Challenges and compromises

Why the first Apple Watch may not be the one Apple envisioned

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When the Apple Watch starts shipping in April, it won’t likely have all of the features that Apple originally wanted. After working on the watch for four years, according to the Wall Street Journal, Apple didn’t get all of the sensors and related functions it had hoped for into a device that fits on a wrist.

Apple Watch launch event

Originally, sources tell the WSJ, [company]Apple[/company] planned for a full complement of biosensors to offer an all-encompassing view of your health. That meshes nicely with Apple’s Health app for iOS: Take a look at it and you’ll see dozens of data points the app is ready to receive and track from connected devices ranging from body temperature to blood pressure.

iOS 8 Health app

That’s an ambitious goal considering you have a limited amount of space to work with in a device for the wrist and when battery life is still a challenge for any mobile, connected product. And devices that provide that type of data can be subject to FDA approval. As a result, the Journal says that expectations and features for the first Apple Watch were tempered:

“But none of those technologies made it into the much-anticipated Apple Watch, due in April. Some didn’t work reliably. Others proved too complex. And still others could have prompted unwanted regulatory oversight, these people said.”

Still, that isn’t stopping Apple from entering the market with a bang. Reported production of 5 to 6 million Apple Watches for the first month of sales are expected with roughly half of those to be the $349 entry-level models.

While the remaining health features will appeal to some — the Apple Watch will track your steps, heart rate and such — it’s likely that connected phone apps customized for wrist use will be in the spotlight during the product launch as well.

I’m still not sold on that aspect alone as a compelling purchase reason. When I bought my Android Wear watch, it wasn’t solely for the the apps.

Instead, the contextual notifications provided by Google Now were a big factor as was the standalone GPS functionality that lets me leave my phone behind when running got me to bust out my wallet. I can track my run using the watch’s GPS and stream locally stored music to Bluetooth headphones without having to carry a phone, for example.

RunKeeper tracking Android Wear

Regardless of what’s “missing” from the first Apple Watch, it will surely find a large audience.

Even better, chips and sensors will continue to evolve, becoming smaller and more power efficient. When that happens, the Apple Watch will become what Apple initially wanted it to be: A powerful tool to get the perfect picture of your health in the palm of your hand.




7 Responses to “Why the first Apple Watch may not be the one Apple envisioned”

  1. Bob Atkinson

    While I’m sure the Apple Watch will initially have useful bio-monitor / health features (and will evolve more), I really don’t think that will be a key sales driver. It will be, as usual, the cool design and just the basic watch/messaging/app notifications functionality that will appeal to the Apple crowd. And that crowd is all they need to make it a huge hit. Even at a basic price point of $350US just watch it go crazy in China.

  2. Starting with the Mac, all of Apple’s first release products were smash hits and somewhat deficient. One exception might be the iPad, mainly a repackaged iPhone, was fully featured day one.

    Over time, with advanced chips, sensors, battery, Apps, and new ‘wrist first’ services, the Apple Watch (and perhaps Beats headphones) become the economic powerhouse of wearables. Maybe something for the eyes, too.

  3. Harvey Lubin

    So WSJ reports that there were additional health features (in addition to the current ones) for the Apple Watch, that were NEVER announced by Apple, and are STILL not announced by Apple.

    So the non-existent remains non-existent?

    (͡° ͜ʖ°)

  4. Like so many other Apple products (iPhone, iPad, iPod) to name a few) leave off some wanted features from the first issue and keep the fan boys coming back every year. for a few New features.