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What Apple's iWatch Can Learn From Pebble

samzenpus posted about 9 months ago | from the learning-lessons dept.

Apple 97

redletterdave (2493036) writes "Many believe Apple's iWatch will marry the looks of a luxury wristwatch with the powerful sensors found in today's fitness wristbands, and, of course, familiar elements from the iPhone and iPad shrunken down and reconfigured to work from your wrist. Apple is undoubtedly full of its own ideas. But it would also benefit from looking at the progenitor of the modern smartwatch—or rather, its steely successor—both as inspiration and as a model to surpass."

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e-ink display (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 9 months ago | (#46616521)

Anyone knows if Pebble sells their e-ink displays to hobbyists?

Re:e-ink display (4, Informative)

xlsior (524145) | about 9 months ago | (#46616563)

Unlike their initial announcements, the Pebble doesn't actually use an actual e-ink display -- it's a 1.26 inch Sharp Memory LCD, also used by several other devices. http://www.sharpmemorylcd.com/... [sharpmemorylcd.com]

Re:e-ink display (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 9 months ago | (#46619153)

Outside of just-the-displays off of aliexpress or so, I think this may be the only reasonable e-ink option for hobbyists out there right now:
http://www.embeddedartists.com... [embeddedartists.com]

Which is a shame. I realize the market for e-ink displays is way bigger for retail (and I don't really mean retail products - I mean products for retail, such as OTA-updatable price indicators) than for hobbyists, but for many other electronics segments you can usually find a decent hobby-level offering as well.

2.7" might be a bit too big if you wanted to make a watch :)

What Apple's iWatch Can Learn From Pebble (5, Funny)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 9 months ago | (#46616523)

Nothing. Pebble clearly copied the iWatch and violates several of Apple's patents. :)

Ironic (0)

TomGreenhaw (929233) | about 9 months ago | (#46618087)

How a released product can violate the patents of a rumor.

Re:Ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46618243)

It has rounded corners.

Re:Ironic (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 9 months ago | (#46618331)

Um, yes, it could. I have no idea if they actually do violate patents, or if Apple has any patents w.r.t. this area, but Apple certainly could have submitted a number of patents, without having an actual product [ever], that may or may not have even been available for Pebble to view to check if they have infringed it or not [as not all patents are public immediately after being submitted to the patent office]. They still would be liable for infringement from the date Apple submitted it, assuming the patent is declared valid by the patent office.

Re:Ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46618535)

The irony I note is the dissonance of the intention of the original idea versus the abomination of it we have now.The founding fathers of the United States intended patents to be a mechanism to promote innovation for the public good. Am I the only person who sees the irony that patents of rumored products could possibly be considered prior art for innovations already available to the public? Remember this is the public good we're talking about - not potential profits to trolls. I'm not suggesting Apple is a troll; they are fulfilling their legal and fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders. Its just that the current state of patent law is illogical and cannot - and should not - last any longer.

That said, I eagerly await the smart watch revolution and will support the first innovative company that provides what I want.

Re:Ironic (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 9 months ago | (#46619015)

It has ALWAYS been this way, even for a regular business creating products. It is because, at least prior to submitting the patent, the "invention" must be a trade secret. You must not have publicly shown or offered a product with the invention for it to be eligible for a patent.

If you are developing a big project, it may take quite some time to complete it and make it for sale, but your patents will have been submitted/approved for quite some time [even years].

Another company putting out a product that didn't take as long to create, but infringes on your patent may be released prior to the big project, but it still technically infringes. You could make the argument that you independently creating the 'invention' [or part thereof] makes it obvious as a practitioner, so the patent should be invalid, but then it's up to the judge/patent office. It's been like this since day one, and as it was intended.

It's just that the current system is being gamed, just like the political system, the law, whatever, for a/all corporations advantage.

Re:Ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46621089)

It has ALWAYS been this way, even for a regular business creating products. It is because, at least prior to submitting the patent, the "invention" must be a trade secret. You must not have publicly shown or offered a product with the invention for it to be eligible for a patent.

No. You have a *year* from first public display of the invention until you can no longer apply for a patent on said invention.

sad (0)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 9 months ago | (#46616567)

What Apple's iWatch Can Learn From Pebble

You mean like, the entire idea of a bluetooth watch connected to your cellphone? I find it the hight of irony that Apple would be so blatant in their copying of hardware and calling it "inspiration" given their attitude towards any one who even makes icons a similar shape to theirs. Also ironic, the shackle like feel of apple hardware clamped to your wrist.

Your Hatred, based on what? (2, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#46616629)

I find it the hight of irony that Apple would be so blatant in their copying of hardware and calling it "inspiration"

Do you find nothing rather silly about your remark given that Apple is not selling a smart-watch nor has said they are going to?

I mean, Apple-Haters have kind of ignored reality before, but never have stopped to the depths of complaint that something that doesn't even exist is not innovative.

Lack of a working brain ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46616697)

.... means stupid ignorant comments.

#1- Apple is NOT selling anything even remotely similar to the Pebble. The only people talking about a smartwatch (a product in a market that has being DEAD for over 30 years now) are just talent-less bloggers.

#2- Pebble didn't invent anything new. There were multiple other Bluetooth enabled watch-like devices in the market years before the Pebble was introduced. They were just an over hyped kickstart product. A product that is a failure, not a success.

