I can't wait to use a virtual iMac

Apple's wearable vision isn't just about accessorizing iPhones; it's about creating new computing platforms.

Apple, Apple Watch, AirPods, iPhone, Mac

iPhones will eventually become trucks — the people who use them will do lots with them, but many of the tasks we once needed PCs to achieve will become available to us through wearable devices, working together.

Sound connections

Think of it this way. iPhone appealed to millions because it combined connectivity with ubiquity and ultra-personalization. The list of things we can do with iPhones continues to expand.

These days, we also get to access many of the tools we most use on our smartphone through wearable devices. More recently, we have begun to leave our smartphone at home, thanks to the SIM inside Apple Watch Series 3.

Over time, we will see the challenges that limit that experience shrink. Battery life and processing power will increase until some people won’t need to use a phone at all.

Apple will offer a growing range of service-related products, and many of these will be quite happy to work with voice, gesture and touch. They'll be designed that way.

Already we’ve reached a point at which we can step out with nothing but an Apple Watch and a pair of AirPods.

When we do, we can make calls, ask questions, listen to music, send and receive messages and emails, take Notes, hail a ride, pay for groceries and more. We can even lock our front door with a spoken command. And switch on the burglar alarm.

Everywhere machines

We already know the capabilities of these two Apple products will be extended.

We think Apple is developing new software and sensors for Apple Watch that will make it an even more effective tool for personal health and exercise (think about the Beddit acquisition, for example).

We also think we know the company is developing new AirPod models that will answer different needs around that popular wearable device: They will be water resistant enough to survive a splash or rain (but not for swimming). Later this year, they will let you summon Siri by saying, “Hey Siri” (presumably releasing the current tap interface for use by your chosen alternative command). They will also support better Bluetooth connectivity and will likely feature a new wireless chip.

With Watch and AirPods, you have connectivity, hearing and spoken commands sorted.

The only missing link is what we see.

Finesse vision

We know Apple is developing its own AR glasses, as part of which it has been investing heavily in related technologies.

In 2017 alone Apple acquired eye tracking tech firm SensoMetric, VR headset maker VrVana, InVisage, and RealFace. All four firms have technologies that could conceivably be used with augmented reality device development.

Apple thinks ahead. It must. Think about the A-series and other proprietary silicon it uses inside its products. The company this week confessed it needs to nail down the properties of future silicon up to four years in advance.

That means when Apple introduces new hardware, the company will have spent time visualizing the capabilities of that hardware years in advance. It has to in order to make sure the chips used are fit for purpose.

This also means it can spend years finessing its platforms in support of hardware it already knows it is developing. It can take a hugely strategic, multi-year approach. “We’ve got things we are working on now that are way out in the 2020s,” Apple CEO Tim Cook recently said.

Others may bring solutions to market first, but few make the effort to ensure their hardware already has a viable ecosystem to support.

Virtual PCs

We can evidence the company’s long-term vision.

Surely Apple’s move to adopt 64-bit across all its products reflected a strategic plan to ensure it had a widely used platform capable of supporting AR. If the company thought that far ahead, then it will also already have spent time thinking of how those technologies can be applied in the future.

When I think about that future, I find it quite easy to imagine tomorrow's Apple users will wear powerful Apple Watch and AirPod devices to use virtual iPhones/Macs that exist only in AR space. It’s a logical progression as the truck industry shrinks. 

It's also why Apple is now more focused on the Mac as a professional computer for the tasks that won't easily translate into AR space.

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Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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