By Jim Karpen on Wed, 11/13/2013
The Korea Herald today published a report saying that Apple's iWatch will come in two sizes: 1.7 inches for men and 1.3 inches for women. The information comes from a Taiwan conference presentation by a market supply chain analyst who cited sources from within Apple. Of course, nothing is officially known, though Apple CEO Tim Cook has indicated that new products are coming. The article also says the watch will possibly have a flexible display and could launch as early as the end of this year (which seems a bit optimistic).
It will be interesting to see what develops. This is yet another instance in which Apple lets other companies explore the territory and then attempts to disrupt the market with its own superior product. There were MP3 players before the iPod, but Apple did it better. There were innumerable smartphones before the iPhone, but Apple did it better.
Among the big players so far are the $150 Pebble and the recently released $300 Samsung Galaxy Gear (a picture of which accompanies this post). Pebble began life as an extraordinarily successful Kickstater project, and the reviews have been so so, with CNET saying it lacks killer features but is wearable and fun. It has a black-and-white display. The Galaxy Gear has gotten mediocre reviews but certainly doesn't lack features, which include a touch-sensitive color display, voice recognition, and even a camera in the band and a speaker in the buckle. CNET's bottom line: "It's too much for most people, and yet, it doesn't do the basic things well enough."
In general, the smartwatches being sold so far act as companions to your phone. You can receive calls, emails, and text messages on your wrist rather than having to take your phone out of your pocket or purse. Your phone sends these communications to the watch via Bluetooth.
The Galaxy Gear not only has these phone-connected functions, but also standalone functions as well, such as the camera, a microphone for voice memos, and a pedometer. The Pebble is agnostic regarding platform, working with both Android and iOS devices, but the Galaxy Gear is more limited, and is, as the CNET article says, mainly a Samsung accessory.
What will Apple do? They've made it clear they're focusing on wearable computing. And their patents show a deep interest in those wearable devices having a wide range of sensors. Plus, their new M7 motion coprocessor shows they have the technology for tracking sensor data. It seems likely their watch will communicate with your iOS device, and that it will have a range of health and fitness features. Plus, it's likely that it would display the sort of contextual alerts that Apple is focusing on developing. For example, their M7 chip is smart enough to know you're in your car, and of course your phone uses GPS to know your location. So if there's a traffic jam up ahead, imagine your watch beeping and then displaying a message that you need to take a different route to avoid a traffic jam.
It's all speculation of course, but it seems likely the iWatch will do these sorts of things. Assuming we see an iWatch. I'm guessing we will, but one never knows. There had been lots of rumors of an HDTV from Apple, but news reports the past few days have suggested that Apple has put their plans for an HDTV on hold.