On Monday, Apple made a move that has the potential to make some big waves. And yes, typically, these Apple events have me feeling like this:
But today, I’m not talking about the Apple Watch. Well, not just about the Apple Watch.
Sure, Apple re-introduced and dug into the details about what is likely the most anticipated wearable of 2015, but I’m not so sure that was the biggest news of the day. Apple introduced its new MacBook along with an expansion to their existing HealthKit, known as ResearchKit. It’s a move that will engage users to create and contribute to creating content in ways previously unavailable to the masses.
Like many tech companies, Apple struggles with how to make their devices faster, thinner and with more battery life. At some point, the pieces and parts they use hit a wall. Look at the iPhone – sure it’s a different shape and has two new screen sizes, but what has really changed about the fundamental iPhone experience in the past few years?
For me, the biggest announcement yesterday was Apple’s foray into content – specifically medical content. In what looks to be an effort to truly be a category leader and set the standard of good corporate citizenship, Apple has made it easier for anyone with an iPhone (and likely the Apple Watch) to opt-in and contribute to medical research.
The potential for ResearchKit is enormous, if it catches on. What was once a sample size of a few hundred can easily be a few million. Data sets are collected in real time. Medical researchers can gain from the influence that Apple’s hardware has had on the average consumer and make more informed decisions. Big ideas like this have the potential to lead to major breakthroughs. Think cancer, Parkinson’s, asthma and diabetes.
Sure, you need an Apple device to participate – they are still a hardware company, after all – but what you can do with that Apple technology has become so much more than texting, emailing, browsing and talking. You can contribute content and usefulness to a much larger community. It’s all quite pie-in-the-sky for now, but I love the potential.
Other than the ResearchKit announcement, my second biggest “take my money” moment from Monday’s event was the 12-inch MacBook. Similar to the iPhone, iPad and now Apple Watch, we’re seeing technology get smaller and lighter with increasing battery life. And when devices can become second nature (i.e., we don’t have to think about having them with us, they just ARE with us) we can create, work and play in easier and faster ways than ever before.
Sure, the fanboy in me was excited for a 12-inch computer from Apple since there hasn’t been one in years, but with an all-day battery life, retina display and reimagined keyboard and trackpad, I think Apple was really trying to launch a device that became second nature in the laptop/computer category. Time will tell if they succeed, but I’m eyeing the Space Gray color and look forward to sharing insights later on.
And then of course there’s the Apple Watch.
First, there’s the price. Ranging from $349 to $17,000, the options are limitless but also confusing. The top of that range seems to be driven by the price of gold, and it’s tough to feel like you’re getting anything other than a status symbol. The technology and functionality is exactly the same in all models, so I struggle with which one to buy. Top that off with the fact that I’ll theoretically be investing some amount into a new Apple Watch every year. And then the bands, and then the extended warranty…
Then there’s the true functionality of the device. Sure, the watch will measure and track your activities and usage in a way previously not available to Apple users, but what value is it adding? For cheaper investments, you can get a number of other health trackers. And while Apple touched on the time-telling/watch functionality briefly, I am hard pressed to make that a differentiator.
So, it has to be the apps. Apple’s bread and butter since opening up iOS to native apps has been that it has more – more apps, more integration, more benefits to developers. And now those apps can sync up to a companion app on the watch. But is that really enough? Am I burdened to the point of frustration when I have to take out my phone to check a notification or make a call? Personally, no.
What about the possibility of growth? Much like the apps and other unique functionality will grow over time, I’m expecting Apple will find a way to increase battery life, make it thinner, make it faster. So much so that the value of being an early adopter, followed by feeling like I have to buy 2.0 next year so that I can get all the new features, Apple Watch 1.0 feels a bit discouraging. I’d like to see what software upgrades and new functionality the watch gets to ensure I don’t end up with a paper weight in a year or two.
So yes, Apple can take my money (again!), but probably not right away for their newest and most intriguing product to date.
What do you think? Will you be in line to try the new products they introduced or participate in a health research study when it’s available? Let me know in the comments.
Michael Schwabe is Digital Marketing Engineer at AKHIA.