A Computer On Every Wrist? Not Mine

September 12, 2013

I will admit I am one of those people who cannot let an Apple announcement pass me by without watching the live stream (should Apple whimsically choose to provide one) or following The Verge’s live blog coverage should video not be available.

This past Tuesday was no different.

What surely everyone heard was that Apple has two new iPhone models, one of which is striking fear into civil liberties and security advocates and one of which that comes in an array of jaunty colors with a rather poorly thought out case as an add-on accessory.

But I find the best part of Apple announcements are often the moments that go by so fast you don’t even notice them. Sometimes this is as sneaky as a phrase on a slide that goes completely unexplained such as the iBeacons that were shown at June’s announcement of iOS 7 and went without any press coverage until this week.

The most exciting part of Tuesday’s event for me was the announcement of the M7 chip — what Apple calls a “motion co-processor.”

And with all the recent hoopla and nonsense about the future of connectivity being wearable computing, the M7 might just be Apple’s way of saying “not so fast.”

That stands in stark contrast to Samsung’s announcement last week of a supposedly “smart” watch that, while not lacking for computing power by historical standards, still mostly relies on a connected phone to do anything smart. The Dick Tracey watch this is not.

The Samsung watch is also apparently so large that you have to be an alpha-geek to want to actually wear the thing. This is of course the biggest problem with that other shining example of wearable technology for technology’s sake, Google Glass.

These impracticalities haven’t stopped the analysts and pundits from predicting that Apple too bring some sort of wearable product to market — the iWatch it has been dubbed. And if they do, it would surely include the M7 chip to enable fitness tracking apps.

But why struggle with a tiny wrist-sized screen and an underpowered processor or an awkward face-based wink-and-blink interface just for the sake of being “cutting edge”?

Besides, we all already wear a computer in our pockets called a smart phone, and that works just fine for almost everyone. If Apple can bring advanced fitness tracking to our pockets, why do they really need to bring it to our wrists?