6 features Apple Watch needs to stand apart from other wearables

Apple Watch hands on 8
Jeremy Kaplan/Digital Trends
Whether it takes off like the iPad or fails miserably, the Apple Watch is bound to shake up the mobile industry. But most of us can’t exactly imagine the ways our experience will change just by wearing a watch that plays second fiddle to our phone. The weeks and months leading up to the Apple Watch release are taking us way back to 2010, when when tech journalists were trying to explain how an iPad wasn’t just an oversized iPod Touch. The question in both cases seems to be: How exactly will my experience change with Apple’s newest product?

A lot is on the line for Tim Cook and Apple. Apple doesn’t really have the leeway to experiment like Samsung. Apple has always emphasized getting it right the first time, and championed the experience over software. But what will it take for the Apple Watch to succeed where others have failed? Here are six important boxes it will need to check.

1. It needs to be cool

The watch market is driven by style, not function. Apple has made a real effort to make the smartwatch genre stylish (just look at this guy!). By most accounts, it has succeeded. The Watch appeared on Vogue China and is offered in two sizes (38 and 42 millimeter), three styles, and a variety of different band and face options.

Wear-Next-120114-Apple-Watch-lifestyle-005
David Sims/Apple

Apple has always made “cool” gadgets. But this is the first time that Apple is explicitly entering into a market driven by fashion and personal expression. The watch needs to reflect that. Making a watch that can appeal to women will be especially important. According to First Insight research, women are especially turned off by chunky timepieces. Apple Watch’s smaller 38-millimeter model could help, at the very least, with that issue.

2. Anticipating your every move

For the Apple Watch to excel, it can’t just be capable of things, it has to anticipate your needs based on location and context.

Apple Watch

Take the Watch’s Contextual Awareness feature. It functions like Android Wear’s “context stream,” but the Apple Watch will distinguish between a “short look” and a “long look.” The watch will determine when you’re going in for a long look, and buttons will appear that allow you to interact with the content further. Apple needs to execute it better than Android Wear’s context stream by offering a better curated list of relevant info. It will need to suggest apps based on your location and activity, possibly using iBeacons located in stores, businesses, and gyms. It may even alert you to the location of products in stores, or give you information about interesting landmarks nearby.

3.  Longer battery life

Battery life is a common drawback of the smartwatch genre. Every true smartwatch on the market today needs a daily charge. At best, these reports suggest that the Apple Watch could last two to three days between charges.

Apple Watch charging

The charging mechanism looks pretty slick too: It uses to magnets to snap onto the rear panel of the watch face, and inductive charging so no electrical contacts are necessary.

4. Simple syncing and standalone features

Yes, it makes sense to your let iPhone do the heavy lifting for most features, but it shouldn’t be completely useless when used alone. Unique standalone features will propel the Apple Watch above competitors.

Apple-Watch-Wear-Next-120814

We already know the Apple Watch will be able to do some things without a tethered iPhone, like tracking your fitness, making Apple Pay payments, and playing music via Bluetooth. And third-party companies, like DexCom, have created devices that can pair with the Watch to perform essential health-related tasks like monitoring glucose levels.

5. Take NFC to a new level

Many existing smartwatches can be used to locate a tethered device, and even warn you when you stray too far from your phone. The Apple Watch is taking Touch ID to a new level with mobile payments via Apple Pay.

Apple-Pay-Apple-Watch-press-image

Apple Pay will, no doubt, be an asset to the Watch. It will store your credit cards in the Passbook app and allow you to make purchases by scanning the timepiece at designated Apple Pay locales.

NFC will also make it possible for the Watch interact with smart-home devices, or even start your car. Apple has also patented methods to recognize you through your movements and other sensor data. If the Apple Watch can authenticate you reliably, then it could serve as a universal key and cash card.

6. Killer apps from the get go

Whatever the Apple Watch can do, it has to be able to do it well. That means having a suite of apps from the launch that look great and are very simple to use.

Apple Watch SDK

The iPhone’s initial success was driven by the high-quality apps that came on it, but it expanded exponentially as third parties got involved. Slick and useful apps — maybe some partnerships to get polished release-day apps for big-name services — could make all the difference for the Watch. Even just one killer app on release could drive sales.

Wearables

Think this smartwatch doesn’t have a screen? Think again

This looks like a regular chronograph watch, but it holds a secret: It's really a smartwatch and even has a hidden screen, which is revealed only when you need it. We took a closer look at CES 2019.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX nails its first launch and landing of 2019, but job cuts loom

SpaceX has nailed its first launch and landing of 2019 with a mission that deployed more satellites for Virginia-based Iridium Communications. But the success was soured somewhat by reports of upcoming job losses at the company.
Product Review

Garmin’s 4G LTE VivoActive 3 keeps you safe when you’re out on the trails

Garmin takes its already great VivoActive 3 Music fitness smartwatch and adds a 4G LTE connection, courtesy of Verizon. The watch now has streaming music, independent GPS, and best of all, SMS support and various safety features. We’ve…
Product Review

You’ve never seen a 17-inch gaming laptop like MSI’s GS75 Stealth

The MSI GS75 Stealth builds off the success of last year’s GS65. Not only does it maintain the same incredible portability, it also tweaks the formula with a larger touchpad, individually-lit RGB keys, and a revamped thermal solution.
Wearables

One night with this sensor on your head could change your sleep forever

Get past the fact you’ll be in bed with a sensor on your forehead, and the Beddr SleepTuner may be the first step in curing your sleep problems and improving your overall health.
Mobile

The best CES 2019 health gadgets combat stress, pain, and more

We can all use some help with our health and CES 2019 was packed with intriguing devices designed to combat pain and stress, help you monitor blood pressure, reduce tinnitus, and care for the sick or elderly.
Product Review

Mobvoi beefs up the battery on its affordable Ticwatch E2 and S2 Wear OS watches

Mobvoi is known to offer excellent, low-priced Wear OS smartwatches. At CES 2019, the company unveiled new entries into its Express and Sport range -- the Ticwatch E2 and Ticwatch S2.
News

Digital Trends Top Tech of CES 2019 Award Winners

5G. A.I. Voice assistants. Metaverse. Yes, metaverse. CES 2019 slathered on the buzzwords thick and heavy, but beneath the breathless hype and bluster, there were amazing products to back it up, too. Except metaverse. C’mon Nissan, you…
Mobile

You'll soon be able to pay for goods with the Motiv smart ring

Remember Motiv's activity tracking smart ring? It's back with a raft of new features that adds biometric identification and token authentication, all on a device that fits on your finger.
Deals

Before buying a Fitbit or Apple Watch, check out these fitness trackers under $50

Fitbit and Apple Watch are top of the line when it comes to fitness trackers but if you want to save, we have alternatives. If 2019 is the year you keep track of your health and budget your expenses, then take a look at these fitness…
Deals

It’s time to check out the best Apple Watch deals for January 2019

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Deals

Start your fitness journey with the best Fitbit deals available now

If you're ready to kick-start your fitness regimen (or just take your current one to the next level), we've created a quick rundown of the best, most current Fitbit deals to help you decide which one is best for you.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!