Re:Lack of a working brain ... (1)

phorm (591458) | about 9 months ago | (#46621733)

A product that is a failure, not a success

How do you figure? I haven't heard of many owners who *don't* like the product, and it seems they're expending sales and the product catalogue (steel edition, etc).

Re:sad (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 9 months ago | (#46619217)

What I find sad is that the economy is in a collapsed state, and we're talking about some wrist watch. Yeah, that might save the economy.

Re:sad (1)

Macgrrl (762836) | about 9 months ago | (#46655639)

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

WTF? Pebble is not "progenitor" (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46616575)

I cannot believe I wasted my time reading TFA.

More than one year before the Pebble there was Metawatch [metawatch.org] (which uses exactly the same display type), and ages before the Pebble there were much, much more advanced "smartwatches".

Re:WTF? Pebble is not "progenitor" (1)

_anomaly_ (127254) | about 9 months ago | (#46621213)

More than one year before the Pebble there was Metawatch [metawatch.org] (which uses exactly the same display type), and ages before the Pebble there were much, much more advanced "smartwatches".

Like the inPulse watch [engadget.com] ? You know, made by Allerta, who became Pebble?

Not a watch (3, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#46616647)

What's really funny is that Apple is likely not even working on a watch and the rest of you are going to seem rather silly going on at such lengths about something that does not and will not exist.

Re:Not a watch (2)

radarskiy (2874255) | about 9 months ago | (#46616811)

No, they'll just switch to complaining about Apple's failure to deliver on their promise of an iWatch.

Re:Not a watch (1)

Silas is back (765580) | about 9 months ago | (#46617245)

Ah shut up, hater, and let me watch American Hustle on my revolutionary iTV.

Re:Not a watch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46617607)

What's really funny is that Apple is likely not even working on a watch

Why is that likely?

Re:Not a watch (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#46618179)

1) The wrist space is very crowded already, with devices that are not significantly different than what Apple can build (the iPhone was quite a lot different than other smartphones of the time). Both watches and bands.

2) Watches also compete on an appearance level with watches that have been refined over a hundred or so years, and you'd have to make physically different versions to appeal to women and men (although anecdotally I know an older woman who LOVES her Samsung smart watch).

3) If Apple is going to do something the iPad is going to be a hub, so whatever they make will probably be really minimalistic, moreso than the techie watches we see today.

Re:Not a watch (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46618601)

1) The wrist space is very crowded already, with devices that are not significantly different than what Apple can build (the iPhone was quite a lot different than other smartphones of the time). Both watches and bands.

How do you know what Apple can build? Did you know that Apple could build the iPhone at the time that they did?

2) Watches also compete on an appearance level with watches that have been refined over a hundred or so years, and you'd have to make physically different versions to appeal to women and men (although anecdotally I know an older woman who LOVES her Samsung smart watch).

And this is an impossibility for Apple to do is it?

3) If Apple is going to do something the iPad is going to be a hub, so whatever they make will probably be really minimalistic, moreso than the techie watches we see today.

So if they did something it would be different to what we have today even though you already said they can't build anything significantly different anyway. Why would the iPad be a hub and what do you mean by "hub"?

Re:Not a watch (0)

fermion (181285) | about 9 months ago | (#46618015)

What Apple can learn is to manage expectations. Pebble lost credibility because they promised a lot and then could not deliver. Even now the website has been revamps to encourage orders and development rather then detail what the watch can do for the consumer. For instance, it focuses on Apps that communicate with the pebble, but not what the Pebble can do out of the box. I don't fault Pebble for this. Pebble was crated when Apple had almost all of the market share, but Apple has never played well with third party hardware who tried to do something beyond the scope of what Apple wanted. OTOH, even Samsung has not been able to come up with a watch that plays well with it's own products.

Recall the iPhone has never worked well as a a phone. That is why it is now a mobile device that happens to let you make calls. I miss my Razr which was a great phone, but little else. I guess I don't miss it that much.

We can expect that the watch will not be that great as a watch. It is kind of like the ipod Nano, which was a good watch but could have had more faces, and was not at all stylish. We can expect something that is a passable watch. What is going to be critical is the communication with the phone. And hopefully one full day, at least 18 hours, of battery life with heavy usage of the apps. This is the one thing that is still wrong with the iPhone.

Re:Not a watch (2)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about 9 months ago | (#46618059)

I use to own iPhones, and I never had a problem with using them as a phone. So, I don't really get your comment about them not working well as a phone. They even allowed you to access the browser and other apps while using it as a phone. Plus they had visual voice mail. In short, I completely disagree with your assessment.

Disagree in three ways (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#46618167)

What Apple can learn is to manage expectations.

I don't think it's possible for Apple to manage expectations, as primarily expectations are created by the rumor sites. Just look at the comments here as if Apple has already shipped a watch!

Apple has never played well with third party hardware who tried to do something beyond the scope of what Apple wanted.

I don't see that as being true though, in recent years Apple has let anyone do anything they want with BTLE and in addition, added a whole notification system over BTLE expressly so that third parties can build wearable devices based on the most common kinds of events the phone is made to detect... but as noted you can add onto that with custom BTLE channels and the background app update API to also have a third party device alert on totally custom events.

We can expect that the watch will not be that great as a watch.

Which is why Apple is not shipping a watch.

Re:Not a watch (1)

epine (68316) | about 9 months ago | (#46621871)

What Apple can learn is to manage expectations. Pebble lost credibility because they promised a lot and then could not deliver.

