the iWatch and iOS (and OS X) is seamless. Hopefully that means the battery life is more than just “up to a week, depending on usage.” Hopefully that means we get a display that’s easy to read in the sun, or any situation, and doesn’t drain that battery. Hopefully that means we get more than one watch, so we can get more than one design. Hopefully . . . you get the idea.

If you want the iWatch, what exactly are you looking for it to feature, both in the software and hardware departments? Do you want an “iBand” that’s all about health and fitness, with 10-plus sensors, and whatever else, that gets tested by professional athletes? Or would you prefer a more “traditional” watch, that’s just focused on letting you interact with your notifications in new and exciting ways?