Tuesday, at a jam-packed event that saw the introduction of new, larger iPhones and a new mobile payments platform, Apple also previewed the Apple Watch, a brand new smart watch that acts as a wrist-mounted extension of the iPhone.
Complete with a new user interface called the Digital Crown — an evolution of the original iPod’s scrollwheel — that Apple CEO Tim Cook compared to the original Macintosh’s mouse or multitouch on the iPhone, the Apple Watch is one part digital timepiece, another part personal communicator and a third part health and fitness device.
BYOD will bring the Apple Watch into the enterprise
Expect the Apple Watch to make similar inroads to the enterprise, just like the iPhone has over the past half-decade, after it launches to the public in early 2015.
Because iOS app developers will be able to make companion apps for the watch, many productivity applications will find their way to the device in some form or another.
Fantastical developer Michael Simmons told me that, in his opinion, the best thing about the Apple Watch is “the ability for people to always have an intelligent device with them.” Apple showed off Watch versions of its own productivity apps, including email, messaging, calendars, calls, maps and directions and much more. Then there’s everything that developers might be able to do.
“The user interface definitely excited me the most,” said Simmons. “That Apple didn’t just reuse iOS interactions and truly rethought the new screen and size.
“I believe that’s why wearables have failed up until now. They basically “shrunk” phones and tablets. The wearable needed to be completely rethought and Apple definitely has done that.”
Luckily for workers in security-sensitive organizations, the Apple Watch doesn’t contain a camera to be covered up or secured (when I visited a major corporate headquarters a few months ago, I had to cover up five separate cameras across all the devices I had with me), and, because the device pulls data through a companion iPhone, Internet connections should (though Apple has not confirmed this) pass through corporate VPN networks if set up as such.
Much like corporations have developed in-house apps for iPhones and iPads, we expect that companies will seek new apps for the Apple Watch as well. I can see endless opportunities for field use of the Watch, not including obvious use cases like calendars and email.
Standalone apps could be used for field technicians, to help keep them on schedule or to get directions to a next job. They could be created for doctors and nurses, to get quick updates and notifications on patients. There is a vibrate function, allowing users to get discreet notifications of events that might need their attention in an important meeting.
Then there’s the massive health and wellness component that could be used by companies to encourage their workforces to get up and exercise more during the day. There are many possibilities to explore, and I’m anxious to see what developers and companies have in store for Apple’s latest platform.
As for Simmons and Fantastical, he demurred when asked about an Apple Watch version of the popular calendar app, but said “we’re very intrigued and curious” about the platform.
Do you think the Apple Watch will find a place in the enterprise? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.