I don't agree with this narrative and I never have.

When your Kickstarter goes viral and you score a 100x multiple on your modest proposal—a proposal which involves custom electronics hardware—you face a monumental problem: having to put a one year warranty on a beta++ prototype you shepherded into mass production with a virgin organization in building mode. You're not exactly a six-sigma shop that never gets a simple ignition switch wrong. The American government isn't going to step in to tide you over if an unexpected recall of 2.5 million vehicles tips your balance sheet into the red.

I bought two Pebbles, and presently one is dead and the other has an issue with garbling the display where I can't always read what it says, and sometimes when I can read what it says, the time isn't correct, because it hasn't successfully updated for 10 minutes.

The dead watch (which went from functioning perfectly to hardly functioning at all in the space of a day) is a more advanced case of the same problem. It still seems to function in many respects, but the screen just flashes garbage with here and there a surprise appearance of a proper image. At this point, the correct screens are so rare it's impossible to navigate any watch menu (unless I use my other watch as a guide dog for the blind).

On the one that still barely works, some of my watch faces are more garbled than others. I've done plenty of micro-electronics troubleshooting in my time, and this looks a lot like loss of signal integrity between the CPU and the display chip due to an insufficient voltage margin. It could be as simple as the battery not responding to current transients as quickly as it once did, so that you see a bounce brown-out that barely dips enough to induce a few corrupt bits on a data signal. You're oh so close. Close, but no cigar. It only takes one wrong bit per screen update to ruin everything, if it's the wrong wrong bit.

Back when People was slipping schedule, people complained bitterly that other companies manage to bring products to mass production a lot faster than Pebble. These people are idiots. If Pebble experiences a 20% failure rate in the field of their delivered product, and has to honour it's warranty on all these failed watches, what exactly is Plan B? Fold up their tent? As it turns out, they did raise some venture capital. VCs don't come along with a fistful of dollars to throw into an RMA pit.

Given their economic and technical parameters, I thought Pebble did just fine in delivering what they did deliver. After a certain point, though, I actively disliked their communication policy. They handled the issue of the colour additives messing with their plastics rather atrociously.

I made one attempt to get my failed Pebble replaced and the communication dried up on their end. By the time I figured out I wasn't going to get the next response, I had become too busy in my own life to pursue it, and I was beginning to notice my other watch glitching and becoming erratic. I figured I would wait until it was bad enough to declare it officially failed, and pursue replacement of both watches in tandem. Based on when I received my watches, I'm guessing I have about a month left on my warranty now.

If they honour their warranty (and the replacements prove more reliable than the first two) I'm still a big believer in the Pebble platform. I couldn't do what I wanted to do with these watches until the 2.0 SDK came out and that has only been out since my watches became unreliable. No point investing in the new API until I find out whether I'm going to have working watches or not.

No matter what Apple invents, it's simply not going to be as open as what I'm willing to invest my time into.

If Pebble turns this into a seventeen email exchange with a week-long delay after every volley, I'm just going to walk away from my Pebble investment, like any other investor who dabbles in a risk bearing portfolio.

Pebble's original delivery problem was inherent in how Kickstarter works. There is no such thing as an electronics production plan where 1x, 10x, and 100x production volumes share identical schedule lengths. Every order of magnitude is a different fish. Sometimes a volume bump permits you to leap over roadblocks. Sometimes the volume bump makes it harder to sleep at night, out of fear that the whole thing turns into a GM ignition switch.

Because Kickstarter feeds on momentum, no adult in the room ever shows up to point out that the subscription euphoria is putting the project onto a negative delivery ramp: that addition subscribers are having the net effect of delaying the product for everyone.

Pebble could have afforded to have a 30% return rate on a production run of 1000 units if a subsequent production run was already well subscribed and they had by then ramped up their production process to a much higher success rate.

They certainly couldn't afford a garish return rate on 80,000 units all delivered at once.

Scenario A: Somebody hands you the keys to a $10,000 econobox and asks you to back it out of a long, tight driveway. You're a little nervous, and exercise more caution than normal.

Scenario B: Somebody hands you the keys to a $100,000 Range Rover and asks you to back it out of a long, tight driveway. You're a little nervous, but you take it extremely carefully and all goes well.

Scenario C: Somebody hands you the keys to a $1,000,000 Ferrari and asks you to back it out of a long, tight driveway. You're more than a little nervous. The first time you tap the gas pedal, it jumps back six feet. You attempt to shift it into drive to pull forward and start again, and something makes a thunking sound. Is it supposed to sound like that, or did you just trash the tranny? You're not so familiar with this kind of car.

How long is it going to take you to back the Ferrari out of the drive way? Half as much time because the car is 10x more powerful?

Sorry, Kickstarter idiots, life doesn't work that way. Yet it seems to be what most unthinking subscribers presumed in rallying behind the myth that Pebble over-promised and under-delivered.

I just wish my two watches worked reliably enough to be worth rolling up my sleeves and custom programming them as I originally envisioned back when I first subscribed.

Re:Not a watch (1)

niw3 (1029008) | about 9 months ago | (#46619051)

... Apple is likely not even working on a watch ...

Their job listings and recent hirings suggest the opposite.

Re:Not a watch (1)

niw3 (1029008) | about 9 months ago | (#46619053)

... Apple is likely not even working on a watch ...

Their job listings and recent hirings suggest the opposite.

Also, recent patents.

