The buzz that Apple is working on a “smart watch” has been building for quite some time, and now Apple CEO Tim Cook has provided the next best thing to official confirmation. Cook broadly hinted that Apple is indeed working on a wristwatch computer – and took a swipe at potential rival Google Glass in the process.
Of course Apple and Google are going to pitch their different approaches. Each is going to push its own idea as the wave of the future, and relegate the other’s to the dustbin of science fiction. The bigger picture is that the era of wearable computing is now upon us. Hand-held devices are so 2010.
Smart Watch – New Technology, Classic Idea
As Will Oremus at Slate reports, Apple’s CEO provided the clearest evidence yet that Apple’s next wave of “incredible ideas” will include the much-anticipated, wristwatch-style, wearable computer.
CEO Tim Cook let the Smart Watch news slip out while bashing Google’s enhanced-reality eyeglasses, Google Glass, suggesting that no one who doesn’t already need glasses would want to wear them. In contrast, said Cook, “the wrist is interesting,” and “natural.”
In fact, the idea of wearing communications technology on the wrist is long-standing, as fans of the old Dick Tracy comic strip recall. The mid-20th-century detective was perhaps most famed for his two-way wrist radio, later upgraded to TV. Back then, of course, few people had ever seen a computer, much less imagined wearing one.
Wristwatch versus Eyeglasses?
Even today, no one – outside of Apple, at least – has more than a speculative guess about what the iWatch will look like, or what functionality it will provide. No one even knows if it will be called the iWatch. But given Apple’s history of industrial design, Apple’s wrist device will probably be a lot cleaner looking than the Dick Tracy version.
As for the prospective rivalry between the Apple Smart Watch and Google Glass? For these two tech giants to take shots at each other is part of the natural order of technology innovation. But for power users, enhanced-reality eyeglasses and a smart watch may not look so much like rivals as complementary tools. No one can really juggle an iPad and an Android tablet at the same time – and there wouldn’t be much point to it. But anyone could wear both glasses and a wristband device, especially if they were best suited to different functions. Which, as Slate’s Oremus points out, means that a lot of power users could end up sporting both.
Whether non-eyeglass wearers will prefer to wear their computer on their wrist, or power-users lead the way to complete computer accessorization, wearable smart devices are certainly on their way.