Will the New Apple iWatch Boost a Failing Stock?

Software designer and engineer Bruce “Tog” Tognazzini joined Apple Inc. in 1978 and spent 14 years with the company in its early years influencing its user. On Feb. 6 Tognazzini published a blog post described the ways Apple could reinvent the smart watch.

A variety of smart watches are already available on the market, including Cookoo Watch and Pebble, and Google is even rumored to be working on its own smart watch. But one of the main issues with the product is quite simple: People simply don’t wear watches anymore as the timepieces have been replaced by personal electronic devices such as smartphones.

But Tognazzini—a principle with the Nielsen Norman Group—believes an Apple iWatch could vastly impact consumers’ lives. He sees it facilitating and coordinating the activities of all other computers and devices in a users’ life. Although he explained his predictions are not based on any insider information, Tognazzini believes the true value of an iWatch would be vastly underestimated at the product’s launch, similar to other breakthrough Apple products such as the iPhone, but it could certainly go on to have a profound impact on users’ lives and Apple’s fortunes.

“Steve Jobs’ true legacy lies not with his products, but his method, the way he would forge revolutionary products from cold blocks of creativity. I know,” Tognazzini wrote. “I was one of his earliest recruits and watched him develop the method. Steve applied it one project at a time. My hope is that Apple now has teams applying it across many projects, shortening the historic six years beteen breakthrough products.”

According to Tognazzini, the smart watches already on the market are riddled with problems. They are “big and clunky.” Unlike traditional watches, they require charging. They can’t be read in the dark without turning on their lights, and “people over 45” are unable to read them without the assistance of reading glasses. Plus, the extra functions in traditional smart watches are either difficult to find or simply unneeded.

Tognazzini outlines basic ways Apple can improve upon the smart watch. First and foremost, Cupertino could utilize its patent that allows users to charge an object several feet away, wirelessly, eliminating the need to remove the watch in order to charge its battery.

Apple also already holds a patent for a low-cost method of creating curved glass for screens, which could be used to eliminate the large, clunky design of current smart watches.

And as far as complex series of buttons and menu trees? An Apple smart watch wouldn’t need any. Why? Siri. Users could program the watch’s timer, alarm and other functions through voice commands.

“Siri will be accompanied by touch, of course, with touch handling the lighter tasks, Siri the more complex,” Tognazzini wrote. “There will be overlap, so you can use more complex touch maneuvers when you can’t speak to your watch, during a meeting perhaps or when there’s a lot of ambient noise. Many people will never learn the more complex maneuvers, nor will they need to as the iPhone, iPad, and Mac will offer simple alternative interfaces to the more complex tasks.”

The iWatch’s most revolutionary function, however, would be its role as office manager. It could be used to coordinate the functions of all the user’s other iDevices and the Internet through the gathering of data, delivering of messages and storing, forwarding and coordinating of tasks. For example, Tognazzini sees the iWatch serving as a phone call facilitator, vibrating when a call comes into an iPhone, and allowing the user to accept or reject the call from the watch. It would also eliminate the need for multiple passcodes.

“The watch can and should, for most of us, eliminate passcodes altogether on iPhones, and Macs and, if Apple’s smart, PCs: As long as my watch is in range, let me in! That, to me, would be the single-most compelling feature a smartwatch could offer: If the watch did nothing but release me from having to enter my passcode/password 10 to 20 times a day, I would buy it,” Tognazzini wrote. “If the watch would just free me from having to enter pass codes, I would buy it even if it couldn’t tell the right time! I would happily strap it to my opposite wrist! This one is a must.”

What functions would you like to see in an iWatch?

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