Re:Not a watch (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 9 months ago | (#46620641)

No they don't. They indicate that Apple is working on a health tracking device and a wearable device. The closest current product that fits both those categories is the chest-strap heart monitor that people wear whilst doing CV exercises. Not the watch.

Not that I'm expecting they are working on a chest strap. I just mention it as an indication that wearable computing doesn't mean watch.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if they are working on a wrist-band with no display. Something that captured data such as pulse, and possibly has a use for accelerometer info, and had limited outputs such as vibration and sound. Something that worked as a peripheral to an iPhone.

After all, with current technology an always on LCD display on a wrist watch isn't possible. And without always on, it's at a disadvantage to real watches for telling the time. And any touch UI on a watch small enough to look good would be terrible.

Re:Not a watch (1)

anjrober (150253) | about 9 months ago | (#46622497)

"After all, with current technology an always on LCD display on a wrist watch isn't possible. And without always on, it's at a disadvantage to real watches for telling the time. And any touch UI on a watch small enough to look good would be terrible."

This is just wrong. I am currently wearing my third Garmin watch. It includes an always on LCD, the UI is very usable and touch sensitive. Not only is it usable sitting around, its even usable at a full out run. I can navigate the UI while running a reasonably fast marathon. Plus it includes a full GPS and is waterproof. Over the years the watches have shrunk in size, gotten better touch sensitive screens, added wireless connectivity, improved GPS performance, and added color screens.

Re:Not a watch (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 9 months ago | (#46622715)

Which model?

Re:Not a watch (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 9 months ago | (#46619729)

They are definitely working on something, otherwise why hire people with relevant skills or acquire companies producing relevant technology? Could be a ruse I suppose, but I don't think Apple is that smart in the post-Jobs era.

They need something new. If it isn't a watch it will be some kind of wearable device.

Re:Not a watch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46621481)

No, what's funny is that there are suppliers in China making the parts, telling people, and yet there are still people who don't thing Apple is making a watch.

FYI the face will be curved.

Form factor (2)

Dan East (318230) | about 9 months ago | (#46616649)

I've said this in the past in regards to Glass, but I feel the watch is the ultimate form factor for wearable electronics. I feel that it should be the core of the mobile computing paradigm, once the technology has matured enough for that kind of miniaturization (mainly battery and WLAN). Then devices like Google Glass, and even the cell phone / tablet form factor, would all just be display and input / sensor peripherals for the core system (the watch). So in other words, I hope Apple gets it right (but most likely they won't - they'll probably go the same route as Samsung and make the device dependent upon an iPhone to do anything non-trivial).

Re:Form factor (2)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 9 months ago | (#46616813)

Good science fiction generally had watches or something similar. Bad science fiction generally had Google glass.

Generally, not without exceptions, but generally.

Re:Form factor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46618329)

Examples?

This has the feel of an attempt at Scroogling. Is it time for the 'Softies to have another two minutes of hate?

Re:Form factor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46618657)

yes because the only people who dont like google products are microsoft shills right? nobody could *not* love google unless they were paid! let us keep spreading this message that no criticism of google is ever valid!

Re: Form factor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46618873)

So, then? Examples?

I disagree, watch not optimal for many things (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#46616859)

I feel the watch is the ultimate form factor for wearable electronics.

Why though?

My feeling about the smart watch is pretty much summarized by this image of the ultimate smart watch [twitter.com] .

I think of wearables in two senses - primarily sensor packages and quick but very limited information.

The watch is not in a great position for either of those things. For one thing it's often covered by sleeves, so the sensors to outside conditions get obscured and any visible notifications get booked too. Yes it can vibrate - but so can your phone. It's also moving pretty wildly compared to the rest of your body, so motion tracking on it is not going to be very good.

It can monitor a few physiological aspects of the wearer somewhat reliably, but that seems about it. I'm not even sure how well it would work for that - when I used to wear a watch many years ago, it always made my arm sweat under the watch which I'm pretty sure would throw some sensors off.

To me, a few things seem like better clothing items to make wearables:

1) Hats - in a great position to measure lots of stuff, and would be just as good as Glass at photo/video work, but could have a lot more battery capacity just because of the lager form factor that distributes weight better. Can also have fold-down display from brim and visual indicators just at the edge of eyesight.

2) Necklace - Pressing against the skin on your neck can measure some things that way, also more customizable in that battery packs could be the thing you attach to the end of the necklace and thus highly customizable.

3) Ring - very small but could have very subtle visual indicators as small LED's. Also positioned in a place that gets lots of data about what you are about to touch, or the environment in general (until covered by gloves)

4) Jackets - these are more specialized but have the form factor for larger batteries and interesting environmental sensors, or just way better antenna for things like GPS.

Re:I disagree, watch not optimal for many things (1)

lexman098 (1983842) | about 9 months ago | (#46617907)

I think of wearables in two senses - primarily sensor packages and quick but very limited information.

The watch is not in a great position for either of those things. For one thing it's often covered by sleeves, so the sensors to outside conditions get obscured and any visible notifications get booked too.

It's not just about information, but also easy control/input. The watch, even though covered by sleeves sometimes, is in a good position because it's always within eyesight and you don't need a free hand to operate it. It's also much easier to slide your sleeve back with a pinky even than to get the phone out of your pocket.

Re:I disagree, watch not optimal for many things (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#46617927)

It's not just about information, but also easy control/input.

