back to article Woz says wearables – even Apple Watch – aren't 'compelling'

Steve Wozniak has decreed that today's crop of wearables just aren't that useful – even Apple's own Watch. Speaking at the Future Transport Summit in Sydney today, during which Wozniak declared he is not an expert on transport and therefore a mere lay person when it comes to predicting its future, the Apple co-founder said …

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He"s right, you know.

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Ah, the ol' function over form thing. He's right though, the iWatch owners I know don't exactly get much out of them, and they look like an over thick square slab getting in the way of their shirt cuff. Yes, I've yet to see a woman wearing one.

The trouble for a wearable is that it can hardly function at all, and really cannot improve on the wearables we already have. An ordinary watch is very good at telling the time and date and a few other things. A phone is meant to fit in a pocket (interesting that the new iPhone is smaller) and does way more for us than a watch can ever do. A specialised sports thing like to heart rate monitor is better for those who take their exercise seriously.

Something like an iWatch struggles to be a jack of all trades but is master of none.

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Anonymous Coward

Three friends with smart watches. Admittedly none of them Apple. All three were excited almost evangelical about them.

Now none of those three are worn. Two are wearing some sort of sporty (Garmin?) GPS tracking thing instead.

I like the smart watch wave because other people than me paid high money for them, advancing R&D, giving good engineers jobs, and moving technology a step forwards. From all that work something useful may emerge, one day.

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Devil

I bought a sony smartwatch 2 when my conventional watch died.

Most of the uses are completely, well, "meh" - telling the time, message notifications, having a wrist calculator, fintness apps, remote camera button. Yeah, I use them, there are fringe cases when they're useful, no, they aren't worth buying a smartwatch for. I can live with charging it once or twice a week.

There is only one thing that made it worth the £50 I paid and that's the "Find my phone" button. Means I can track the blighter down!

Squirreling it's way down the couch or hiding under cushions no longer works for the devious little smartmobe anymore, I no longer have to search 12 pockets to find which one it's in, and the watch even vibrates when it's lost connection so I know when it's tried to stay in my car without me.

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yet to see a woman wearing one.

My dog's vet's a woman,.She wear's a Apple Watch. Looks daft though.

Probably look better on the dog's collar - more useful too.

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Re: yet to see a woman wearing one.

I wear a health band, this specific one's main contribution over everything my phone does already being continuous heart rate monitoring. Oh, and having the time on my wrist, obviously. Which is relevant to the lifestyle I aspire to; I'm sure a more psychologically robust person wouldn't be interested. But, regardless, the basic test is: what do I gain from having one that I would not otherwise have? Avoiding having to reach all the way into my pocket for my phone is not sufficient.

(EDITed addition: the Apple Watch isn't especially close to continuously monitoring, it samples every ten minutes; judged according to the things it does that my phone does not already, battery life is far too poor and it's far too expensive)

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Anonymous Coward

I wear my Fitbit a lot more since encrypting my Android phone with a long password. If it's nearby, it bypasses the password. I figure this is better than fingerprints, because I can't flush my fingerprints down the toilet after being arrested again. There's nothing interesting on there, but it's MY boring life.

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I really appreciated that Wozniak clearly stated that requiring a network connection makes things less useful.

At this point in time we are apparently trying to tie ourselves to the Internet for everything we do, and that means that anytime the Internet is not available, we cannot do anything.

In the future, at some point, I am convinced that the Internet will be available everywhere and all the time, with ample bandwidth for all, but right now that is simply not the case. So, while it may be nice when it works, you still need a backup plan for when it doesn't.

I prefer to skip the hassle and go straight to what works all the time, every time.

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But if the internet isn't available then people just wait until it is. It's not like heart pacemakers rely on a tick-server in the cloud. I don't think many people are reliant on connectivity. They like it and expect it, but when its not there, then meh.

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Pint

"I really appreciated that Wozniak clearly stated that requiring a network connection makes things less useful."

