What will Apple’s next big product be? Two months ago, if you’d polled a room full of analysts, most would have likely answered a TV set. Recently, though, a picture has been forming of a smaller and more portable innovation: the smartwatch. Three major media outlets have now separately reported that Apple is indeed working on an iWatch.
Following previous reports from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg now adds that Apple has a team of 100 product designers working on the smartwatch. The group – which includes hardware, software, and marketing specialists – has reportedly grown within the last year.
The sources say that this means the project is now beyond the experimentation phase of development.
The reports are sparse on further details, other than that the device would incorporate curved glass, and it could “perform some of the computing tasks now handled by the iPhone and iPad.”
A little imagination, though, sheds some light on why Apple would bother. Like Pebble, the device could display notifications – including calls, text messages, and emails – transmitted from a pocketed iPhone. It could also potentially allow for FaceTime video chat, fitness tracking, and voice control.
Apple likes to make computers that require zero geekery. A wearable iWatch could be the simplest, most human-centric computer ever made, with voice replacing the touchscreen as the primary interface.
If Apple can iron out some of Siri’s kinks, the virtual assistant could be a big deal on an iWatch.
A tap of the wrist and a few words could deliver nearly any information you ask for – even while driving, working-out, or hurrying to a meeting. It could allow for dictating messages, checking sports scores, setting meetings, and getting directions.
The iWatch release would be a perfect time for Apple to give Siri a big upgrade. Despite Apple's heavy marketing of the assistant with the iPhone 4S, Siri is still a beta product. Speed, more third-party app support, and less reliance on web searches are the most obvious ways Apple could improve Siri.
There’s no timetable for the iWatch (assuming it comes to market), but the rumored product makes sense. A smartwatch is a more portable and personal extension of the iPhone, and it could eventually replace the smartphone altogether.
Another breakthrough product could also help quell investors’ recent bearishness on Apple stock. There’s no guarantee that the iWatch would be a market-changing breakthrough, but the Kickstarter success of Pebble shows that a lot of customers are eager for something along these lines.