The wearables market has huge growth potential over the next 10 years, as Transparency estimates that Europe’s wearable technology market is expected to reach $2545.51m in 2019, along with ABI research which predicts the market will spike to 485m device shipments by 2018.
Wearables are still very much in their infancy, especially as Apple only launched the iWatch in the UK back in April. I’ve had my iWatch for about 3 months now which seems a sufficient amount of time to review the pro’s and con’s of wearing the latest wearable tech! So read on for my review.
1. Activity tracker
For me this is the main benefit of the iWatch. Since wearing it i’m much more aware of my activity levels for example, on a day when i’ve not exercised i’ll get out of the office at lunch and go for a walk. I’ve also found it’s cleverly exploited my competitive nature, as on the occasions where i’m 10 minutes short on reaching my exercise target i’ll go for a walk in the evening, either before or after dinner so I can hit the goal.
To note you can set your target calories as well, so depending on how active you are this can be adjusted to help you hit your desired goals.
Linked to activity tracker is the workout app which is native to the iWatch and allows you to record specific activities like cycling, walking, running or other activities. Though see my con’s for the downside on GPS distance tracking.
2. Calling notifications
Another subtle benefit to wearing the iWatch when paired with your iPhone is the watch can display iPhone notifications which includes the gentle haptic ringing tone on your wrist to alert you of a call. For me this is very handy especially during work and at home. I don’t have my phone on me all the time so before i’d often miss calls, now I can know when my phone is ringing and decide to answer the call or not.
I hadn’t heard of Citymapper before getting my iWatch but this is the type of product that’s meant for wearables! It’s the ultimate transport app and is an example of how a wearable device extends the customer experience. The use of glances allows real time travel updates to be seen quickly e.g. how many minutes until the bus or what underground lines are temporarily closed. It also feels safer not wandering around with your phone out. If you’re a tourist visiting any of the supported cities then I can imagine it would be super handy to help get around. I tried it in London and felt like a local when I could easily hop on a bus and know how many stops until I needed to get off.
There’s a great article on Medium which sums up these features along with awesome screen shots!
If you use passbook for travel documents and tickets that use a QR code then again there are some perks to having an iWatch. You can quickly scan the code to get into events or board a plane! I can also see some potentially interesting uses for gig attendance as well. For those Starbucks junkies you can also pay with your Starbucks loyalty card!
1. Limited functions when not paired with iPhone.
To get most out of the iWatch it needs to be connected to the iPhone, e.g. the GPS runs from your phone, so I’ve used the workout app to track an outdoor walk I did one weekend, but iWatch was only able to tell me how far i’d walked as I had enabled my phone’s GPS.
Another ideal function would be to pair earphones via bluetooth and listen to your music while exercising, this isn’t an option either. As at the moment the best way I can describe the iWatch is as a remote. If your phone is nearby you can configure the iWatch to do certain commands, e.g. change track, turn the volume up etc. But it doesn’t do much in isolation at this stage which limits its potential utility.
2. Notification overload
This leads me onto the next drawback to the iWatch, which interestingly was also identified via TechCrunch*, many app providers still haven’t worked out how best to integrate iWatch functions into existing apps. If you’re not careful the watch becomes a notification centre on your wrist! I certainly had to disable iWatch notifications for apps like Twitter and Whatsapp. With the exception of a few apps like Citymapper most are just redundant due to limited screen size. This is where bringing in location based alerts will make iWatch apps stand out. Just like websites have had to adapt for mobile, i’m of the opinion that apps are going to have to evolve for wearables!
3. Apple pay limited to certain bank cards
In theory this should be a benefit, as I’m able to set-up Apple Pay on my iWatch passbook, this would certainly be handy to pay for a few bits on the go. Though annoyingly quiet a number of current accounts aren’t supported, not just my graduate Natwest account. This is disappointing as there’s such hype about contactless payments and ditching bank cards altogether I was eager to try this out. I’m sure once enough stores have Apple pay this could become quite a distinctive feature of the iWatch. Especially in places like London where it would double up as an Oyster card. Alas! until enough bank cards are supported it’s just another let down to another potential benefit of having an iWatch.
The wearables market is an exciting place to be in right now, i’d be inclined to say it’s similar to how mobile was 10 years ago and i’d say we’re soon to be entering into a wearable decade. I see the current version of iWatch in a similar way to the naysayers did when the first iPhone was released. Sure it’s all a bit too mod con at the moment, but with each subsequent updates i’m sure wearables will become part of the norm as mobiles have.
Blog image source: http://azrights.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/AppleWatch.jpeg