Thoughts on the ambition of Apple Watch

Siri Shortcuts, your Apple Watch, and various sensors and biometrics mean the wearable device will become critical to your identity, at work, at home, and at play.

Apple, iOS, iPhone, Apple Watch

Siri Shortcuts, your Apple Watch, and various sensors and biometrics mean the wearable device will become critical to your identity, at work, at home, and at play.

The 'most personal device ever'

Apple has described the Apple Watch as its “most personal device ever.” That’s not just because it sits against your skin and you can purchase snazzy new watchbands for it; it’s also because its sensors assess all sorts of personal data about you:

  • How you sleep
  • How you walk
  • Where you go
  • How healthy you are
  • The state of your heart
  • If you fall
  • Who you call

And more, but you get the drift. You see, more than an iPhone, Apple Watch has one purpose, which is to work with you, learn about you, share that data with your iPhone Health app (and your doctor, if you like) and to do all of this as privately as possible.

This is an intimate device. It’s as much about who you are and what you need as what others need. Think about Apple Pay, Apple Watch as ID, or even boarding a plane thanks to the air ticket in your Apple Watch Wallet and a shake of the wrist.

You and your alter-ego

Augmented you (so the theory goes) should be better than ordinary you.

The soft skills of a human augmented by machine intelligence, AI and a Benevolent Guardian (Apple Watch) angel dedicated to caring for you and for your health.

At home, your device will learn how you like it. Control heating, lighting, and background music with a Siri Shortcut. Close the blinds. Order an Uber. One day, start the car.

More than iPhone, Apple Watch will become part of your personality. A willing pattern matching companion to help you with your life. Knowing me. Knowing you.

This is of big significance. We already see how technology is being used to gameify everyday life – look at those car and health insurers offering to cut prices on premiums to those willing to use an Apple Watch or iPhone app to track their personal habits and/or how they drive.

“Have you failed to walk 10,000 steps today? Then you have to know your insurance premium is going to rise this month.”

J.G. Ballard once said, “Sooner or later, all games become serious”.

In the case of these technologies, any loss of privacy will eventually mean we’ll all be obliged to get those steps in in order to qualify for basic medical attention. We already see that shift in public health regulation as prevention becomes preferable to cure. In truth, nurturing good habits is no bad thing, but loss of privacy makes no one more secure.

The theory of theorizing

Apple has made it quite clear that part of its long-range iPhone plan has always been to replace the contents of your wallet with what’s inside of your smartphone.

The company is moving forward fast with this plan, too. One day it will replace other things you carry with you, including passports, vaccination records, driver's licenses and more.

The most logical place for all that information isn’t really your iPhone, of course.

Does your iPhone cease to function as identity when it is no longer close to your skin? Is your iPhone eventually going to be able to tell the difference between one person and another by the unique beat of their heart? Apple Watch should be able to do just that.

The problem with all the other so-called smartwatches on the market is that they lack ambition. They seem to be designed as either exercise trackers or as smartphone extensions.

Apple’s plan is far more ambitious.

It wants to make your Apple Watch critical to your entire existence, replacing not just the contents of your wallet, but also augmenting everything else that makes you you.

You are an augmented human in the suburb of the soul.

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Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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