Yes indeed. And I can't upvote Wozniak for saying it, so I'm upvoting you for highlighting that he said it.

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LDS
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Internet connectivity is not really that useful most of the time but for continuously tracking users in real time...

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" I don't think many people are reliant on connectivity. They like it and expect it, but when its not there, then meh."

Not just connectivity, but continuation of specific services. Imagine you have an internet connected home controller system (the Revolv, for example), and the company controlling those services goes tits-up or to discontinue services for what they consider an obsolete device.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/04/06/nests_bricking_of_revolv_a_wakeup_call/

Every time Netflix or BBC iPlayer buffers or drops out, it might be a meh moment, but it's a little hammer to the brain to remind you never to trust the internet to be permanently available.

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Anonymous Coward

It's not like heart pacemakers rely on a tick-server in the cloud.

Please don't give the fools any ideas…

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Anonymous Coward

I am reminded of many apps for the iPhone which simply did not function without an active internet connection because they wouldn't start, because some clown programmer decided that updating the content was way more important than the content already resident and that the user should just wait, and wait, and wait ...

Things have improved, but it continues to be an issue.

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Anonymous Coward

Palm Pilots had it right 15 years ago. A system tray app with 3rd party plugins to grab and assimilate stuff before you leave for the train. Just mash the Sync button a few minutes before you leave for all of your news, GTD and emails.

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Seconds out... Round 2

The Apple Watch is buy most measures a failure yet it sold a good few million.

It has done several things though (IMHO)

1) Shaken up the whole market for totally electronic wearables. No longer are they just restricted to things like the fitbit.

2) Got a whole lot of talking about wearables. Before it was very, very niche. Still a niche in my opinion but far closer to mainstream than before

3) Shaken the traditional watch makers to the core.

By all accounts, the next version will be thinner (it is apple after all...) and more usable.

All I know is that I don't want anything on my wrist including a watch. Not worn one for almost 40 years.

Now if someone repackaged it into something like 'Half-Hunter' format then I might buy one.

One of the people on the office has one. Thinks it is perfect for using Apple Pay on the Tube. That might be a perfect niche for it.

Lets all wait for round 2 and see where this marker is going to go.

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Half-Hunter

Now if someone repackaged it into something like 'Half-Hunter' format then I might buy one.

We call those "smartphones". You can even attach a little chain to your smartphone if you want.

The reason that the wristwatch appeared was to allow people to look at the time without reaching into pocket, withdrawing pocket watch, open protective case, observe time, close case, place back in pocket. Often hands were otherwise occupied and strapping the timepiece to the wrist served a practical purpose.

With the smartwatch, this has happened again, but this time for other information than the time of day, reading the time itself being less important because there are often clocks everywhere.

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Re: Half-Hunter

Ahhh. Half-Hunter, I thought it was one green welly.... ;)

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Re: Seconds out... Round 2

"Now if someone repackaged it into something like 'Half-Hunter' format then I might buy one."

I wonder whatever happened to the Runcible phone.

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Happy

Re: Half-Hunter

A 'half or even full hunter" is far more durable than a smartphone. The metal case protects the delicate insides. The round nature of the device makes it slip in and out of pockets with ease as opposed to most smart phone (even those with rounded corners).

The chain properly attaching it to ones clothing makes for a perfect device. does the job it was intended to do perfectly and no silly wrist band.

As I said, I hate things on my wrists. So the likelyhood of me stumping up for a watch if this type is as likely as Leicester winning the Champions League.

now where the number of my bookie?

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Anonymous Coward

"...said, I hate things on my wrists..."

So, it may be true to say, and I pause here for a small chuckle at my upcoming witticism, that you would rather have one off the wrist instead? Aha! Ha ha! Hee hee! I'm spent. I thank you all, you've been wonderful.

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Re: Half-Hunter

In my case it would be: reach into pocket, remove eyeglasses, put eyeglasses on, look at whatever on smartwatch, remove eyeglasses, place back in pocket.