I personally think control/input has only a tiny part of the equation, and mostly will not be present in wearables with the exception of a few items with real screens.

It's also much easier to slide your sleeve back with a pinky even than to get the phone out of your pocket.

Not that much easier, to the point where I'd rather just get out my phone than have to deal with watches and sleeves ever again.

Re:I disagree, watch not optimal for many things (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 9 months ago | (#46618573)

Not that much easier, to the point where I'd rather just get out my phone than have to deal with watches and sleeves ever again.

Dude, you gotta chillax. You're really tightly wound if you're reacting to sleeves like that.

Re:I disagree, watch not optimal for many things (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#46618633)

Seems like if you are all freaked out about the .0001 seconds of time a watch saves you vs. pulling out a phone, you are in far greater need of chill time than myself... I'm so chill I'm claiming I don't need something new that doesn't really do anything new for me. How does it get anymore chill than that?

There's a reason why people abandoned both watches and glasses when they could. It's more chill to keep the technology holstered than strapped on externally at the ready.

Re:I disagree, watch not optimal for many things (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 9 months ago | (#46617975)


1) Hats - in a great position to measure lots of stuff, and would be just as good as Glass at photo/video work,

Finally, I can say my Trilby runs Fedora.

Re:I disagree, watch not optimal for many things (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#46618107)

Well, technically, IN Fedora... :-)

Re:I disagree, watch not optimal for many things (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 9 months ago | (#46619767)

The watch form-factor makes sense for a lot of applications. Fitness tracking bracelets are already available and will hopefully get more sophisticated. There are veins running close to the surface of the wrist and there have been attempts to measure blood that way without breaking the skin. The nice thing about bracelets is that they can be robust enough to never take off, even in bed or in the shower.

I've been using Omron's sleep tracking tech for a while now and it is fantastic. Theirs is not wearable but by point is that it's a useful feature which could be integrated.

Phones vibrate but sometimes people don't notice if they are in their pocket or bag. A watch would be much harder to miss. Personally though I think Glass would be a better notification/response system, since I have to wear glasses anyway. My main concern is the weight.

The ultimate would be sub-dermal, say on the back of the hand. No-way I'd put an Apple device in there though, and I'd have to think twice about any other non-open-source device too.

Re:I disagree, watch not optimal for many things (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#46620883)

The ultimate would be sub-dermal, say on the back of the hand.

Or a ring... it's also in a great position to measure blood flow and more exposed to the world.

Re:I disagree, watch not optimal for many things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46625293)

To me, a few things seem like better clothing items to make wearables:

1) Hats - in a great position to measure lots of stuff, and would be just as good as Glass at photo/video work, but could have a lot more battery capacity just because of the lager form factor that distributes weight better. Can also have fold-down display from brim and visual indicators just at the edge of eyesight.

Now I can't stop thinking how much gear Pharrell could have in that hat.

Re:Form factor (3, Insightful)

knarf (34928) | about 9 months ago | (#46616985)

No, it isn't. There is a reason I never replaced that watch I lost somewhere on a mountain in Switzerland - I always had to take the thing off because it was in the way. From building to logging to working the land on the farm to fixing the tractor to repairing the $random_piece_of_electronics to $insert_random_activity, the first thing I usually did was take of the watch and put it somewhere out of the way, both to save it from grievous harm as well as to save my arm from the results of getting the thing trapped in some piece of machinery.

Maybe watches work for desk jockeys? In that case it might be the ultimate form factor for *some* of the target group for wearable electronics, but not for everyone.

The optimal form factor for wearable electronics is a neural implant. Just don't forget the spam filter...

Even for desk jockeys not good (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#46617239)

Maybe watches work for desk jockeys?

I always found the strap was annoying when letting my wrists rest near a keyboard.

Watches also interfere with your sleeves when wearing a dress shirt.

Watches were fun for a while when I was young, but I never missed them after I started using my phone as a watch and it would take quite a bit of compelling reasons beyond what I see now to get me to wear a watch again.

Re:Even for desk jockeys not good (1)

multimediavt (965608) | about 9 months ago | (#46617677)

Maybe watches work for desk jockeys?

I always found the strap was annoying when letting my wrists rest near a keyboard.

Watches also interfere with your sleeves when wearing a dress shirt.

Watches were fun for a while when I was young, but I never missed them after I started using my phone as a watch and it would take quite a bit of compelling reasons beyond what I see now to get me to wear a watch again.

Well, if you learned to keyboard properly and wore shirts that fit properly you may still be wearing a watch. You're not supposed to rest your wrists on something while typing. It's like playing the piano. Your wrists are supposed to be elevated with you hands flat, parallel to the floor and fingers naturally angling down to the keys. [webmd.com] Dress shirt sleeve cuffs should terminate just behind the opposing joint of the thumb and not constrict around your wrist so jewelry (watches, bracelets) doesn't get caught easily. [gq.com] Might want to try French cuff shirts. Sounds like the boat may have already sailed for you though. I don't wear watches often these days either, unless I am getting dressed up, but the right clothing does help the getting caught problem. As for they keyboarding, you may want to work on your technique to prevent any long term injuries, or to mitigate any existing ones. I learned piano before typing so I had a bit of a head start on proper wrist-hand posture when I did finally start typing.

Re:Even for desk jockeys not good (1)

anerki (169995) | about 9 months ago | (#46620403)

In regard to dress shirts, you got it all wrong. French shirts or rather, French cuffs are basically folder back cuffs, usually bigger.

