Next Apple Watch faces the long road to mass smartwatch appeal

Next Apple Watch faces the long road to mass smartwatch appeal

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Even though we have seen significant progress on many fronts since the first Android Wear watches, we remain a long way from where the smartwatch can replace the phone.

When I wrote last month that Apple had outgrown Apple, I noted the company’s challenge in one-upping the smartphone as a ubiquitous device. In theory, the smartwatch could be that device.

Moore’s Law dictates that its computing core should become far smaller and consume less power. Meanwhile, agent technology continues to evolve at a fast clip. Despite Apple and Google implementing clever text entry workarounds for its platforms, smartwatches have limited surface area for input and screen real estate for output. If the old Apple trope that new devices demand new input methods holds true, the smartwatch could be more of a conduit for Siri and Google Assistant than smartphone-style apps.

As the market leader, though, Apple remains in a unique position to shape the future of the device. To serve its developers, it is bound to keep the Apple Watch an app platform for the foreseeable future. And in keeping with its traditional product evolution, it will no doubt keep advancing the watch’s capabilities and keep it a premium companion to the iPhone.

Indeed, it’s no surprise that the only other company to have noteworthy success in the broader smartwatch market is Samsung, the other industry smartphone powerhouse. Samsung has gone its own way with Tizen, its adopted operating system that it seems intent in using for everything beyond smartphones, where the allure of Google’s services and app store are too compelling. It beat Apple to the punch with its first smartwatch and has been shipping watches with cellular connectivity — a rumored direction for the Apple Watch — for some time.

That leaves us at Android Wear, once the most logical extension of Android smartphone dominance and the target of smartwatch shortcomings. While a number of Android smartphone brands, including Samsung, LG, Huawei, and Motorola, launched a few iterations of Android Wear products, most have looked warily at releasing more.

Ron Kerr

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