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Re: Half-Hunter

Shaken the traditional watch makers to the core.

Yep, I can see the likes of Breitling and Tag Heuer just quaking over these gimmicky pieces of shit.

Call me old fashioned, but I prefer my watch to tell me the time and perhaps the date (although a Casio is likely better at both of these tasks) and if I want it to be fancy I'd look at these sorts of brands. Having a bluetooth connection to my phone because I'm too lazy to get it out of my pocket - not so much. Notifications, meeting alets etc? I prefer to look at what my day holds at the start and use my memory along with a buzz in the pocket (so to speak) to demand my attention when needed. Dick Tracy's "calling all cars" is a step too far.

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Re: "...said, I hate things on my wrists..."

You're spent? Typing one-handed again...?

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Re: Half-Hunter

And yet, TAG has a somewhat successful product in this space.

http://www.digitaltrends.com/wearables/tag-heuer-smartwatch-apps-development-news/

Not my TAG of choice I must say, but obviously for some.

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And remembering to charge it is a pain

Totally agree with Woz; my Gear S2 does little more than than the phone (and much less without it). On top of it, charging it every few days is a a real pain. Once charged, it works for about 3 days and I inevitably forget to charge it after that!

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Re: And remembering to charge it is a pain

Ah, I had a similar opinion with my Gear S2 Neo. Notifications are a bit useful, if you want to look without getting the phone out of your pocket, and the Health app is brilliant for telling you each day that you didn't do enough exercise. Other than that, not too much once you get past the 'new watch face every day' period.

But then I discovered that, with the addition of a simple app, I could have a TVBegone+ on my wrist. This more than makes up for the shortcomings. Standing in The Good Guys showroom, watching the TVs, BlueRay Players, and on one memorable occasion, the aircon followed by the instore lights turn off while staff look around in bewilderment is a small bright spot of pleasure in my twilight years.

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Re: And remembering to charge it is a pain

I wonder if Trevor Baylis has had a call from Tim Cook yet...

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I'd go further than that personally

Wearables don't afford sufficient advantage to be of use. Full stop. I have yet to encounter any wearable tech that really makes me think it would add much to my daily life.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'd go further than that personally

You should be careful about such blanket statements. I had chemo last year an it damaged my hearing. I'm not deaf but range is limited and I can't always tell what sounds are. I have a pebble steel. It lasts for about four or five days between charges and I don't miss calls from the Mrs. or my GP (or telemarketers unfortunately) anymore because it's hard to miss the buzzing thing at the end of my arm which is much more discrete than a small disco going off in my trousers or on my desk.

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Re: I'd go further than that personally

I really like being able to check and screen notifications with a glance at my wrist regardless of where my phone is, and there are plenty of circumstances for me where the phone is not in handy reach and I use notifications a lot. And as you say, it also happens silently - I've had no ring tone enabled for years. Others may not see the benefit, but that's to be expected because we are all different though some people do feel that the centre of the universe can be found at their centre of gravity therefore they will never understand that other people do thing differently, in their mind all smartwatches must be pointless.

I don't think anyone said they need to be "compelling", because thinking about it, even the smartphone itself isn't compelling. They are just handy little benefits.

I still wouldn't go for Apple's interpretation though, just a very cheaply acquired Pebble Time does the useful stuff well and for my requirements pisses all over Apple's offering.

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Re: I'd go further than that personally

@AC, in your specific use case, yes, it has advantages. For me, at this time, no wearable offers me anything I'd want. My statement wasn't intended as a blanket statement for EVERYONE, but as a blanket statement for MY point of view.

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Re: I'd go further than that personally

werdsmith, I use my Pebble exactly the same way and I love it. I never have my phone on ring or even vibrate, because the Pebble provides the notifications in a much less intrusive way, and a quick glance at my wrist tells me what I need to know.

