The Apple Watch smartwatch is finally becoming smart

Claims Apple is about to put LTE inside the Apple Watch mean the device is finally getting smart enough to be a smartwatch.

Apple, Apple Watch, watchOS, WWDC, iOS, iPhone, AirPods, Bloomberg, wearables, smartwatch
Apple

We’ve had months of speculation, so there is no doubt that iPhone silly season is incredibly intense this year, with a tidal wave of claim, counter-claim, accusation, and speculation breaking on every consciousness. Meanwhile, the other big story is being ignored:

Apple Watch gets smart

Confirming speculation from a few months back, a Bloomberg report says Apple Watch will finally grow up. A new model will be equipped with its own LTE radio, making the product independent of the iPhone. Developer, Jeffrey Grossman also recently discovered code that suggests a SIM inside the watch.

This is significant because Apple Watch has needed to be connected to an iPhone in order to access most of its features.

[Also read: 15 Apple Watch tricks you’ll want to use]

Liberating the device from the phone will transform it from being an optional accessory/fitness tracker into a truly independent solution that may provide all that some people need from a connected device.

(I am curious about the implementation; for example, will you still need an iPhone to set your Apple Watch up or will it be possible to use iCloud online to do so?)

I’ve argued since before Apple Watch appeared that it needed to have its own connection and processor in order to be truly smart.

Once these are introduced, the watch becomes its own standalone platform. I know there is a tendency to see everything through the prism of iPhone, but I say the truth is that connected intelligence will inevitably proliferate and smartphones will become just one of a range of ways to stay online. There is life after iPhone.

This video that claims to show a pre-production sample of the iPhone 8 is typical of the claims we’ve come across in the last few days.

Toward computing anywhere

Apple’s being smart.

The company knows the days of the smartphone are numbered, and it is widening its platforms to provide the foundations for the next-generation of the connected age.

I imagine you’ll also be able to sync your Apple Watch and your AirPods together, giving you all the workout music and activity monitoring power you need in a form factor that’s got to be seen as a powerful replacement for the iPod nano (RIP).

Apple’s decision to strap an LTE radio inside of the smartwatch means it should be possible for your Watch to access all kinds of contextual intelligence, as well as:

  • Download music from Apple Music on demand
  • Ask Siri a question without an iPhone
  • Get directions in Maps
  • Send (and receive) urgent Messages during a workout
  • Make and receive a phone call
  • Pay using Apple Pay

In the future, you’ll see the power (and battery life) of the built-in processor/radio combination increase.

At some point, you’ll be able to use your Watch, AirPods and those virtual reality glasses Apple has been working on for years together to do pretty much everything your iPhone does today.

Eventually, I guess these combined connected solutions will let you do everything you use your Mac to do, thanks to VR and 3D user interfaces. While I’m certain critics will condemn that idea, I think it's an inevitable outcome.

Smart anywhere

We know watchOS 4 brings in more Siri support and a much smarter machine intelligence designed to help you get more from Workouts and Activity Center.

This proactive personalization extends to more personal reminders and better music playlist management.

It also includes automatic pairing with some gym equipment and support for person-to-person Apple Pay payments. All these improvements seem to make the smartwatch a useful device in its own right.

During WWDC, I couldn’t help but think Apple didn’t give Apple Watch much time. I thought then (and still do) that this was because the company was planning a few surprises for its product line. A move to LTE — and a new form factor — would certainly provide that.

An enterprise case for Apple Watch

Do you remember when all a mobile phone did was make calls, and later send and receive short SMS messages? With its own built-in SIM, Apple Watch will be able to provide all those features and more.

In some situations, it will be all you need: at the beach, climbing a mountain, fixing industrial equipment, on the road for client calls, or providing emergency assistance — any situation in which you need to use both hands while remaining connected.

  • Those sales teams on the road with an Apple tablet may now also want to invest in an Apple Watch to provide the seamless connected intelligence they need.
  • The logistics and distribution center workers may end up being equipped with watches to replace those bulky (and expensive) systems they use today.

We know Apple is seeing a lot of success in enterprise markets, and the provision of connectivity through a wearable device has a lot of potential in that sector. Apple is no longer confined to solely serving consumer markets.

You can see a few more enterprise uses for Apple Watch here.

Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter. I'd like it if you chose to follow me there so I can let you know when fresh items are published here first on Computerworld.

Computerworld's IT Salary Survey 2017 results
Shop Tech Products at Amazon