In 2010, Apple introduced the 6th generation iPod Nano. With a total surface area of less than 2 1/2 square inches, the smallest Apple touchscreen device was quickly repurposed by modders as a smartwatch using wrist straps, like this one made by Griffin.
Two years later, Apple killed the tiny design and replaced it with a larger, albeit thinner, version that more visually resembles the iPhone. At least to me, this seemed incredibly strange given that the previous Nano was so impressively small.
This weekend, either through coincidence or something more sinister, we may have discovered why the tiny Nano was scrapped. The New York Times reported that Apple is working on a wristwatch-like devices made of curved glass.
Reports further indicate it would run iOS—something that the aforementioned Nano can’t claim. Some of you may remember, long ago, that before cell phones were ubiquitous everyone had a watch. You put it on in the morning and it didn’t come off till bed. You felt naked without it. And while cell phones have supplanted the usefulness of a watch I’ve often longed for something so integrated to return. Watches stick with you so much better than bulky slabs in your pocket.
Recently, Kickstarter project Pebble got off the ground with a wireless access watch that pairs with your phone, but even that seems a bit kludgy and limited. Sony offers an Android watch but just looking at it, I think they’ve picked the wrong marketing direction.
So let’s dream for the moment about the BYO iWatch possibilities (Warning: Images may not match final product).
VMware View and Citrix Receiver for iWatch:
Stylus not included. Good luck.
Terminal Server for iWatch:
Aww, we still love you Terminal Server.
Still more productive than most IT requests.
Obviously using a traditional Windows desktop application on the small, keyboardless-sized screen of a phone is difficult enough, so on a watch it would be darn near impossible.But the New York Times article mentioned, "Investors would most likely embrace an iWatch, with some already saying that wearable computing could replace the smartphone over the next decade."
So now that we’re currently experiencing the transition from traditional Windows desktop apps to some new kind of mobile/HTML/native/whatever types of apps, I wonder how that transition would continue if wearable devices like watches and glasses replaced smart phones?
Of course the “feasting / dining / snacking” analogy would continue to apply in the future. Every form factor doesn’t have to let you do everything for every application. So the wearable form factor might be even more about what information you need right now. PowerPoint on a watch is about buzzing when you need to move onto the next slide, or perhaps it’s the remote control—it’s not about running or editing a presentation on it.
At a minimum you’d think it would finally put to bed this whole notion of the enterprise “owning” a user’s computing device. Hopefully apps of that era would work happily and security side-by-side users personal apps.
And gosh, for any Windows desktop apps we’d need in that world? I guess they’re running in the datacenter delivered via something like Framehawk with a “glasses” or “watch” transformation applied?
Hopefully the end user computing community learns enough about application delivery in our current evolution away from Windows apps that a phone-to-wearable evolution won’t be too difficult.