I have no interest whatsoever in a hulking overpriced smart watch which tries to be an on-wrist smartphone.

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Re: I'd go further than that personally

Wouldn't that be a dongle?

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Anonymous Coward

Cars

Intelligent systems will mean cars cannot do things like run red lights

That, like speeding, may actually be a useful action to undertake. For instance, when you can safely do so to avoid the semi-trailer bearing down on you from behind whose breaks have failed and whose driver is alerting you to the fact they cannot stop. Cannot is just never that useful.

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Re: Cars

Just this morning I went through a red light, very carefully and just enough to let the blue light and sirens ambulance past. Luckily I could.

However, in a future scenario, intelligent traffic light would be aware of approaching ambulance on emergency, and change lights accordingly.

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Re: Cars

@AC - because semi trucks with failed brakes are something we have to contend with on a daily basis? People made that kind of stupid edge case when it came to seatbelt laws also. You stand a much better chance of survival in an accident with a belt than without. There is a small chance that the belt will hinder rather than help, but this is outweighed considerably by the chance of it helping. The same applies here.

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Re: Cars

However "reasonable" it is, you can still be prosecuted for going through a red light to let an emergency vehicle through.

A useful site on what you should and shouldn't do with regards to emergency vehicles in the UK:

www.bluelightaware.org.uk/

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Re: Cars

However "reasonable" it is, you can still be prosecuted for going through a red light to let an emergency vehicle through.

Yes that's the letter of the law. You also can be prosecuted for picking your nose whilst driving.

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Re: Cars

And like a million and one other excuses I've heard, the rumour of such a situation far outweighs the actual scenarios that it's ever occurred.

"Well, I have to have a car that does 0-60 in X seconds because I might need to accelerate out of trouble..." and so on.

If you're worried about that:

a) there's not much you can do.

b) you likely won't know that's what's happening until far too late.

c) steering out of the way rather than hoping you can out-accelerate it in a straight line through a red light (and I doubt it could ever STOP you going through a red-light, but merely alert like hell in a way you can override).

d) it happens so rarely, it's really not worth worrying about.

e) you cannot account for every other idiot on the road with gadgets.

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Stop

Re: Cars

Yes that's the letter of the law. You also can be prosecuted for picking your nose whilst driving.

Unfortunately it is the letter that they usually go by. It might even be a statutory offence, where there is no wiggle room at all. I wouldn't jump a red light, not even for an emergency services vehicle.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1204944/Driver-gets-60-fine-moving-yard-red-light-let-police-van-999-pass.html

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Unhappy

Re: Cars

you can safely do so to avoid the semi-trailer bearing down on you from behind whose breaks have failed and whose driver is alerting you to the fact they cannot stop.

Does that happen a lot where you live? You can always think up some obscure scenario, but it is what happens in real life that counts.

Most drivers who jump red lights do so because they are young and stupid and think that crashes only ever happen to other people.

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Re: Cars

Temporary traffic lights.

Everyone thinks that they can just slip through on the tail of other traffic around the blind corner, through the one-lane-due-to-roadworks.

And then that makes the other queue late, so they mostly miss their timing, which means THEY try to jump them too.

Honestly, we just need a camera on the back of every traffic light, temporary or permanent, for those kinds of idiots.

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Re: Cars

Like double-declutching, using escape lanes, having to smash a side-window while underwater, and various other scenarios, if I have to wonder about how the hell they happened in the first place, then you're probably not going to put any of your extensive training to use in such a rare, and surprising, scenario.

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Re: Cars

Letter or spirit, I know someone who was prosecuted for exactly this.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cars

It's not the precise rate of occurrence that matters but rather the fatality of the consequence. Why have a a safety switch on the circuit board in my house, I mean the thing has never tripped in 10 years?

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Re: Cars

I cannot up vote this sentiment more than once.

There are lots of scenarios where breaking the law is the appropriate action, and some where one needs to choose the lesser of two evils - the "I Robot" movie sub-plot.

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