Bands for Apple Watch may be its killer feature
Ever since junior high school I’ve worn a smartwatch – whatever the definition of “smartwatch” was at the time. Whether it was a calculator watch with a calendar and contacts storage, or a watch with an altimeter, barometer, and moon phases, I tried to wear the latest tech on my wrist. Yeah, I’m a geek, but you already knew that. Most of those watches had plastic bands, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve gravitated to metal or leather bands.
One of the first upgrades I performed on my LG G Watch was the installation of a black metal band. My Moto 360 came with an elegant leather band, but I took it off and replaced it with the metal band for the Pebble Steel. Unfortunately, as all of us who tried that eventually found out, that caused the back of the watch to develop cracks.
From there I picked up a neat product called an M°180 adapter from SteelConnect.co. This adapter connects to the Moto 360 and allows you to install standard 22mm watch bands, and it actually works pretty well, except it’s not compatible with the Pebble Steel band, so right before I left on my vacation, I went back to the leather strap that came with the Moto 360.
Apparently my wrists sweat when the temperature is around 100°F, which caused the color from the dark gray leather band to leave an ugly stain around my wrist every day. I promised myself I’d go back to a metal strap as soon as I got home.
Once my silver band arrived from Amazon, a quick estimate indicated I’d need to remove four links to take up the slack introduced by the Steel Connect adapter. (In retrospect, I could have removed five links, but I think I’ll stick with four for reasons that I think you’ll agree with.)
The band came with a double-ended tool: one end to remove the spring-bars, the other to press the pins out of the links.
Note to whoever thought of that: it’s a really bad idea.
The spring-bar remover end is easy enough to use, but the pins holding the links in place are far too tight to simply push out with the tool. Every jeweler I’ve ever seen has used a punch and a brass mallet to drive the pins out – something I couldn’t do with the included tool. There’s even a special watch link remover tool that you can buy. Instead, I tried to push the pins out with the tool. That was a bad idea.
Several minutes later I had not only impaled my thumb with the punch, but I’d also managed to break the tip off in the wound. Yeah, that hurt. A lot.
All this for a watchband!
I’m an Android Guy, so the Apple Watch isn’t an option for me. That having been said, every time I look at the Apple Watch (or the still healing wound on the side of my thumb) I see the band that’s held securely in place, yet it’s easy to remove and replace. VERY easy, in fact. This alone could be Apple’s “killer app”.
In the computer world, a “killer app” is “a feature, function, or application of a new technology or product that is presented as virtually indispensable or much superior to rival products”. Basically, it’s something that warrants the purchase of a product just so you can get that app, feature, or function. VisiCalc, a spreadsheet application that cost US$100, was the earliest generally agreed example of a killer application and pushed people to buy the Apple II computer system – for upwards of $2,000!
The Apple Watch band may very well be the “killer app” for wearables, but not just because it’s so easy to swap in and out – though my thumb sure wishes my Moto 360 band was easier to adjust and swap out!
The body of the Apple Watch includes a port inside where the watch strap connects. This is already being used as a potential way to provide bigger batteries that are conveniently hidden inside the wristband. What else could an innovative person cram into that otherwise unused space?
- A camera module, similar to what Samsung has done with some of its wearables?
- A recharging cable?
- A USB thumb drive?
- A secondary display?
- An e-Ink or even monochrome-LCD display to keep the time always on?
- A kinetic charging system to keep the watch charged up all the time (or at least extend its runtime) by capturing your arm motions and turning them into power?
- A flexible solar panel?
- A pair of speakers to turn your watch (or phone connected by Bluetooth) into portable sound system?
- Medical monitoring devices?
- Advanced fitness “stuff”?
Since a wristwatch has to have a band to fasten it to your arm (unless you surgically implant magnets, but who’d be crazy enough to do that?!), why not make use of that otherwise wasted space by adding features and functionality to your smartwatch? Yup, bands for Apple Watch may be its killer feature.
What tech would you like to see stuffed into a smartwatch band? Head down to the comments and let me know!