We've been hearing about the purported "iWatch" for a very long time now, and the rumours just keep heating up. I don't know exactly what Apple is going to do in wearables (nobody, but Apple, does), but I definitely want an iWatch from Apple, as I just don't like what the others guys have been doing so far in this space.
My original reason for wanting Apple to make an iWatch—specifically, in a watch form factor—was really a pretty silly one. I'm right handed, and currently wear a traditional watch on my left wrist and a fitness tracking wristband on my right wrist. So, I wanted a fitness tracker built into a watch that I could wear in place of my current watch. This would serve two purposes: I could eliminate the wristband on my right wrist, and I think a fitness tracker on my non-dominant hand would be more accurate. Currently, I get lots of extra "steps" for doing things like brushing my teeth or washing dishes with my right hand.
I've been wearing a fitness tracker of one brand or another since the original Jawbone Up was released in late 2011. After the Up 1.0 turned out to be a total lemon and the company recalled all units and refunded everyone's money, I started looking for another option. I ended up with a Fitbit Ultra that wasn't a wristband, but a tracker that sort of clipped onto your clothing or into a belt-holster-style plastic thingy. I actually found this style of tracker to be really accurate because you didn't get credit for steps just by moving your arms, but it was a nightmare to keep track of. It was really easy to have it fall off and lose it. Or you could accidentally put it through the washing machine with your clothes. I had one fall off in the parking lot at work, but the Fitbit customer service team was great and replaced it for free. I then moved on to the next generation of Fitbit, the Fitbit One. It was another clothing clip on style of device. I really like it, but it had similar drawbacks to those of the Ultra. Then, when Fitbit came out with the Fitbit Flex, I went back to a wristband tracker. It really is much more convenient to wear a tracker on your wrist, even if it's a little less accurate. I've also experimented with the Nike Fuelband SE and the newest Jawbone UP24. I got the Fuelband SE mostly because Tim Cook said he wears one (that's a pretty serious endorsement), and I liked the fuel vs. steps twist on tracking your progress. I still like the concept of Nike Fuel, but have stopped wearing the Fuelband because I don't like the hardware as much and it really sucks at sleep tracking. That's why I'm using the Jawbone UP24 currently. It's much better at the sleep tracking, it has an amazing app, and as an added bonus, I find its calories out calculation to be the best, or at least, the most conservative. I had my Fitbit trackers linked up MyFitnessPal and the extra calories that it was awarding me were totally unrealistic. After a very average day of 12,000 steps, where I didn't actually work out, but did walk a fair bit, it would grant me several hundred or even a thousand extra calories for burning more calories than my MyFitnessPal plan had allotted for me. I find that the Jawbone UP24 synced with MyFitnessPal is much more conservative and probably more accurate. With the Fitbit's calculations I would have been on pace to gain a couple of pounds per week, not lose any or maintain my current weight.
Okay, back to the iWatch. As I said, my initial reason for wanting one was a pretty silly and simplistic reason. But, as the months have wore on and the rumours have heated up, my reasons and expectations have gotten more specific and complex. The main features I want out of an iWatch are mostly the same: fitness and health tracking. I'm really not looking for Pebble's, Samsung's or Google's take on the smartwatch so far, which is mainly notifications, cameras, and apps on your wrist. I'm perfectly happy using my smartphone for those things. And for reasons including battery life, I don't need a bunch of other smartphone features on my wrist, or a smartphone-style screen that needs to be on constantly to serve its purpose as a watch. Pebble has gone with an e-ink screen to increase battery life, but that's not very attractive. So far, I think maybe the Withings Activité has gotten the closest to what I'm looking for. But, as the Steve Jobs quote goes, "people don't know what they want until you show it to them." So, maybe there is a way to do the smartwatch with notifications, but I haven't seen it yet. Google, Pebble and Samsung have shown it to me, and it's not what I want.
One day of battery life just won't cut it, either. I can't imagine needing to charge my watch every night, especially if one of the things I want the watch to do is track my sleep quality. I would want at least a week of battery life, so that I know I could at least find one time per week when I could charge it at work, while I was idle and not missing any activity. But, I'm a little anal about never missing any steps. I've been wearing an activity tracker every single day for more than two and a half years. I mean, I haven't even missed a day. I've got back up trackers. When I occasionally run into a technical difficulty with one, I switch to another within an hour. Yeah, I know, it's a little weird. But, it's a deal I made with myself about taking my fitness seriously. Not so seriously that I don't indulge. It's really more of just a cancellation effect, but it's a very important cancellation effect. If I stop wearing my tracker for a day or two, I worry that I'll break an important (to me) habit and slip back into some old behaviours that lead to bigger jeans and tighter collars.
The three main purposes I think I want an iWatch to serve for me, are:
1) Tell the time. I'm a watch wearer. I like looking at my wrist to see what time it is. I don't pull out my iPhone to check the time like many other people do in the smartphone age.
2) Look good doing it. A watch is basically a piece of jewelry, and makes a fashion statement. I have always liked nice watches. I've never been able to afford anything really nice, but I don't wear a Timex, either. A watch that looks as good as a $300-$500 watch from makers like Tissot, Esquire, or Citizen would be perfect.
3) Track my activity and health. I'll take this one even one step further. I would like the iWatch to track the standard steps and calories, but some other features would be great. too. If the technology is there to do an accurate heart rate monitor in a watch, that would be ideal. I wear a heart rate monitor often when I'm working out, and the chest strap is a hassle that I could live without.
As for notifications, I'm still not sold. Maybe Apple will do something innovative in this area and my eyes will be opened, but for right now, I'm not looking to have my wrist constantly blinking and vibrating.
The other intriguing thing that I think might be a "bonus" feature of an iWatch would be to use it for identity and security. Take Nymi, for example. It's a wristband that uses your cardiac rhythm, which is apparently unique, to identify you for security purposes, like unlocking your computer, home, car, phone. Apple could maybe do something with this and proximity, for security purposes. They've already got your fingerprints in Touch ID, and could possibly do something with your heartbeat in an iWatch. I think that would be an interesting feature that could create more lock-in to the Apple ecosystem.
But, I'd be happy with an iWatch that just told me the time, looked good, and tracked my activity, as a starting point. If it did that, and had decent battery life, I'd be an early adopter. And I'd probably update as Apple iterates, just like I get the new iPhone every year. I guess I'll have to wait and see.