It happened before with MP3 players, portable GPS devices, and E-Readers. When Apple enters a new market, their intention is to dominate and become the leader, not merely become another competitor. This next chapter for Apple is with watches. Manufacturers like LG, Sony, Samsung and others have frantically been releasing their own versions of smart watches in an attempt to have the first mover advantage in this new space. They knew Apple would eventually be entering the market and arming themselves as best as they can. The day has arrived…the Apple Watch was showcased on Sep. 9 and will be shipping in early 2015.
With most Apple products, there’s a few core innovations, the rest of the features are evolutionary advancements. With watches, one of things Apple wants to do is transform your health.
There are other popular fitness trackers on the market, but devices like the Jawbone Up and Fitbit Flex require a separate app to collect and store data. Samsung is even talking about not using Android in their next smart watch. All these different health apps and devices creates a confusing and fragmented way to monitor your health.
Apple’s approach is to have a device that has all the sensors and tracking capabilities of these other devices, and put them in one revolutionary device that’s simple and easy to use.
On the surface there’s a couple apps that are at the core of the watch – the Activity App and the Workout App. The Activity App has 3 modes constantly analyzing your activity, as explained by Apple: “The Move ring shows how many calories you’ve burned. The Exercise ring shows how many minutes of brisk activity you’ve done. And the Stand ring shows how often you’ve stood up to take a break from sitting. The goal? Sit less, move more, and get some exercise by completing each ring every day.”.
And the Workout App gets more detailed on specific activities: “It shows real-time stats such as time, distance, calories, and pace. It lets you set goals for each workout, encourages you to meet or beat those goals along the way, and gives you a summary of what you’ve achieved.” And has things like: Goals, Reminders, and Achievements.
While those are great apps, the real innovation of the Apple Watch is arguably the HealthKit platform. The HealthKit platform is a separate development platform where Apple is encouraging all its developers to make apps and external devices to work on top of the Apple Watch. Apple will then aggregate and organize all the information and put it in one simple app called Health…calories, weight, heart rate, blood sugar, cholesterol, etc. What this means is that instead of Jawbone, Fitbit, and the other fitness trackers all having different apps in your phone, Apple is making it super easy for developers to make apps that run with Health, and will display their information in a simple and efficient way. This is power of the Apple Watch…its developer community. In other words, what we see now, is only the tip of the iceberg.
Other fitness tracking companies are feeling the heat and trying to adapt their business model. Jawbone is now opening up their software so that its accessible to people with the Apple Watch, in the hopes of trying to maintain their market position. Travis Bogard, Jawbone vice president of product management and strategy see’s their future as something bigger, he has said “Our vision is not about winning a hardware arms race, or just moving more units than the other guys. It’s about people, and the thing we all cherish the most—our health, and the health of our family and friends”. Nike, another existing Apple Watch competitor, has announced that instead of them releasing a new Fitband, their technology will be integrated into the Apple Watch HealthKit platform.
With so much banter on the watch, there’s sceptics that predict the Apple Watch will be their first flop since the Apple Newton. In my opinion, the big difference now is there’s 1000’s of app developers about to unleash their creative powers. With the endless supply of app developers, we’re likely about to see a bunch of new health apps further transforming your health.
But there’s 1 secret Apple doesn’t want you to know about…
The battery. Sure it has a clever device that combines MagSafe technology and Inductive Charging but the rumour is it will only last a day. What’s the main downside of this…it won’t be able to track your sleep. Sleep is obviously a main pillar in your health and wellness. Will the other companies resort to become just sleep trackers, or will they compete head on with an all in one device. Time will tell.
In conclusion, we know Apple’s first products usually take a few iterations before mainstream catches on. So while this may not be the perfect device that we wanted, Apple will likely make the necessary advancements in the next Apple Watch 2, that is of course, if the other companies don’t have a solution by then.
Do you agree with the health potential in the Apple watch, or will the Apple Watch flop?