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

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.