Apple Watch: Just a Phone Accessory?

Who’s excited about Apple’s WatchOS2 update launching this autumn? I, for one, am still not convinced.

Last month, I wrote in Wearable Tech about how difficult it is to justify the cost and real benefits of current wearables. Let’s face it, at the moment the Apple Watch is nothing more than a very expensive phone accessory. Until it can offer real standalone benefits without needing the trusty iPhone by its side, it will only be bought by early adopters and Apple fanatics. Apple Pay is making headway with this, allowing users contactless payments of up to £20 (sometimes more) on the tfl network and associated retailers while leaving your phone at home. BUT, you still generally need an iPhone to get anything out of your iWatch. And this is not exciting enough to inspire your everyday person to rush to the store to buy it.

So will WatchOS2 change this?

Clearly there’s a lot of superficial features, which Apple promises will provide an even ‘more personal experience.’ Updates such as new watch faces, Time Travel, Nightstand mode and the ability to, wait for it, actually reply to emails and communicate directly through the watch.  But all of these are nice to haves for existing owners, not revolutionary breakthroughs that will encourage new excited buyers to line up outside their local Apple Store to hand over their hard earned cash.

The possibilities opened up by native apps however is heading more in the right direction. Developers will now be able to create native apps specifically for the iWatch, with access to the smartwatch’s sensors and controls. Which yes, most likely means another onslaught of fitness trackers which I’ve discussed previously. But also allows for far more exciting possibilities by plugging into the internet of things, something which Insteon, by way of example, is starting to address. The Insteon app on Apple watch enables users to control and monitor their home from their wrist, doing everything from locking and unlocking doors, controlling heating and even streaming from wifi cameras around their home.

Tetherless wi-fi also means that you can connect to open wi-fi networks and finally leave your iPhone at home, well for some things, which will at the very least give the illusion that you no longer simply own an iPhone accessory.

Is this enough to inspire me to rush out and spend £300+ on an Apple Watch? Not yet, no. Lots of things still need to be addressed, such as battery life, the general dependence on the iPhone, and in turn developers need to start thinking about the iWatch as a standalone device and innovate accordingly. With WatchOS2 definitely starting to head the Apple Watch in right direction, I for one am excited for the day that Apple finally announces the Watch as a new standalone product, not just an accessory.  On that day I’ll be heading the queue at my local Apple Store and all but begging them to take £300+ off me.

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