Mobile & Online UX

Unleashing the power of wearable devices

Unleashing the power of wearable devices, such as watchOS 2 from Apple. Image: Apple
Written by Felix Garcia

Software engineer Felix Garcia looks ahead to the evolution of the Apple Watch (and other wearable devices) now that its second version operating system has already been announced.

Wearable devices – wearables, ‘attachables’ or ‘implantables’ – will become household names for most of us within the next few years. The next generation of smart devices is certainly evolving in that direction, especially in sectors such as healthcare (medicine, fitness & wellness), heavy industries, retail and military.

According to forecasts, the wearable electronics business will increase from $20bn in 2015 to almost $70bn in 2025. At the same time, as the price of these devices becomes more affordable, adoption will speed up considerably, especially in more unexpected places such as the office.

‘By 2020, wearables will be commonplace at many businesses and become central to how their employees do their jobs’, says a statement summarizing how CIOs should be prepared for this revolution. And this is only the beginning. A key element needed to boost the mass adoption of wearable devices is the devolution of price. As prices drop and the features of these devices are improved from the end user’s point of view, we will see wearables slowly usurp the role that mobile devices play. Tech companies are well aware of this trajectory, given the results of Apple’s unveiling of its newest crown jewel at WWDC15.

In just a few months, Apple has overcome some of the most criticized limitations of the first iteration of Apple Watch, namely the possibility of running third party applications natively. From now on, developers will be able to create applications that require neither the presence of, nor interaction with, an iPhone device.

Previously, Apple Watch applications were extensions of iPhone apps, running on the smartphone and displaying data on the smartwatch. With the release of watchOS 2, a new generation of standalone applications is coming. These applications will be able to access Wi-Fi networks, HealthKit and other hardware (such as accelerometer, mic, speaker, heart rate sensor, Taptic Engine and Digital Crown). Future iterations of Apple Watch will likely have built-in GPS and better battery life. And last but not least, end users will be able to run these applications without needing their iPhone in range.

Wearable devices – progress

In retrospect, things were similar in the first version of iPhone and its operating system. When Apple launched the first generation iPhone in June 2007, developers were limited to creating web-responsive apps running in Safari. They released the device without the existence of an SDK to develop native applications, which was criticized by software developers that were dreaming of having the honor of creating the very first applications for such a successful device.

It wasn’t until March 2008 that Apple released the first version of its iPhone SDK, which coincided with the release of the App Store in July the same year, triggering the birth of the now massive mobile apps industry. Other major players, such as Google Android (September 2008) and Windows Phone (September 2010), came later.

Recently, our own R&D team here at Strands has been working on porting Strands Loop to Apple Watch, becoming one of the first fintech companies to develop a prototype for this new device. As our own R&D efforts in wearables continue, we’ll keep you updated, so stay tuned for my next post where I’ll update you on our progress with Android.

See also Could the Apple Watch hinder technology innovation in banking?

This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. You can read the original article here. Main image: Apple

About the author

Felix Garcia

Felix Garcia is a software engineer with a strong background in mobile applications development (mainly on iOS), with more than 10 years of professional experience in that field. He is tech lead at Strands in Spain.

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