If watches in shirts annoy you, have them tailor made. A decent tailor will take into account if you usually wear a watch or not, and slightly adapt the size of the arm you wear the watch on. It's a general complaint if you often wear shirts.

Me I stopped wearing watches after hurting my wrist a couple of times (or arm) when accidently hitting something, slamming into something or just resting my arm too long on a single place, so meh, they'll have to figure that out as well if I'm ever to buy one!

Re:Even for desk jockeys not good (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | about 9 months ago | (#46621033)

I agree with the annoyance part, but I also find that it's far easier to glance at a watch than pull my phone out. While I don't wear this particular [nationalgeographic.com] watch, I wear one like it. An additional benefit is that I can be sitting at a table and glance down at my watch more stealthily than looking at my wrist.

If Apple sells an iWatch, I hope it has a detachable band so I can swap the watch into a belt clip like the one shown.

Re:Form factor (1)

typhoonius (611834) | about 9 months ago | (#46618503)

I wear a wrist watch most of the time. I wear a belt loop watch [google.com] when I think I might bang up a wrist watch.

Not that I think that form factor is going to light the world on fire, but I find them as convenient and accessible as a wrist watch, and they're not as unabashedly quaint as a pocket watch.

Re:Form factor (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 9 months ago | (#46619659)

I wear a wrist watch most of the time.

I stopped wearing a watch when I bought a phone that displayed the time. I *think* I still have my old watch in a drawer somewhere, but I can't imagine a reason I'd ever wear one again.

Re:Form factor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46617381)

Ultimate form factor until the race for larger and larger displays. Might as well strap a 5.7" phone to your wrist and call it a day.

Re:Form factor (1)

lexman098 (1983842) | about 9 months ago | (#46617915)

The problem with having the watch compete with the phone for "core device" dominance is that the phone will always have more power and/or battery life due to the larger form factor. There's no need to put a heft processor/battery on the wrist when you have a nice big pocket that still goes with you everywhere. A wearable needs to look sleeker as well, which means thinner which means less power/battery. It's just more efficient to make it a thin client (literally) for the phone.

Three keys (3, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 9 months ago | (#46616783)

There are three keys to a successful smart watch.

First is that it must focus on doing things that watches can do well. So the time, the date, alarms, etc.

Second is that it should not try to do anything that a watch is terrible at. Such as no making notes, text messaging, complicated mapping, etc.

But the last and more important thing is that it do something very phone friendly that way too cool. This would be something like having a navigation system where you enter your destination on some other device or by voice and then the phone shows very simple navigation cues such as vibrate when you should turn and simple arrows and other numbers. A map would just be stupid. The same with almost every other app. They must be extra simple. Focus on the quick check of the wrist vs any input.

This is very important. Data basically can not be input into this tiny device. It must be for quick data consumption only. The rule should be that if the data needs more than a glance then it shouldn't be coming from the watch.

Personally, at this point, I can't see the watch being much use as a stand alone device. It needs to be tied to a phone. But as batteries and electronics get better then an LTE version might be feasible. One of the most important things is that this thing not be a big bulky hassle.

One last ask of Apple; please don't put that stupid carousel interface in.

I will be curious how one will go about buying things for the watch. It almost certainly will have to be on a separate device. But maybe you could tell iCloud what you want sent to the watch and then it will go. But if it is paired to a device that must accompany it then it will be easy.

Re:Three keys (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 9 months ago | (#46616925)

Hell man, when I was a geeky middle-schooler I had a calculator watch with over a dozen buttons on a watch face no larger than many decorative analog watches, and it worked great. My own list would be:

- It must work stand-alone: if I'm lugging my phone around with me why would I want a miniscule third-rate smart-watch? A Pip-boy maybe, but not some little watch-sized thing. As a smartphone accessory there's just not much point, except maybe to check who's calling/texting you without pulling out your phone.
- It must support robust voice input as the primary interface, and perhaps a tiny stylus to enable more sophisticated input when necessary
- It needs real buttons. Voice isn't suitable for everything, it's tedious and noisy. And on-screen virtual buttons consume massive amounts of screen real estate. Meanwhile a handful of buttons around the rim are tiny, trivial to implement, easy to use, and all that is really needed to make basic choices and adjustments easy even without looking at it (yes/no, increment/decrement + fast versions, play/pause/skip, etc)
- or alternately some sort of gesture-based controls - something like a miniturized LEAP could have real potential.
- integrated video camera and ability to communicate with any smart phone, preferably via tether wifi - if I can't have a Dick Tracy videophone what exactly is the point of having a smart watch at all?

Re:Three keys (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46617097)

Please don't ever design a smart watch.

Re:Three keys (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 9 months ago | (#46617791)

- It must work stand-alone: if I'm lugging my phone around with me why would I want a miniscule third-rate smart-watch?

If you're "lugging" your phone around you probably need to update your phone.

As a smartphone accessory there's just not much point, except maybe to check who's calling/texting you without pulling out your phone.

or calendar notifications, reminders, weather forecast, transport notifications, etc... Personally I don't find my phone as cumbersome to carry around as you do so I don't mind just pulling out my phone to look at the lock screen to see those things but I'm sure some people would see value in having that information on their wrist even if it does provide questionable benefit.

Re:Three keys (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 9 months ago | (#46618697)

It must work stand-alone: if I'm lugging my phone around with me why would I want a miniscule third-rate smart-watch?

