Apple Watch has been in development since 2011, but health-tracking sensors haven’t improved enough in the last four years to make Apple’s wearable an essential fitness accessory. So Apple is reportedly launching Apple Watch with more limited health and fitness capabilities than the company had initially wanted.
When Apple Watch was first conceived, the company’s higher-ups dreamed of a health-focused wearable that would go beyond heart-rate monitoring to track blood pressure, stress levels and other metrics. That didn’t quite pan out, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Sensor setbacks and the threat of regulatory holdups have effectively watered down the first-generation Apple Watch’s health-first focus, so Apple is repositioning the wearable as a multifunctional device.
The watch will still track activity, but Apple execs have been emphasising other features like interactive notifications, Siri integration, Apple Pay and haptic feedback, which Apple CEO Tim Cook noted can be programmed to send you reminder taps when you’ve been sitting for too long. Developers are also following Apple’s WatchKit guidelines to create innovative, must-use apps that will be ready when the watch ships in April.
As a runner on the hunt for a stylish, high-quality health tracker, I’m still looking forward to trying out the basic Apple Watch Sport edition, which starts at US$349. I’m interested in fitness features and Apple Pay – which the WSJ noted can be used even if you pair your Apple Watch to an older iPhone – but, like the iPad (which was also criticised for lacking purpose), every person will use the watch differently. The customisable bands and casings at varying prices are also compelling for watch aficionados who want a fashionable, smarter alternative to traditional watches.
Apple is betting that Apple Watch will find its fans. The company is reportedly getting ready to ship 5-6 million watches. Only 720,000 Android Wear watches shipped in 2014, out of 4.6 million smartbands shipped overall, so Apple has a low bar to clear.