The Real Purpose Behind Apple Watch: Health Tracking
I read a very interesting article from Time this week that talked about Apple's original motivation for creating the Apple Watch. It wasn't so we could all walk around pretending to be Inspector Gadget like many of us originally thought. The genesis of the Apple Watch came from Steve Jobs and all the time he spent in and out of hospitals while fighting pancreatic cancer:
“During this time, Jobs discovered how disjointed the healthcare system can be. He took on the task of trying to bring some digital order to various aspects of the healthcare system, especially the connection between patients, their data, and their healthcare providers.”
This actually makes a lot of sense. Most products come into being from the simple act of seeing a need and developing something to fill that need. However, in this case, I think Apple developed the Apple Watch as a medical device for the long term. The Apple Watch as it came out into the market in the Spring of 2015 was not that device. It was only earlier this year that Apple announced Health Kit. No, Apple has a long term strategy to revamp the health care system and make it more patient friendly and patient convienant but this can't be done overnight. Apple Watch version 1.0 was a smart watch and as such most people were judging the watch based on what it could do for them and comparing it against all the things they could do with their phone. As well they should be, after all the "smart" in smart watch means the watch should be doing things to make your life easier. So now that we know that Apple made the Apple Watch for health reasons, what does this mean for the everyday Apple Watch user?
For most people, this revelation about why Apple initially developed the Apple Watch is completely irrelevant. Let's face it, most people don't rush out and buy a shiny new tech product because it's healthy for them and Apple knows this. But Apple also knows, thanks to the iPhone, that if you already have a device that is with you at all times you also now have a device that is with you at all times and can track things about you. That is a very important step if you want to track your body's health parameters. Apple has a very long term strategy when it comes to fulfilling Steve Jobs' vision concerning the health care industry. You can't change this industry overnight, but you can slowly chip away at it. The first version of the Apple Watch put a fitness tracker on the wrists of millions of people and made it very simple for each of those individuals to track their heart rate, fitness activities and diet. Now with the introduction of Health Kit Apple is taking the Apple Watch one step further and allowing doctors and researchers to tap into the wealth of information the Apple Watch is collecting (collecting for you and only you as that data is protected) as it clings to your wrist from day to day. It won't be long before you can link your Apple Watch to your doctor's office so that when your doctor first walks into the examination room he or she already knows the basics (your heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, general activity levels over the past few weeks and your overall diet). We have already seen stories in the new where the Apple Watch has notified its owner about an irregular heart rate such that the person took proactive measures and got medical help before going into full cardiac arrest. I think we can expect expect to hear about more stories like this as Apple adds new health tracking features and the industry taps further into Health Kit.
But in the mean time, what does all of this mean for Apple Watch as a smart watch? I think it means that we can expect Apple to continue to make it a more feature rich wearable. However, Apple's long term vision for this device is more tailored towards health tracking instead of turning us all into Inspector Gadget. That isn't to say Apple can't do both at the same time, but it does explain why Apple didn't come out of the gates with a smart watch that did absolutely everything. If the Apple Watch was too feature rich and did too many things then the average person would be too intimidated by its complexity. If that were to happen then Apple wouldn't have the critical mass necessary for the health industry to develop the programs to tap into Apple Watch data. This also explains why the "super geeks" of the world are the ones complaining about the Apple Watch and the more average consumers are raving about the device. The Apple Watch simply wasn't designed for the gadget nerd.