“Tick-tock, smartphone, your time is up” Apple Watch.
Or why the New Apple Watch is bringing the end of the smartphone as we know it.
A couple of days before the announcement of the iPhone X, a lifetime dream came true. I met Steve Wozniak at an event held by Audi, a client of ours. We talked about the future of interfaces and the freedom a standalone Apple Watch will bring — and “Woz” made a strong point that he would “want the entire smartphone, the entire Internet, on my wrist.”
Fast forward to Apple’s iPhone X announcement, the company showed off what it calls the “future of phones.” But while I was watching the event, all I could think was that it marks the beginning of the end of smartphones as we know it. We’re transitioning to a screenless future — why? Because Apple finally figured out how to put cellular into a Watch.
Smartphones, as a category, will decline. Even I, as a diehard Apple Fanboy, can’t deny the other handset manufacturers were there way before Apple, and they managed to integrate better than anyone else. And if I weren’t locked into Apple’s ecosystem it’d be hard to even make an informed decision anymore. Samsung, newbie Essential and LG have all released phones with ‘edge-to-edge’ displays that look so similar to each other and have more or less the same performance.
So, shortly you can pick from your favorite more affordable sheet of glass — want a white, black or golden, thin line? Eventually, they will further push the boundaries and end up with an actually bezel-less phone.
When was the last time you replaced your tablet or laptop? Probably many years ago, as there was no good reason to. I believe the same thing is going to happen to smartphones and the iPhone X is likely to be the last device that will matter in this category.
The Apple Watch (Series 3), even though on the outside it looks the same, was far more telling. Apple now has put a full LTE connection inside so that you can stream music or answer calls entirely without a phone. I can’t even imagine how cool summers will be again, go for a swim and not to worry about my phone.
Another problem it’ll solve is that people are not in the moment anymore and apps messing with peoples attention span. Using a smart watch only to stay connected would translate directly into focus and not being distracted.
So rather than responding immediately to meaningless notifications as they come in, it would allow me to know what’s going on around me. No more endless, unintentional, scrolling to the bottom of social streams, when you only planned to just read that one message.
That’s the future I always was longing for. Imagine If you could entirely rely on a connected (Apple) Watch — connected without a phone and reachable. If I´d carry my compact MacBook or an iPad Pro, would I even need a phone at all? Well if there wasn’t the camera, which has been the main reason for me and many others to upgrade. What Apple, in regards to the camera, packed into the iPhone X and (8 respectively) is stunning, both from sensors and software side of things.
So maybe a small, powerful camera on my body or in my pocket can do the trick. Alongside our smart shirt, we have introduced a connected camera that leaves you in the moment. I strongly believe that connected cameras as an accessory will become more and more popular — coming in different shapes and forms. For instance, body cameras will solve that problem, along with real AR glasses, in the near future.
As a consequence, the focus of phone makers and other players will rapidly move away from the phone and to other ways to get you connected. This is why Facebook and so many others are spending billions on glasses as the next platform of computing.
The future, I anticipate, are stand-alone connected accessories, modular product families. An always-on watch going along with a pair of (normal looking) glasses might be all you need, and for productivity, you´ll add an iPad Pro in the mix if needed. I feel light only thinking about it and can’t wait for this become a reality.
There’s a chance, for some time, you still need an additional device in your pocket as the processing power for these devices, but with the level of connections speeds that 5G promises, soon it can just be done entirely in the cloud instead.
Dont´get me wrong the iPhone X is the phone everyone wants, but I think it’s the last big release we’ll see in that space.
Apple’s focus on the finally powerful selfie-camera and FaceID is a sign that it’s betting on other platforms too. Apple´s move will accelerate the adoption of such systems, and soon the price will come down. Besides smart speakers and other smart home devices, the “3D camera” will be soon integrated into all types of categories of connected products, add AI into the mix and you have the future.
In that context, Apple’s HomePod means something more than a Hifi-Speaker or an upgraded Siri. So the next version HomePod with FaceID is a logical next step. When this becomes a reality, how will our lives be shaped? But that´s another story
For now, I look at my wrist and smile.