How the Apple Watch will help make Android Wear a huge hit

Tim Cook Apple Watch
Jeremy Kaplan/Digital Trends
Apple has unleash its new Apple Watch to the world. Android lovers rejoice!

Love it or hate it with every fiber of your soul, the Apple Watch will nonetheless help evangelize people into the world of wearables along with Android Wear and other smartwatches. Indeed, all smartwatches will benefit from its launch on April 24 — especially those based on Android Wear — thanks to Apple’s focus on fashion and future developer support.

If there’s one thing Apple does differently with its wearables, it’s understanding what a smartwatch is supposed to be. During the Apple Watch keynote, CEO Tim Cook focused on two big things: He talked extensively about how Apple Watch doesn’t just look good, it’s built with fashion and great design in mind. And he didn’t try to sell the Apple Watch like a gadget, but like a piece of jewelry.

Sure, a few other smartwatches on the market look great — notably LG’s G Watch R and Motorola’s Moto 360 — but Apple is the sole company not only designing with fashion first in mind but also marketing and advertising like the rest of the fashion industry. You don’t go into a retail store to merely buy an Apple Watch; you go in to get fitted for an Apple Watch, like trying on a pair of jeans.

Fashion comes first

Apple has realized something that watch and jewelry sellers for years already knew: A watch isn’t just a tool, it’s a fashion statement. It doesn’t matter if the company sells a single $10,000 gold Apple Watch. The fact that it even exists is enough to turn heads. Apple’s focus on ensuring its smartwatch will work for any lifestyle and any wrist size will make all smartwatches seem less like novelties and more like necessities. It will also get the competition to stop thinking that one size fits all for wearables, as well as how important a watch is as a fashion statement, and not just a gadget for your wrist.

Apple Watch is making square look good again.

Apple Watch is helping all smartwatches in another way, too: It’s making square sexy again. Rather than opt for a circular display, Apple is using a rounded, elegant, square watch face to take advantage of the extra screen real estate. Circular displays are inevitably smaller and ill-suited to lists, as Jony Ive pointed out in one recent interview. Apple made square look so good that the company actually inadvertently bumped up pre-sales for the Pebble Time, another square smartwatch currently on Kickstarter.

Pebble Time

Pebble Time

As people see the Apple Watch more like a digital Rolex than a Casio calculator, all smartwatches will start to look less dorky and more like the great gadgets that they are. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to get more manufacturers to make their gadgets more fashionable on the heels of the Apple Watch.

Developers will build for both

While we’ll all have to choose between Android Wear and Apple Watch, once the wearables war is in full swing we won’t have to worry about picking the apps we want. As smartphone adoption grew exponentially in the last five years, apps emerged to satisfy almost any need we had, whether on Android, iOS, or any other smartphone OS. Just as many developers have built apps for both iOS and Android, Android Wear and Apple Watch will attract similar cross-platform development.

It’s easier said than done, however.

Android (and Android Wear) apps are primarily built on the Java programming language, while iOS (and Apple Watch) apps use Objective C. Even if a developer doesn’t end up porting his app, what you will see emerge is a greater interest in developing for wearables in general, especially now that Google and Apple are backing the movement. Plus, if rumors are true that Google wants Android Wear to support iOS, we may see Android Wear become easier to develop on if you’ve already built an iOS app.

Either way, developers will want to make their apps feature-rich and compatible with the smartwatch interface. They’ll also want to build for as many people as possible, and seeing as Android Wear and Pebble already have a sizable audience, it doesn’t take much imagination to see a lot of cross-platform apps emerge following Apple Watch’s launch.

Google will learn and improve Android

Android Wear isn’t the best experience it could be, and the Apple Watch is already helping Google up its game. An update was announced just this month that will add new wrist gestures, emoji drawing, Wi-Fi support, and more features to the fledgling OS. We’ll undoubtedly hear more at Google’s developer conference, Google I/O, in June. The Apple Watch is already a hit, and that is good news for Android because there’s now a standard to compare to, and a watch people may want to buy.

There’s always Pebble

Apple is trying to be the high-end leader in smartwatches, just as it did with smartphones eight years ago. Sure, the Sport model starts at $350, but that price is a far cry from the $150 entry-level prices for other devices like the Pebble, and doesn’t include the high-end look you get from a $300 smartwatch like the LG G Watch R. Apple isn’t beating around the bush with its high prices, and that’s perfectly fine. Plenty of other cheaper smartwatches exist, and the Apple Watch doesn’t look that different from them. People new to wearables will be just as hyped with a Pebble or G Watch, and Apple is doing all the work spreading the word about your new gadget. Feel free to bask in the fame.

Even if you happily own a different smartwatch, give Apple some credit: A lot of good will come out of the Apple Watch launch. Not only will smartwatch makers start focusing more on style and design, but more apps should soon come. And people will finally start caring about these devices. Watch for it.

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