Every hardware and software platform needs something that can't be found anywhere else – something that pushes it beyond a cool thing to own to being essential.
Early PCs had word processing and spreadsheets. The Internet era offered the web browser and email. Nintendo had Mario.
That one thing you suddenly can't live without is often called a killer app. It needn't be a literal "app" in the "mobile app" sense; for smartphones it's arguably the Facebook app, but all social media and messaging as well.
So what's the killer app for Apple Watch and other smartwatches? It can take years for killer apps to emerge, so let's take a look at a few possibilities for wrist-based computing.
The most successful wearables have been focusing on health since the category's inception. The number of fitness trackers on the market is huge, and selling users on a watch without those features could be difficult. Who wants multiple gadgets on their wrist?
That very expectation makes fitness tracking is a necessary part of any smartwatch, so it won't ignite the category by itself. There are already a number of Apple Watch apps and smartwatch apps filling this need.
The Apple Watch can pay for groceries, unlock doors, and replace store loyalty cards. All those functions come down to confirming that the user is the person they say they are.
Is a watch the best device for that? It doesn't read your fingerprint, but Apple Pay does require a PIN if you've taken the watch off recently. Apple Watch developers are eager for more access to the Apple Pay system.
Notifications are one thing, but can you really hold a conversation on such a small screen? Voice-to-text conversion and emojis make it easier. Sketch, tap, and heartbeat functions are even more "intimate" ways to connect.
Even without typing, brief conversations are a definite contender for a killer watch app.
Smartphones multitask, but switching between apps is just a tiny bit annoying. With a watch as a second screen, intermittent notifications need not interrupt your game or video. Even a single app could place supplemental information on the watch screen rather than take up valuable phone real estate.
There can even be buttons on that second screen, controlling aspects of the phone (or other hardware through the phone). A remote camera shutter, phone locator, or file browser makes it possible to use the device even when it's out of arm's reach or in a friend's hands.
Imagining and creating that killer app for smartwatches will take inspiration and a skilled Apple Watch development team. What's your idea?
Zco Corporation is a custom software company with headquarters in Nashua, New Hampshire, USA specializing in mobile app development, enterprise software, and 3D animation.
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