If you're "lugging" your phone around you probably need to update your phone.

Sorry, wrong. Modern phones are pretty damn big, which is probably why smartwatches exist to begin with.

People want big screens, but then they try to use them and realize that they're completely impractical for anything other than a mobile entertainment device. As a mobile communications device, unless you're sitting down, they're impossible to use.

I tried. My friend got a Nexus 5. First thing I did was the usual way I use my phone - single handledly. It was a disaster - even with relatively huge hands, I can't reach all 4 corners. And Android (and iOS, for that matter) doesn't have guidelines that say you should put all the UI controls on one corner of the screen for single handed use. So the inability to use it single handed means I can't use it while I'm out and about without finding a spot to put down my things so I can use both hands to use the phone.

The smartwatch came out from this inability to quickly answer phone calls or do text messages while on the go because you need both hands to use the @()#&%@ phone.

Of course, Samsung likes to mock the fact that the iPhone screens are small, without mentioning that their phones are completely useless for single handled on-the-go mobile use.

Then again, I suppose it's a good way to do snatch and grabs - with a user's hands concentrating on the phone, that shoulder purse or murse is a much more attractive target, since it'll take a good 4-5 seconds for the ex-owner to deal with their phone.

Re:Three keys (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 9 months ago | (#46625617)

Sorry, wrong. Modern phones are pretty damn big, which is probably why smartwatches exist to begin with.

Really? Perhaps you need to get to the gym if simply carrying your phone is that laborious for you, modern phones are not that much of an effort to carry around that anybody would refer to them as having to "lug" them around, my suitcase or my workstation laptop maybe but not my phone.

Re:Three keys (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 9 months ago | (#46616955)

+1 insightful. What would you think of siri as a watch input? Not unwieldy like text. But you could give instructions or send messages with it. Assume ideal siri, rather than criticizing current flaws.

Re:Three keys (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 9 months ago | (#46617529)

I wouldn't rule out transcription. I find the automated speech transcription on my corporate voicemail very useful. The accuracy still isn't high, but I can usually get the gist of the message so I don't have to listen to it. I am so absent-minded that "note to self" would be really welcome.

Re:Three keys (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 9 months ago | (#46617801)

I fully agree with your urine pants.

Re:Three keys (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 9 months ago | (#46618593)

I laughed.

Re:Three keys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46626597)

We're onto you fucking fucker fucktard. We know you're fucking with the mod system. We're going to keep track and report your bitch ass. FUCK YOU CUNTFACE!!!

Re:Three keys (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 9 months ago | (#46617799)

I am impressed with Siri, When "What is the second derrivative of two x to the fifth." gives you a correct answer then coooool.

If you keep your questions within a sensible domain then the range of useful answers is pretty good. The watch could have much more of the same.

Re:Three keys (2)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 9 months ago | (#46617079)

They key is always going to be the software.

The way it might work in practice is you'll have "screens" that you can swipe between. The screens can be thought of as a list of information items listed in order of descending importance that you can swipe through The usefulness of this will depend entirely on the ability of the software to rank information by importance, which will be extremely dependent on the nature of the information and the current context that you're in. The problem of filtering and sorting information by order of importance is going to turn out to be very nontrivial.

Re:Three keys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46617971)

Fuck changing the order all the time. Just keep the screens in the same order so I know how many screens to swipe to get to what I want to see, every time.

Re:Three keys (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 9 months ago | (#46620187)

Fuck changing the order all the time. Just keep the screens in the same order so I know how many screens to swipe to get to what I want to see, every time.

Sure, so the way that might work is you can press a button to go to the home screen of the watch where you have the time and date and maybe icons showing missed calls etc. Now if you swipe to the left (for example) from the home screen you swipe through the screens that the watch thinks are most important. If you swipe to the other way from the home screen you get your "pinned" screens in the order that you have arranged.

Re:Three keys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46617253)

I agree with your three points.
I'm sitting here typing this with a tissot t-touch on my wrist. I can quickly access its barometer, thermometer, alarm, compass, stop watch, and altimeter.
If a smart watch can't do those things well, then what's the point in me getting one. It'll do less, and take more effort (weekly charging for instance).

my watch face is circular with a dia of about 3.2cm. Will they be able to get an easy to use and readable/sms etc thing going there? How will it handle images (in the case of mms)? If you're in a densely packed city, well, good luck with a functional navigation aid. "Keep walking and take the next left" is useless if it thinks you're three streets to the west.

Data inputs. I can control everything on my tissot with 3 buttons on the side. Are you going to remove the buttons on a smart watch and make it touch screen only? Well that's even less space for other stuff to be in. Remember that for the buttons to be useable they need to be large enough to actually tap (for normal people, not your friend's 3 year old niece).

I'm all for a smart watch, but not at the expense of usability of useful existing functions, for unwieldy features that I'll almost never use. Note that I don't have a pressing urge to change my watch face appearance.

About the only thing I could see myself using on a smart watch would be a gps display, not for navigation, just showing position and speed. For these I'm pretty sure I can already buy devices that work just fine.

Re:Three keys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46617621)

you need a pebble - does all that.

Re:Three keys (1)

lexman098 (1983842) | about 9 months ago | (#46617945)

Data basically can not be input into this tiny device. It must be for quick data consumption only. The rule should be that if the data needs more than a glance then it shouldn't be coming from the watch.

