When it comes to speculation about future Apple products, all it takes is one well thought-out blog post for the civilized world to go bonkers. That’s what happened February 6 when Bruce Tognazzi, a former Apple UI specialist for 14 years, penned a piece speculating about the future of wearable computing as envisioned by Apple. The piece is well worth a read for its exploration of the potential utility of such an “iWatch”and its sensibility guaranteed that the tech press and its band of clueless analysts would jump all over the idea like it was a done deal. Dead tree business models like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal (paywalled), obviously phoning it in at this point, lent an air of credibility. One analyst thinks it could add $80 billion to Apple’s revenue stream. Bloomberg thinks 100 people are working on it in some undisclosed location. The obligatory Misinformation Week article describes 7 reasons why it won’t work (must have lost that link). All of these pieces fail to mention Tog’s blog post, which is curious given that the shovels full of horseshit didn’t start flying in the barn until after he wrote it.
In addition to baseless hit-whoring, there has been a slew of product mock-ups put together by some talented (and not so talented) designers looking to pull eyeballs in the direction of their work. Here’s a brief look at some, what they get right and what they whiff on – at least according to one more totally uninformed speculator:
This ironically is the most frequently-appearing entry I’ve found. And it blows. Swipe to unlock? Do you really think a device that you wrap around your wrist is going to have a superfluous unlock taking up 1/3 of the UI? A Bluetooth icon? I’d think that’d be kind of fucking assumed, don’t you? And of course there’s the form factor. Nothing screams “I have no business designing shit” like taking an existing product, cutting out the middle 7/8s, and slapping it on a wristband. Don’t expect to see Jony Ive on your caller ID anytime soon.
Voted “Most Likely to Infringe on Timex IP”, this rugged Ironman version of the iWatch apparently sports a camera, which is rubbish. This ~100 gram device’s battery is going to support a Facetime camera? Only in a poorly-rendered mock-up. I wonder if these would-be designers even read Tog’s post before firing up Photoshop. And that clock UI would make me intentionally not check the time because it would make me sad every time I did.
Curved face, thin profile and a single button – now we’re getting in the same area code as Apple’s design aesthetic. I don’t see the same kind of top and bottom border, especially not one with Apple branding, but the design concept overall isn’t horrible, which is high praise given the level of effort put into our previous 2 entries.
I think Apple has a future in wearable devices, one that would look nothing like most of the hobbyist hack jobs I’ve seen so far. Unlike the false certainty being oozed by rest of the media reporting on the topic, the idea honestly didn’t appeal to me personally until I read Tognazzi’s excellent exploration of what such a device could be. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on the topic, as misguided as they will be, in a future post.