The road to retinal implants and face chips that clean our teeth starts here with wearable computing - the iWatch and Google Glass.
Incorporating 1 or 2 assumptions, here is the head to head:
Fixing a Problem
Why do we need wearable computing?
Personally, I listen to Podcasts & Music for several hours a day - often whilst walking, cycling or taking public transport around a city. I may take my phone out of my pocket to choose content to listen to, write a message, check messages, skip an ad, rewind something, look at a map (multiple times if I’m navigating somewhere) 50 or more times a day.
Each time I do I almost drop it, the earphone cable gets tangled, I have to unlock it, maybe type a code; in short it’s a total usability mess - and means you’re not paying attention to your situation (dangerous if driving or cycling - or walking on a pavement in most of Asia).
Here’s a look at some use cases…
Glass is always there - iWatch can only be seen if you turn your wrist (but even that is far better than getting your phone out and unlocking it).
Whether ‘always on’ visibility is good or bad depends on your personality - and specific use.
Control: Touch vs Voice
Unless Apple implement Knight Rider style Siri on the iWatch (which they might), here it’s touch vs voice. You can obviously do a lot more with touch, and you’re not irritating everyone around you, letting them know your private business, or susceptible to background noise interference.
Voice is also still in its infancy, you can do a lot less with it, less effectively. Of course if you are driving or cycling or doing sport (Snowboarding anyone!)…. voice is great. But you could probably use an iWatch quite comfortably there too.
iWatch will have a small screen though so what it can do will be relatively limited.
Unless you’re driving - touch wins here.
iWatch may, for example, have a 1/3 curved retina display in it - that would give it a resolution of (1136/3 = 379 x 640). Compared to 640 x 360 of Google Glass.
Strangely it seems you can fit far less on a Glass screen (I’ve never used one personally).
It’s hard to say here without using either but they may be roughly equivalent, and probably quite small & restricted for at least a few years.
Awful phrase, but recording aspects of our everyday life is another exciting new area both these devices enable.
Some level of this is already available with smartphones - some including external hardware - such as products like Nike Plus or Fit Bit - or apps like Run Keeper which track runs or bike rides, telling you distance and estimating calories burned.
Having something constantly in contact with your body (the Nike Fuelband already does this) - gives you even more activity data.
If you keep either device on at all times - the possibilities here are very exciting - and equally good for either device
Use Cases - Face Off
(I have scored the winner 5 points in each category)
Choose music / podcast: iWatch should make it quick and easy to browse and select content with its touch interface. iW: 5
Play / Pause / Skip: Skip a track, forward past an ad, go back 30 seconds in an audiobook. iWatch is a comfortable winner here - even if these voice commands were available I’d much rather press something. iW: 5
Adjust Volume: Assuming you have earphones in connected directly to phone. Should be very easy to change on iWatch - glass, even if the voice command exists, no idea how they’d make that work half as well. iW: 5
Answer Call: Unless you always have earphones with a mic in - Glass wins here as it doubles as a bluetooth headset (battery allowing). GG: 5
Maps: iWatch should make looking up places on the map easier with touch - though actual navigation will be easier if it’s always visible. Turn by turn + voice in a car is a clear winner for GG, but overall - tie GG: 5 / iW: 5
Notifications: Whether you want notifications in your face 24/7 or not is a personal thing. I’d prefer to choose to look at a watch rather than be told in my eye (though I have very few notifications on in any case). Another tie GG: 5 / iW: 5
Recording Video / Photos: iWatch may have a front facing camera - making it good for calls. Glass has a camera that sees what you see. The latter will be far more useful, allowing you to capture moments you’d miss with a camera (I never use my iPhone front facing camera). Just avoid wearing it in the shower. GG: 5
It partially comes down to which eco system you’re committed to. If you’ve got an iPhone getting Glass will be hard - and iWatch probably wont work (at least fully) with any other phone.
Then it’s down to whether you prefer voice or touch. Touch gives you way more control, and is a lot more versatile, even on a small screen. I can see it being far more useful day to day than Glass.
The clear winner is iWatch.
Caveat: The main problem with Glass is its reliance on voice control - which isn’t appropriate for most situations. However, this is also a strength in some specific use cases, such as driving, cycling or various hands free industrial uses.
In those cases iWatch will already be an improvement & Glass with voice control will be revolutionary.
Either way this will be a fascinating fight, bring on WWDC.
(photo from The Verge)