I'm not sure I agree with either of these points. It's true "data entry" in general would be cumbersome, but what about simple controls? I think there's a middle ground between "data consumption only" and "massive data entry". Also, the screen may be small but text can be scrollable like with any other screen. Why pull out my phone to read an email when I can just scroll through a few pages on the watch?

Re:Three keys (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 9 months ago | (#46620089)

Voice input solves most of the input issues for smart watches. For making a quick note, setting up a calendar event or sending a simple response to a text message it already works really well in a noisy car environment with hands-free.

Re:Three keys (1)

Drethon (1445051) | about 9 months ago | (#46621221)

And yet they try to make tablet computers do everything a PC does (or at least claim the tablet is taking over from PCs).

Copying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46616805)

If Apple is good at anything it's copying the success that came before. At what point would they just ignore the Pebble, when that's probably the exact product that made them say "we can do this but better" to begin with?

If Apple is good at anything it's copying the succ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46617217)

Right. The Mac copied DOS. The iPhone copied Blackberry. The iPad copied Windows tablets.

Stand alone! (1)

antdude (79039) | about 9 months ago | (#46616901)

Stand alone smartwatch without requiring a mobile phone!

I have this theory... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46616931)

...That the iWatch is really a big project by Apple to make their competitors waste their money....

Re:I have this theory... (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 9 months ago | (#46617177)

It seems that goog and fb have plenty of money to waste...

cheap tacky watches (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46617401)

I don't get all this so called "smart" watches that'll end up in some landfill few years from now. Currently have a Rolex datejust on my wrist given to me by my father upon graduation and it'll be passed down to my son along with other watches I have bought. You can't say anything like that about Pebble or iWatch. As nerds we should be embracing the mechanical complexities and the craftsmanship of fine mechanical watches.

Stay out of the watch biz... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46617443)

I'd guess? It's really not a new, cool or even a good idea, so... Unless your a scuba diver, astronaut or similar occupation, I can't see any real practicality in it. Just make a wristband for your iPhone and call it a day.

Re:Stay out of the watch biz... (1)

Misagon (1135) | about 9 months ago | (#46618277)

I see the smartwatch + handsfree headset as something that could be easier to use for many tasks than whipping up a smartphone, especially if the phone is larger than an iPhone.

Many tasks on a smartphone requires two hands if you are going to hold it safely or use multi-touch. A smartwatch requires no hand to receive a text/message, and one hand to touch/press a button.

You could leave your smartphone in the pocket or in your bag until you need a big screen or do a lot of input.

Needs to function on it's own (1)

SilverBlade2k (1005695) | about 9 months ago | (#46617639)

The one thing which the iWatch must have is the ability to function *on it's own*. If it 'needs' to be paired up with an iPhone in order to be useful, it's completely dead in the water and useless.

The iWatch should be simple: display time, date, fitness apps and music. It shouldn't need to be fed data from an iPhone to look at messages or texts.

It should also have a headphone jack, it shouldn't rely on bluetooth audio.

Am I the only 1 around here ... (1)

BrianPRabbit (2020846) | about 9 months ago | (#46618543)

... not yet convinced Apple is even going to be selling a watch?

What Apple's iPod Can Learn From Rio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46618597)

what?

Wrong Flintstones character (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 9 months ago | (#46618647)

Apple's lawyers are learning from Bam Bam

Re:Wrong Flintstones character (1)

Macgrrl (762836) | about 9 months ago | (#46655763)

To be fair, Ballmer seemed to be modeled on Dino.

What Apple's iPhone Can Learn From... (1)

felipou (2748041) | about 9 months ago | (#46619207)

Windows Phone [youtube.com]

Palm [brighthand.com]

What other [typepad.com] people [mattmaroon.com] think.

Moto 360 (1)

brunes69 (86786) | about 9 months ago | (#46619391)

If the Moto 360 is halfway as capable and slick-looking as has been shown thus far, any iWatch is going to have trouble keeping up.

The 360 is the first smart watch that I would not be embarrassed wearing at a client meeting or in the boardroom. With the full OLED screen, customize-able bands (metallic and non-metalic, black, silver, colored...), Moto has a winner with this product.

Hilaaaarious . . . (1)

Kimomaru (2579489) | about 9 months ago | (#46620255)

iWatch, right? Seriously, tell me with a straight face that "iWatch" isn't the funniest thing ever? We're going to start wearing things on our wrists that track us all day from geolocation to personal preferences? Can we cut to the chase and get to to the iCollar already or is that too soon?

Smartwatches have *1* purpose: (2)

jpellino (202698) | about 9 months ago | (#46620795)

To keep you connected to that company's other things. Let's face it - a smartwatch is way too small to actually do any useful work on - heck, most smartphones are a poor excuse for a full screen experience, productive work, etc. They mostly guide you to where you do the actual work. The smartwatch will be the next link further up that chain - to point you to the phone. Companies want you to have that thing on your wrist tie you to the rest of their product line. No surprise there. The only thing that may be attractive to people is that you don't need to keep looking at your phone, you just need to keep looking at your watch - which is still just about as offensive.

Rumour... Misleading Title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46623363)

Apple's iWatch Can Learn From Pebble

Try to start your title correctly first based on the items confirmed existence and then appropriately use future tense in case of rumours:

Apple's Rumoured iWatch Could Learn From Pebble

Not everyone sits on Apple rumour sites.

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