Oh My Tech!: What I want in an Apple iWatch
No doubt the buzzword in technology today is "wearable computing," the term for electronic gadgets you wear like jewelry.
Google has Google Glass, the high-tech glasses that may do a better job of making people look like dorks than being a digital assistant. Earlier this year, Pebble Technology released its Pebble Watch, a wristwatch that works with your smartphone.
Now Apple may be getting into the wearable computing game. Rumors have been gestating for some time that the company that brought you the iPhone and iPad has been working on an "iWatch" that will do many of the same things as your phone. The most solid evidence that Apple is designing one is the company recently trademarked the name "iWatch." Many in the industry believe Apple could introduce the gadget as early as this fall when it also announces revisions of the iPhone and iPad.
If they do, here's my ultimate wishlist for what the iWatch ought to do to make it a hit with myself and consumers.
Notifications • At the very least, I think the iWatch will be paired with your iPhone via Bluetooth. That means when you get a notification or alert, it will show up on the watch. You could instantly see your texts, emails and who's calling on your watch without having to take your phone out of your pocket. It also should provide you with instant access to the standard information a phone provides such as weather and stocks.
Apps • Of course, the watch should be capable of running separate apps made just for the device. For example, a golf range finder such as what is included on Pebble. App developers could have a field day figuring out new ways to use the watch, and even games could be designed for it. (Of course, porn producers will be the most innovative here.)
Just as important, the watch should be able to integrate with existing iPhone apps through Bluetooth. Again, game developers could come up with some novel ideas.
Siri • While the watch should have a touchscreen to access apps, it also should be fully compatible with Siri, Apple's voice assistant. You should be able to launch and control apps and other functions with your voice.
NFC • Near field communication involves a chip in some phones (the iPhone doesn't have one yet) that can wirelessly transfer data by just touching your device to a card reader. It's used to make mobile payments such as the way you can buy gas or clothes through the Isis system in Salt Lake City. To buy something, you tap your phone on the reader.
But there are some inconveniences that still need to be worked out with NFC, namely excessive battery consumption and the time it takes to set up before making each payment.
Having it on your watch would make more sense. There's no need to pull your wallet or phone out of your pocket. Just tap the watch on a reader. But developers still need to streamline the process of preparing for a payment without pushing so many buttons while still making it secure.
Hardware • Hopefully, the watch can be thin yet with a 2-inch screen, just slightly larger than Pebble's product. It also would be nice if the screen is in color and in high resolution, though that's doubtful given the battery power that would take. Most importantly, it has to be stylish and made of some kind of metal composite instead of plastic so it doesn't give off a cheap look. It also has to be water resistant.
Finally, it's got to have good battery life. The Pebble supposedly lasts for seven days. With all of the features I'm requesting here for the iWatch, I'd be lucky if this lasts a couple of days. Perhaps an accelerometer and your arm's movement could aid in charging the battery like a self-winding watch.
Video calls • This is my "pie in the sky" request. Imagine the ability to make FaceTime calls with other watches, iPhones and iPads if the watch had a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. That "Dick Tracy" moment could finally arrive.
Death Ray • If you really want to get creative, how about the ability to vaporize your boss/annoying guy with the Bluetooth headset/[insert name of nemesis or ex here] with the push of a button on your watch. Sigh.
Time • Oh, and I almost forgot, it's got to tell the time.
If you have a tech question for Vince, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and he'll try to answer it for his column in The Salt Lake Tribune or on its website. For an archive of past columns, go to http://www.sltrib.com/topics/ohmytech.