Innovation

The future of the Apple Watch: Three big questions

While the Apple Watch has generated tons of interest and become the world's best-selling smartwatch, it's still facing big questions in the long term. Here are the three biggest.

The Apple Watch is Apple's first big product move of the post-Steve Jobs era and a lot of the people who are buying it — and will be buying it in the future — are people who want to use it to be more productive.

Let's look at three big questions about the future of the Apple Watch — especially with an eye on what it means for workers, business professionals, and techies.

1. Will Apple simplify it?

The biggest problem with the Apple Watch is that it's trying to do too much. Apple over-complicated it. For example, the watch has two physical buttons, both of which do different things when you press once versus pressing twice. One button — the Crown — would do fine, with a double-press to go straight to Apple Pay, for example.

Something else that's too complicated is the apps screen. It is has an overwhelming number of tiny little circular icons. Even people with small fingers have a hard time tapping the right icon consistently. Apple would have been better off just putting apps in a user experience like Glances, which you get to by swiping up and then swiping left and right. Let users put any app in Glances but limit the number to 10 or 12 at a time, for example. That would be a much simpler, more Apple-like experience.

2. Will app makers amplify it?

Apple likely made the app launch screen the way it did with the idea of letting app makers run wild and bring extra functionality to the watch. Apps on the Apple Watch are off to solid start. Lots of app makers have jumped on board and made watch apps. Unfortunately, most of them aren't very good yet since developers had to rely on imagination.

Let's see what they can do now that they have the hardware in their hands. There are promising apps like the Delta app that lets you see in-flight progress updates on your wrist or the Starwood app that lets you open your hotel room with your watch as your room key, or the Knock app that lets you use your watch to unlock your Mac as you walk up to it.

Now that Apple has opened up the watch for developers to build native apps (and not just smartphone extensions), the possibilities have expanded.

3. Will women wear it?

One of the biggest problems with smartwatches in general is that they have revealed the fact that the tech industry has a lot more men than women designing these products. The watches are all huge and very masculine. Some of that is practical because of trying to fit a screen and so many electronics into such a small device. But, it's also an unconscious bias problem and it's limiting the appeal of smartwatches.

Apple has tried to remedy this to an extent by offering a smaller version of its watch, as well as a variety of different bands. Last week I met a cashier at Home Depot with the Apple Watch and she said she loves it, but other women such as TechRepublic's wearables expert Teena Hammond are more skeptical. Look for Teena's perspective in a separate article on TechRepublic.

And, you can also listen to our in-depth discussion of the Apple Watch on The TechRepublic Podcast.

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About Jason Hiner

Jason Hiner is Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.

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