TL;DR: Better battery, thinner body, and non-exclusivity.
It recently dawned on me that throughout my life, Apple has had a constant, underlying presence in the background. From the bland “platinum gray” computers in my elementary school’s computer lab to the colorful iMac G3s that all of my friends seemed to have once upon a time, Apple managed to leave a lasting impression on me before I even realized that Apple was both a fruit and a company.
Nothing would solidify Apple’s name more than the reveal of the iPod, which took the world by storm in the early 2000s. Apple would have a solid string of iconic gadgets for the next decade including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, making the company hands down one of the most quintessential in my life thus far.
However, as they say, all good things must come to an end – even if just for a short while – and one recent Apple gadget has yet to impress the consumer market on the same scale as the rest of their products: the Apple Watch.
Perhaps it’s due to the nature of smartwatches themselves. While more manufacturers are devoting more time and resources to the peculiar gadget, hype for them is growing at a snail’s pace. Do people really need (or even want) another gadget to keep track of? After all, didn’t smartphones become so popular largely due to the fact that they made for a decent all-in-one device that negated the need for a separate music player, camera, phone, GPS, PDA, etc.?
While it’s true that a smartwatch's purpose is muddled - is it a smartphone accessory or a replacement? - they can be useful for some. I believe that the overall desire and demand for smartwatches are lower than expected, but I think a bigger reason for this is simply that smartwatches are not a good purchase for the money for most people currently, and where Apple has previously succeeded in “borrowing” an existing idea, fine-tuning it and making it successful, they have failed to do so with the Apple Watch. Which isn’t to say that the Apple Watch isn’t successful for a smartwatch, but it hasn’t been as successful on as grand of a scale in comparison to other Apple products at launch.
Despite being content with my Pebble watch for the time being, I found myself casually browsing smartwatches the other day. Despite the “Best Smartwatches” and “Top Smartwatches” list, of which all featured the Apple Watch somewhere, I never once considered buying it. For me, that's weird; I always consider Apple when comparison shopping. Not the Apple Watch, though. Not only do I not currently use an iPhone, making the potential purchase useless, but its overall design, price, and performance weren’t tempting, either. In order to win me, a generic consumer of the utmost caliber, over with the Apple Watch, here are the changes I would like to see:
This is a given, but it’s also a biggie. The reason that Pebble had me from the get-go is because I only have to charge it once or twice a week. I can sleep with it on, track my sleep habits, use it as an alarm, and use it for notifications throughout the day for at least 5 solid days without worry that my watch will die on me at some point. While likely a trade-off between the Pebble Time’s ePaper display and Apple’s OLED display, I much prefer the one that gives me a longer battery.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but considering all of Apple’s efforts to make its other iGadgets as thin as possible, the Apple Watch is the one that needs it the most but doesn’t have it. I’m not a watch person because I’m not a fan of how they feel on my wrist. If I could bet on anybody to implement the values of thinness and lightweight material in a gadget, it was Apple. Although this probably directly conflicts with my first proposed change of better battery life, I would say this is almost equally as important.
I get it. Apple wants to keep Apples to Apples. It’s almost always how it has been (with the exception of Apple Music) but I think it’s time for the company to swallow its pride and allow Apple Watch to be compatible with other platforms.
I don’t know about other smartwatch buyers, but the last thing I want is another gadget that I feel compelled to upgrade every year or two. I want to buy a smartwatch for the long haul. Without knowing whether my next smartphone will be an Android, iPhone, or dare I say it, Windows Phone, buying an Apple Watch that only works with Apple products is a big commitment that I’m not willing to make anytime soon. The iPhone isn’t the be all, end all smartphone that it used to be; Android brought some serious competition to the table in recent years, and they’re not letting up anytime soon.
Those are pretty much the three big things keeping me from buying an Apple Watch. Taking recent rumors into consideration, it would seem that these changes will be me made sooner rather than later, as it is said that the company will be switching out its OLED displays for micro-LED displays instead, which require less power and may allow for the watch to be thinner. However, even if Apple were to make their smartwatches thinner and more power efficient, I’m still not sure I’d be convinced to buy it still knowing that it only works with Apple products. I feel non-exclusivity is an equally important change to make at this point.
It’s possible that the Apple Watch may never take off, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think smartwatches have a real future, just not so much in their current state. I’m used to seeing Apple succeed from the get-go, so it will be interesting to see if the company can get this relatively struggling product to take off before somebody else beats them to the punch.
Readers, what are your thoughts on Apple Watch? Do you think that the product will eventually live up to the hype that other Apple products have, or do you think that it’s doomed to fizzle out?