By Todd Bernhard on Mon, 07/07/2014
A recent interview by Apple's CEO Tim Cook suggests that voice may be more important to an iWatch than previously thought. I've used a number of smartwatches, from Pebble, Martian Watches and others. While the Pebble offers the best battery life, the Martian Watch offers the most promise precisely because of its Siri button. In addition to acting as a Bluetooth Speakerphone, there is a button that can be pressed to activate Siri. This is similar to CarPlay, where an audio-only interface is used to access Siri's functions, so there's no touchscreen to distract the driver.
With the compact screen that an iWatch is bound to have, keyboard-based text entry will be impractical, so speech recognition is the way to go. It's no wonder that Apple has been on a hiring spree for speech technology engineers and researchers. Two more reasons to expect voice input to be the key to a keyboard-less future are Apple TV and the phablet phenomenon. Walt Isaacson wrote that Steve Jobs "cracked the code" on making a better TV experience, and voice input, to the Apple TV or a watch, could be simpler than a traditional remote control. And as iPhones get larger this fall, it may become impractical to hold one to your head. Instead, it could act almost as a router to let the iWatch be the main form of communication, and the iPhone can be tucked away in a briefcase or purse or on your desk. With OS X Yosemite, and iOS 8, Apple allows for handing off phone calls and text messages between Macs and iOS devices, so the common thread is voice. Just talk to the Apple product that's closest, and what's closer than a watch?!