Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is an interesting character for a number of reasons, not least his outspoken nature on all things tech, and in particular his commentary on the corporate iPhone giant of which he used to be part. Wozniak is often heard speaking out in support of Apple and its products – he’s usually very enthusiastic about them – but occasionally reminds us that he’s not beholden to the firm anymore and doesn’t agree with everything it does. His latest comments form part of that latter scenario and it’s specifically on the subject of smartwatches, including the Apple Watch. According to Woz, speaking at the Future Transport Summit in Sydney, the recent push for wearables doesn’t sit favourably with him as such devices lack sufficient computing power to do much of any real worth for the user. He was also critical of the fact that most designs require that the device be tethered to a smartphone rather than operating independently, and even described situations where he’d tried to use Apple Pay on his watch only to realise he’d left his iPhone at home.
Woz described current wearables, including the Apple Watch, as being “dorky” and likened them to first-gen Bluetooth earpieces, adding that they were “not a compelling purchase.”
“People say that if you put the name Apple on it, people will line up to buy it. I think it needs a little more than these watches have.”
Recent reports have indicated Apple may indeed be working on a second-gen Apple Watch which can operate without the need for a parent smartphone, allegedly with its own SIM card slot, Wi-Fi and 4G modem. Certainly Woz’s thoughts echo our own so far having used a range of current smartwatches including the Apple Watch – nothing has been particularly inspiring, and certainly not enough for us to use on a regular basis, or even in many cases to ensure we keep it charged alongside our smartphones and tablets. The wearable category does seem to be a device bracket that has been insisted upon by manufacturers looking for a new angle, similar to how tablets emerged, the difference being, however, that tablets were very well received and have taken time to gradually cool off with declining sales. Smartwatches, on the other hand, have so far been more or less DoA, at least relative to other devices in the mobile tech sector. So far, OEMs have failed to come up with any truly compelling “must have” features to make us really sit up and pay attention, and now that VR is on the rise as the next big thing, we’re wondering if smartwatches had their chance and blew it.